Playing Wingman to President Zelenskyy

23 May 2023

It has been well over a year since Putin initiated this latest effort to bring Ukraine back under its control. The rest of the world watches, waving banners of support, some offering much needed equipment and ammunition, but never troops, never a show of global determination. Global leaders created a convenient loophole that allows them all to send equipment – but troops (and a fluid list of equipment) would somehow “escalate” the war. A year ago, sending fighter jets would lead to global annihilation, but suddenly in 2023 it’s acceptable to train pilots and provide F-16 fighters.

Initially, Canada clung to a pacifist ideology, and only offered “non-lethal” equipment and training when President Zelenskyy was begging for firepower to help their fight against this maniacal aggressor. Canada would support defensive efforts only, which was not setting Ukraine up for success. As the violence continued month after month, reality eventually forced a change in Canada’s mindset.

That Putin’s motives and his army’s actions constitute war crimes, is no longer a point of discussion; it cannot be disputed. I specify “Putin” rather than “Russia” because I believe that since the Cold War ended, Russians have proven to be rational if not exactly an ally. The problem is Putin himself – the power he wields to bully his own officials, to tragically target any dissenters, and his ability to propagandize his motives and false progress to the Russian people.

Putin seems to be detached from reality and, based on his actions and statements, is either suffering some form of psychosis or panicked over his lack of military success. No wonder Trump thought he had found a kindred spirit, but alas, he was nothing more than a pawn in Putin’s elaborate chess game of world domination.

You may chuckle at the thought, but to dismiss such a motive is folly. With the rest of the world avoiding a clear and decisive show of global strength, Putin will no doubt be a test-balloon for dictatorship regimes to ponder. Nothing was done when he decided to take Crimea, so why stop there?

It seems the more powerful nations were, and still are, quite unprepared for an “unreasonable” adversary. No matter how “obvious” the war crimes, or how many civilian structures are blown up, world leaders in key democracies stand by and are content to play wingman to the brave population of Ukraine.

As Putin has proven, the theory of global security based on the threat of mutual assured destruction becomes fundamentally flawed in practice. Indeed, the very concept must be revisited by NATO leaders now that we see how the threat of nuclear retaliation can be used against us, holding NATO allies to dangerous inaction – which puts us all at risk.

Chris MacLean