STATEMENT OF THE FOUN's NATIONAL SECURITY TASK FORCE TO Senate Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee

May 8, 2024




Senate Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee

May 8, 2024, Hearing

President’s Fiscal Year 2025 Request for DoD

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, the Friends of Ukraine Network (FOU) is an initiative of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and is a coalition of Ukraine experts – leading policy and international security professionals.

Each year since the Russian Federation first invaded Ukraine in 2014, FOUN has developed, published, and distributed annual Priority Recommendations for U.S. Assistance to Ukraine. Within those Recommendations the FOUN National Security Task Force has, among other recommendations, included specific weapons and weapon systems that Ukraine needs to defeat Russia.

Again, this year specific weapons systems and capabilities are included in our 2024 Recommendations which are attached to this statement.  Some of these systems are finally being provided but the need is that they be provided in sufficient numbers and with the critical support required to allow the people of Ukraine to defend their country and defeat the Russian invader.

In addition to FOUN’s specific recommendations we call to the Subcommittee’s attention and to the attention of the Secretary and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs our “Longer Term” recommendation.

Starting on Page 17 you will find: The Bottom Line: Putin will not stop until he is stopped.  If given what it needs, Ukraine will stop Putin.

In a critical message, FOUN addresses the nature of Putin’s regime and urges our government and the West to internalize the reality that we will continue to face a long-term strategic confrontation with Russia.  Like it or not, Russia has declared itself our enemy.

Russia must understand that there can be no normalization of relations until it upholds – in deed as well as in word – the fundamental principles laid down in the Helsinki Final Act, Paris Charter, and the NATO Russia Founding Act, it will be equally important for the United States and allied to see there is no normalization until Russia’s behavior upholds those principles.

We must see Russia and Putin for what they are and have and implement a strategic plan to deal with them accordingly.

The National Security Task Force of the Friends of Ukraine Network:

Chair – Ambassador John Herbst – former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine – head of Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council

General Philip Breedlove USAF (Ret) Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe

Ian Brzezinski – Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy

Debra Cagan – Former State and Defense Department official

General Wesley Clark USA (Ret) Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe

Luke Coffey – Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute

Ambassador Paula Dobriansky – Former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs

Ambassador Eric Edelman – Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, U.S. Ambassador to Finland, and Principal Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs

Lt. General Ben Hodges USA (Ret) Former Commander U.S. Army Europe

Glen Howard – former President of the Jamestown Foundation

Dr. Don Jensen – John Hopkins University

Dr. Phillip Karber – President of the Potomac Foundation

David J. Kramer – Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights & Labor

Robert McConnell – Co-Founder, USUF, former Assistant Attorney General

Secretary Leon Panetta – Former Secretary of Defense, Former Director of the CIA, Former White House Chief of Staff, and Former Director of the Office of Management and Budget

Herman Pirchner – President, American Foreign Policy Council

Peter Rough – Senor Fellow and Director, Center for 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

Ambassador Kurt Volker – Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO

In addition, we include here before the attached 2024 Priority Recommendations For U.S. Assistance to Ukraine an article by FOUN member, Ambassador Kurt Volker pointing out the path to a Ukrainian victory.

The Biden Administration Must Ensure Ukraine a Path to Victory. Here’s How.

Posted: April 26th, 2024

By Ambassador Kurt Volker

OPINION – With the successful House of Representatives vote on Ukraine aid behind us, the Senate and the White House will move quickly to put the $61 billion package into law.  No doubt, the U.S. military has already been pre-positioning ammunition and equipment so it can deliver key elements of aid as soon as possible.

This is a key moment in ways that not everyone has grasped and reveals significant positives.  Some 71% of House members voted in favor of the bill, reflecting resounding bipartisan U.S. support for Ukraine at both the political and popular levels.  Several members of Congress favoring passage, highlighted the growing connections between Russia, Iran and China, a new axis of authoritarians who are actively working together.  This is a clear-eyed assessment of the threat facing the free world.

Former President Donald Trump provided political cover to House Speaker Mike Johnson to proceed with this legislation when the two met on April 12.  This is a clear sign that if re-elected, Trump does not want to inherit a disaster.  While he wants peace, he wants peace through strength, not peace through weakness and capitulation.

So much for the good news.  The bad news is that the delays and difficulty in passing the aid bill put U.S. national security at risk and should serve as a warning that this process cannot be allowed to drag on. We must no longer give Ukraine just enough to survive, but not enough to win.  A Ukrainian victory is essential to re-establish peace in Europe, to deter Chinese aggression in Asia, and to reinforce Iranian worries about attacking Israel ever again. Several measures should be taken immediately.

  • The Biden Administration must clearly and unequivocally back up President Biden’s statement on December 12 saying, “We want to see Ukraine win the war.”  America’s objective is a Ukrainian victory.  This message needs clear and consistent repetition from the highest levels of the U.S. Government and must be backed up with the policy decisions necessary to make this a reality.  There must be no equivocation with the President’s words.  We must have strategic clarity.  Lower-ranking American officials must stop avoiding the words “win”, “victory” and “Russian defeat”.

  • Now that funding is assured, the U.S. military should flood Ukraine with massive quantities of arms and ammunition as quickly as possible.  The Russian military is in a weak condition with poor equipment, training, morale and leadership but it has made gains in recent months due to Ukraine’s lack of ammunition. Russian forces need to feel “shock and awe” to understand that the battlefield has now changed, and that time is not on their side.  We need to begin deterring Russia against further aggression rather that assuring it that we seek to avoid “escalation”.  Rather than worrying about what Putin might do, Putin should worry about what we might do.

  • As part of this, the Biden Administration must lift all artificial and self-imposed limits on aid to Ukraine.  The U.S. should provide Ukraine with its longest-range ATACMS ballistic missiles, which can reach Sevastopol, the Kerch Strait Bridge and Russian logistical concentrations well behind the front lines. It should stop declaring Russian territory as “off limits” for Ukrainian targeting and instead urge Ukraine only to hit militarily relevant targets which is consistent with international law. It should declare already de-commissioned aircraft sitting in the Arizona desert as Excess Defense Articles and begin providing A-10 ground attack aircraft, F-16 combat aircraft and other airframes to Ukraine in order to build a properly scaled Ukrainian Air Force that can deny Ukrainian airspace to Russian aircraft.

  • The administration should work closely with Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria (our Black Sea NATO allies) to expand de-mining capacities and engage in freedom of navigation operations in the Black Sea. Under the Montreux Convention, non-belligerent nations can bring warships into the Black Sea for 21 days at a time. This should allow for a persistent presence in the region to deter Russian attacks on commercial shipping.

  • France, the United States, the UK and other NATO allies should form a ‘coalition of the willing’ to directly assist Ukrainian defense of its cities, civilians and non-military infrastructure from drone, missile and rocket attacks – just as they did recently with Israel. This can be done by establishing together with Ukraine, a ‘cordon sanitaire’ in Ukrainian airspace adjoining NATO. This could be done from NATO territory only, or also within Ukraine itself. Hitting unmanned vehicles that are only aimed at harming Ukrainian civilians and for example, their power plants, and present a risk to neighboring NATO territory does not require nations to engage Russian forces directly.  It only requires engaging in the humanitarian protection of civilians as well as preventing any accidental strikes on NATO territory. Such a cordon could extend hundreds of miles into Ukrainian airspace and increase the protection afforded to Lviv, Odesa and Kyiv while relieving the country’s overworked and under-armed missile crews.

  • The United States should begin to build consensus within NATO for increasing burden-sharing in support of Ukraine by turning the Ramstein military assistance process into a NATO clearing house mechanism and establishing a fund as proposed by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to provide consistent military support to Ukraine despite hiccups in U.S. and European processes. The United States should contribute to this fund but it should be based on the same percentages assigned to funding for other NATO budgets, i.e., a contribution of around 2%.

  • The United States should also begin building consensus within NATO for an invitation at the July Washington Summit for Ukraine to begin talks about its accession to NATO as soon as possible. Such an invitation is essential to tell Vladimir Putin that he will never defeat Ukraine, to help provide a Ukraine victory strategy and to lay the foundation for a future European peace settlement.

  • The U.S. Congress should move swiftly to approve a lend-lease facility for Ukraine up to $500 billion. U.S. assistance to Ukraine is necessary and appropriate but to avoid gaps in available funding in the future, Congress should pre-position authority for Ukraine to borrow from the U.S. for its defensive needs. This is how the United States saved Great Britain in World War II and it is entirely appropriate today in the case of Ukraine. Such a move would also signal to Putin that we can outlast and outspend Russia no matter what he does, so his adventure in Ukraine must come to an end.

The House of Representatives vote is a watershed but it does not assure victory and peace in and of itself.  It now must be followed by decisive action from the U.S. administration to bring about a Ukrainian victory and in doing so, to re-establish the conditions for permanent peace, prosperity and security across Europe and to re-establish deterrence on that continent, in the Middle East and Asia.

The consequences of failing to do so must not be underestimated because they could be dire.

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