As the one-year anniversary of the war approaches, some U.S. officials are calling on the federal government and other countries to arm Ukrainian forces. the Biden administration needed to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to train pilots. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who appeared separately on “This Week,” did not say whether F-16s had been approved, but he did emphasize the importance of proper training for Ukrainians.
There are two things to consider here. The first is what is going on in terms of political theater. And part of that is what Sen. Graham is doing, which is having diplomats and politicians try to keep NATO together and present a united front.
That is not what the Ukrainians require. The F-16s are extremely complex aircraft. Training not only the crews but also the maintainers take a long time. It necessitates a massive supply chain. It necessitates the use of weapons that they do not possess. So, in essence, you have two efforts going on here. One is, how do we keep the Russians from taking over Ukraine? What kinds of weapons do they really need versus what is going on in NATO’s political theatre to demonstrate NATO coherence and a united front against Russian aggression?
But the problem with an F-16 is that if you don’t give it a weapon that the Ukrainians can use or that is useful to them, it isn’t what the Ukrainians need. So, right now, they have a pretty good air defence system that’s glued together and sort of a Rube Goldberg way of linking at least seven or eight different surface-to-air missile systems together. So, you’ve got all these countries with their own surface-to-air missile systems. To be honest, those are doing an excellent job of bringing down cruise missiles and dealing with the threat in the sky.
Why would you require F-16s? What the Ukrainians really need is the ability to strike deep behind Russian lines and seize their supply caches, preventing them from having the things they need to wage war. So the best way to stop the Russians is to take away the things they need, such as fuel and ammunition, and hit them in the back. However, the administration has made it clear that they do not want to accelerate, or at least inflame, what they believe would happen if they were given weapons beyond about 100 miles.
the US-Ukraine alliance, but what about this Russia-China alliance? I mean, Russia appears to be on the offensive at this point in the war. We’ve heard that China may be providing more material assistance to Russia. What might that look like, and what impact do you think it would have?
There appears to be some intelligence out there that suggests the Chinese are about to sign a deal to provide military weapons to Russia. We now know that they have been evading sanctions through means other than military capability. However, this would obviously concern not only Ukraine but also NATO, particularly the United States, if the Chinese supported them. What could they do now? Remember that the Soviet Union exported the majority of its weapons to China early on? In many ways, the Chinese have reverse-engineered old Soviet technology that they can now sell back to the Russians, which may be one way to assist them. But the real question here is whether the Chinese are willing and ready to burn that diploma tic bridge by supplying weapons to the Russians that would be useful in a military conflict.
China has things Putin wants, and if China says, “OK, you’re going to sell your oil to us at a 20% discount for the next ten years,” Putin will be satisfied. That is an excellent offer. Putin responds, “Well, I need something else.” So, for the next ten years, you can sell us iron ore extracts at a 30% discount. So there are numerous ways for the Chinese to extract long-term economic security from the Russians by playing ball with them from the start.