- This event has passed.
LEGENDARY FIELD COMMANDERS IN WASHINGTON
November 14, 2014 @ 12:00 am
CALL FOR EXPANDED SUPPORT OF UKRAINE AGAINST RUSSIA By Peter Voitsekhovsky, Research Director, U.S.-Ukraine Foundation November 14, 2014 – A group of “field commanders” of Ukraine’s volunteer outfits attended a round-table discussion at the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation today. They are known as the heroes who saved the country from a military defeat last summer in the face of Russia’s invasion. The celebrated guests met with a stellar panel of experts and civic leaders who comprise the Friends of Ukraine network in the Nation’s Capital. The “field commanders” delegation was led by two legendary figures, Andriy Teteruk and Yury Bereza. Both of them are newly elected members of Ukraine’s parliament. They are a part of the “new political class” that is the embodiment of the country’s hope for change. Arguably, it was owing to such candidates as Teteruk and Bereza that the party they represented – Popular Front – was able to gain twice more votes than predicted and even win a plurality in party lists’ competition last month. In the spring of 2014, both Andriy and Yury were among those who organized the first units of volunteer fighters to confront and contain the spread of Russia’s military aggression disguised as “local separatism.” At that time, Ukraine’s army was not prepared to fight back an invasion from Russia – neither logistically, nor psychologically. But patriotic volunteers organized their own “battalions” (which, however, tremendously varied in size and structure), and those formations spearheaded the resistance effort. It is a misconception, however, to see their fight as an “amateur” effort. In reality, both Andriy Teteruk and Yury Bereza were career military officers who chose an early discharge from active duty. Their story is a good example of the peculiar trend of post-Soviet development that placed the best professionals in many spheres outside “the system.” The comeback of professionals like Teteruk, Bereza and all the others in their delegation may be a sign that Ukraine begins, at last, to reinvent that faulty “system.” The field commanders are in Washington to call for continued and expanded U.S. support to Ukraine. At this time, the Russian side fights with newer and more advanced weapon systems, with more fire power and better targeting capabilities. The guests discussed those issues expertly and persuasively. They were less savvy on issues of world politics that some U.S. experts were raising in the discussion. However, they clearly maintained: if modern defensive weapons had been supplied to Ukraine last summer, this would have changed the balance of forces in Ukraine’s favor, and the outcomes would have been different. “The only thing that can deter Putin’s aggression is the number of Russian soldiers that get killed in the war,” explained the field commanders. Concurrently with the discussion hosted by the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, the same issues were discussed by world leaders who met in Australia for the G20 summit. Vladimir Putin received a strong signal there that should caution him from attempts to re-heat the military conflict – in which Ukrainian soldiers continue to die almost every day. Another powerful signal should be a promise of the U.S. to supply some weapons systems to Ukraine – which is a possible outcome of Vice-President Joe Biden’s visit to Ukraine this week.