The United States and the West must stand aside and do more to help Ukraine
Ukraine needs boots on the ground to survive. So will the United States and NATO reconsider their decision and confront Russia?
For months, US intelligence was aware of the possibility that Russia was planning to attack Ukraine without justification. President Joe Biden has warned Russia that if it attacks it will face heavy sanctions that will hurt the Russian economy. But at the same time, Biden promised the American public that we would not put boots on the ground or planes in the air.
Our threat of sanctions has not deterred Russia; he attacked Ukraine.
Ukraine is fighting a valiant fight – suffering death, casualties and destruction while trying to protect its very existence. But there is no end in sight and as Ukraine pleads for military assistance, the decision to rely on sanctions without a military presence is now in question.
Those who question the decision believe it gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a free pass to attack. They believe this reflected the weakness of America and other NATO countries. And they think it could lead to more Russian aggression.
This view was expressed by Natan Sharansky, the legendary human rights activist who fought for the right of people in the Soviet Union, and especially those from Jewish communities, to emigrate from that repressive country to the 1960s and 1970s. For his actions, Sharansky was convicted in 1977 of treason and espionage, and he was sentenced to 13 years of hard labor – much of which was spent in solitary confinement.
In 1986, Sharansky was released and allowed to travel to Israel in a prisoner exchange, and later became a member of that country’s parliament and government cabinet. He is a statesman in the truest sense of the term.
In a recent interview with Tablet magazine, Sharansky said this: “From my time among criminals in prison, I know (everyone) has their knife, but not everyone is ready to use it. Putin thinks he is ready to use his knife and the West is not, that the West can only talk, even if he is physically stronger.
Sharansky added that Putin “especially feels America’s weakness” – largely because the United States has shown its distaste for military involvement by withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq.
“(Putin) really believes that he is the strongest leader,” Sharansky said, “because he is ready to threaten nuclear war and his enemies are not. He is ready to use his knife”.
The fear of the United States and the West that a world war with nuclear weapons will ensue if they fight alongside Ukraine has left Ukraine alone to fight not only for itself, but also for the whole of the free world. If the war continues and Ukraine is unable to defend its independence, the United States and NATO may have to withdraw.
Alternatively, Putin might feel free to attack Estonia, Latvia and/or Lithuania – which, like Ukraine, are former Soviet republics that only gained independence upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union. ‘Soviet Union.
While on a mission to some Baltic states in 2017, I and 10 others met with then-president Kersti Kaljulaid from Estonia, a small country bordering Russia. During our meeting, Kaljulaid asked us this question: “Will the United States honor its obligation to defend us, a small nation, as provided for in Article 5 of the NATO agreement?
This question is bound to arise again if the United States and the West do not protect the independent sovereignty of Ukraine, which is a great and vital democracy.
Harold Halpern is a retired attorney who resides in Lakewood Ranch. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Retired Lawyers and Lawyers. Halpern is also a board member of the West Coast Chapter of the American Jewish Committee.