The unjustified aggression of Russian President Vladimir Putin against Ukraine has been met with scorn by much of the West. U.S. sanctions and European power have imposed punitive sanctions on the Russian invaders. Many Americans are inspired by the bravery of the Ukrainian people defending their homeland—and the unusual honor of President Volodymyr Zelensky—and wish that we could do even more.
Richard Engel from NBC News, observing Russian troops marching in Kyiv, wondered if the U.S. should attack that convoy.
Perhaps the biggest risk-calculation/moral dilemma of the war so far. The Russian army has a massive convoy about 30 miles away from Kyiv. This convoy could easily be destroyed by US/NATO. This would involve direct engagement against Russia, and could potentially endanger everything. Do you think the West watches in silent dismay as Russia rolls?
— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) February 28, 2022
As it should, this is an ExtremelyBad idea. This is a dangerous idea.
First, Russia cannot be attacked by the U.S. because Congress hasn’t declared war. It is clear that any direct attack by the U.S. on Russian forces would constitute an act of war. Two of the most powerful countries in the world would be placed at direct war for the first times since World War II. Both sides would be at greater risk from a nuke attack. In fact, the conditions would be favorable for an entire nuclear war for the first times in history.
Although the plight of Ukraine is very tragic, we cannot help them militarily. The U.S. can’t take a course that has a high probability of nuclear destruction. It would be great to reward Putin for trying to recover the Soviet empire. However, bad actors are not excuses for recklessness by the U.S. Engel suggests that this situation is a moral dilemma, but there’s no problem: There is no option for war between nuclear power.
It is the same for those calling to create a “nofly zone” in Ukraine. A no-fly zone is not a magic protective barrier—the U.S. would have to enforce it by shooting down Russian airplanes. Russia’s powerful air force makes this difficult. It would be war with Russia in any event. Zelensky’s sincere request for a no fly zone must be rejected by the U.S. This has been a wise decision by the Biden administration.