Fears of ‘escalation’ leave Russia feeling free to attack innocent civilians like Victoria Amelina.
I will speak this week in Vilnius, Lithuania, on behalf of the antiwar Russian Action Committee. President Biden will attend the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit there, along with dozens of other heads of state. My first message: Ukraine is the one nation worthy of NATO membership, because it is fighting the war the alliance was built for in 1949. My second message: While America delays, Ukrainians die.
The U.S. is the laggard of the alliance. The once-timid Europeans are now more assertive than the Biden administration, which is still quibbling about every weapons-system delivery. Worse, new reports of back-channel contacts between current and former U.S. officials and Russian authorities betray the concept of alliance unity and deterrence of Vladimir Putin’s terrorist regime.
Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mutiny refuted the myths that Mr. Putin’s Russia is stable and that he would retaliate with overwhelming force if threatened. Mr. Putin’s mafia structure is brittle, as evidenced by how quickly he made concessions when faced with a challenge to his grip on power.
Mr. Putin is terrified of escalation. Yet it’s the U.S. and NATO that act as if the collapse of his illegitimate regime—or what’s left of Russia itself—would somehow be worse than a nuclear arsenal in the hands of a KGB thug waging genocidal war in Europe. Anyone else would be better.
Sixteen months into the war, the Biden administration either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care that the price of aiding Ukraine will keep rising with every delay. The latest example is Washington’s clearing the way to send cluster munitions to root out entrenched Russian positions in Ukraine—which wouldn’t exist had it provided stronger support weeks ago.
In the 1940s, during the first six months of Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, the U.S. shipped 360,000 tons of supplies to the U.S.S.R.—from the other side of the globe, while evading U-boats. In 2023, the combined militaries of 31 NATO countries can’t match those supply chains? Surely they can—but then, what is the holdup? Essential armor and ammunition are rusting in U.S. storage facilities.
For months, the U.S. and its allies have repeated that they will stand with Ukraine for “as long as it takes.” That sounds nice, but what exactly does “it” mean? To push out every last Russian colonizer from sovereign Ukrainian land? To commit to seeing the zhovto-blakytnyy—the “yellow and blue”—fly free over Sevastopol? Will NATO give Ukraine the planes, armor and ammunition it needs to win and keep the peace? The Biden administration is happy to share Ukrainian flags on social media instead of planting them in Crimea.
The influence of “experts” who have been consistently wrong is still apparent in the Biden administration’s decisions. Recent reports on moves by Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns indicate he thinks he’s living in a Cold War world, where the big nations call the shots and plot the future. Mr. Burns says the administration knew months in advance that Mr. Putin was going to invade—and used the time to prepare Ukraine to evacuate, not fight.
The experts responsible for the disaster in exiting Afghanistan are largely the same ones who told President Volodomyr Zelensky to raise a white flag to Russia instead of a middle finger. Why does Mr. Biden keep them around? Thanks solely to Mr. Zelensky’s courage and the Ukrainians’ will to resist, the Biden administration never had a chance to abandon Ukraine on the spot.
Last week, Russian forces murdered Victoria Amelina, a Ukrainian writer, patriot and activist. While she was having dinner with fellow writers in downtown Kramatorsk, a city in eastern Ukraine, Russian forces fired a high-precision Iskander missile at the restaurant.
Ms. Amelina’s death wasn’t because the Ukrainian army was insufficiently valiant. She died because the U.S. has tied Ukraine’s hands behind its back. The Russians know that because of baseless Western fears of “escalation,” Ukrainians won’t blast them to bits. Hence, they are free to rain death on innocent civilians behind a shield of NATO cowardice.
Ukraine must win. Those are the three words Mr. Biden needs to say in Vilnius. If the leader of the alliance doesn’t publicly commit to a full Ukrainian victory, more blood will be on his hands. Mr. Biden’s meeting with Mr. Putin in 2021 in Geneva—the city where Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met in 1985—didn’t turn Mr. Biden into Reagan. Nothing will, but he must still try to finish off the evil empire once and for all. There can be no compromise with genocide, no negotiation with war criminals.
President Biden, instead of offering thoughts and prayers for Ukrainian lives, send planes and guns to save them. Europe’s line of defense against a Russian invasion has moved from the Rhine to the Dnipro, but the values that line represents must not change. Slava Ukraini. Glory to heroes.
Mr. Kasparov is chairman of the Renew Democracy Initiative and a co-founder of the Russia Action Committee.