With the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, questions arose whether the Trump administration did enough to deter a Russian invasion into Ukraine by sending lethal aid. Compared to the previous Obama administration, the Trump administration actually sent lethal aid that would directly help Ukraine’s military in self-defense strategy.
For Ukraine, lethal aid came in the form of the anti-aircraft Javelin missile launcher weaponry and its sale to Ukraine was approved in 2017 by Trump. Yet this fact went largely ignored by the mainstream media.
Javelins are used by ground soldiers to fight aircraft without needing specific anti-aircraft vehicles or missile installations. By all accounts, having Javelins to combat Russian air superiority in Ukraine’s airspace would be invaluable to resisting Russia’s invasion.
The reports of Trump’s lethal aid came during Trump’s second impeachment trial, according to Business Insider, because of the content of the much-publicized conversation between Trump and Ukraine. That conversation, in the words of the media and Democratic Party, included content that was an impeachable offense.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration refused to send military weapons to Ukraine and relied mostly on sending non-lethal aid. Some examples of non-lethal aid were night-vision goggles, Humvees, patrol boats, body armor, humanitarian assistance, and U.S. military trainers.
For context, Russia invaded eastern parts of Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula during the Obama administration in 2014 and it has since declared these invaded parts as independent republics under Russian protection. Russia’s military and special forces did not conduct any overt invasions during the Trump administration: Trump claimed that he told Putin that it would not be tolerated under his watch.
President Joe Biden, who was Obama’s vice president, did not send lethal aid to Ukraine’s military during the buildup of Russian forces before the invasion. He only sent U.S. soldiers to neighboring countries such as Poland to manage the refugee crisis after Russia invaded, in addition to military weaponry. Biden’s administration tried to thread the needle when it approved the sales of another anti-aircraft missile launcher called the Stinger from Latvia and Lithuania to Ukraine, but it did not come directly from the U.S. stockpiles. NBC News reported that there were internal rumblings from U.S. intelligence lawyers, who were worried that providing direct lethal aid could leave the U.S. vulnerable in international law as a participant in a conflict.
Unlike Trump, Biden was not proactive in deterring Russia’s invasion.
Biden’s public rhetoric warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if he did invade, history would look at Putin’s legacy unfavorably. Putin ignored Biden’s warnings and invaded, even though Russia’s invasion has stalled much quicker than defense analysts anticipated.
Yet, this is another example of media misinformation of ignoring one of Trump’s accomplishments in order to shield Biden’s struggles as president. Academics and historians alike should be the first to push back against the anti-Trump misinformation, but many of them became willing partisans during Trump’s tenure.