Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered his condolences to the United States after 13 American service members perished in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan amid the chaos of the Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal.
Many Ukrainians have asked themselves, “If President Joe Biden is willing to leave Americans behind in Afghanistan, what will stop him from abandoning Ukraine as well?”
This event serves as a potential warning to Ukraine and any other nation that relies on the U.S. for security support.
Zelenskyy and Biden met on Sept. 1 in the Oval Office to discuss Ukraine’s aspirations to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Biden’s waiving of sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline operator, and Russia’s ongoing aggression. After Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, it has become more important for the U.S. to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
“The United States remains firmly committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression and our support for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” Biden said.
The U.S. has armed Ukraine and encouraged diplomatic resolutions, such as the Minsk agreements. Biden pledged $60 million in military aid to Ukraine, including providing Javelin anti-tank missiles and other “defensive lethal and non-lethal capabilities.”
He did express concerns regarding Ukraine’s admittance into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But even with these concerns it is in America’s interest that Ukraine remains independent and sovereign, and on the path to eventual North Atlantic Treaty Organization membership.
Zelenskyy remains adamant that this membership would protect Ukraine from Russia. But as Biden has said, Ukraine’s expedited entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is unlikely because of corruption issues plaguing the Ukrainian government and economy.
Also, Russian President Vladimir Putin knows how difficult it would be for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to admit Ukraine so long as there is a war going on in the east of the country. Therefore, Russia will do anything to prolong the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
For example, Russia has been flexing its military muscles in its recent Zapad demonstrations. The 80,000 Russian troops around Ukraine apply persistent pressure as Russia has more recently increased its military presence around Ukraine’s borders.
Ukraine should absolutely improve efforts against internal corruption. However, as Biden criticizes Ukraine’s corruption issues, it is becoming apparent that there is no time for such “tough love” treatment.
While the international community is questioning his competency and trustworthiness, Biden should give Ukraine a more concrete and clearer plan to become a North Atlantic Treaty Organization member.
Prior to the Afghanistan disaster, Biden ignored the advice of military leaders, members of the intelligence community, and recommendations from our North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies.
To restore trust in U.S. foreign policy, the U.S. must protect its partners. This means the U.S. should encourage the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to keep Ukraine on the path toward eventual membership and continue to arm the country to meet ongoing threats from Russia.
The U.S. cannot abandon Ukraine as its partner. But Biden should recognize it’s in America’s interest for Ukraine to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal