Biden admin ups ante on Ukraine support, weaponry with fear of provoking Russia diminishing

Even before the onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, the White House was pressured on the intensity of the actions being taken to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from increasing aggression.

Now, more than half a year after the conflict began, weapons supplies from President Joe Biden’s administration have increased while talks of an actual end to the war have dwindled and justifications appear fresh from the spin cycle.

The U.S. government has steadily been pumping cash and munitions into Ukraine for months and, as detailed by The Hill, has grown more open about the types of rockets, missiles and drones being shipped in support of Ukrainian defense. According to former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, this has everything to do with a lack of retaliation from Russia when, early on, concerns were rampant about further provoking the invading nation.

“Over time, the administration has recognized that they can provide larger, more capable, longer-distance, heavier weapons to the Ukrainians and the Russians have not reacted,” Taylor argued.

“The Russians have kind of bluffed and blustered, but they haven’t been provoked. And there was concern [over this] in the administration early on–there still is to some degree–but the fear of provoking the Russians has gone down,” he continued.

Michael O’Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution, offered a similar explanation as he suggested, “We were a bit more careful at first…not knowing if Putin would find and attack supply lines and convoys, not being sure if he would escalate, and also not being sure if Ukraine could use what we gave them or hold out for long against Russia.”

Nathan Sales, a former State Department official currently with intelligence and security consultancy the Soufan Group, promoted the change in style and manner of support by contending, “I think the administration’s messaging about the support it’s providing is changing because the nature of the war is changing.”

Whereas it had been suggested that Ukrainian forces would find themselves outmatched by the Russian military and in need of lighter munitions for guerrilla-style tactics, the dynamics of the engagement have supposedly changed to a head-to-head battle of military might.

“To engage in that kind of campaign you need a much wider array of weaponry–you need artillery, you need drones, you need various other forms of heavy weaponry like anti-ship missiles,” Sales went on. “What’s changing isn’t so much the administration’s willingness to talk about what it’s giving but the nature of the weapons it’s actually giving.”

However, Putin appears to be engaging in a much different style of war altogether as last week the Nord Stream 1 pipeline from Russia to Germany was shut down for maintenance and by Monday, according to the Guardian, gas prices in the UK for next month shot up by 35 percent.

Nations across Europe have been bracing for shortages heading into the winter and protesters made their voices heard in various countries against the ongoing involvement of NATO in the spat between Russia and Ukraine that, by not being tamped down from the start, has only stood to devastate global economies.

Still, Putin’s actions, if not for the benign explanation provided, do support suggestions of a failing assault from his side as it was reported the Russian military was seeking alternative means to shore up their forces including removing an age cap for new recruits and grounding commercial airlines to repurpose parts for the air force.


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Kevin Haggerty


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