Ukraine is NATO

Marc Ash / Reader Supported News
Ukraine is NATO In war-ravaged Bakhmut, Ukraine, a child's crib, an abandoned apartment, an abandoned life. (photo: Roman Chop/AP)

Western media outlets seem to be obsessed with the notion that Ukraine is under pressure to “produce results on the battlefield” that would justify continued Western military aid. It’s a false narrative predicated on a red herring argument.

First and foremost do not lose sight of Western motivations. NATO countries are not aiding the Ukrainian war effort because they are inspired by the valiant Ukrainian effort. NATO countries are aiding Ukraine because they are genuinely terrified by the threat posed by Russian military aggression.

More importantly Ukraine is, in a material sense already a vital part of NATO. Arguably from a strategic perspective the most important member of the NATO alliance, who is not even a member. What happens in Ukraine has not stayed in Ukraine. The effects are felt far beyond the battlefield, reverberating through western nations and compelling their participation. Ukraine is tasked with absorbing the direct impacts.

What Is the US Doing?

There is a debate within the Western defense community about what the strategy of the Biden administration is with regard to the situation in Ukraine. The concern among veteran defense strategists is that while on paper the US is providing more support to the Ukrainian defense effort than any other nation, they continue to withhold the key weapons components that would turn the tide of Ukrainian victory.

Former Commanding General US Army Europe, Ben Hodges commenting on a Washington Post report titled, “U.S. Doubts Ukraine Counteroffensive Will Yield Big Gains, Leaked Document Says” put it this way:

“If this leak is legit, then it's a self-fulfilling prophecy by the US Admin which won't say Ukraine must win, resulting in incremental delivery of capability to actually win.”

Hodges frustration is emblematic of a wide swath of US defense experts, mostly retired with senior military experience. There is growing frustration on Capitol hill as well. Democrats and Republicans are voicing increasing concern about the lack of US weapons capable of producing a Ukrainian victory. To date there are still no US fighter aircraft and no US battle tanks in the hands of the Ukrainian defenders.

The Kyiv Independent reports that, Some Western officials asked Ukraine not to liberate Crimea. That could perhaps provide some context in this regard.

The Coming Ukrainian Offensive

For the Ukrainians there is much to fight for. Liberation is about far more than territorial reclamation or converting red patches on a map to blue. In those red patches are homes, farms, families and lives being torn apart under a brutal occupation, by an occupier using genocidal methods. To liberate is to end suffering. It is the pain that drives the determination. For the Ukrainians this war is not about some vague political objective. It is about their homeland.

The Ukrainians are standing on a wall not just for Ukraine but for all of Europe. If the US can’t feel that urgency, the nations on NATO’s eastern flank certainly do. The support for Ukraine by countries closest to the conflict is not likely to be fickle or fleeting. When Putin and his deputies say their war is against NATO the nations that border the conflict are well convinced that the Russians are serious.

The weapons come from far and wide but the blood, with the exception of a few courageous Foreign Legionnaires is mostly Ukrainian blood. Accordingly decisions will be made as to how to conduct future offensive operations. Look for the Ukrainians to be far more concerned about the safety of their forces than the Russians have been. While offensive operations tend to be inherently riskier than defensive ones, look for the Ukrainians to avoid suicide missions. Bear in mind that in the past year the Ukrainians have liberated more of their land than all of New England combined. They know how to do it.

Speaking directly to strategic preparations for coming offensive operations Czech president, Petr Pavel, also a military general and former senior NATO advisor offered President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukrainian commanders some recent advice, go slow, don’t underestimate the Russians and don’t strike until fully prepared.

Article 5 of the NATO charter is the most often discussed and consequential element of the alliance. It is said that Article 5 was invoked for the first time in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on the US. However the scope of support now being provided for the defense of Ukraine dwarfs anything that has come before. NATO understands the urgency of the threat and they see Ukraine as a vital extension of the alliance.

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