The Biden Administration has helped arm Ukraine to fight its war against Russia, but President Biden should do more: He should facilitate the transfer of jet fighters to Ukraine and should rethink his opposition to declaring the airspace above Ukraine a no-fly zone.
It’s been said that President Biden and President Zelensky have two different goals: Biden, while deeply sympathetic to Ukraine’s plight, wants to contain the war and prevent its spread to engulf the United States and NATO, while Zelensky wants Ukraine to actually win.
President Zelensky wants more jet fighters, and Poland, a NATO member, has offered to transfer 28 MiG-29s to Ukraine if the United States will replenish Poland’s air force with substitute aircraft. President Biden opposes this measure, claiming that to facilitate the transfer of the aircraft to Ukraine could provoke Russia. Moreover, the aircraft would not be as effective in either destroying Russian tanks or downing Russian aircraft as the ground-based anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems the United States has already given Ukraine, with the understanding that more are to come.
The Wall Street Journal demolishes Biden’s reasoning. First, it notes that the weapons systems the United States has sent Ukraine are already being used to destroy Russian tanks and aircraft. How can the use by Ukraine of aircraft be any more provocative than the use of ground-based systems? Besides, if aircraft are less effective than the weapons systems which the United States has supplied and will continue to supply, how can supplying aircraft be more provocative at all? See https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-ukraine-mig-29-fiasco-gets-worse-joe-biden-vladimir-putin-poland-ukraine-russia-nato-11646953225?st=y9plbw8zk5ityyy&reflink=desktopwebshare_facebook&fbclid=IwAR0n9WJbylCjvz0xXz94X3.
More understandable, perhaps, is the opposition of President Biden and America’s NATO allies to granting President Zelensky’s request for a no-fly zone above Ukriane. The argument against its establishment is that to enforce a no-fly zone would require the American and NATO forces to actually shoot down any Russian aircraft in Ukrainian air space, thereby provoking Russia to go to war directly against the United States and NATO.
Would the establishment of a no-fly zone actually provoke President Putin to widen his war? After all, the Russian armed forces have already been demonstrating unexpected incompetence and ineffectiveness in their ability to conquer Ukraine itself. If Putin can’t subdue Ukraine , would he really want to go to war against the entire NATO alliance as well? The threat to establish a no-fly zone could prove to be a deterrent to Putin rather than a provocation.
Former Texas Republican congressman Will Hurd has, in fact, proposed the establishment of a limited no-fly zone over the Ukraine to be enforced by the United States and NATO. Under the terms he suggests, American and NATO aircraft could shoot down Russian aircraft bombing and launching missiles at Ukrainian targets, but our aircraft would not themselves destroy Russian ground forces (presumably Ukrainian aircraft could still do so).
President Biden should realize that the issue of provocation is really phony, no matter how sincere he has been in thinking otherwise. Putin has shown he needs no provocation to wage unprovoked genocidal war against innocent civilians and peaceful countries anywhere he chooses. Moreover, Biden must understand that the best way to contain the war is to end it with a Ukrainian victory. Otherwise, Putin, in his quest to reconstitute the Soviet Union, may well launch more wars against the former Soviet possessions and satellites already members of NATO. Therefore, President Biden should help Poland supply more jets to Ukraine, and reconsider his opposition to a no-fly zone. The defeat and deterrence of Russia are the best way to prevent future Russian aggression.
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.