Witcover on Politics: Biden and Ukraine, Steady Wins the Race 

When Joe Biden became president in January 2021, he declared he would not be sending any American military personnel into Russia, for risk of sparking a third world war. Instead, he would work through the North Atlantic Treaty organization (NATO) to provide weaponry and support to Ukraine in its efforts to counter Russian occupation while avoiding any major escalation of the war into Europe.  

Since then, Biden has done just that, promoting military armaments and Americans trained in their use in Ukraine. Working closely with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Biden has provided measured U.S. assistance to resist the Russian assault without triggering major escalation.  

Biden thus has arranged to aid Ukraine while also holding a check on Zelensky in his assertive efforts to combat the Russian war in his embattled nation. Zelensky, for his part, has taken the lead in that effort, but Biden has done enough to keep him in line with the strategy of measured response.   

So far, the Biden strategy of controlled response to the Russian assault has been effective.  

Biden’s strategy has been a sound one for him personally, although politically he has suffered criticism for being too easy-going in his style and personal manner. But his measured approach has been quite effective so far, as a constant reminder to Zelensky that he must not overstep his role as a partner in the defense of Ukraine.   

All through, Biden has shown himself to be a steady force confronting explosive military adversaries. As for Zelensky, he cannot afford to lose Biden’s strong leadership in this dangerous foreign-policy test for both men. While Zelensky’s country is on the line, Biden’s position as a preeminent western leader is at stake as well. 

Some Democrats, however, are voicing concern that Biden has been too slow in reviving his own re-election campaign effort, fearing he’s wasting time getting it into high gear for the 2024 contest. But being president on the job daily remains his best strength for the challenges ahead.   

Longtime Georgetown resident Jules Witcover has been writing from Washington on politics and history since 1954, first for the Newhouse Newspapers, then the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun and later as a syndicated columnist. His 20 books include “Joe Biden: A Life of Trial and Redemption.” 



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