Western Nations Should Help Negotiate Peace If They Are Not Willing To Stop Putin By Force

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its second week, Moscow’s tactics turn to direct targeting of metropolitan areas and civilian populations. The United States and its European allies are grappling with how much help to provide the Ukrainians without turning belligerent or being perceived belligerent by Russia. Mariupol, Ukraine’s southern port city, has been besieged and the Russian invasion has cut off electricity, water and heat.

The Ukrainians have battled bravely and impressed the world, but a new fight phase has begun. Western leaders must think carefully about what is coming and how it will end. Ukrainians require more from the West than economic sanctions and prohibitions on Russian products to stop the Russian invasion. They want heavy weapons, ammunition, air assistance and real-time information from Western nations and they require these things immediately.

Moreover, the West appears to be attempting to approach the line of belligerence without crossing it. The United States, for example, shares specific targeting intelligence with Ukraine but not real-time targeting. The US will not even contemplate increasing domestic oil production to compensate for Russian imports. “They have no strategic interest in limiting global energy supplies,” a White House spokesman said.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) said real-time targeting would amount to “identifying them as participants in the conflict.” Hours later, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki claimed that they were not providing Ukraine with any targeting intelligence. According to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Psaki’s statements are “truthful” but do not “reflect the complete reality.”

Furthermore, Western leaders must be serious about what they are willing to do and not do in Ukraine’s defense. Right now, there is an annoying lack of earnestness and clarity about their aims among them. As the battle progresses and the fighting becomes more intense, the eye of the needle, so to speak, will become smaller and smaller.

If the West is unwilling to act militarily in Ukraine, they must be honest with the Ukrainians about their expectations. A no-fly zone would include NATO jets gunning down Russian planes, implying open warfare with Russia. The worst thing they could do for Ukrainians offers them false optimism as Russian armies draw in on them, then do nothing as their towns burn. They’ve had enough of bellicose rhetoric and half measures.