History Being Made in Vilnius. President Biden to Benefit from NATO Summit No Less than Ukraine

Tuesday, 4 July 2023 —
The position of the United States on many critically important issues remains ambiguous. The NATO summit in Vilnius will determine whether President Biden is prepared to take bold steps that will define his role in history. Isopix/East News.

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The 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden, will undoubtedly be a part of world history. To some extent, he already is. The unprovoked Russian aggression, which turned into the largest war in Europe in the last 75 years, left no other choice. 

In February 2022, Washington – let's imagine for a moment – could have stepped back, agreed that Russia is destroying the world order, and is building a world based on force. But such a historical decline was unacceptable to everyone except Putin and a few renegade leaders who supported him. The West then chose the bright side, and Biden began to write a chapter on his role in history.

However, it is not yet complete. 

The answer to the question of Biden's role in resolving the largest security crisis in decades is still unknown.

By now, "Biden's page" in this history book is controversial.

Although there are things for which not only Ukraine but the whole world should thank him. 

The United States has led a coalition of states that are helping Ukraine to stop Putin and prevent him from destroying the world order with impunity. Without the assistance of the United States, the Ukrainian military would not have achieved the victories that have become an example of military excellence. The US leadership in providing military assistance to Ukraine continues.

The White House began repeating last year that it would help Ukraine "as long as it takes." This formula, proposed by Washington, soon became the main narrative in supporting Ukraine worldwide.

However, it turned out that the word "long" in this phrase also stands for "slow".

Almost every decision to supply Ukraine with new types of weapons was long overdue. 

Currently, Ukraine's air defence system downs over 80%-90% of the cruise missiles launched by Russia. In May, the Patriot system destroyed all Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missiles heading for Kyiv. Germany sent this Patriot to Ukraine after months of hesitation by the US to approve the export of the products for military purposes, while Ukraine had been asking for air defence systems from the first days of the war. Last autumn, when Russia launched massive missile attacks on civilian and energy infrastructure, many missiles hit their targets. Now Ukraine is rebuilding what was destroyed, mostly at the expense of Western (including American) taxpayers. 

But no one can convincingly explain the reason for this delay in supply, increasing the cost of Russian attacks.

The same goes for the supply of armoured vehicles, heavy armoured vehicles, artillery, MLRS... None of these steps provoked any "retaliation" or "escalation" from Russia, as the White House feared. Now, Kyiv has got a green light for F-16 fighter jets. They are expected to be deployed in six months, after pilot training. If the training had started a year ago, as Kyiv requested, these aircraft would already be playing a crucial role in the counteroffensive.

However, even with delays, the White House did give the "go-ahead" for each of these steps. That’s highly appreciated, even though Biden's reluctance to take a decisive step and find his place in history is surprising.

But now we’ve reached the historical crossroads.

It differs from previous examples.

All Allies are ready to vote at the Vilnius Summit in favour of extending a political invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance, provided that the United States also gives its vote. This is a moment for the US political leadership that no one will oppose and for a decision that does not pose a threat.

This invitation is just the first symbolic step in the accession process, which does not invoke Article 5 (collective defence) of the NATO Treaty. This step in no way "draws" NATO into a war with Russia. But it makes Ukraine's future accession to the Alliance irreversible.

Furthermore, this step invites Russia to de-escalate: Russian attempts to prevent Ukraine's membership in NATO are becoming meaningless.

European NATO members have realised this. French President Macron has become an advocate for extending an invitation for membership to Ukraine at the Vilnius summit. Over 20 countries, including formerly cautious nations like the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy, have signed written statements in support of Ukraine's membership aspirations.

There is only one missing piece: Biden's support. With his leadership, a consensus is reached.

However, the US president still has seven days to understand that his place in history is currently being shaped.

Equally important, this decision can also influence the results of the 2024 elections in the United States. For numerous members of the Ukrainian, Polish, and Baltic diaspora in the US, Ukraine's NATO membership is crucial. Many of them may become swing voters, due to a shift in the Republican Party. But their support of a president who would close the door to NATO membership for Ukraine seems highly unlikely.

We are aware that some in the US suggest postponing Ukraine's invitation to the 2024 Washington summit, saying that it would work better in an election year. This would be a mistake. Historic actions are valued the most when made at a historic moment, not at party primaries. As historic inaction creates distrust, which is not easy to overcome.

And at the 2024 summit, the time will come for other historic decisions. There is nothing better for the presidential campaign than winning the war with Russia.

Also, it would be a huge mistake to think that Ukraine's invitation to NATO can be postponed to the future as safely as the US delayed arms supplies. This time, Russia will interpret the additional (and indefinitely extended) delay as a signal that it has veto power over Ukraine's NATO accession. By stipulating certain security conditions for Ukraine's invitation, the Alliance will signal to Russia that it must maintain a threat level higher than those conditions.

If it is determined that Ukraine will receive an invitation to NATO after meeting certain conditions, Russia will do everything possible to prevent those conditions from being met, or to convince individual players within NATO to never evaluate them positively.

This is how the Russian hybrid veto will work if we see no US leadership in Vilnius.

This prognosis is shared by all Ukrainian security and foreign affairs think tanks, as they said in a Joint Appeal ahead of the Vilnius summit. 

Therefore, the decisions and actions (or inaction) of Biden and his team in Vilnius will determine not only his role in history. It will also be defining the global order, not to mention that it can potentially save thousands of Ukrainians’ lives.

Therefore, European Pravda is appealing to the President of the United States with a clear and simple message.

It is high time to be ambitious. To make history.

Support Ukraine's invitation to NATO now, initiating an irreversible process that will lead to Ukraine's NATO membership and put an end to Russia's ambitions of restoring its empire. This is a historic step that will shape the future of the continent. There will be no better opportunity to do this than at the Vilnius Summit.

by European Pravda newsroom

 
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