Last week, in an article titled, “The U.S. Races to Arm Ukraine with Heavier, More Advanced Weaponry” the New York Times provided the reader with extensive information about the Western arms supplies to Ukraine.[i] It mentioned the Russian warning that Western deliveries of the “most sensitive” weapons systems to Ukraine could bring “unpredictable consequences”. It drew attention to concerns among NATO allies regarding the kinds of military equipment sent to Ukraine. Earlier in the week, German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck had warned NATO allies that deliveries of modern tanks from Western producers could prompt Russia to extend its war to Western countries.
Merriam-Webster defines “brinkmanship” as, “the art or practice of pushing a dangerous situation or confrontation to the limit of safety especially to force a desired outcome”, and “diplomacy” as “the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations”. However, I am inclined to see the former not as an art, but as a gambling game at the end of which, more often than not, there are no winners.
Now, with loss of life, devastation, displacement within Ukraine and into neighboring countries, “brinkmanship” in the Ukraine crisis has already gone beyond the limit of safety. So, it is time for diplomacy.