Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday placed his military’s nuclear forces on high alert – as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its fourth day.
“Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country,” the Russian president said in a televised broadcast as he explained his rationale for the nuclear alert order.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden remained at his private residence in Delaware during the weekend. The U.S. president did not comment directly on Putin’s nuclear forces high alert order as of Sunday afternoon. He left it to White House press secretary Jen Psaki and other senior administration officials to respond. Psaki said that Putin was “manufacturing threats that don’t exist in order to justify further aggression — and the global community and the American people should look at it through that prism.”
Russia’s military has stepped up its air bombardments across Ukraine this past weekend. The attacks included missile strikes against a burial point of radioactive waste, an oil depot, and a residential complex. Putin has also reportedly deployed at least two-thirds of the estimated 150,000 Russian troops, who had been assembled near the Ukrainian border, to invade Ukraine from multiple directions. In order to take control of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, Russia is massing more troops to lay siege to the city in preparation for a major assault inside Kyiv. Russia has also reportedly reinforced its military offensive capabilities with heavy weaponry capable of inflicting enormous casualties, including to civilians.
As of Sunday evening, Russia had not yet achieved complete control over Ukraine’s air space. The Ukrainians have continued to repel Russia’s persistent attempts to take over Kyiv, while bracing for a more massive attack, and have managed to hold on to other key cities as well. The longer it takes the Russian military to achieve Putin’s objectives, the more strain is being placed on Russia’s logistics supply lines.
Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov tweeted on Sunday how Ukrainians have resisted the Russian invasion and “confidently continue to fight with russian (sic) occupant!”
The Russians have reportedly suffered thousands of casualties and the loss of multiple tanks and aircraft. Meanwhile, rather than sow disunity within NATO as Putin had most probably hoped, the Russian president’s aggression has done the opposite. It has solidified the NATO alliance’s resolve to beef up its military presence in the East European member states neighboring Ukraine and to provide more military aid to Ukraine. Germany has announced that it will finally increase its defense spending to more than 2% of its economic output.
Finland and Sweden have dismissed the Russian Foreign Ministry’s warning of “serious military-political consequences” if they were to join NATO.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to stay in Kyiv with his people and turned down the Biden administration’s offer to help him evacuate Kyiv to avoid being killed or taken prisoner by the Russian invaders. “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” President Zelensky said, as quoted by the Ukrainian embassy to the United Kingdom.
While inspiring his people to continue their resistance, President Zelensky also said that he is still willing to pursue a diplomatic path. He agreed to a meeting between his delegation and a Russian delegation on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border “without preconditions” on Monday.
More than two dozen countries, including the United States and other NATO members, announced that they planned to send military aid, including ammunition, anti-tank weapons and anti-air weapons, to the embattled Ukrainians, as well as medical supplies. Presumably, these materials will be transported by ground into the western portion of Ukraine from neighboring NATO countries, primarily Poland.
Germany is finally reversing its long-standing position against the export of lethal weapons. The German government has decided to send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger anti-aircraft defense systems to Ukraine and to authorize the Dutch to send Ukraine 400 German-made rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
For its part, the Biden administration announced an additional allotment of $350 million for “immediate support to Ukraine’s defense.” This package will include “further lethal defensive assistance to help Ukraine address the armored, airborne, and other threats it is now facing.” The Biden administration has also decided to seek $6.4 billion from Congress in additional funding to aid Ukraine as it tries to hang on. Such aid could well come far too late.
The Biden administration continues to be reactive. Take the sanctions that President Biden has announced so far, for example.
As noted last week, President Biden failed to include at least one of Russia’s largest banks in his first tranche of sanctions. Nor did his first tranche include export controls to cut off Russia from sophisticated technologies. These additional measures were not imposed until February 24th, when Biden told reporters: “They are profound sanctions. Let’s have a conversation in another month or so to see if they’re working.”
Ukraine cannot afford the luxury of waiting a month or even a week to see whether the sanctions are working.
Only after the European Union and the United Kingdom announced on February 25th that they were imposing sanctions directly on Putin and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did the Biden administration once again follow suit from behind.
A day later, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Canada decided to remove selected major Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) global bank messaging system. They are also “imposing restrictive measures that will prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions.”
The impact on Russia and the global financial markets remains to be seen.
China is straddling the fence, although leaning towards the Russian position. Chinese government leaders have not publicly condemned Putin’s invasion of a sovereign country, despite China’s long-standing policy of promoting national sovereignty and territorial integrity above all else. They blame the United States for provoking Russia.
China abstained on a draft United Nations Security Council resolution relating to Ukraine presented by the United States on February 25th at an emergency session of the Security Council. The draft resolution condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and called on Russia to withdraw its forces from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. Russia of course vetoed the resolution.
On Sunday, the UN Security Council met again to consider a resolution calling for an Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This resolution was approved. Russia voted against the resolution, but this time UN procedures precluded Russia from exercising its veto power to stop the Security Council’s referral of the invasion to the General Assembly for discussion. China again abstained, along with India and the United Arab Emirates.
China and Russia are joined at the hip economically, with China backing up the Russian economy with purchases of Russian oil at favorable prices. Nevertheless, there have been reports that China’s leadership behind the scenes is growing increasingly uneasy about how the invasion is going and has been privately urging Putin to seek a diplomatic solution.
Putin decided to invade Ukraine with the knowledge that he had a stranglehold on energy resources needed by Western Europe and the United States. His grip would have been loosened considerably if President Biden had not proceeded to recklessly destroy America’s energy independence in service to the radical Left’s climate activist agenda. Instead, Putin felt he was holding a very strong hand because of U.S. and European dependence on his oil and natural gas. Moreover, the rising price of oil as a result of constricted supplies has enriched Putin and his war machine.
The facts speak for themselves.
Net crude oil imports rose by 19% in 2021. The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) expects that net crude oil imports will increase again this year, making the United States a net importer of petroleum in 2022. U.S. oil imports from Russia have increased on average from 76,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2020 to 209,000 bpd in 2021.
On his first day in office, President Biden canceled the XL Keystone Pipeline, which would have been capable of carrying 830,000 barrels of oil each day alone. But President Biden said no and has remained stubborn in his resistance to common sense, squandering some leverage to counter the ruthless Russian dictator.
President Biden has also cut off oil and gas leases and exploration on federal lands and waters. As reported by the New York Times, the Biden administration has frozen decisions about new federal oil and gas drilling. To date, Biden has not reversed this reckless decision in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its impact on the global energy market.
Moreover, the Biden administration’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has just recently issued sweeping new regulations, E&E News reported, “including a first-ever climate change threshold, upending decades of precedent for how major energy infrastructure is approved.”
Green energy activists are ecstatic. But Americans paying higher prices for energy will suffer. So will Europeans who are highly dependent on Russian natural gas and need uninterrupted U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas more than ever if Putin decides to cut off Europe’s natural gas supply.
President Biden’s climate czar John Kerry epitomizes the twisted priorities of an administration driven by the Green New Deal ideology. Just days before Russia had launched its invasion of Ukraine, Kerry expressed his concern that such an invasion would produce “massive emissions” with dangerous consequences for the world’s environment. Kerry was more worried about a blow to his radical green environmental agenda from a Russian invasion of Ukraine than the loss of life and possible destruction of a free people’s sovereign nation.
Kerry worried that launching a war against Ukraine would draw Putin’s attention away from the impact of climate change on his own country. “And so I hope President Putin will help us to stay on track with respect to what we need to do for the climate,” Kerry said.
In Kerry’s mind, there is hope that an evil bloodthirsty dictator willing to trample on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another country and murder civilians might be counted on to cooperate in fighting global warning.
President Biden is still letting the progressive Left’s war on fossil fuel take precedence over releasing America’s vast energy supply to blunt the Russian dictator’s escalating war on Ukraine, which threatens to bleed beyond Ukraine’s borders.