by Finian Cunningham, Strategic Culture:
Biden is acting tough and he is once more recklessly escalating the war with Russia with his latest move on sending F-16s.
It’s no coincidence that U.S. President Joe Biden made a sharp U-turn to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine on the same weekend that the NATO-backed Kiev regime just lost the strategic battle for Artyomovsk (Bakhmut).
Recall that Biden had emphatically said no to supplying the American warplane to Ukraine partly out of concern to not antagonize Russia.
The battle for the transport hub city in the Donbass region had been raging for eight months. Some commentators have compared the pivotal fight for Artyomovsk – a “meat grinder” – to Stalingrad in World War Two which largely determined the final victory of the Soviet Red Army over Nazi Germany.
Russian forces claimed to have finally taken full control of Artyomovsk on May 20, despite Kiev denials and a reluctance in the Western media to admit reality. Indeed, the relentless Western narrative of defiant Ukraine sticking it to the Ruskies is also a casualty here, lying bloodied on a stretcher, as is the supposed entire authority of this same media (aka Western propaganda service.)
This major defeat for the Kiev regime at the weekend completely upends Washington and NATO’s presumed prowess. The Biden administration has bankrolled President Vladimir Zelensky’s forces with $38 billion in military aid over the past 15 months. Other NATO members, Britain, Germany, France and Poland have likewise pumped Ukraine with all sorts of advanced weaponry.
The defeat of Zelensky’s forces at Artyomovsk is as much a defeat of the US-led NATO alliance.
That embarrassing blow would explain Biden’s about-turn on now giving the go-ahead for F-16 fighter jets. The announcement is aimed at shifting the news headlines from a crucial military defeat.
On one hand, the prospect of the American warplane flying over Ukraine sounds like an ominous intervention threatening Russia. The F-16 is the workhorse of the US Air Force having seen combat action in dozens of countries backing up American ground forces. It is nuclear-capable and has a maximum strike range of 800 kilometers. That is roughly the distance from Kiev to Moscow. Potentially, the U.S. jets could launch air strikes on the Russian capital.
President Biden, in making his announcement, said that he “was assured” by former comedian Zelensky that the F-16s would not strike the territory of the Russian Federation. Such an assurance is worthless, as countless sabotage, drone attacks and assassination attempts by Kiev agents in Russia have shown. Also, Team Biden has already made it known that they don’t consider Crimea to be Russian territory which would therefore not rule out F-16s making air raids on the Black Sea peninsula, yet Moscow is adamant that Crimea is an integral part of Russia.
In any case, on the other hand, the F-16 “breakthrough move” can be seen as an empty gesture that won’t alter the outcome of the war in Russia’s favor.
For a start, Washington is saying that its fighter jets are not going to be supplied from the U.S. inventories directly but rather will be re-exported from other NATO countries. So far, NATO members Poland, Italy and Germany have ruled out any supply of their American-made jets. No doubt, the European allies have balked at the provocation of such a move toward Moscow.
Uncle Sam’s slobbering bulldog, Britain, is always game for provocation, but the Brits do not have F-16s.
Another factor is the logistics and training. It would take at least six months for Ukrainian pilots to attain competence in combat performance. Ukraine’s pilots are trained up on Soviet-era MiG jets and most of them have been shot down by the Russians. It will also take months for F-16 mechanics and ground crew to be established, which would make American personnel targets. The Americans, British and other NATO states are offering F-16 training to Ukraine. But by the time, these jets are able to take off for combat sorties it will be towards the end of this year. That implies another delay in the already much-delayed and hyped Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Russia’s long-range air defense systems are reckoned to be the best in the world, exceeding the American Patriot system which was put out of action by Russian hypersonic missiles last week. The Russian air defense systems will give the F-16s a daunting challenge. The American warplane has appeared to operate successfully in various countries against non-state militant groups who have had negligible air defenses. In these theaters, the F-16s have been able to dominate the skies with impunity.
Not so in Ukraine. Russia’s multilayered air defense systems are a different matter. The S-400 ground-to-air missiles have a deadly range of 400 kilometers. Several locations along Russia’s western border can cover a distance to Kiev. That means the F-16s can be blown out of the sky long before they get within strike range of Russia. It also means that the warplanes could be targeted for destruction even before they get off the ground.
Biden’s F-16 bravado is a flight of fancy. It’s all about creating a commotion from ostensible muscle flexing. But it’s all so absurdly futile. Washington can’t even pay for its shambolic debt-ridden government, which in turn is throwing F-16s and missiles around like confetti.
Militarily, the Russians have got this covered, just like they have had with every other supposed advanced weaponry that the tech-fetish Western militarists have pumped into Ukraine to prop up their pet Nazi regime in Kiev.
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