Biden would increase lethal aid to Ukraine, in escalation of Obama policy

POLITICO


By Lara Seligman

Four days before President Trump was inaugurated in January 2017, the outgoing vice president, Joe Biden, was in Ukraine — his sixth visit in seven years — to deliver a rousing farewell speech.

“You’re fighting both against the cancer of corruption, which continues to eat away at Ukraine’s democracy within, and the unrelenting aggression of the Kremlin,” he told local leaders, politicians and parliamentarians in Kyiv, the capital.

“It’s imperative that you continue to strengthen all of your anti-corruption institutions to root out those who would return Ukraine to rule by cronyism and kleptocracy,” he added.
If Joe Biden wins in November, he would sharply increase shipments of lethal weapons to Ukraine in an escalation of the Obama administration’s policy toward the country, his top foreign policy aides tell POLITICO.

Specifically, Biden would send weapons that are critical to defending against Russian coastal attacks such as anti-ship missiles and patrol boats, his aides said. Increasing lethal aid would be just one part of a “holistic” approach to pushing back harder on Russian influence in Ukraine, which would include continuing to send U.S. military trainers and stepping up efforts to urge political and economic reform, they added.

“We can give Ukraine all the Javelin missiles we want, but if Russia has political influence in that country through various corrupt relationships, then [they] are walking in through the back door while we’ve got our eyes glued to the front door,” said Mike Carpenter, a top foreign policy adviser to Biden and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, the Balkans and Eurasia policy.

“We have to promote Ukraine sovereignty in a holistic way, which means both military support and security assistance, but also helping Ukraine beat back this — growing, by the way — Russian covert influence within its politics,” Carpenter said.

As Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden was one of a few officials urging a more robust response after Russia invaded Crimea in 2014. He was the administration’s primary emissary to Kyiv, diving into the conflict in a way that burnished his statesman credentials. He visited the country six times and spent hours on the phone with its leaders. He spearheaded efforts to send American forces to train Ukrainian fighters and prodded top officials to root out corruption.
The Obama administration refused to send Javelin antitank missiles to Kyiv, but did authorize small shipments of lethal arms to the fighters, such as shoulder-fired rocket launchers.

Carpenter drew a sharp contrast between President Donald Trump’s approach to Russia and that of a President Biden, particularly where Ukraine is concerned. He condemned Trump’s “signaling that Ukraine security is contingent on them doing us political favors,” referring to his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which resulted in Trump’s impeachment.

Rather, Trump should have put in place “the capabilities that Ukraine needs to defend itself because that’s the right thing to do, and because that’s going to defend them from further Russian incursions and aggression.”

Carpenter also condemned Trump’s frequent praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “terrific guy,” inviting Russia back into the G7, and failing to push back on intelligence reports that Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential elections and offered and paid bounties to militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Weeks after the initial report of the bounties, there is still “no indication that there has even been that leader-level communication, let alone the development … actual consequences for this, and that is flat-out dereliction of duty,” said Jake Sullivan, Biden’s top national security aide from 2013 to 2014, and chief foreign policy adviser to 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

While Carpenter said he can’t speak to the veracity of the intelligence, if Biden were in office the first thing he would likely do is call Putin and tell him to “cease and desist immediately.”
“What the vice president would do is at the highest levels reach out to Putin and say we have information that you are doing this and if you don’t stop then there is going to be an escalating series of costs,” Sullivan said.

The next step would likely be imposing “consequences” on Russia, for example, changing military posture in the Baltics or the Black Sea, imposing sanctions on Russian individuals or state-owned financial institutions, the aides said.

The overall Biden approach to Russia would likely be focused on four “pillars,” Carpenter said: Building deterrence and defense capabilities with U.S. allies, including shoring up the NATO alliance after Trump “gutted” it; imposing immediate costs on Russia for its aggressive action; working to reduce U.S. and allied vulnerability to Russia’s nonmilitary action, such as financial coercion and cyber attacks; and having dialogue with Moscow on arms control and crisis management.

Carpenter condemned Trump’s “policy toward Russia that is based fundamentally on an appeasement of Putin, a desire to have as close of a relationship as possible with Russia in the face of very aggressive Kremlin foreign policy around the world, from Libya to Syria to Afghanistan.”

Building a constructive dialogue with Moscow on arms control would likely be a particular focus of a Biden administration, Carpenter said. A President Biden would likely extend the expiring New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which caps the production of nuclear weapons. He would also likely look to include the Chinese in a new version of the agreement in the future — something Trump has indicated he will do — but he cautioned that the Trump administration’s efforts to do so now is “highly unrealistic and frankly duplicitous” because “they know that’s not going to happen.”

A Biden administration would also focus on mitigating the effects of Russian cyber attacks and information warfare, including sending Moscow a stronger message that these efforts won’t be tolerated, Carpenter said.

“We really haven’t taken any steps over these last three-and-a-half years since we learned of what Russia did in 2016 to plug some pretty enormous vulnerabilities that we have,” Carpenter said, noting that the U.S. still allows anonymous shell companies to operate across the country, and turns a blind eye to Russia, China and other nations laundering “dirty money” into the U.S. political system.

Rather than lumping Russia and China under a single banner, as Sullivan said Trump has done with the Pentagon’s 2018 National Defense Strategy, Biden would likely separate the two and develop distinct approaches.

“Just kind of saying … ‘we’ve got to deal with Russia and China’ is the wrong way to think about it,” Sullivan said. “The nature of China’s economic and technological challenge to the U.S. is different from the more asymmetric, military challenge [from Russia.]”

Carpenter criticized the Trump administration for declaring in the strategy that it would contest Russian and Chinese influence around the globe, but then failing to act when the two nations violate international norms.

“The words are empty if they are not followed up by action,” he said.
In conjunction with developing a new strategy, which is due to Congress in 2022, a Biden administration would likely launch a review of the military’s posture worldwide to look at redistributing American presence, Carpenter said.

Biden sees 21st century foreign policy strategy as “a competition between liberal democracy and authoritarian oligarchies, which describes Russia and China but also Maduro’s Venezuela, and a number of other states that are challenging us interests around the world including Iran,” Carpenter said.

The Biden team was also critical of the current administration for what it sees as lumping Russia and China together in the National Defense Strategy when they require distinct approaches. “Just kind of saying … ‘we’ve got to deal with Russia and China’ is the wrong way to think about it,” said Jake Sullivan, Biden’s top national security aide from 2013 to 2014, and chief foreign policy adviser to 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “The nature of China’s economic and technological challenge to the U.S. is different from the more asymmetric, military challenge [from Russia.]”

11 comments

  • Some game-changing stuff there. A pleasant surprise, to put it mildly.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Do you really believe Biden would have a sudden change of heart and policy after he managed Ukrainian affairs for Obama? I think it would be great too, if he was elected and followed through on this new pledge, but Politico is rife with retractions the last 3 years.
      Point 1: “Biden would send weapons that are critical to defending against Russian coastal attacks such as anti-ship missiles and patrol boats.”
      Ukraine has been developing their own for years and the new 18 patrol boats approved for transfer will be outfitted with missiles too. So this is already in the works and the habitual plagiarist is too late.
      Point 2: “…continuing to send U.S. military trainers and stepping up efforts to urge political and economic reform.” Already being done by Trump and a little previously by Obama/Biden.
      Point 3: “The next step would likely be imposing “consequences” on Russia, for example, changing military posture in the Baltics or the Black Sea, imposing sanctions on Russian individuals or state-owned financial institutions.” Already being done by Trump but the plagiarism continues.
      Point 4: “Building a constructive dialogue with Moscow on arms control would likely be a particular focus of a Biden administration.” Trump got out of those treaties that Putin was breaking and new ones would likely yield the same one-sided outcome. Still, the Trump administration is currently meeting with the Moskali to do just that. The plagiarism continues.
      Point 5: Even if Biden’s new approach to Ukraine was true, which is not likely, where was it when he was Vice President and in charge of Ukrainian affairs for 3 years?

      Liked by 3 people

  • Biden is a demented fool. Even while he was sane, he was corrupt as a Russian oligarch. The Obama Maladiministreation never permitted lethal aid to Ukraine. Trump, on the other hand, has allowed such. Under Biden, things will get far worse for Ukraine. He’ll probably can the sanctions against Russia, and Muscovy could go back to its old ways, which would be its current ways on steroids.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Biden is a demented fool” – right out of Putin’s new disinformation playbook for 2020. The Department of Homeland Security chose not to (I wonder why?) release an intelligence bulletin in July that concluded Russian state actors were engaged in a disinformation campaign aimed at persuading impressionable U.S. voters that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is suffering a decline in mental health. The intelligence findings were cued up for distribution on July 9 to federal, state and local law-enforcement partners. The department’s legislative and public affairs office had received the document for review two days before when the report’s dissemination was placed on hold almost immediately. An email showing the departmental chief of staff cautioning that the document required review by ACTING Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, a CLOSE ALLY of President Donald Trump.
      https://www.marketwatch.com/story/homeland-security-sitting-on-report-citing-russia-disinformation-on-biden-mental-health-report-2020-09-02

      Liked by 1 person

      • Biden would be terrible for Ukraine, just as it was years ago when he ran US policy there. Americans don’t need Russian disinformation to see…or hear…Biden’s loss of memory. It’s sad to watch. Are you suggesting that the Trump administration facilitate Russian disinformation?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Not the administration. Trump himself!
          Eg: “Putin is a great guy!”
          “The people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with a Russia than where they were”.
          If he would only just stop groveling to the nazi shitweasel and formulate a decisive policy to remove putinazi occupiers, he could be a good, even great president.
          If he wins, I suggest he reads and digests the meaning of Budapest. Boris too.

          Liked by 1 person

          • You think Trump should facilitate Russian disinformation? As I’ve said before, he’s in a bad position because of Obama’s FBI and deep state illegal actions when he won in 2016. If he’s hard on Putin it would be because the Dems/Media forced him to. Much of which you buy in to. If he’s soft and try to negotiate something then he’s a jack boot licker. He can’t win either way.
            Of course I’d like to see him do more but I’m not president. He was complimenting XI left and right publicly too…..while fucking him with billions and billions in tariffs very quietly. Same with Shorty the Shirtless, saying he was a strong leader made me sick but then arming Shorty’s neighbors to the hilt, applying and extending sanctions that hurt, increasing NATO budgets, stopping NS2, training military, selling real hardware and weapons to Ukraine, getting Ukraine money and trade, and cursing Shorty through his administration and congress. And believe me, they are doing the work of Trump. You should be able to tell by now that Trump is playing the Good Cop and trying to get peace deals like Kosovo/Serbia, Israel/UAE-Bahrain and even roasting hundreds of Wagner in Syria. These are not small things bro and much more than Obama or Cameron did.
            I’d like him to drop the Good Cop routine and go full out Reagan but he doesn’t believe it would work with Shorty the Shirtless.
            Another chapter in our endless saga trying to find the perfect at the expense of the good.

            Liked by 1 person

            • He did very well with the UAE deal and some others rumoured to be in the pipeline. But with Russia a disaster. ‘I’d like him to drop the Good Cop routine and go full out Reagan but he doesn’t believe it would work with Shorty the Shirtless.’
              He doesn’t want to do what those good men would do.
              We all here of course know what needs to be done off by heart. IMO Trump has an obligation to do something decisive , assuming he sees himself to be an honourable man, to fix the catastrophe of Ukraine.
              Why? Because his close friend of 40 years Roger Stone, together with Paul Manafort, were hired by Rinat Akhmetov to work for Yanukovich to get him elected, which of course led to disaster. Manafort is a close personal friend of Akhmatov, so Trump would be very well aware of what went on in Ukraine; albeit from a pro-Russia narrative. He not only knew what Stone and Manafort did in Ukraine, (ie make a thug and thief electable), he was so impressed that he hired them for himself!

              Liked by 1 person

              • Yes and that happened 4 YEARS before Trump ran for office but he’s still responsible, right? Stone and Manafort were not the bulk of any ire towards Ukraine, it’s been mostly political grudges against the illegal FBI probes and the deep state as I mentioned. Still, any logical person could see who has helped Ukraine and who has helped Russia. You really think Trump has helped Russia? Then I guess we just have to disagree and I don’t look around to blame someone else when my coffee gets cold, I look in the mirror instead.

                Liked by 1 person

      • Please visit here and comment more often Vladimir. Your views are welcome.

        Like

  • Stone and Manafort are vile criminals who must take the lions share of the death and misery inflicted upon Ukraine. They are close friends of Trump and have successfully poisoned his mind.
    The site that is founded by your good self has to show what is going on.
    As stated previously, from a British perspective, I am hoping for a Trump victory. But from the Ukrainian perspective, it is less clear.
    I am lobbying for Trump in the Daily Telegraph. Sample recent comment :
    ‘Biden is an enemy of Britain. In the 1980’s he opposed the extradition of IRA suspects for his own highly bigoted reasons. His controller, the anti-British hag Pelosi, has already signaled that the views of Sinn Fein/IRA will be factored into any UK/US trade agreement. The Dems will forge alliances with the EU and anti-British politicians like Macron. 
    The ‘New Statesman’ is a supporter of Biden’s candidacy!’
    I had you in mind when I put the very funny townhall article and ‘poetry of Biden’ video.
    But then I thought, although comments are our own OpEds, I had better not post anything ridiculing Biden’s mental faculties on this site. But here they both are for you. I hope they will give you a chuckle! :-

    https://townhall.com/columnists/kurtschlichter/2020/09/21/here-are-some-questions-for-joe-biden-n2576476?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=1e111fa1fd78d83681d50bd688824e5d93e75d64-1600834537-0-ATK6cz4Jx8GPtDIi4njN1QSKZUbngN5Rj6JUUqH7BahfaniDkaxDwCPCbI2TRzz70KrLE5q527Fh-Eqb4qG_wmNkgHJVur0niygL7h8A0ej_et9rAVXS6yORpfqyOHGzY8GdzsGXF6W-rPkC1SPzb2vmaru4WPovW27JlMUTqBacZnkXHUfID790nmqBehOEI0AK3YTozQNPxXv_RV89CCCk9-8TsGWua5OiNE-GMDl9hPxgi_GLuluJayhdktxo_sNSSgw0kFIPi-Hzl5aYLeOjNWLIb0fc3ZdKp9A-zjoPRKcQXpwYMdh_2K7r_KLTyWdJ8N88m06UR4WyOp7A-EehvCXN2Tet1-vvVXe05NRXJ7scJfBowiDfF9VjtlGq_mjZa_-w9Rlj6QckdF9XU6rvnzl6aO2zmwG9wsu_JscyXqIKhwP9nyN8uSnM7fPNyQ

    Like

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