A show of unity steels Ukraine

The leaders of NATO nations and the G-7 posed for traditional “family photos” during their summits in Brussels on Thursday. And unlike at previous events, the two groups did indeed seem to be cohesive families, bonded tightly over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

That unity will need to endure for Ukraine to survive as a nation, for countries within the alliance to better enhance their own defenses against Russia and for democracy to survive the autocratic wave represented by Moscow and Beijing.


Both meetings were a continuation and confirmation of previously announced strategies, but also were enhanced by ever-stricter sanctions. This time the economic penalties include Russia’s rubber-stamp parliament, the Duma, and 328 specific legislators. Also sanctioned were the head of Russia’s Sberbank, 17 board members of Sovcombank, 48 state-owned defense entities, and Russian elite businessman Gennady Timchenko, his family and his companies. Equally important is a new initiative to prevent other nations from “backfilling” the Russian economy.

“We are determined to continue to impose costs on Russia to bring about the end of this brutal war,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at the summit.

Those costs come with a price, which the U.S. and other nations are admirably willing to pay.

In just the latest example, Biden pledged $11 billion over the next five years to contend with the coming food-security challenges the war will cause, as well as $1 billion for humanitarian needs triggered by the war. The need is great in Ukraine, of course, but also in Europe, especially in front-line nations Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Poland.

Furthermore, eventually about 100,000 Ukrainian refugees will be accepted, with a particular emphasis on those who have family connections in the U.S. Although that’s a sizable and generous number, it’s nowhere near the wave within Europe, as the deliberate targeting of civilians has created the greatest European displacement since World War II.

There are even more Ukrainians displaced in their own country. Together the total tops 10 million, or about one-fourth of the population on the run from Russia’s wanton warfare.

While the Biden administration rightly acknowledges that many Ukrainians will want to remain in Europe with family and friends and a hope of return, many will want and need to seek shelter in the U.S., which can and should accommodate even more refugees.

Russia’s relatively stalled offensive and the unquestioned willingness of Putin to put citizens in harm’s way raises legitimate fears that he will use chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons. Biden was careful not to get into specifics in his post-summit news conference, but pledged that there indeed will be a response should Putin make that fateful error.

Regarding conventional defense, Biden said in a statement that four new battle groups will be deployed to Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania in a “strong signal that we will collectively defend and protect every inch of NATO territory.”

Ukraine, of course, is not a NATO nation. But the best way the alliance can in fact protect and defend its territory is to economically, diplomatically and militarily support Ukraine.

“Putin was banking on NATO being split,” Biden said before his news conference. Thanks in part to Biden’s leadership, it isn’t, which benefits Ukraine and the whole free world.

— Star Tribune

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