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The Kyiv Independent scolded New York Times editorial board this week, accusing the liberal newspaper of calling for the West to appease Russian President Vladimir Putin and “give up” assisting Ukraine in the war while making the “same mistake” Russia did in the first place.
“Following the New York Times’ advice will lead to more war, more destruction and a heavier burden on American people in the long run,” the Kyiv Independent wrote.
The Ukraine-based paper was peeved over a May 19 Times’ editorial board piece headlined, “The War in Ukraine Is Getting Complicated, and America Isn’t Ready,” which noted that Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines feels the unpredictable war could increase the likelihood that Russia may threaten to use nuclear weapons.
“These are extraordinary costs and serious dangers, and yet there are many questions that President Biden has yet to answer for the American public with regard to the continued involvement of the United States in this conflict,” the Times editorial board wrote.
“In March, this board argued that the message from the United States and its allies to Ukrainians and Russians alike must be: No matter how long it takes, Ukraine will be free. Ukraine deserves support against Russia’s unprovoked aggression, and the United States must lead its NATO allies in demonstrating to Vladimir Putin that the Atlantic alliance is willing and able to resist his revanchist ambitions,” the Times continued. “That goal cannot shift, but in the end, it is still not in America’s best interest to plunge into an all-out war with Russia, even if a negotiated peace may require Ukraine to make some hard decisions.”
The Times’ editorial board then declared that “the US aims and strategy in this war have become harder to discern, as the parameters of the mission appear to have changed” and there are no unanswered questions such as whether Putin will be held accountable for war crimes.
The Gray Lady argued that without clarity on these issues, the Biden White House risks Americans losing interest in supporting Ukraine and jeopardizes long-term peace throughout Europe.
“It is tempting to see Ukraine’s stunning successes against Russia’s aggression as a sign that with sufficient American and European help, Ukraine is close to pushing Russia back to its positions before the invasion. But that is a dangerous assumption,” the Times wrote. “A decisive military victory for Ukraine over Russia, in which Ukraine regains all the territory Russia has seized since 2014, is not a realistic goal.”
The Times’ editorial board said Ukrainians are the ones “fighting, dying and losing their homes to Russian aggression,” so it is up to them to decide what the end of Russia’s war looks like.
“Biden should also make clear to President Volodymyr Zelensky and his people that there is a limit to how far the United States and NATO will go to confront Russia, and limits to the arms, money and political support they can muster. It is imperative that the Ukrainian government’s decisions be based on a realistic assessment of its means and how much more destruction Ukraine can sustain,” the Times wrote. “Confronting this reality may be painful, but it is not appeasement. This is what governments are duty bound to do, not chase after an illusory ‘win.'”
The Kyiv Independent didn’t appreciate the Gray Lady’s thoughts on the situation, particularly a claim that Russia is “too strong,” and fired back with an editorial of its own this week. The Ukraine-based paper interpreted the Times piece as meaning “Ukraine will lose anyway, stop helping it so it’s over faster.”
“As a newsroom witnessing the war from inside Ukraine, we want to set the record straight. Ukraine winning the war with Russia isn’t ‘unrealistic’ or even ‘likely.’ If we want the world to be anything like what we know it to be, then Ukraine winning is the only option,” the Kyiv Independent wrote. “And Western financial and military support for Ukraine is the only way to establish ‘long-term peace and security on the European continent’ that the New York Times editorial board is rooting for. Ukraine’s belief in its victory isn’t based on overconfidence. It’s based on necessity.”
The Ukrainian paper noted the Times is “running story after story about the living hell through which Russia puts Ukrainian civilians in occupied territories” while its editorial board is “suggesting that Ukraine should cede territories to Russia, where more atrocities will undoubtedly happen.”
The Kyiv Independent wrote that appeasement “isn’t the voice of reason,” but rather a “fear and short-sightedness that will only make things worse” before accusing the Times of calling for the West to do what Putin wanted all along and give up.
“Make no mistake: If you appease a dictator, whose troops regularly indulge in war crimes, it will lead to a catastrophic geopolitical shift. A Russian military victory would lead to land grabs and brutal conquest becoming the new norm. Allowing a power-hungry fascist dictatorship to succeed will encourage other dictatorships to try,” the Kyiv Independent wrote.
The Kyiv Independent also said the Times’ editorial board simply lacks of understanding of Ukraine and Ukrainians.
“Ironically, the New York Times makes the same mistake that the Russians did when they attacked Ukraine in February. The Russians assumed that Ukrainians would welcome them or surrender. The New York Times editorial board should know better than to make similar assumptions about Ukrainians now ,” the Kyiv Independent wrote. “Ukrainian society will never agree to any concessions. Those who don’t understand this simple fact don’t understand Ukraine at all, and perhaps shouldn’t share their uneducated speculations in one of the world’s leading media publications.”