“. . . The strategy is clear. Putin’s armies might be falling back in the field. But if he can freeze, starve and terrorize Ukraine’s people by going after their water supplies and energy infrastructure — while waiting for winter to blunt Ukraine’s advance — he might still be able to force Kyiv to accept some sort of armistice, leaving him in possession of most of his conquests.
That would count as a victory in Putin’s books, however wounded he might otherwise be. It would also be encouragement to China’s Xi Jinping as he eyes Taiwan and Iran’s Ali Khamenei as he tries to suppress weeks of protest that are starting to have the color of a revolution. Much more is at stake in the outcome in Ukraine than the fate of Ukraine itself.
What can the Biden administration do? More. And more quickly.
So far, we’ve had a policy of nick-of-time delivery of critical weaponry, such as the Javelin and Stinger missiles that saved Kyiv at the beginning of the war and HIMARS, the rocket systems that turned the tide of war over the summer. We need to switch to an approach that stays consistently ahead of the pace of war and weather.
On Tuesday the administration announced that it would soon be delivering to Ukraine two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, with ranges of up to 30 miles. But there’s a hitch: Only “in the next few years,” according to a report in The Times, will Ukraine get to take delivery of the next six systems.
Ukrainians, whose country is nearly the size of Texas, need the systems now. If the United States can’t deliver them quickly, we can at least provide Ukrainians with unmanned aerial vehicles (U.A.V.s) that can give them vastly improved detection and defensive capabilities over much longer ranges.
The Biden administration has been considering the sale of four of the U.S. Army’s long-endurance U.A.V.s armed with Hellfire missiles since June, but the request has been held up in the bowels of Pentagon bureaucracy for months over excessive fears that some of its technologies could fall into Russian hands. Why not approve the sale, increase the numbers and start training Ukrainians on the systems immediately?” . . . .