The United States and the western world have a lot more that they can do to support Ukraine. Why America and NATO would allow the Madman of Moscow to determine what aid we can provide the people of Ukraine makes no sense at all. Even under attack from Russia, Ukraine is – in the eyes of the world – an independent nation. Just as Putin had no right to invade, he has no right to determine what Ukraine does – and what the world of civilized nations do in conjunction with Ukraine.
Step 1: Ukraine should ban Russia from air space
By international law, the airspace over Ukraine belongs to the Ukrainian people – and their government in Kyiv. The presence of Russian military in the skies over Ukraine is a violation of international law – and the international community should enforce the law.
The first step should be for the Ukraine government to issue an order banning Russian aircraft from Ukrainian airspace. That may seem a preposterous notion at this point, but it serves as an official action that triggers international law – and other actions.
Immediately, the United States, NATO and the European Union should recognize the Ukrainian no-fly zone. Ideally, the United Nations – at the request of member Ukraine –would assemble a coalition of nations – led by the United States — to enforce the no-fly zone. Of course, that will not happen because the UN is mostly a social club for bloviating diplomats who have proven to be useless in preventing most major military aggressions.
That means it would be up to NATO to be the backbone of a multinational air force armada committed to enforcing the ban on Russian violations of Ukrainian air space. Remember … this would not be a no-fly zone for all aircraft – just for the Russians. This would be no different than the number of western nations that have already banned Russian flights – military and commercial – from their air space.
Step 2: Humanitarian airlift
At the same time, the NATO nations – and others – should declare humanitarian flights to bring food, essentials and medical supplies to the beleaguered citizens of Ukraine. For cities that are surrounded by Russian forces, the operation would be like the Berlin Airlift – when Russia (Yes, again Russia) tried to cut off West Berlin from food and essentials. In that case, Allied planes flew over portions of Germany occupied by Russia. It was considered one of the most successful humanitarian events in modern history.
It is important that the sky would NOT be used for any military action against Russian forces unless it was to stop incursions into Ukrainian air space. Western aircraft would be present only to protect the humanitarian flights and to prevent Russian planes for operating over Ukraine. And those flights could ONLY carry humanitarian supplies. Efforts could be made to fly humanitarian relief under the banner of the International Red Cross – which is already involved in bringing essential supplies by ground transportation.
Step 3: Attacking NATO?
Any attack on the NATO planes that are legally in Ukrainian air space would be determined to be an act of war by Russia – which would justify a united attack on Russia. Even in his madness, Putin knows that Russia has no chance … zero … against the combined forces of NATO. As one former American general put it, if Putin were to precipitate a war between Russia and NATO, he would turn Russia’s dragged-out war in Ukraine into a very short war that Putin would lose quickly. NATO is by far the strongest military force in the world.
Step 4: Putin’s bluff
Virtually no professional military analyst takes Putin’s nuclear saber rattling seriously. Even the use of a single tactical weapon against a NATO nation would result in the destruction of Moscow. Putin is mad, but not suicidal – and neither is his military command staff that would have to implement his order. They are not about to see their country … their families … and themselves … wiped off the face of the earth.
Biden should be leading this effort — but for many reasons, he is not. His strategy in Ukraine seems to be following the same dangerous disengagement we saw in Afghanistan. And we saw previously in Syria – which is why Putin can now call on the Syrian military to help him.
Biden would rather give the appearance of doing something meaningful than actually doing it. He is big talk and minimal action. He does not fight to win. He tucks and runs. And that is the problem. One might even argue that the two most responsible men for the disruption – and defeat – of western world leadership are Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden – one because of what he is doing and one because of what he is not doing.
Come on, man. Stop channeling Neville Chamberlain. Give the Ukrainians what they need – the planes, the weapons, maximum sanctions … and the no-fly zone.
So. There ‘tis.