March 19, 2022: Russia is winning the war in Ukraine; Biden’s confused policy to counter Russian aggression; Putin escalates with supersonic rockets; Russian barbarism in Mariupol; American diplomacy falters with India, UAE, South Africa and others; What’s the point of having nuclear weapons if we are resolved to never use them?

Developing

To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, on The Trenchant Observer web site, and you will see a list in chronological order.

Dispatches

1) Mark Mazzetti, Helene Cooper, Julian E. Barnes and David E. Sanger, “For the U.S., a Tenuous Balance in Confronting Russia; Navigating between aiding Ukraine and avoiding an escalation with Moscow has led to a tangle of decisions and sometimes tortured distinctions over weapons and other elements of policy,” New York Times, March 19, 2022 (3:37 p.m. EDT);

2) Sophie Landrin, “Malgré la guerre en Ukraine, l’Inde négocie avec Moscou l’achat de pétrole; Narendra Modi, qui refuse de condamner l’attaque russe contre l’Ukraine, ignore un peu plus les appels des Occidentaux à prendre ses distances avec Vladimir Poutine,:Le Monde, le 15 mars 2022 (à 11h15, mis à jour à 14h55);

3) Emmanuel Grynszpan (Odessa, Ukraine, envoyé spécial), “Après les bombardements, les chars russes lancent l’assaut contre Marioupol; Les forces russes sont entrées vendredi dans cette ville portuaire du sud de l’Ukraine, soumise à d’intenses bombardements depuis deux semaines. Le bilan jusqu’ici estimé à 2 500 morts serait bien supérieur, selon des habitants qui ont réussi à fuir,” Le Monde, le 19 nars 2022 (05h41, mis à jour à 12h42);

4) Janet Daley, “The West is putting itself at the mercy of hostile nuclear powers; There is no point in having nuclear weapons if we admit we will never use them,” The Telegraph, March 19, 2022 (12:58pm);

5) “Gordon Brown and John Major back Nuremberg-style tribunal for Putin; Former PMs join campaign calling for trial of Russian president and those around him over invasion of Ukraine, The Guardian, March 19, 2022 (10.33 GMT);

6) Gerhard Hegmann, “Was der Einsatz der „Kinschal“-Rakete für den Westen bedeutet,” Die Welt, den 19. Maärz 2022 (17:40 Uhr);

Commentary

Russia is winning the war in Ukraine. It has made steady advances in three weeks.

The Ukrainian military and civilian defenders have fought courageously, and created an opportunity for NATO to start to tilt the balance in the West’s favor, both by signaling its determination with more than words and by further economic sanctions. This it could have done by transferring the Polish Migs to Ukraine, getting anti-ship missiles to Ukrainian forces in Odessa and Mariupol, and even deploying force in defensive postures (such as deploying NATO troops in Western Ukraine away from conflict areas, and establishing armed humanitarian relief columns and corridors).

Joe Biden, who has internalized Putin’s refrain, “You fight me, One Two Three, World War III,” and NATO and the West who he has taught to sing Putin’s refrain, almost in unison, have not seized the opportunities the Ukrainians have created.

They have delayed.

Each day Biden and NATO delay standing up to Putin with force, minimal defensive force that nonetheless sends Putin a message of firm resolve, results in a worsening of their strategic situation, and increases the likelihood they will have to intervene militarily to stop Putin in a much more dramatic manner in the future, e.g., when he invades Lithuania, Latvia, or Estonia (all former parts of the Soviet Union), or uses chemical, biological, or tactical nuclear weapons.

Putin’s refrain will reverberate in Biden’s head just as strongly then, when Russia invades a NATO country, as it does now in the case of Ukraine.

Current NATO strategy seems to be to wait, fearfully, to see what Putin is going to do next.

Given the fact that Putin has already incurred the  major ” costs” of invading Ukraine and of using terror and crimes againt humanity in his quest for victory, there is little reason to think he will stop at Ukraine’s Western border in his quest to reconstitute the Soviet Union, if not a greater Russian empire.

Regarding the “Obamaspeak” Biden learned at the hands of his mentor, talking about “costs” and “consequences” to deter Putin, always within the flawed assumptions of the “Rational Actor Model”, the reader need only consider the following analogy.

If you were driving down the highway and had a Burger King wrapper in your hand that you wanted to get rid of, how would you react to a sign that said,

“Don’t throw trash on the highway. If you do, there will be consequences.”

Or,

“Don’t throw trash on the highway. If you do, you will pay costs.”

Consider an alternative sign:

“Don’t throw trash on the highway. Minimum fine: $1,000. Surveillance cameras in use.”

The point should be clear. If Biden had spelled out all of the “costs” ultimately imposed well before Putin invaded, the deterrent effect would have been greater. It would at least have allowed time for those affected in Russia to react, before the invasion.

The Trenchant Observer

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