F-16 Fighter Jets in Ukraine Means NATO in Ukraine; Restore JFK Wisdom in America NowBy Marcia Merry Baker
May 22—We are seeing the escalation of both the danger of all-out nuclear war over Ukraine, and of initiatives towards a resolution of the conflict. The situation makes it imperative to move the U.S. towards the wisdom and morality clearly stated 60 years ago this June, by President John F. Kennedy. He said, speaking just months after the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis, “Total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces….”
On the danger front. The “international coalition” for sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, that U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte pledged to bring about in the days before the Group of Seven May 19-21 Summit in Japan, has come to pass. President Joe Biden and others spoke of their commitment at the G7 Hiroshima meeting. Today in Brussels, further commitment was made at the EU Foreign Ministers meeting. Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra announced that training will start “very soon” for Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 planes.
The significance of the F-16s being put in Ukraine is that NATO will be in Ukraine. This is straightforward, and it is significant that it was stated as the view of Russia last night in Washington by the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov: “There is no infrastructure for the operation of the F-16 in Ukraine and the needed number of pilots and maintenance personnel is not there either. What will happen if the American fighters take off from NATO airfields, controlled by foreign ‘volunteers’?”
Add to this picture, the startup this week of the biggest ever NATO exercises in Europe, the Defender 2023 drills of all kinds. One expert warns that the Air Defender Exercises beginning June 12 provide an opportunity extremely conducive for an accidental or deliberate clash between NATO and Russia.
Meantime, the provocations against Russia are extreme. In the last 24 hours, Ukraine forces are shelling inside Russia, in the District of Belgorod. And once again, for about the seventh time, Kiev is accusing Russia of shelling the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, where Russian forces have controlled since early 2022.
Notably opposite to all this are a number of initiatives in the direction of providing a potential resolution of the crisis. On May 20, the Vatican officially confirmed that Pope Francis has designated as head of a Peace Mission, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, who, among other responsibilities, is head of Italy’s Conference of Bishops. The Vatican statement reports that the Mission’s mandate is to start to reduce tensions over Ukraine—no matter how unlikely—and make way for pathways to peace processes.
This week, China’s official envoy to promote the same goal, senior diplomat Li Hui, will be going to Moscow, according to TASS today, from unnamed diplomatic sources. Li was in Kiev last week, visiting certain government leaders, even if his purpose was dismissed out of hand by Zelenskyy.
President Lula da Silva of Brazil has also reiterated his intentions for working with other nations—what he has called earlier this year, a “Peace Club”—on a path to resolving the Ukraine crisis. He spoke today, after attending the G7 summit as representing one of the eight guest nations, but he did not toe the G7/NATO line on Russia and international relations. Da Silva said that the Group of Seven was not the proper venue to be taking up Ukraine, and an international venue, such as the United Nations General Assembly, should be enlisted. He gave a timeframe of late June to early July. “It is necessary to discuss the war in Ukraine in the UN. During all five months of my Presidency, no one invited me to attend a UN meeting to discuss this war. We could reschedule the General Assembly meeting, which usually takes place in September, to June or July to discuss the war.”
We also take note of—with caution concerning its integrity—the report that the Prime Minister of Denmark Lars Lokke Rasmussen, at today’s EU Foreign Ministers meeting, offered Denmark as a negotiations location for Ukraine and Russia, as long as the nations of China and Brazil, and India, participate, he said.
But amidst it all, a special flame for truth and morality must come from the United States. June 10 is the date in 1963, in which President Kennedy in his American University speech, carried high that flame which can ignite its renewal today, if we organize to make that happen.
Join in the mobilization in any way you can.