Let Ukraine Defeat the Russia-Iranian War Machine

People look at a residential building destroyed by a Russian drone strike, which local authorities consider to be Iranian-made Shahed-136, in central Kyiv. (Photo by Oleksii Chumachenko/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images.)

Air raid sirens rang in the new year for Kyiv last week as Ukraine faced another crushing barrage of Russian missiles and Iranian drones. Rather than helping Ukraine defend itself for “as long as it takes,” as President Joe Biden recently declared he would, the United States should help Ukraine achieve victory as quickly as possible. It’s a fundamental paradigm shift that starts by giving Kyiv what it needs to destroy the growing terrorism machine along the Russian-Crimean border. 

Faced with a poorly trained and logistically uncoordinated conventional military incapable of taking and holding territory, Russian President Vladimir Putin has turned to a partnership with Iran. Revolutionary Guard trainers from Tehran are on the ground in Russian-occupied Crimea, helping coordinate lethal drone strikes against Ukraine’s civilian population and infrastructure.   

Meeting few effective counterattacks against the drone trainers, operators, and bases, Putin is reportedly in talks with Iran to import short-range ballistic missiles, too. Moscow’s goal is transparent: Intensify the misery of the Ukrainian people while trying the patience of Kyiv’s allies in Europe and America who will grow tired of funding a never-ending war amid the conflict’s myriad economic ripple effects.  

Allowing Russia and Iran to operate freely along the Russian-Crimea border only prolongs the conflict. But the White House doesn’t see it that way. Biden’s chronic risk aversion and deference to Putin’s saber-rattling continues to deny Ukraine the ability to force a complete Russian retreat. 

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