The Fear Residing in Biden Outweighs that of the Ukrainians

“The language of escalation is the language of excuse.” Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, dismisses concerns that providing assistance to Ukraine could lead to Russia expanding its aggression to NATO countries or crossing the nuclear threshold.

Despite being least likely to be a victim of Russia’s aggression, the United States is the most concerned about it. President Biden has repeatedly declared that the U.S. will provide Ukraine with whatever it takes for however long it takes, but the administration’s policy is more cautious than its bold declarations.

During my recent trip to Kyiv with the Renew Democracy Initiative, I met with Ukrainians in and out of government who expressed gratitude for U.S. assistance in the war. However, Ukraine’s foreign and defense ministers acknowledged that the U.S. consistently responds to requests with a ‘no.’

The Biden administration has made three arguments against Ukrainian requests. The first is that Ukraine does not need F-16s. The Pentagon has also argued that mastering the weapons systems would be too difficult and time-consuming. The third argument is that U.S. assistance is not infinite and Ukraine is asking for expensive items that are often in short supply.

The U.S. can strengthen deterrence by committing to publicly sharing intelligence and providing weapons to preempt a potential Russian nuclear attack. However, the Biden administration’s focus on escalation may lead to prolonging the war and telegraphing to Russia that it can wait out the U.S.

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