Zelensky drags America into war, or Zelensky loses

Hit Putin directly, or we are all finished (Photo Laurent Van der Stockt for Le Monde/Getty Images)


Am I the only one who has noticed this, or have others seen it too? Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine, is getting uppity.

I mention this because Zelensky gave an interview to the Guardian newspaper on June 2, in which he said Donald Trump risks being a “loser president” if he cuts military aid to Ukraine.

Moreover, if Trump imposes what Zelensky calls a “bad peace deal” on Ukraine, it would mean the end of the US as a “global player.” The United States, said Zelensky, “will not be the leader of the world anymore.”

So says the former comedian who became president of Ukraine because of a freak election in 2019. Not much international geopolitical experience on his CV, but Zelensky has a go.

Trump is ahead in the opinion polls to win in November. Instead of Zelensky being diplomatic in his comments about the likely next president of the United States, he is strutting like a bantam cockerel – small bird, big attitude – declaring on America’s future international standing under Trump and the quality of any peace deal America decides to negotiate.

He added he had no strategy for what to do if Trump becomes president, but he is using Boris Johnson, the former British prime minister, as a go-between.

No strategy, and, dear God, depending on Boris Johnson, then insulting the man who will most likely on January 20 take over control of every serious piece of military equipment Ukraine wants.

But it gets more arrogant.

At Asia’s top security summit in Singapore, Zelensky said he was grateful to Washington for allowing Kyiv to use American-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to fire across the Russian border in the Kharkiv region, but it was not enough.

He said Russia attacks Ukraine “knowing that Ukraine will not fire back because it has no responding systems and no permissions.” He said Biden must ensure that restrictions on where Ukraine can fire missiles into Russia must be dropped.

So far, the Biden administration has insisted that Ukraine cannot use American missiles to attack targets in Russia. That would trigger a war against NATO, which for the Russians would be a war against the United States.

Or at least that is the official Biden line.

As my colleague Gabriel Elefteriu, a defense policy expert, disclosed last week, the Ukrainians have in fact attacked a massive radar installation (and possibly a second one) located deep inside Russia and forming part of its ballistic nuclear early warning network.

A Ukrainian “intelligence officer” bragged to the Western media, with the cavalier tone of someone who has no idea what he is saying, that “those radars were the eyes of Russia, and we at least partially shut them.”

And again, dear God. This Ukrainian does not understand what that means. As Elefteriu puts it, “Attacking any nuclear power’s early warning systems is highly destabilising, as it can be interpreted as preparation for a nuclear strike.”

But the bantam Zelensky wants the power to blast away: “More nuclear warning systems! More nuclear eyes! Hit ‘em all!”

Here is what is going on.

Zelensky knows he cannot win the war, and for many reasons, Russia cannot win it either, not for a long time. But Zelensky knows the West is tired of the war, and he knows that whoever is US president in 2025, the push in Washington will be to cut a deal with Russia and stop the weapons supply.

The deal would be for Russia to take part of Ukraine then stop the war. What Zelensky is trying to do is to pull the US into direct war with Russia. Then when the next administration takes over, there will be no chance of a negotiation. Those radars, those eyes of Russia, will be in action against the United States forces.

Zelensky is taking a risk, but he knows what the alternative is.

Biden is keeping the weapons going to Ukraine until at least the November election. After all the billions of dollars America has poured into this war, the money and weapons cannot stop before the vote.

If Biden stopped the aid, it would allow Russia to make humiliating big gains over Ukrainian territory. Biden had a disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and that was enough of a humiliation.

After November, the Biden administration will not care. Chances are, Trump will take over, and Ukraine will be his problem. Zelensky knows he must get America more deeply into the war, or he can start folding up his plans for “victory” – which was never going to happen – after the election.

Ukraine would be a stupid war for America to fight. It is a European war. Leave the Europeans to fight it. It is stupid for America in the same way that most wars since the end of the Cold War have been stupid. They have been wars of choice, not wars of necessity.

Russia invaded Ukraine. There is no reason the United States must do anything about it. Trump knows that.

Washington should tell the bantam cockerel he must learn to negotiate peace or end up in a stew pot.