Weapons from US allies are pouring into Ukraine: Stinger missiles from Lithuania, drones from Turkey, MANPADS from Poland, anti-tank weapons from the UK and artillery systems from Estonia – all as Congress debates whether to send more “lethal aid” atop the $200 million already authorized.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky now finds himself in a predicament. While the appearance of a heightened threat of ‘Russian aggression’ has allowed Kyiv to arm itself on the cheap, there is no such thing as a free lunch and he is finding out that being the target of war propaganda has a steep price with real consequences for the Ukrainian economy.
At this point, Zelensky’s top concern appears to have shifted from Putin to Biden, urging Ukrainians to “remain calm” amid relentless predictions of a Russian invasion from Western leaders and press reports. “Right now, the people’s biggest enemy is panic,” he said during a recent visit with troops stationed near the border with Russia.
Though Ukraine has been cast in the role of defenseless victim to a looming Russian onslaught, it is the White House, not Kyiv, that has hyped the threat with the most urgency. On a near-daily basis, US officials warn of a growing Russian troop presence “on Ukraine’s border” – within Russian territory, in other words – of “imminent” invasion, and of plans for “false flag” operations to create a pretext for an attack by Moscow.
Without fail, those claims are uncritically repeated by corporate media outlets, to the boon of the arms industry, which requires at least tacit public support for the taxpayer-funded weapons giveaways to continue.
Zelensky appears to be growing frustrated with Washington, even as Biden professes an unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s security. Despite the near-constant warnings of a Russian assault, the US and its partners have been unwilling to commit to a formal defense pact or to admit Ukraine into NATO – a long-held aspiration by Kyiv. And while US officials have repeatedly claimed to have reliable “intelligence” indicating a coming invasion, Zelensky says they’ve yet to share it with him.
During a phone call on Sunday, Zelensky reportedly requested that Biden come to Kyiv for an in-person meeting, hoping he would see that things are normal there and that the heightened threat had been exaggerated. The White House, however, made no mention of a visit following the call.
Now, the US and Canada are leading a slate of countries removing – or at least repositioning – their diplomatic staff from Ukraine. The US has also redeployed 160 Florida National Guard troops to Poland after a training mission with Ukrainian forces. A growing number of states are also pressuring their citizens to leave the country, with the US warning an invasion could come as soon as this week.
Ukraine is finding out the true cost of becoming a pawn in the empire’s war narrative. Left with a struggling economy and in no better position to prevent a Russian invasion, the country may soon learn that, for NATO and its American principals, the quest for geopolitical dominance far outweighs the safety and security of Ukrainians.