Vilnius challenge for President Biden

Vilnius challenge for President Biden

The NATO summit, in Vilnius on July 11-12, will focus on the key issue – relations between Ukraine and NATO.

From the beginning of the full-scale invasion by Russia of Ukraine, the USA is the leader of the coalition of NATO countries supporting Ukraine. Also the USA is the main donor of military aid to Ukraine.  It took some time for the countries of “old Europe” to realize all the threats posed by Putin’s Russia and to understand that only by stopping these threats in the Ukrainian-Russian war can Europe be saved from a much larger conflict.

President Biden intuitively understands the problems of the Putin regime, as well as that the goal of this war needs to be – the transformation of the Russian Federation through the change of the current political regime,  just remember his speech in Warsaw this past February year and some other statements that were not “walked back” in time by the his administration staff.

Although on certain issues, such as fighter jets or ATACMS, the Biden administration takes a more restrained position than Great Britain or the Eastern European countries, in general the USA still remains the engine of the pro Ukraine coalition.

But now a strange situation is emerging – the main hold outs against  the political decision about the inevitability of Ukraine’s accession to NATO immediately after the end of the war are – Hungary and the USA. All other NATO members are ready to vote at the Summit in Vilnius for the political invitation of Ukraine to the Alliance. Moreover, even the usually overly cautious French President Macron is one of the main lobbyists for such a decision. And if Orban’s position does not surprise anyone, then Biden’s position raises questions.

This situation looks very odd, the decision is not related in any way to the risks of applying Article 5 of the NATO Charter, because it is about the NATO ascension of Ukraine after the end of the war. It is also not related to the issues of additional support for Ukraine or security guarantees, which will also be discussed at the Summit.

There are certain questions regarding the compliance of Ukraine with certain criteria, but against the background of the war and the degree of transformation of the Ukrainian army towards NATO standards, they are secondary and rather tangential to the issue of Ukraine’s accession to the EU. The only circumstance this decision effects is to remove the issue of Ukraine’s future status of neutrality from the subject of any potential negotiations.  

Also there are a number of other odd inconsistencies, such as the informal prohibition of Ukraine from conducting hostilities on the territory of the Russian Federation and even strikes on targets on this territory. Although in the situation of the real inability of the NATO countries to help Ukraine eliminate the superiority of the Russians in the air and defend against their attacks with missiles and UAVs, as well as in the conditions of constant shelling from the Russian territory of the Kharkiv, Sumy and Chernihiv regions, such a prohibition looks clearly strange and inappropriate. On the contrary, the only way to prevent such attacks is to destroy the airfields of the base of missile-carrying aircraft and factories for the production of missiles. For this, by the way, Tomahawk BGM 109F missiles with a BLU 106B cluster warhead, equipped with concrete-piercing sub munitions for the destruction of airfields and other concrete structures, are absolutely necessary. Ukraine’s counteroffensive would have been an order of magnitude more effective if it had been carried out not by storming the defense lines built by the Russians in the occupied territories, but by striking the rear of these fortifications through the territory of the Russian Federation.

Even more surprising is the information that President Biden did not support Ben Wallace for becoming the next NATO Secretary General after Great Britain championed training Ukrainian F-16 pilots without Washington’s approval.

The rumors that periodically arise that somewhere in the bowels of the NSC the US is preparing some unclear options for “negotiations” after a successful (although under the above  conditions problematic) counteroffensive of Ukrainian troops are discouraging. Adding to this  is the speculation that there are is a  threat of ending American military aid after the US presidential elections, which is why it is highly desirable to end the war before that.

It seems that part of President Biden’s circle has not understood the nature and causes of this war, does not understand that any peace agreement with the current Kremlin regime is a postponement of war, and the next war will be with NATO. They also don’t understand that the only acceptable option for the USA and the West in general is a the transformation and demilitarization of the Russian Federation and this will also deter China from reckless steps. This lack of understanding negatively affects the President Biden, who, as mentioned earlier, still understands what is right at a deep level.

This is the understanding that Putin, by starting this war against Ukraine, gave the West a unique chance to neutralize himself and the Russian military threat and this chance can’t be lost, especially when Ukrainians are ready to do it with their lives and blood.

President Biden’s decision regarding NATO will be a marker of his own understanding and readiness to solve global problems. Problems of a solution on which depends not only the fate of Ukraine, but the security of the entire civilized world.

Anatolii Pinchuk
head of the Board Eastern Europe Security Institute
head of the Board International Fund defense of Ukraine
president UPA “Ukrainian strategy”