May 24, 2023


“Ukraine said on Sunday that its forces were still advancing around the edges of Bakhmut, aiming to encircle the ruined eastern city… Russia said on Saturday it had completely taken Bakhmut, which, if confirmed, would mark an end to the longest and bloodiest battle of the 15-month war.” Reuters

“Russian officials claimed that Ukrainian military saboteurs launched an attack across the border Monday, wounding eight people in a small town. Kyiv officials denied any link with the group and blamed the fighting on a revolt by disgruntled Russians against the Kremlin.” AP News

“President Joe Biden told G7 leaders on Friday that Washington supports joint allied training programs for Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets… The U.S. hopes to begin the training, which will be conducted on fourth-generation fighters including F-16s, in the coming weeks.” Reuters

Many on both sides support additional aid, including F-16 fighters, for Ukraine:

“The same Washington eminences who expected last year that Kyiv would fall within 72 hours now warn that Ukrainians might have to settle for a ‘frozen’ conflict that will leave Moscow’s war criminals in control of one-fifth of their land… [But] Ukrainians have taken the worst that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has dished out, and they have not only survived but also thrived

“The role of the United States and its allies should be to give the Ukrainians every possible piece of equipment — including lots of F-16s and longer-range missiles — to enable their battlefield success rather than to undercut them by pushing for premature negotiations that might prolong, rather than end, the conflict.”
Max Boot, Washington Post

“The F-16 — especially in the modest numbers under discussion — does not present a substantial threat to Russia itself. It presents a substantial threat only to the Russian invasion. It is not a true deep-strike aircraft, like the B-1 Lancer bomber or even the F-15E Strike Eagle. It is a weapon that Ukraine can deploy in a defensive capacity and that can strike relatively close behind the front line…

“Not only are thousands of F-16s in service across American and allied militaries; many of those aircraft are being replaced by more advanced planes. Thus they are both numerous and available to Ukraine without degrading NATO capabilities… Providing Ukraine with advanced fighters not only makes its task easier; it’s a sign the Biden administration is ready to turn the page from helping Ukraine simply avoid defeat. Now we are starting to help Ukraine achieve victory.”
David French, New York Times

Some on both sides remain skeptical of additional support for Ukraine:

“Even the [Ukraine’s] professed friends worry that it lacks sufficient manpower and weaponry to achieve outright victory. While a Russian win also seems unlikely, despite Moscow’s larger resource and economic base, stalemate is no friend of Ukraine. Tens of thousands are dead and wounded, millions are displaced, cities are wrecked, the economy is on foreign life support, and the future is on hold…  

“Indeed, the allies risk doing just enough to keep Kiev in the fight, but not enough to yield a decisive result, which looks an awful lot like a strategy to bleed Russia by fighting it to the last Ukrainian… Thankfully, thus far the Biden administration appears determined to avoid triggering a global conflagration with Moscow that could devastate America as well as Ukraine. The costs and risks of an ever-longer conflict, with Russia growing more antagonistic and/or desperate, would be great, especially for a financially strapped and politically unstable America.”
Doug Bandow, American Conservative

“Since at least June 2022, Biden and other U.S. officials have acknowledged that the war must end in a diplomatic settlement, and have insisted that they are arming Ukraine to put it ‘in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.’ Until now, they have claimed that each new weapons system they have sent and each Ukrainian counter-offensive have contributed to that goal and left Ukraine in a stronger position…

“But the leaked Pentagon documents and recent statements by U.S. and Ukrainian officials make it clear that Ukraine's planned spring offensive, already delayed into summer, would lack the previous element of surprise and encounter stronger Russian defenses than the offensives that recovered some of its lost territory last fall… How can a new offensive with mixed results and higher casualties put Ukraine in a stronger position at a currently nonexistent negotiating table?”
Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies, Salon

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“[There is an] enormous army of [Western] human and machine spies secretly and aggressively targeting Russia on behalf of the Ukraine government. It’s a multibillion-dollar spy war that, as a result of an accident or a deliberate act, could quickly trigger a hot war involving the United States, NATO and Russia…

“A key example, revealed in the leaked Pentagon documents, was the near downing of a NATO RC-135W signals intelligence aircraft with over 30 members of the British military on board. A Russian fighter sent up to keep a close eye on the spy plane misunderstood a command from the ground and fired a missile at the aircraft. It was only because of another glitch that the missile failed to hit its mark…

“Lest anyone forget, it was the assassination of a lowly archduke that precipitated the start of World War I.”

James Bamford, The Nation

From the Right

“The belated decision to provide F-16 fighters after months of refusal to do so is merely the latest Biden reversal, of course. We initially resisted sending advanced HIMARS rockets — until we changed our mind. Then we resisted supplying Patriot anti-missile batteries — until we changed our mind. Same story for Abrams M1 tanks…

“The practical effect of President Joe Biden’s halting and indecisive policy toward the conflict is to supply enough weaponry to keep Ukraine from losing but not enough to enable it to defeat Russia on the battlefield and drive the Kremlin completely out of Ukrainian territory, including Crimea. No doubt Biden and his team fear a wider war…

“This is a reasonable fear, but the hesitant and incremental strategy Biden is using risks a Ukrainian defeat and humiliation for the NATO alliance.”

Steven F. Hayward, New York Post

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