Flashback: When Obama Left Ukraine Defenseless

By ANDREW C. MCCARTHY – National Review

February 24, 2022 8:57 AM

Former President Obama and Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko shake hands at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 28, 2015. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Back in 2014, after Russian strongman Vladimir Putin had annexed Crimea and, in essence, launched the war in Ukraine that he has now mobilized forces to finish, Rich wrote an excellent column on Putin’s ambitions. On July 17 that year, the terrorist “separatist” forces Putin had dispatched into Donbas (which stoked the sedition that evolved into the pretext for last night’s full-on Russian invasion) shot a Malaysia Airlines civilian aircraft out of the sky, killing all 298 people aboard. As Rich observed at the time:

The downing of Flight 17 is of a piece with Putin’s lawless aggression. Having already absorbed Crimea, he seeks to further dismember a European country for the offense of seeking to govern itself in keeping with its values and interests.

In the piece, Rich went on to highlight President Obama’s dithering — issuing vapid warnings that Putin laughed off and refusing to provide the Ukrainian military with arms to defend themselves. Eli Lake added more details: Among the defensive assets our government has denied Ukraine is “radar jamming and detection equipment necessary to evade and counter [Russian] anti-aircraft systems” — like the system Putin’s unlawful combatants had used to shoot down Flight 17.

Then-Senator Barack Obama inspected decommissioned artillery shells in a warehouse in Donetsk, Ukraine, and argued that Congress should allocate money to speed up the destruction of thousands of tons more

But Obama would not arm the Ukrainians. It was not until Donald Trump became president that they were provided with serious defensive weaponry, though it would obviously never be enough if Putin decided to mass Russia’s far superior forces and invade — which he waited to do until Obama’s vice-president, Joe Biden, was in the Oval Office.

I contended in 2014 that “We should be arming the Ukrainians not only because it is in our national interest to repel Putin’s ambitions, but also because we are the ones who disarmed the Ukrainians.” I remain convinced that Obama would not arm Ukraine because, as a senator, he had spearheaded the congressional effort to disarm Ukraine.

Obama, then a junior senator on the Foreign Relations Committee, worked with then-Republican committee chair Dick Lugar (L) to oversee destruction of Soviet-era war materiel through an agreement that Lugar had brokered years earlier, covering only nuclear weapons

Mind you, Obama did nearly nothing but run for president in his fleeting Senate years. Rendering Ukraine defenseless — in collaboration with then-senator Richard Lugar (R., Ind.), a pillar of Washington’s bipartisan consensus that it is weapons, not rogue regimes, that make the world a dangerous place — was the prodigy’s way of showing he was ready to direct U.S. foreign policy.

In 2006 Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko (L) warmly received Lugar and Obama in Kyiv

To repeat what I said at the time, “The American government official who was at the forefront of disarming Ukraine was none other than Senator Barack Obama. The Daily Mail had the report back in March:

As a U.S. senator, Barack Obama won $48 million in federal funding to help Ukraine destroy thousands of tons of guns and ammunition – weapons which are now unavailable to the Ukrainian army as it faces down Russian President Vladimir Putin during his invasion of Crimea. In August 2005, just seven months after his swearing-in, Obama traveled to Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine with then-Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar, touring a conventional weapons site. The two met in Kiev with President Victor Yushchenko, making the case that an existing Cooperative Threat Reduction Program covering the destruction of nuclear weapons should be expanded to include artillery, small arms, anti-aircraft weapons, and conventional ammunition of all kinds. After a stopover in London, the senators returned to Washington and declared that the U.S. should devote funds to speed up the destruction of more than 400,000 small arms, 1,000 anti-aircraft missiles, and more than 15,000 tons of ammunition.

press release from then-Senator Lugar’s office included then-Senator Obama’s puerile proclamation that eliminating Ukraine’s stocks of conventional weapons would ensure ‘the safety of the Ukrainian people and people around the world, by keeping them out of conflicts around the world.’”

That went well, no?


  1. History is important to remember so we don’t continue making the same mistakes over and over again. The Ukrainian news telethon today reported Obama initiated an all out weapons embargo after Putin’s 2014 invasion and I am looking for the information. That would explain a lot of things about this war and Putin’s genocide on Ukraine. It looks like Obama was helping Putin.

  2. There is a litany of criminality here. Above all, France and Germany, whose
    leaders always pursue pro-putler policies. There is little or no doubt that were it not for them, Georgia and Ukraine would have been Nato members probably before 2008.
    Putler’s war against Ukraine started in 2004 with the poisoning of Viktor Yuschenko and has continued ever since : almost 20 years of war.
    Dubya was far too obsequious with putler and allowed himself to be conned.
    Obama defeated the wise Mitt Romney, would had correctly pointed out that putler was the US’s number one geo-political foe, by satirically and disastrously proclaiming that “the 80’s want their policy back.”
    The next election resulted in the one man who knew how to deal with the tiny poisoner; McCain, disastrously for Ukraine being rejected by the electorate and leaving Obama in command in 2014.
    There was a great chance to stop putler dead in 2014, by sending ground troops with air and sea support. But nothing happened. Only a pathetically feeble sanctions regime, which must have made the kremlin murder gang laugh.
    Mainstream media predicted that “the sanctions are working!”
    No they weren’t. And they’re not working now; because they are pathetic and feeble.
    Obama just did not care about Ukraine. It was presumably him who decided to let French and German quislings sell Ukraine down the river with the impossible and unworkable Minsk accords. They have to be punished for this unbelievable treachery.
    Putler will still be happily running his Holocaust in 2024 when the next US election is on the horizon, unless Biden changes tack and decides to provide Ukraine with what she needs to WIN.

  3. Obama’s very weak, downright pussyfied behavior in the face of Putler’s aggression towards Ukraine in 2014 will always be a black splotch on our history.

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