Congress urged to provide Ukraine with necessary military resources to counter Russia, says former NATO commander

Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, who previously held the position of Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, recently expressed his concerns during a speech at the Dole Institute in Lawrence. He emphasized the importance of Congress providing Ukraine with the necessary military resources to effectively counter Russia on the battlefield. Gen. Breedlove warned that failure to do so may result in future conflicts instigated by Russia.

Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove sees the U.S. House’s progress towards voting on military, economic, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine as a chance for the United States to clearly articulate its intentions in a region that Russian President Vladimir Putin aims to dominate.

According to Breedlove, a highly respected four-star general and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Ukraine is currently facing immense challenges as it grapples with limited military resources after years of conflict against a formidable adversary. He emphasized that Putin severely underestimated the capabilities of the Ukrainian forces, leading Russia to suffer significant casualties in a conflict reminiscent of the trench warfare and artillery bombardment of World War I.

According to him, the top priority of U.S. foreign policy is to prevent a wider war in non-NATO countries in Europe or a tactical nuclear conflict. However, he believes that caution should not hinder leaders from making a clear statement of purpose. It is important for the country responsible for providing half of the foreign aid to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February 2022 to assert its intentions.

According to Breedlove, the key contribution we can make to Ukraine at this moment is not a monetary one. Speaking at the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, he emphasized that it is crucial for us to demonstrate our unwavering support for Ukraine’s future. This entails publicly declaring a firm policy regarding the assistance we are prepared to provide to Ukraine in its conflict with a global superpower.

According to him, Congress has the option to terminate financial assistance, leaving Ukraine to fend for itself until it falls completely under Russia’s control. The general suggested that the United States and other Western powers could continue with the current approach, which involves keeping Ukraine economically afloat through sanctions and providing sufficient military aid to sustain a prolonged war, even though it is expected to result in a settlement that would concede significant territory to Russia.

Breedlove’s preferred approach was to provide Ukraine with the necessary military resources to effectively counter Putin’s aggression and remove Russian forces from the country. According to him, it is crucial to find a solution that prevents Putin from establishing a buffer zone similar to the Warsaw Pact between Russia and NATO.

“We find ourselves a decade into a war that is not only illegal and immoral, but also deeply inhumane,” expressed Breedlove. He firmly believes that this conflict was intentionally initiated by Mr. Putin with the objective of reshaping Eastern Europe. Ukraine serves as the initial step in this plan, but Breedlove warns that Putin’s ambitions do not stop there. As a result, we are now faced with a critical juncture where we must carefully consider how we will respond to the actions of Mr. Putin.”

The war between Ukraine and Russia started in 2014 when Russia seized and incorporated Crimea into its territory and provided support to pro-Russian separatists in Donbas. A full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia was initiated in February 2022.

“I firmly believe that with the appropriate resources and equipment, Ukraine has the capability to drive Russia out of their territory,” expressed the general. “This would result in a defeated Putin and a weakened Russia. It is important to acknowledge that there is no foolproof approach moving forward. We must be realistic and admit that we cannot predict the future with absolute certainty. However, surrendering is not the solution.”

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson announced on Monday his intention to push forward legislation that would provide aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and other allies. He hopes to advance this legislation as early as this week. However, there is uncertainty regarding the passage of a measure that allocates funding to Ukraine due to opposition from conservative Republicans in the House. While the U.S. Senate has already approved an assistance package supported by President Joe Biden, it has not been taken up by House GOP leadership.

The Kansas delegation in the U.S. House, consisting of four members, initially expressed their support for providing military, economic, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine following the 2022 invasion.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids has supported two additional Ukraine spending bills following that incident. However, U.S. Reps. Tracey Mann and Ron Estes, who are Republicans, opposed those aid packages. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner, also a Republican, voted in favor of the initial supplemental bill in 2022 but did not support the most recent assistance package for Ukraine in 2023.

Mann was in favor of three amendments to a 2023 appropriations bill that aimed to restrict or make conditional the financial aid provided by the United States to Ukraine. Estes supported one of these amendments, while Davids and LaTurner opposed all three. None of these amendments were successful in the U.S. House.

Republicans for Ukraine, a part of Defending Democracy Together, recently released a report card evaluating six congressional votes related to U.S. assistance to Ukraine. According to the report, Representatives Estes and Mann received an F grade, while Representative LaTurner received a D grade. It’s worth noting that as a Democrat, Representative Davids was not included in the report card assessment.

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