The aid package finally passed the House, Senate and POTUS desk in late April.  There is a strong inclination to breathe a sigh of relief, assume all will be well and assume now we can seriously think about ending this thing with peace negotiations.  Don’t go there.

Switzerland will host a “Peace Conference” June 15-16 at Kyiv’s request.   The best that can be hoped for at this conference is that a significant number of the 160 invitees will reconfirm a commitment to, and possibly build on, the 10-point peace formula advanced by President Zelenskyy in 2022.

 Russia isn’t going to attend.  Russia has no motivation to join that conversation.  Putin doesn’t want peace; he wants an empire.

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The outspoken voices for peace (capitulation) negotiations [Mark Hannah, J.D. Vance, Mr. Trump, Mr. Orban, etc.] are setting a trap that Putin would be well served by, and Europe should actively avoid falling into.  If Ukraine is nudged, pushed or dragged to the table, Russia will be celebrating their victory and the price for peace will be way too high.

A case can be made that even with the current surge in arms and support from the US, whatever improvement Ukraine can accomplish over the ensuing months in the front lines will only be temporary. 

By November - December of this year, Russia will possibly still be in possession of most or all of what they have taken from Ukraine so far.  The arrangement of the passage of yet another US aid package late this year or in 2025 should not be counted on, no matter who wins the election.

Russia Launches Overnight Missile Attack Against Ukraine, Multiple Regions Targeted
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Russia Launches Overnight Missile Attack Against Ukraine, Multiple Regions Targeted

The Ukrainian Air Force reported on the morning of May 30 that air defense units had intercepted 33 Shahed drones and 7 out of 11 launched cruise missiles overnight.

It’s time for Europe to step up.

With one hand, the US is sending arms and support.  With the other the US is trying to make sure Russia doesn’t lose. 

NATO is an excellent source of Intel, motivational encouragement, rhetoric and more.  If Ukraine could join NATO tomorrow, that would truly let “the fat lady sing” on Russia’s “special military operation” and annexation of stolen acreage.  But NATO is held back by US fears of escalation (yes, Russian propaganda is working!) and other holdouts such as Hungary and Slovakia.

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It’s time for Europe to step up, before Ukraine has lost more soldiers, citizens, cities and morale.  It’s obvious there will never be unanimity in Europe; but France’s Macron has been sowing the seeds of determination for months, and likeminded European leaders are there. 

Some combination of France, Poland, Romania, Czechia, the Baltic States, the Nordic States, Moldova and possibly the Netherlands and UK under Sunak could create a new stand-alone organization to do more; peeling away from the limitations that are politically holding back NATO.  US permission is not required.

Suppose for a moment that as a minimum, France, Ukraine and Poland, plus even just two or three other European countries, decide to create the “European Security Consortium” (ESC) and declare all of Ukraine a no-fly zone.  This would certainly be legal, as all of Ukraine borders are still internationally recognized and Russia should not be free to persecute war activities in that airspace. 

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The US, or Germany might object.  Too bad.  This is not the time for foot draggers.  We are not talking, yet, about consortium battalions on the front lines.  If Ukraine’s soldiers could just experience the reduction of the perpetual glide bomb threat it would be huge for them. 

As Ukraine’s F-16s arrive and their numbers gradually build, they could be so much more effective if they are not alone, trying to carve out some semblance of air superiority to operate in.

Putin has already framed his war as “us against the West.”  Europe should take them seriously because they mean it!  Yes, Russia would be very vocal in disgust and scream their opposition to an “ESC.”  But, would they go as far as to declare war on the “ESC” consortium countries?  They have demonstrated they are barely capable against Ukraine, so I think not!

It’s time for Macron and Europe to step up.  January may see Ukraine guns going silent again and be too late.

The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.

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