There are many excellent current articles on the critical importance of the United States supporting Ukraine so that it can defeat Putin.
Today, however, I present a 2014 op-ed piece by two highly respected former officials who called on the United States to do then what should have been done. Had their advice been followed, one must believe the U.S. effort in support of Ukraine would have been much easier, and thousands-upon-thousands of lives would not have been lost to Western hesitation
Former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry (Clinton Administration) and the late Secretary of State George P. Schultz (Reagan Administration) made a case for action in 2014, just months after Putin started his war in 2014.
As I have reminded before, Admiral James G. Stavridis, FOUN member General Phil Breedlove’s predecessor as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, commissioned a study on what Ukraine would need to defeat any potential invasion by Putin. That study was completed before Putin’s invasion in 2014.
So, the United States and NATO knew even before Putin invaded what we would need to provide Ukraine to defend itself successfully.
Yes, we have provided aid – a lot of aid – but we have yet to provide Ukraine what we knew it would need as far back as 2014.
Imagine if we had. Imagine – imagine – what would have happened had we provided Ukraine with what we knew it would need when it was needed? History continues to record our actions and inactions.
Secretaries Perry and Schults write in a global context as relevant today as it was in 2014.
Washington, through multiple administrations, has been deterred by its fears. Yes, Russia is important, but Washington has and is taking counsel of its fears with the result of rampant war crimes, the slaughter of innocents, the genocidal abduction of thousands-upon-thousands of children to be given new names, new birth certificates, to undergo forced re-education brainwashing and given for adoption to Russian families as Russian children or, if old enough, sent to fight against Ukraine in Putin’s war.
It is time – past time – for Washington to give Ukraine what it needs to defeat Putin. Leaders from both political parties must lead now.
By William J. Perry and George P. Shultz
Aug. 26, 2014, 7:15 pm ET
Israel and Palestine exchange bombs and rockets for weeks on end, with yet another cease fire announced on Tuesday. A civil war is under way in Iraq; and a Russian military convoy violates the territorial integrity of Ukraine. These events demand a strategic approach on the part of the United States in which we maintain an ability to defend our interests in many places at once.
In particular, we are concerned that the events in Ukraine are not receiving the response they deserve.
What is happening? Russia has completely ignored the Budapest Memorandums on Security Assurances of 1994 in which, as a signatory, it agreed not to violate any Ukrainian territory. Russia has taken Crimea and is actively stirring trouble in the eastern part of that country, a blatant violation of solemn vows. One of us, Mr. Perry, participated in the negotiations leading to the Budapest Memorandum, and can testify to the seriousness of that broken promise. He can also testify that both the Russian and American negotiators understood that this Memorandum was critical to Ukraine's decision to give up its almost 2,000 nuclear weapons.
If Russia had not agreed to the Budapest Memorandum, it is likely that Ukraine would not have surrendered its nuclear weapons, with the danger of "loose nukes" that deeply concerned both the U.S. and Russia. Even today, a nuclear Ukraine could pose the danger of a serious regional dispute morphing into a nuclear exchange. So Russia got an important security benefit from the Budapest Memorandum, but now is unwilling to pay the price for that benefit, as it promised.
Besides its incursion into Crimea, Russia continues to be provocative militarily in eastern Ukraine by providing equipment, training, and sometimes, in a thinly disguised way, personnel. Last week the Russians sent a large convoy into Ukraine. This convoy was advertised as carrying relief equipment, which may well be true, but has not been verified by any international body. This week, Russia is sending in another convoy, again with the opposition of the Ukrainian government. By these actions, Russia violates Ukraine's territorial integrity and reneges on the Budapest Memorandum.
The situation demands attention and action. There is no need for American "boots on the ground," because Ukraine has sizable ground forces, but we—NATO, or the U.S. if NATO is reluctant to act—need to help them with training and equipment that can improve their military performance and allow them to defend their country. Ukraine is a founding member of NATO's Partnership for Peace, so NATO not only has some responsibility to act, but has actually trained together with Ukrainian military forces. The sanctions already applied have hurt Russia's economic interests but have not stopped Russia's actions. They need to be strengthened. By our actions we help Ukraine, but we also let Russia know that we will defend our interests and the interests of countries whose territorial integrity is being threatened.
We should reassure the Baltic States by deploying forces in those countries. A permanent deployment would contravene the NATO-Russia Founding Act, but a rotating force could be consistent with the Act while indicating to Russia how seriously we take their military actions.
We are not seeking a confrontation; we believe that a good relationship with Russia is profoundly in the interests of the U.S. and a peaceful world order. However, there is little order in a world in which the military force of one country violates the territorial integrity of its neighbor. We believe that an independent Ukraine with its territorial integrity intact can and should emerge.
With its increasing commitment to the rule of law, natural resources and resilient people, Ukraine can produce an economy with which the U.S. and other countries can trade and interact for a better future. Helping Ukraine become a viable rule-of-law state with a flourishing economy will be difficult but is essential. It would be the best rebuff to Russia, and, in the long run, the best stimulus for a similar development in Russia.
Mr. Perry was secretary of defense in the Clinton administration. Mr. Shultz was secretary of state in the Reagan administration. Both are senior fellows at the Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
Co-Founder, U.S.-Ukraine Foundation
Director of External Affairs, Friends of Ukraine Network
The introduction is Mr. McConnell’s and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation or the Friends of Ukraine Network.