On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing on the U.S. National Security Interests in Ukraine.
The witnesses representing the government were:
The Honorable James O'Brien
Assistant Secretary, European and Eurasian Affairs
United States Department of State
The Honorable Geoffrey R. Pyatt
Assistant Secretary, Energy Resources
United States Department of State
The Honorable Erin McKee
Assistant Administrator, Europe and Eurasia
United States Agency for International Development
The timing of this hearing was important and significant. As you are aware from numerous earlier FOUN messages calling for the Administration to be aggressive in making the case to the public and Congress as to why Ukraine defeating Putin is in our vital national security interests.
We applauded the President’s recent nationally broadcast address as a first step, but genuine education and advocacy requires ongoing explanations and the refutation misinformation and down-right propaganda being spread by those opposing support for Ukraine.
We have called for more from the President and his Cabinet – the stakes are high.
Wednesday, the witnesses and their testimony were well received.
In conjunction with the hearing, Friends of Ukraine Network (FOUN) submitted a statement to Members and provided that statement to the press. It is set out here:
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
U.S. National Security Interests in Ukraine
Statement of the Friends of Ukraine Network
November 8, 2023
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation’s Friends of Ukraine Network (FOUN) has provided recommendations for U.S. assistance to Ukraine to Congress and the Executive for almost 10 years beginning immediately after Russia invaded Crimea. Today FOUN’s Task Force on National Security presents this statement in conjunction with your hearing on the United States National Security Interests in Ukraine – our vital national security interests in committing to make sure Ukraine has what it needs to defeat the Russian Federation and exercise its sovereignty on all of its land based on the pre-Russian invasion of 2014.
Since declaring his revisionist aims in Europe and Eurasia at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation have sought to destroy the American-built security order in Europe and beyond. The Kremlin’s current primary focus is on Ukraine, but its designs go much further. We must not forget or ignore the draft treaties the Kremlin submitted to the United States and NATO in December 2021. They made it clear Russia aims fundamentally to upend not just Ukraine but Europe.
Seen in this context, Ukraine is the place to stop Russia’s demonic aggression, not accommodate it. The people of Ukraine have fought and are fighting tenaciously against a barbaric Russia. They are not asking for American or Western troops, but for the tools needed to fight and win this war before it spreads to the rest of Europe, including our NATO allies.
With NATO allies as targets, we have a Russia problem, not a Russia in Ukraine problem.
Ukraine can defeat Russia with the unequivocal support of the United States.
If we do not provide that level of support in a timely manner (now), and Russia defeats Ukraine the future American costs will extraordinarily exceed the amounts Ukraine has been given and needs, and those costs will include American “boots on the ground”, American soldiers in the line of fire.
Ukraine defeating Russia is fundamental to containing Russia and its routine infliction of war crimes and genocide as a policy of its aggression.
A free, sovereign, and functioning Ukraine is of vital national interest to the United States and the rest of the world. Just one single example is the impact of Ukraine’s agricultural products on the world market and the importance they have in Africa and Asia. Another is that with a strong and sovereign Ukraine the core of Russia’s historical lust to control neighbors is denied. The Kremlin will be pushed to make Russia function without subjugating neighboring countries and crushing their populations.
Just last week, the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee released its draft report stating that the EU’s objective must be for Ukraine to defeat Russia. It is long past time for that – the defeat of Russia - to be our clear American strategic goal as well.
Even before FOUN presented its 2023 Priority Recommendation for U.S. Assistance to Ukraine last March, FOUN argued that the United States had yet to commit itself unequivocally to Ukraine’s full liberation.
The United States has yet to commit unequivocally to a strategy calling for Ukraine to defeat the Russian Federation.
To be clear, the United States has expressed support for Ukraine and delivered very sizable military and other assistance, but its support on the battlefield has remained carefully circumscribed. The Biden Administration does not want Ukraine to fail, but it is also hesitant to let it win, certainly not on the terms Ukraine itself has reasonably set.
It took far too long, but President Biden delivered a strong and needed speech from the White House supporting Ukraine, which FOUN praised as an excellent first step.
But one speech does not overcome years of misinformation, malevolent propaganda, and completely manipulated financial arguments that have stretched out over at least three Administrations.
A campaign to educate the American public and those soft-thinking Members of Congress about the reality of Ukraine’s critical importance to the United States requires aggressive ongoing education.
Indeed, one of the arguments being used right now against aid to Ukraine is that opponents want to know what the American strategy is in Ukraine.
A clear, unequivocal statement that the United States strategy in Ukraine is to see that Ukraine defeats the Russian Federation and retakes control of its sovereign borders is needed. And it is time!
Such a clear and definitive policy answers questions, sending signals here and abroad, and the operational ramifications will get Ukraine what it needs now.
For any further information contact:
Co-Founder, U.S.-Ukraine Foundation
Director, External Relations FOUN
FOUN – National Security Task Force
Ambassador John Herbst, Chairman
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Atlantic Council
Gen. Philip M. Breedlove
USAF (Ret.) Former SACEUR
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy
Former State and Defense Department official, Senior Advisor at Atlantic Council
Gen. Wesley Clark
USA (Ret.) Former SACEUR
Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
Ambassador Paula Dobriansky
Former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs
Ambassador Eric Edelmann
Former U.S. Ambassador to Finland and Turkey and former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges
USA (Ret.) Former Commander U.S. Army Europe, Senior Advisor to Human Rights First
President, Jamestown Foundation
Dr. Donald Jensen
John Hopkins University
Dr. Phillip Karber
President, Potomac Foundation
David J. Kramer
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Former Assistant Attorney General, US Department of Justice
President, American Foreign Policy Council
Senior Fellow and Director, Center on Europe and Eurasia at Hudson Institute
Ambassador Sandy Vershbow
Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and Former Deputy Secretary General NATO
Ambassador William Taylor
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine