The administration and its partners are still reeling from President Joe Biden’s Europe trip. If suggesting that troops in Poland would be going to Ukraine and that we might use chemical weapons on Russia were not enough, the President also decided to confirm some secret intel. Biden suggested that American armed forces were training Ukraine troops in Poland.
There is no doubt this is happening, but it is hard to have plausible deniability on issues when you come out and admit them. White House communications director Kate Bedingfield had to clean up the comments by saying that they revolved around being in Poland and talking to Ukrainian troops. When directly asked if the United States was training troops in Poland, she dodged the question.
For now, the official position of the United States is that we are not training Ukraine troops. We are officially giving them some of our most high-tech weaponry such as the Javelin anti-tank missiles. Does anyone think that the Ukrainians will just automatically know how to use them? The problem with Joe Biden’s statement is that it publicly raises the temperature on the United States and NATO’s involvement in the conflict.
Russia has already come out and said that the moment United States or United Kingdom weapons cross the border they are viable targets. The chance that there is an accidental attack inside Poland is a large one. Such an attack could trigger Article 5 of the NATO Treaties and suddenly we are in a shooting war with Russia. This is more likely to happen if the United States has a public stance of escalation, which admitting to training Ukrainian troops clearly does.
Whatever Joe Biden says becomes the international policy of the United States. He is not allowed to have personal moments on the world stage where he speaks from his heart. The constant walking back of his statements is destabilizing because people start to ask the question: Who is in charge? If our adversaries start to think we are disorganized without clear leadership, they may think now this is the time to act in their interests.