Sometimes we should throw niceties out of the window and tell our friends what we are thinking, especially if we perceive disaster ahead. So, if you’ll forgive me, I’m going to say what I’m thinking right now. For those easily offended, bear in mind that this article has the word “opinion” in capital letters right before the title.

The wording of this opinion might invoke the sensation: “Who does this person think he is?” For the record, I’m a concerned European expressing a personal view. My country allows that, and Ukraine is fighting for that. It is a most fundamental type of freedom. That’s why Britain is standing with Ukraine without hesitation. Which brings me at once to my point.

My blunt opinion. The United States Congress is currently in the grip of cowardice.

Telling a nation that it should not, in self-defense, attack infrastructure that is providing the raw materials to sustain an unprovoked war of aggression that is slaughtering thousands of men, women and children. This is cowardice.

Not finding time in your diary to meet the foreign secretary of a NATO ally who has come on urgent business to discuss how to provision a nation fighting for its freedom, fighting for its very existence. This is cowardice.

Giving press conferences to announce that you stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with a nation running out of ammunition and whose cities are being systematically destroyed when you have the capacity to protect that country with a mere decision. This is cowardice.

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Disparaging the Transatlantic alliance at the very moment that the cause of freedom has faced its gravest threat since 1939. This is cowardice.

Telling a nation that it should not attack refineries providing the oil to lubricate a war of annihilation because it might make oil prices unstable. This is abject cowardice.

Constantly worrying that standing alongside a nation will cause escalation, a nation that has not even asked you to send a single soldier, yet which fights to hold back the advance of autocracy which threatens to engulf the world in war. This is cowardice.

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Turning your back on a nation that in recent years came to your aid when the chips were down, and you faced grave danger. This is cowardice. Imploring a nation to cede its territory in exchange for peace. This is cowardice.

It is cowardice for the US to criticize Ukraine for acting in desperate self-defense when its actions are largely the consequence the Western world drip-feeding inadequate support over two years.

The US Congress is proving itself unequal to the demands of freedom. And this is no mere admonition. It’s easy for all of us to make gestures, wave our hands around and dream up nice sound bites. What really reveals the true personality of a country, as with individuals, is when crisis strikes.

Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, we are in such a time right now. In fact, we are in a predicament of such magnitude that no one with the slightest power of observation can fail to grasp viscerally and with utter clarity the implications of this war for millions of Ukrainians and ultimately the rest of the world. We are finding out what our friends are made of.

As has been said repeatedly for the last two years by countless commentators, journalists, politicians, historians, and lay people, the price of inaction grows each passing day. Ukraine has taken to attacking oil refineries and airfields because it has not been given the material requirements to defend itself. It has no choice but to go after the source of destruction.

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It is cowardice for the US to criticize Ukraine for acting in desperate self-defense when its actions are largely the consequence the Western world drip-feeding inadequate support over two years. This lethargy has resulted in Ukraine having to grab every lever available to prevent its own destruction.

And what about Avdiivka and Kharkiv? Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, a city of just under two million people. Every day, the city is shelled and bombed. The Russians are doing to Kharkiv what they did in Avdiivka, what they did in Mariupol.

Yet the US and its allies cannot, for whatever reason, find the means to defend Kharkiv. Patriots could be shipped overnight. Ukraine could be given the material to defend itself. If Kharkiv is made unlivable it will be the graveyard of Western credibility, but also a monument to our cowardice. We have had two years to help Ukraine to defend itself, not least its major cities.

Oh, for a Kennedy, an Eisenhower or a Reagan. Someone who would stir the US to action. A person who would do justice to what America can be. An individual with the moral compass and motor to explain in simple and straightforward terms not just what is on the table, but the fundamentally black and white options for the world and its future.

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A leader who would energize that limitless gritty gutsiness that Americans display in the face of adversity when they are led by good people. Some presidents, in their mere charisma and energy, sweep aside all the flotsam of doubt, nay-sayers and those with a penchant for autocrats.

The US has the most powerful military, and it lays claim to be a nation that believes in the defense of democracy and the value of liberty. So, let’s see it.

It’s difficult to make these observations without giving the impression of an arrogant European expectation that the US should come to the rescue. This would be the wrong interpretation. Europe has also been uncoordinated. The Baltic states have been unambiguous in their attempts to wake up and rally European powers. They know what is at stake.

The point is rather that the US has the most powerful military, and it lays claim to be a nation that believes in the defense of democracy and the value of liberty. So, let’s see it.

Calls for support and aid have been going on for months. But now Ukraine’s energy infrastructure is systematically being eradicated, the front is stressed to breaking, Ukraine stands on the brink of calamity. All this is the cause of Western diffidence. But center stage in this debacle is the US’s position in the last half year.

Time is up. The margin for delay has gone. Stoltenberg says Ukraine “simply cannot wait.” That’s always been true. But now it is a truth as hard as steel, a deadline as ominous as the word itself.

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One day, this will all be over. And it will be over. And Ukraine will be free. Then we will look back and with that clarity of historical distance, against the skyline, we will see which nations stood solidly against that diorama, like church spires against the sky, unmoved and unmoving. And which countries ran around in a confused blur, not knowing whether they were coming or going.

It’s always been a choice for every country to decide how it will be depicted in that eventual landscape, but we have arrived at the time when the outlines and frame of that panorama are to be fixed for posterity.

The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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