2-Unrest in Ukraine Threatens World Peace
USA Europe Ukraine Russia
BSSB.BE politico.com 03.02.2015
We must not downplay the importance of the economic, political and humanitarian aid we have provided, nor the economic and political aspects of this crisis. Indeed, there are many economic and political reforms the Ukrainians will need to make to secure long-term peace and prosperity.
But Ukraine cannot be expected to make these difficult but necessary reforms if it cannot even control its own borders or maintain law and order. There is a military dimension to this crisis that we simply cannot ignore, despite repeated claims from the administration that “there is no military solution.”
Moscow continues to believe that military force is a viable option to achieve its goals, and unless the U.S. and its allies help the Ukrainians prove otherwise, we shouldn’t expect any change in behavior.
The direct Russian military involvement in Ukraine has been on full display for months. Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have been killed or wounded, thousands more have been forced to flee their homes, and entire communities have been devastated.
In the face of such aggression, Ukraine needs antitank weapons to defend against armored assaults; modern air defense systems to defend against Russian air superiority; UAVs to monitor its borders and detect violations of its sovereignty and of the cease-fire; secure communications gear to prevent Russia from accessing Ukrainian plans and troop locations; advanced counter-battery radar to target the artillery batteries responsible for so many of the causalities in the conflict; and elite rapid-reaction forces capable of responding to Russian border provocations and the fast-moving, asymmetric “hybrid war” tactics Russia used to destabilize the country.
But most important, Ukraine needs a sustained commitment from the U.S. and our allies. Working together, we must pursue a comprehensive, proactive strategy that strengthens NATO, deters Russian aggression, and gives Ukraine the political, economic and military support it needs to maintain its independence. In short, we need a strategy that seeks to shape outcomes, not be shaped by them.
The passage of the bipartisan Ukraine Freedom Support Act is an important step, but it is only half the battle. The act provides the president with effective tools to support Ukraine and deter Russian aggression. However, these expanded tools and authorities are useless unless the president chooses to wield them, and the administration’s track record of fulfilling even its own more limited policy is not encouraging.
For all the talk we’ve heard from senior administration officials about the roughly $116 million in security assistance the U.S. has promised to deliver, we know almost nothing about how these policies actually are being implemented. Despite multiple congressional requests, including a letter to the president from Sen. Cardin and me, we still cannot seem to get answers on fundamental questions such as the criteria for determining what assistance to deliver to Ukraine, how this assistance provides Ukraine with the capabilities it needs and how our policy fits into a comprehensive strategy.
The lack of transparency on the implementation of U.S. assistance programs raises important questions about the underlying policy guidance driving it. It also raises questions as to whether America’s level of support for Ukraine is far more limited than Congress intended — and even more limited than the president’s own public statements suggest, such as his tone-deaf claim in his State of the Union address that his Ukraine policy is somehow “demonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy.”
For example, we know that the administration has restrictive instructions on even the type of nonlethal aid U.S. government organizations can provide. While we don’t know whether this guidance still specifically prohibits any assistance deemed to be a “force multiplier,” as an assessment by retired Gen. Wesley Clark and former Pentagon official Phillip Karber revealed last April, the effect of the policy has been to prevent the delivery of virtually anything that would notably improve the Ukrainian military’s ability in combat.
Thus, it appears that the U.S. can provide diesel fuel for trucks but not aviation fuel for planes and UAVs; we can give them night vision goggles but not the night vision scopes for their weapons they need to fight effectively at night; we can provide valuable medical training but not even more valuable infantry training. These restrictions tie the hands of U.S. officials tasked with managing the day-to-day political and security relationship with Ukraine, limiting the effectiveness of their efforts.
The Ukrainian people have rejected the corruption and repression of the past, choosing instead the path of democracy and openness. Through its aggression, Russia is trying to send a message to Ukraine and the world that America and the West are indecisive and weak and that their lofty ideals and proclamations of support are meaningless in the face of Russian power.
From Kiev to Tallinn, Warsaw to Brussels, and Moscow to Beijing, the world is watching how we respond to this challenge and questioning whether the U.S. still has the ability to lead, or if it even wants to. Let’s leave no doubt.
Republican Rob Portman is the junior senator from Ohio.