by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The good news is that the Ukrainian people are blessed with a courageous, gutsy, charismatic leader in President Zelensky — even if calling him “Churchill on steroids,” as Virgina senator Mark Warner did Monday, is laying it on a bit thick.* Sixty percent of Americans see Zelensky favorably, and just 18 percent unfavorably. …
… The bad news is that U.S. interests and Ukrainian interests are like a Venn Diagram — they overlap quite a bit, but not quite entirely. The primary difference is that Zelensky will do anything to save his country, and there’s nothing he would like more than for NATO to come riding to the rescue, like the cavalry in an old Western movie. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that NATO intervention would start World War III between Russia and NATO, and God knows how that conflict would end.
The U.S. is walking a tightrope as an ally to Ukraine but not a combatant — sanctioning Russia in every way possible, attempting to isolate it geopolitically and diplomatically, and shipping arms and sharing intelligence with the Ukrainians. There is no doubt that the line between being a Ukrainian ally and being a combatant is fuzzy. We’ll ship Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and Javelin anti-tank weapons, but not help transfer Polish MiG-29s to the Ukrainians. The position of the Biden administration is that it is fine for a Ukrainian soldier to kill a Russian using a U.S.-supplied Stinger or Javelin, but it would be “escalatory” for a Ukrainian soldier to kill a Russian using a Polish-supplied MiG-29. This doesn’t make a lot of sense. …
… NATO forces that enter Ukraine or Ukrainian airspace are likely to be treated as legitimate targets by the Russian forces there. Sooner or later — or perhaps immediately — Russian forces will fire upon the NATO forces, the NATO forces will retaliate, and the war between Russia and NATO begins.
This presents yet another worsening problem for the Biden administration, as they may well end up being the only ones willing to tell Zelensky “no.”