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Insiders to Obama: Send Military Aid to Ukraine

Insiders to Obama: Send Military Aid to Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin “must be checked before it’s too late,” one of National Journal’s Security Insiders said.

 Ukrainian soldiers stand inside the gate of a Ukrainian military base as unidentified heavily armed soldiers stand outside in Crimea on March 3.(Sean Gallup/Getty Images) inShare..

Ukrainian soldiers stand inside the gate of a Ukrainian military base as unidentified heavily armed soldiers stand outside in Crimea on March 3.(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Crimea all but belongs to Vladimir Putin now, and a nervous Ukraine is looking to the U.S. for help. But while the Obama administration has pulled diplomatic levers to rebuke Russia and bolster Kiev, it has thus far rebuffed Ukraine’s reported request for military aid.

And that’s a mistake, according to a slim majority of National Journal’s Security Insiders. Fifty-seven percent agreed that the administration should supply Ukraine with military aid, including weapons, ammunition, and intelligence support.

“It would get Russia’s attention and send a clear message to Putin that he cannot continue to annex neighboring territories with impunity,” one Insider said. “He must be checked before it’s too late.

But 43 percent of Insiders said they opposed supplying Ukraine with lethal aid—albeit for different reasons. Some experts said it was too late to stop Putin, while others said lethal aid would be ineffective at bridging the gap between the Russian and Ukrainian militaries and could inflame tensions with Russia.

Lethal assistance could also open up a Pandora’s box, another Insider said, at too steep a cost for the U.S. “Should we get sucked into a proxy struggle with Russia over a territory that isn’t strategically important to us? No, we shouldn’t,” one Insider said. “History hasn’t shown these sorts of endeavors to produce happy results. Before long we’re throwing good money after bad, risking endless escalation with an adversary that has a lot more at stake than we do.”

1. Should Washington agree to the request from Ukraine’s interim government for U.S. military aid, including weapons, ammunition, and intelligence support?

(61 votes)
■Yes 57%
■No 43%


“The West and Ukraine would benefit if Ukraine gained the capacity to inflict higher costs on its eastern neighbor if the Kremlin were to contemplate expanded aggression.”

“[Military assistance] increases Putin’s risk calculus. If he thinks that he cannot succeed without great cost, he may be less likely to try. The easier Putin thinks it is to continue to escalate in the short term, the more he is likely to do so. It is possible to deter without provoking.”

“Limited military support is appropriate, but since it is not likely Ukraine will win a major military confrontation with Russia, every effort must be made to reach a diplomatic solution before matters get out of hand.”

“We have a treaty, negotiated by Bill Clinton, guaranteeing the security of their borders. Failing to help here will undo much of the progress towards democracy that we’ve seen in the region. We won the Cold War without firing a shot. We will lose this battle without lifting a finger.”

“To not provide at least intelligence support would be a total abdication of global leadership.”

“The U.S. managed to supply Georgia when it was invaded by Russia without getting us into a war; Obama can do the same, but evidently lacks the will to do so.”

“If Putin continues to bring in troops to Ukraine.”

“We might want to build a Ukrainian government while we’re at it.”

“Yes. We have drawn a red line—now do the things necessary to be credible.”

“Military and State Department planners should certainly be drafting plans and identifying aid needs and options, but military efforts need to take a distant back seat to the diplomatic process. The United States needs to wean itself off of the stick and regain its appreciation for and skill at deploying the carrot.”


“It’s too late. We need to negotiate a face-saving solution. We do not need another Cold War. Putin perceives Obama is weak. Sending arms will not convince him otherwise.”

“Weapons and ammunition would not help bridge the yawning capability gap between the Ukrainian and Russian militaries. Though intelligence support may help, anything more would only further inflame U.S.-Russia tensions.”

“We should not pretend Ukraine is within our/NATO’s security sphere: It isn’t. Providing military aid could encourage them to resist: They will be slaughtered. Better to work on reinvigorating NATO’s defenses.”

“We ought not edge any closer to war with Russia over Ukraine and Crimea.”

“The forces are asymmetrical and the marginal benefit would not be consequential. If we want to play hardball, revisit our radar sites in Eastern Europe.”

“Establishing more military ties between Ukraine and the West will only stimulate stronger Russian reactions.”

“While it can seem like a travesty to not aid Ukraine as it requests, the U.S. and its NATO allies cannot barge into Ukraine at this time. Putin has the advantage right now because of interior lines and his capability to infiltrate forces into Ukraine without any effective response from Kiev. The NATO allies need to shore up their own commitments to the Baltic states (including considering requests from Sweden and Finland) before getting involved on the ground in Ukraine. Putin has done what the tsars before him did—swallow up those peripheral states along with all their internal problems, thus making them Moscow’s problems (recall Chechnya in the 1860s?). Let him overextend himself for now while holding the line along the front-line states. Work diplomatically with Ukraine’s military to improve their skills but do so by training Ukrainian forces in Poland. Consider holding Kaliningrad hostage through economic strangulation and water patrols. Let’s get the conditions set first before offering Ukraine the NATO umbrella.”

“We must never forget that the U.S. has no vital interests in Ukraine while Russia does. MAD still dictates a policy of caution in dealing with another nuclear state.”

“No, we’ve already lost this battle. Putin is not pulling back. If we want to do something, it should be in combination with NATO aid and support.”

National Journal’s National Security Insiders Poll is a periodic survey of more than 100 defense and foreign policy experts. They include: Gordon Adams, Charles Allen, Michael Allen, Thad Allen, Graham Allison, James Bamford, David Barno, Milt Bearden, Peter Bergen, Samuel “Sandy” Berger, David Berteau, Stephen Biddle, Nancy Birdsall, Marion Blakey, Kit Bond, Stuart Bowen, Paula Broadwell, Mike Breen, Mark Brunner, Steven Bucci, Nicholas Burns, Dan Byman, James Jay Carafano, Phillip Carter, Wendy Chamberlin, Michael Chertoff, Frank Cilluffo, James Clad, Richard Clarke, Steve Clemons, Joseph Collins, William Courtney, Lorne Craner, Roger Cressey, Gregory Dahlberg, Robert Danin, Richard Danzig, Janine Davidson, Daniel Drezner, Mackenzie Eaglen, Paul Eaton, Andrew Exum, William Fallon, Eric Farnsworth, Jacques Gansler, Stephen Ganyard, Daniel Goure, Mark Green, Mike Green, Mark Gunzinger, Todd Harrison, John Hamre, Jim Harper, Marty Hauser, Michael Hayden, Michael Herson, Pete Hoekstra, Bruce Hoffman, Linda Hudson, Paul Hughes, Colin Kahl, Donald Kerrick, Rachel Kleinfeld, Lawrence Korb, David Kramer, Andrew Krepinevich, Charlie Kupchan, W. Patrick Lang, Cedric Leighton, Michael Leiter, James Lindsay, Justin Logan, Trent Lott, Peter Mansoor, Ronald Marks, Brian McCaffrey, Steven Metz, Franklin Miller, Michael Morell, Philip Mudd, John Nagl, Shuja Nawaz, Kevin Nealer, Michael Oates, Thomas Pickering, Paul Pillar, Larry Prior, Stephen Rademaker, Marc Raimondi, Celina Realuyo, Bruce Riedel, Barry Rhoads, Marc Rotenberg, Frank Ruggiero, Gary Samore, Kori Schake, Mark Schneider, John Scofield, Tammy Schultz, Stephen Sestanovich, Sarah Sewall, Matthew Sherman, Jennifer Sims, Suzanne Spaulding, James Stavridis, Constanze Stelzenmüller, Ted Stroup, Guy Swan, Frances Townsend, Mick Trainor, Richard Wilhelm, Tamara Wittes, Dov Zakheim, and Juan Zarate.

By Sara Sorcher

This article appears in the March 21, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.

Ukrainian officials have pleaded U.S. lawmakers to provide military aid, claiming their ousted president intentionally gutted the nation’s defenses so to make Ukraine vulnerable to a Russian take over.
Putin’s goal has never been Crimea; his goal is Kiev.” USA needs to support the Ukrainian armed forces with military assistance to fend off Russian aggression…and prevent World War 3. Listen Senator McCain stating support for Ukraine’s military as “right and decent”.

McCain calls U.S. military support for Ukraine “right and decent”

Here’s What the West Can Do to Stop Russia

Here’s What the West Can Do to Stop Russia

What can the West actually do?

Russia has shattered the presumption that we can take European security for granted. In the past two weeks, President Vladimir Putin has committed outright acts of war by invading Crimea and threatening to invade eastern Ukraine. It now appears that Russia will annex Crimea and perhaps go further unless confronted with a stronger resolve than visible so far from the United States and Europe.

Clearly, Russia has acted because its leaders believe that the Obama administration and Western allies are irresolute, weak and need Russia more than it needs them. While economic sanctions are essential, stronger measures, including military ones, are also necessary if we are to preserve European peace and security – and they need to take place in concert with more concrete steps by NATO.

A regular NATO fleet should be maintained in the Black Sea and recently announced military exercises extended and increased.
These drills include a U.S.-Bulgarian-Romanian naval exercise in the Black Sea and a joint U.S.-Polish air exercise involving F-16s. Likewise, we could resume construction of missile defenses in Poland and the Baltic states. On the naval side, assets deployed into the Black Sea should be given adequate air cover and air defenses. Beyond these immediate steps, additional Partnership for Peace exercises with Ukraine and Georgia should be scheduled, and military contacts between Ukraine and NATO increased.

Concurrently, as President Barack Obama and U.S. national security leaders have stated, the new Ukrainian government should reinforce its international image as sole legitimate authority by reaffirming the protection of minorities and reiterating its adherence to all existing treaties—including the 2010 Russo-Ukrainian agreement providing Russia with long-term naval basing at Sevastopol. It should also finish its application to the IMF and EU for immediate relief and launch urgently needed economic reforms to strengthen the country’s rickety economy, ending energy subsidies while providing relief for the poor, recovering assets stolen by former President Viktor Yanukovych and his cronies, ending corruption in government contracts, and establishing transparency in the energy distribution sector (and in government contracts generally).

Such actions would preserve peace, communicate NATO and the EU’s unified resolve, encourage a Russian withdrawal of troops and deter a descent into violence.
But they would be just the start. Beyond Ukraine, Washington and NATO must realize that Putin’s Russia will not be integrated into Europe, and readjust their policies accordingly [such as the Pentagon’s three year-old wish that Russia would turn its missile defenses away from Europe and toward Tehran in a joint NATO radar net against the Iranian missile threat]. Ukraine may now be in the eye of the Russian hurricane, but a failure to defend Ukraine’s integrity and sovereignty only invites further Russian assaults on sovereignty throughout Eurasia.

Military measures are obviously not the only answer. Though they are urgent, the real payoff will come from long-lasting measures to invigorate Ukraine’s domestic structures. The West needs to strengthen Ukraine’s ability to govern itself in a truly democratic manner, as well as to reform its economy. Apart from the immediate “bridge” funding necessary to stave off crisis, the EU should tell Ukraine that if it follows the long-term course of reforms required by every member it will, in time, surely qualify for membership. This would surely be an enormous boost to the Ukrainian government, and would galvanize domestic reform efforts while strengthening the economy against Russian efforts to subvert, corrupt, and undermine it.

Today, the West’s capabilities far outstrip those of Russia. But it must find the will and intelligence to deploy them successfully. Putin, by his recklessness and arrogance, has placed both European and Russian security at risk. This point must be hammered home in a way that deters violence and further Russian adventurism. At the core of Western policy should be a simple concept: Ukrainian integrity and sovereignty are not negotiable, because European security is now indivisible. The sooner we hammer that message home to Moscow, the quicker we will secure peace in Eastern Europe—and beyond.

Stephen Blank March 14, 2014

Stephen Blank is Senior Fellow for Russia at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, D.C

Stephen Blank is Senior Fellow for Russia at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, D.C

The West must do everything possible to maintain the world order providing security for Europe along with Ukraine against Russian imperialistic aggression.