President Biden in an op-ed for The New York Times published Tuesday night sought to clarify his Ukraine policy amid what appears to much of the public as constant incremental escalation. Crucially, he argued the US is not seeking regime change targeting Putin, nor is Washington seeking to escalate toward war with Russia.
“We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia. As much as I disagree with Mr. Putin, and find his actions an outrage, the United States will not try to bring about his ouster in Moscow,” Biden wrote. “So long as the United States or our allies are not attacked, we will not be directly engaged in this conflict, either by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine or by attacking Russian forces,” he added.
Now in the fourth month of war since the Feb. invasion, it’s very telling that Biden would himself have to take pains to clarify this, suggesting that Moscow would perhaps be fully rational and justified seeing in Washington’s economic war and (indirect) military participation in the form of training and unprecedented arms transfers aid a commitment to fighting Russia.
It’s also no wonder than many observers might look upon America’s Ukraine policy and be “confused,” to say the least. While declaring that he doesn’t want to fight Russia, Biden in the same NY Times op-ed unveiled he’ll be sending “more advanced rocket systems and munitions” to Ukraine, which will “enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield.”
He wrote that arms already going to the Ukrainians will continue, while also pledging “billions more” in US aid. He said:
We will continue providing Ukraine with advanced weaponry, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, Stinger antiaircraft missiles, powerful artillery and precision rocket systems, radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, Mi-17 helicopters and ammunition. We will also send billions more in financial assistance, as authorized by Congress.
Biden stressed, “We have moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.” However, it remains that Ukraine-Russia negotiations toward a ceasefire have been essentially non-existent over the last month, having collapsed amid accusations and mistrust following the last Istanbul talks.
Despite pledging the more advanced rocket systems, Biden suggested these will not be capable of ranges that make it easy to strike within Russia’s borders. “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders,” he said in the op-ed.
He additionally claimed Washington policy is not to see a prolonged war in order “inflict pain on Russia” – but in a somewhat contradictory turn, he quickly emphasized Moscow must sill pay a “heavy price” for its aggression, in rhetoric that echoes Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s prior “weakened” Russia comments.
In proclaiming the US aims to weaken Russia, SecDef Austin echoed Biden's recent call for regime change in Moscow
These sentiments expose the real logic behind the Maidan coup & US policy throughout the Putin era: NATO as a weapon for shattering Russia, Ukraine as its spearhead
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) April 26, 2022
There’s been much speculation of late that the US could be poised to give the Ukrainians Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS). However, given these have a long range of up to 190 miles, easily capable of reaching Russian territory from some frontline positions, it’s believed the US is opting for the lighter version: the HIMARS.
“Senior US administration officials confirmed to reporters on Tuesday that the United States will be sending Ukraine US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS, as part of the country’s 11th package of security assistance to Ukraine,” CNN reports Wednesday. “The officials said the HIMARS will be equipped with munitions that will allow Ukraine to launch rockets about 80 kilometers (49 miles).”
This comes after the White House appeared to reject the possibility of sending long-range rockets, fearing things could spiral toward rapid escalation with Russia, after the Kremlin declared “red lines” concerning this type of major West-supplied weaponry. The Kremlin is meanwhile issuing new warnings over the US moves to supply longer range rocket systems…
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV SAYS THERE ARE RISKS THAT A THIRD COUNTRY COULD BECOME INVOLVED IN UKRAINE CONFLICT DUE TO SUPPLIES OF ROCKET LAUNCHERS
Also of note in Biden’s Tuesday op-ed is his stating he doesn’t believe Russia intends to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. “I know many people around the world are concerned about the use of nuclear weapons,” he began on this point.
“We currently see no indication that Russia has intent to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, though Russia’s occasional rhetoric to rattle the nuclear saber is itself dangerous and extremely irresponsible. Let me be clear: Any use of nuclear weapons in this conflict on any scale would be completely unacceptable to us as well as the rest of the world and would entail severe consequences,” the president concluded.