February 28, 2023


to the House Armed Services Committee Hearing on February 28

The Friends of Ukraine Network(FOUN) is a non-partisan coalition of former ambassadors, leading policy and international security professionals including two former Supreme AlliedCommanders Europe and a former U.S. Army Commander Europe. It also includes other experts who have dealt with key aspects of Ukraine’s relations with theUnited States and the international community.

Mr. Chairman, members of theCommittee, the United States has a critical national security interest in defending the post-World War II order that is based upon respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states and the peaceful settlement of disputes – no changing of national borders by force or coercion.  

If Vladimir Putin is allowed to get away with violating these principles in the case of Ukraine, he will not stop – other ex-Soviet states and even NATO members could be the next targets of Putin’s goal of restoring the Russian empire – and other autocrats, including Xi Jinping, well may be emboldened to follow the Russian Federation’s example, returning the world to the days of spheres of influence and “might makes right”.

The United States must not ignore Putin’s intent, must not forget the draft treaties sent to the United States and NATO in December 2021 which made absolutely clear Putin’s goals.  They go well beyond Ukraine.

The United States needs to take an unequivocal stand in Ukraine, where the courageous people of Ukraine are on the front lines fighting for their own freedom but also critically defending the post-World War II order, or face the need for direct and much more costly United States intervention down the road.

In this context what is lacking most in the United States’ support for Ukraine is clarity as to theUnited States’ strategic endgame and a commitment to Ukraine winning.

Only when this commitment is clarified and stated as official United States policy can the other critical details in getting Ukraine what it needs to win be genuinely addressed.

“We are with Ukraine for as long as it takes” is not a strategic goal. As long as it takes to do what?

Such amorphous terminology frankly seems inappropriate in the circumstance.  Innocent lives are being lost, war crimes committed, and in the case of Russia’s kidnapping Ukrainian children, changing their names, birth certificates, putting through indoctrination programs and then having them adopted as Russians by Russian families genocide being committed in the view of the world.  

The United States policy goal should be that it will make sure Ukraine has what it needs, when it needs it and where it needs it so that Ukraine can win this war securing its sovereignty and – critically – the post-World War II order which is in the United States own vital national security interests.

Yes, in reviewing the UnitedStates military’s support for Ukraine one must acknowledge the comparatively unprecedented support in arms, logistics, intelligence and training the military has provided.  No nation has done more.  No military has been and is more invested in supporting Ukraine.

That support has been critical to Ukraine and its ability to have countered the Russian Federation’s totally unprovoked and malevolent war against Ukraine.

But the question is has theUnited States done enough and is it doing enough to allow Ukraine to win this war.

Unfortunately the answer to that question is – no.  The United States does not have a clearly stated strategic goal and without it the United States has been timid and accepting of the ravages Russia has and is committing inUkraine.  

Since the very beginning of this war in 2014 Ukraine has needed weapons and support the United States has, at best, been slow to provide.  Indeed through three Administrations the United States has been timid and worse.

Initially there was the whole back-and-forth about whether Ukraine should be provided any weapons, then what kind of weapons.  

There was the whole drawn out issue about what might be called “lethal” weapons.

To its great credit Congress started including specific language in the annual National DefenseAuthorizations Acts and Defense Department Appropriations bills stating specific amounts were for lethal weapons for Ukraine.

The fact is that essentially every request from Ukraine for specific capability was initially met with a“no”.  And, even though most such weapons eventually were provided Ukraine, they were not provide at the optimum time fort hem to have made the greatest impact on the war.

Just last week the President’sNational Security Advisor acknowledged the United States has, in his view, responded to what was seen as battlefield needs – when javelins were needed, javelins were sent; when stingers were needed, stingers were sent, as theRussians modified their tactics and the war changed Ukraine was in need of something new and, in his view, the United States responded.

Both the President and hisNational Security Advisor have said they are following the advice given by theUnited States military as to what and when weapons and logistics are needed byUkraine.

Whatever advice might be given, this is war and that the United States has responded, almost always after initially denying request has meant weapons have not gotten to the battle field when they could have had the greatest impact on the war.

And this approach continues to this very day.

Simply “responding” to the battlefield has and will leave Ukraine and her supporters in a long, drawn out and unnecessarily bloody conflict increasing the risk of Chinese intervention.

One such case is Ukraine’s request for long-range missiles, a case where so far the United States has denied such weapons.

The consequence of that denial?  The United States has essentially guaranteed Russia sanctuaries from which Russian can with impunity slaughter civilians and destroy Ukraine’s infrastructure including hospitals, schools, residential living quarters.

What is the explanation for denying Ukraine the ability to strike these sanctuaries?

The United States does not want Ukraine striking targets inside Russia because that could escalate the war.

Set aside the disconnect with reality regarding the entire subject of escalation, the United States has givenUkraine weapons capable of hitting targets inside Russia and, because theUnited States has said not to do so, Ukraine has not used them to hit targets inside Russia.  

So why is the Untied States not trusting Ukraine?

Why also does the United States agree that (a) the Crimean peninsula is Ukrainian territory and (b) thatUkraine should be able to hit any target in its own territory and yet continue to deny Ukraine long-range missiles? Some of Russia’s most damaging attacks come from sanctuaries in Crimea.

Crimea is essential.

The United States must get toUkraine what it needs to take out the Russian sanctuaries and cut off Russian supply routes to Crimea.  Russian control of Crimea cannot stand.  Without CrimeaUkraine has no security because of continuous threat of Russian attack and theBlack Sea fleet’s ability to control and stop Ukraine’s international commerce.

The time has long since passed when “standing with Ukraine” is enough while its people are slaughtered andUkraine’s neighbors – and our NATO allies – shudder at what comes next if theUnited States does not see that Ukraine has what it takes to win this war.

Right now the Russian military is almost fully committed and weak. If it is not stopped now and is given several years to regroup it likely will be much stronger through sanction evasion, material assistance from Iran, North Korea and China and still positioned in Crimean sanctuaries.

Mr. Chairman, Congress has been strong in support of Ukraine and your message over the weekend that if more advanced weapons systems for Ukraine are approved by the President,Congress will “take steps to move the process along” and that “with the right weapons it shouldn’t take so long” hopefully will translate into positive action.

The time to get Ukraine what it needs is now.

Any inquiries should be directed to:

Bob McConnell

Co-founder of the U.S.-UkraineFoundation and the Director of External Affairs for the Foundation’s Friends ofUkraine Network.


FOUN is an outgrowth of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation (USUF)and U.S. Department of State-sponsored U.S.-Ukraine Policy Dialogue programs of2005 and 2011, that brought together government officials and non-government policy experts from both countries to discuss and make recommendations on numerous issues of mutual concern.


FOUN’sTask Force on National Security includes, among others


General Philip Breedlove USAF (Ret.) - Former Supreme Allied Commander European

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

General Wesley Clark USA (Ret.) - FormerSupreme Allied Commander Europe

Luke Coffey – Senior fellow at Hudson Institute.

Ambassador John Herbst – former U.S.-Ambassador to Ukraine 

Robert McConnell – Former Assistant AttorneyGeneral 

Herman Pirchner, Jr. - President of the AmericanForeign Policy Council (AFPC) 

Peter Rough – Senior fellow and director of the Center onEurope and Eurasia at Hudson Institute. 

Ambassador Alexander “Sandy” Versbhow – formerU.S.-Ambassador to Russia

Ambassador Kurt Volker -  Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, former U.S.Special Representative for Ukraine