Common Dreams Jake Johnson Military Ukraine

‘Slippery Slope… Just Got a Lot Steeper’: US to Send Ukraine Advanced Missiles as Russia Holds Nuke Drills

Peace advocates fear the Biden administration's high-tech arms shipments to Ukraine are increasing the likelihood of a full-scale conflict between the U.S. and Russia.
Biden attending G7 leaders meeting in March at NATO headquarters in Brussels. (White House, Adam Schultz)

By Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

Peace advocates warned Tuesday that the Biden administration’s newly unveiled decision to arm Ukraine with advanced missile systems further heightens the risk of a direct military conflict between the U.S. and Russia, which accused the White House of “adding fuel to the fire deliberately” as Moscow’s deadly invasion of its neighbor rages on.

“The slippery slope leading to a direct U.S. confrontation with Russia just got a lot steeper,” Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the progressive anti-war group CodePink, wrote in response to the Biden administration’s move, which was followed by news that Russian forces are holding nuclear drills northeast of Moscow on Wednesday.

The U.S.-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, also known as HIMARS, will give Ukraine the capability to strike Russian targets roughly 50 miles away with powerful, satellite-guided missiles. The rocket system, the most advanced weaponry the U.S. has sent to Ukraine to date, is manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest military contractor.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Pentagon has spent around $5.4 billion to buy more than 42,000 HIMARS rockets since 1998.

“The U.S. and U.K. governments show no efforts or desire to achieve peaceful settlement of the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine.”

U.S. President Joe Biden, who recently visited a Lockheed Martin facility in Alabama, took to the pages of the New York Times on Tuesday to explain his decision to supply Ukraine with high-tech weaponry, despite the risk that such arms could prolong the war and increase the already ghastly civilian death toll.

“We will continue providing Ukraine with advanced weaponry, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, Stinger antiaircraft missiles, powerful artillery and precision rocket systems, radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, Mi-17 helicopters, and ammunition,” Biden wrote, arguing that continued U.S. weapons shipments put Ukraine in the “strongest possible position at the negotiating table.”

Moscow has said repeatedly that it views Western arms shipments to Ukraine as “legitimate targets,” but Biden waved away the idea that such deliveries would lead to a head-to-head military conflict between the U.S. and Russia.

“We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia,” the president declared Tuesday. “As much as I disagree with Mr. Putin, and find his actions an outrage, the United States will not try to bring about his ouster in Moscow. So long as the United States or our allies are not attacked, we will not be directly engaged in this conflict, either by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine or by attacking Russian forces.”

“We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders. We do not want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia,” he added, comments that appear to conflict with recent remarks by Pentagon Secretary Lloyd Austin, who said last month that the U.S. wants “to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.”

“We want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability,” Austin added.

An unnamed senior Biden administration official told the Times on Tuesday that the U.S. only agreed to provide Ukraine with the longer-range missile system after the country provided assurances that it would not use the weapons to launch attacks inside Russia.

But such assurances are unlikely to satisfy analysts and peace activists who argue that Russia’s assault on Ukraine has devolved into a dangerous proxy war between the West and Moscow that’s just one deliberate attack or miscalculation away from a broader—and potentially nuclear—conflict.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday that Moscow doesn’t “trust” Ukraine’s promise not to directly attack Russian territory.

Compounding the risk of a larger war is the collapse of diplomatic talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations, leaving the path to a peaceful settlement highly uncertain in the near-term.

While Biden insisted in his Times op-ed that his administration backs Ukraine’s efforts to “achieve a negotiated end to the conflict,” the U.S. and other Western governments—particularly the United Kingdom—have faced criticism for failing to sufficiently support and even directly undermining peace talks.

“The U.S. and U.K. governments show no efforts or desire to achieve peaceful settlement of the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” Ivan Katchanovski, a Ukrainian professor of political studies at the University of Ottawa, told Jacobin earlier this week.

Jake Johnson

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

6 comments

  1. Biden is and always will be a demented liar. His never ending fawning of Israel as they assassinate and execute Palestinians’ for being Palestinian is both despicable and wildly psychotic and morally sadistic.

    My guess is that NATO is swamping Ukraine with weapons that are far beyond their capabilities to operate, so that they can step in and start direct confrontation with Russia. Or more appropriately The USSR.

    NATO just had to point to Russia and portray it as some horrible dictatorship and they breathed new life into their madness for war and DOD well being.

    We are a pile of shit and conflagration posing as some moral arbiter of what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad.’ Evidently being an Apartheid Occupier and Torturer of Palestinians’ just doesn’t smack of genocide. Enough. I fucking wonder what would constitute genocide?

    Biden is a bloodsoaked caricature of a ‘leader’ and will never do what is right. The Bible, Organized Religion has brought us nothing but violence, divisiveness and hatred.

    I used to buy into the narrative of ‘Arabs have always fought with the Jews.’
    I am bipolar, and I was naive as hell till I got diagnosed late in life. Now I see with appalling clarity the abhorrent and sadistic sub-humanity in The Zionist Fascists and Colonizers who never do anything wrong but rather everything right.

    Such cowards. Such foul grinning dancing miscreants.

    Go ahead whoever. Call me Antisemitic. You’ve used that ridiculous rationale as a cudgel for far too long. If you don’t know why I am so disgusted please view
    ‘The Lobby.’ And follow that up with ‘Killing Gaza.’

    Or simply subscribe to ‘If America Knew.’

    This is the arrogance and entitlement of Invaders who have no right to occupy the land they have spilled Palestinians’ blood all over for 70 fucking years.

    I wonder how long we can be deaf dumb and blind to the endless misery and horror of The Palestinians’. Israel or USrael as I call it has the gaul and balls to call itself a democracy. Murderous Theocracy is a far better descriptor.

    FREE PALESTINE! FREE ASSANGE! FREEDOM! FREE DAN HALE! FREE THE PRESS! PRESS ON FOR EQUALITY! CARE!

  2. It is indeed slippery slope of NATO mission creep.

    Many people are concerned with blatant escalation of conflict in Ukraine by US and its NATO vassals like shipment of M142 HiMARS MLRS.

    The main concern we are told is the system ability to hit targets in the industrial zones of Moscow region or Crimea Bridge although Biden deny that Ukraine gets guided missiles with 300 km range but instead standard 80km range which is 15 km smaller than range of Russian Tornado MLRS about 150 of which Ukraine had in armament before the war. Russian armed forces have about up to 5 to 1 advantage over medium and longe range artillery including MLRS in active Ukrainian frontlines.

    Although some experts said that US may deliver one launcher with six missiles even 12 or 24 of American MLRS with 80km range won’t make much difference in situation of Russian air supremacy as experts suggest.

    However long range HiMARS would be a great tool for provocation of Russia to move for regime change in Kiev.

    That would mean switching legal foundation of Russian intervention from fulfilling collective security obligation to LDPR to declaration of war on Ukraine as a result of Ukrainian aggression on its territory.

    What important is that Ukraine never declared war against Russia as it would enable Russia to automatically mobilize reserves.

    Russia does not have to do that in fact after three waves of mobilization in Ukraine resulting with increase from 600,000 to 1,000,000 AFU the RF armed forces still fight with 190,000 of contract and volunteer Army from Chechnya and elsewhere in Russia + LDPR 60,000 militia with support of few thousands of Wagner Group of Russian professional mercenaries, and small government units from Abkhazia..

    So it seems that as some US military experts stated it is a propaganda coverup for US inability to do anything meaningful about already militarily lost war.

    The advanced US attack drones, Biden wants to sell to Kiev on the other hand is what actually may become a trigger for open US-Russia war.

    The reason is simple. First.There is no way that Ukrainians can be trained to successfully operate those drones after few weeks. The regular training takes six months when the game will be nearly over.

    Second, US did not offer any specific to those drones targeting systems that are in fact top secret and involve Pentagon secret satellites Ukrainians won’t ever have control over. Russia specifically spoof and jam civilian GPS in Ukraine and use their own military GLONASS system.

    Third there are no repair facilities in Ukraine and any such center would be immediately targeted by Russia Air and Space forces killing any US specialists if they were there.

    So what would be reality of utilization of such drones in Ukraine?. Simply Ukrainians may only be involved in arming, fueling and launching of such drones that’s it. All operating, targeting and maintaining would be done by US specialists in EU or US as it was in Afghanistan.

    Which means direct war of US and Russia where RF armed forces would be entitled to target bases for drones in NATO countries.

    The good news is that there are supposedly only four of such drones to be delivered and they will be specifically and easily targeted by S400 and Pantsir systems., If Russia would allow for that however it would only encourage mission creep and US full scale involvement on the ground.

    While all independent experts agree that such escalation of weapons delivery has no strategic meaning and won’t change military outcome of this war namely defeat of AFU as acknowledged by Pentagon already in March 2022 some experts like Scott Ritter seem to be unsure that Russian slow motion offensive, aimed at minimize Russian allies losses, and by that prolonging the war would not result in decreasing support for the intervention among Russian population at home. He asks a question if perhaps political price Putin has to pay for demilitarization and Denazification of Ukraine could be too high? Or more succinctly if Putin may be losing this war politically .

    While such question seems legitimate in fact it stems from Ritter complete ignorance or misunderstanding of fundamental objectives of Russian Intervention in Ukraine.

    Putin on February 24, 2022 in his lengthy speech mentioned something critically important that many outside of Russia missed namely he declared fundamental shift in Russian historical position on 1939 Pact Ribbentrop Molotov calling it tragic appeasement policy and strategic blunder that endangered very existence of Russian nation.

    Putin vowed that such appeasement of Nazis and their backers will not be allowed ever again to happen in Russia as fighting Nazis in Ukraine or elsewhere means fighting today still without nuclear weapons for Russian existence as a nation in the future.

    And hence Russian intervention as Putin put it, is a preemptive move to destroy Ukrainian Nazism before it becomes dangerously powerful (like Nazis did between 1939 and 1941) by joining pro-fascist NATO alliance threatening the very existence of Russian nations. This is not about one Nazi Azov battalion or brigade this is about erasing ideology of Nazism as a a foundation of their nation state and Russophobia from Ukrainians psyche.

    What it means for Russians is that it is not just about politics or even about Russian historical, ethnic territories but this war may take as much time as it is necessary to defeat Nazism and Nazi military might in Ukraine that may endanger future Russian existence.

    Putin presented RF armed forces intervention to Russian people as a sort of new Great Russian National War but with manageable National sacrifice of treasury and blood.

    It is Russian version of American doctrine of “fighting enemy abroad before they come ashore” namely fighting the enemy now while weak instead of later fighting stronger enemy.

    What that means for Russians who were raised worshiping the cult of Great War 1941-45, is that there is no losing this war in Ukraine regardless of socioeconomic, political or human sacrifices that may be called upon population.

    Consequently Putin has time so he focused on minimizing costs of war and implemented long term war economics of self sustainability and proportionality allocating only resources that are needed to accomplish assigned tasks.

    Hence Russia did not scaled back any military missions worldwide in fact strengthen them, there was no internal significant military movements if any they were Arctic and for east deployments. RF armed forces used in Ukraine theater no more 5% of its military might.

    That is why thousands of western sanctions did not stop Putin and did not affect the war that became inevitable, because of NATO expansion, as inevitable as its outcome.

    Putin does not need any war propaganda but simply calling upon great grand children of WWII heroes to fight emerging Nazism again to make their ancestors proud.

    None of that is true in the west where this war is seen as purely war of discretionary NATO political choice to attempt to weaken Russia like anyone who work for living and psyop bills in the west really cares about today. Nobody does.

    That’s why severe impact of quite self defeating western economic aggression against Russia is placing already great pressure on western population on a brink of another socioeconomic collapse since 2020.

    It is not Putin but western Politicians are those who study latest polls as elections are coming and what they see amid critical energy and food superinflation and economic recession is collapse of any marginal support of more foreign adventures after Iraqi and Afghan fiascos and that includes frontlines states of Poland, Hungary or Baltic states.

    Such change of attitude is reflected by change of content and tone of western MSM assessments of war that became realistic and grim.

    It is pretty clear that if NATO wittingly or not chooses to escalate the conflict into nuclear war ordinary Russians are prepared for it. Are we prepared for it?

    1. @Kalen
      The only way for any humans to prepare for nuclear war is to put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye. And that’s not to mention the Earth itself and the rest of life here. There is nothing more evil than starting a nuclear war, and there is never any excuse for doing so. Russians can’t be “prepared” for nuclear war unless they’re prepared to die, and take all or most of the planet with them.

  3. A large part of me wants nothing more then Russia to put our sick and twisted society down like a rabid dog.

    Harsh, I know. What can I say, I walk out my front door every day into a lunatic asylum called America and every damn day it’s worse then the day before. System and social collapse in action and I have no desire to see how low it will go. There will be no happy ending so just get it the hell over with.

    1. @JustAMaverick
      I have the same feelings. I even feel that way toward the entire human race, with only very rare exceptions. However, nuking the planet is not the answer to anything and would create far more harm than whatever good it does by eliminating the Evil Empire.

  4. More evidence that the Dr. Strangeloves & General Rippers are running foreign policy in the U.S. These people should be institutionalized, not running foreign policy.

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