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Enclosed herewith is a report on Russia’s war against Ukraine prepared by Defense One. The report is significant because it doesn’t hold back in making very critical assessments of the US effort to date in assisting Ukraine’s resistance to Russian aggression, including under Obama. (Actually, scathing comes to mind) It is significant that the report was prepared by a think tank that was recently launched by a major media mogul and DC insider that is devoted exclusively to serving the shared interests among military, security and defense experts.

I also have enclosed a report on a visit to Ukraine in 2016 that I helped organize for Gov. Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security, and led by Herman Pirchner, President of the American Foreign Policy Council. In Ukraine, many of our meetings were arranged by former leaders of the Maidan who now are in government service, including Andriy Parubiy, Speaker of the Parliament, and immediate past Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine; Andriy Levus, Chairman of the Subcommittee on State Security of the Committee on National Security and Defense of the Parliament of Ukraine, and immediate past vice head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Serhiy Kvit Senoir Advisor to the President of Ukraine and immediate past Minister of Science and Education of Ukraine, and Serhiy Kuzan, vice President of Free People, a network of civil society activists working to support the Ukrainian defense forces fighting Russian aggression in ATO and to expose the Russian 5th column’s acts of sedition and subversion throughout the the country.

I am including the AFPC report because our itinerary included a visit to the Yavoriv Military training base where the Joint Multinational Training Group is training Ukrainian defense forces, as well as meetings in Kyiv with senior government officials responsible for carrying out different aspects of the Anti Terrorist Operation (ATO). In Yavoriv we attended 4 briefings by the top US and other commanders, including Gen. Abizaid, former U.S. Central Command(CENTCOM) commander who is an advisor to the President of Ukraine.

A month ago, the AFPC led yet another delegation of 18 policy analysts and senior advisors on a visit to Ukraine. I escorted some of the members of the delegation to Mariupol from where we were taken into areas of ATO that suffered attacks the day before, others accompanied Andrew Futey to the Yavoriv military base, and others still went with Mykola Hryckowian to meetings with Ukrainian navy commanders and others in Odesa. The delegation reconvened in Kyiv for meetings with top government and NGO leaders. The report on that visit will be issued soon.

Having helped organize the visits to Ukraine in 2016 and 2017and having taken part in the briefings, I can attest that the mantra from the US and other commanders of the Yavoriv military training base and Gen. Abizaid himself was that they were learning more from the Ukrainians than the other way around. We were repeatedly informed of how creative and innovative the Ukrainians were in coming up with tactics to counter Russian superiority in all aspects of weaponry and technology. And, if the Ukrainians are unable to find a home-grown counter measure, they would stand their ground and fight, as in the Donetsk airport. Ukrainians’ stoic discipline and true heroism were brought up again and again. Russia could launch a massive assault on Ukraine and militarily take large areas. However, the Ukrainians’ resistance to occupation would be fierce and the price unacceptable.

Ukrainians have also demonstrated historically, during and after WWI and WWII, that taking and holding occupied territory are two different things. Stalin had to impose a genocide by forced famine in 1932-33, more than ten years after WWI, to finally crush Ukraine’s resistance to Soviet Russian occupation. And, again, more than a decade after the end of WWII Ukrainian resistance fighters from the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and Ukrainian Partisan Army (OUN/UPA) who fought the Nazis and Soviets during WWII were still carrying out operations against Soviet supply lines during the Hungarian uprising in 1956!

The Ukrainian land under occupation today, including Crimea, constitutes less than 7% of Ukrainian territory. With a total land area the size of France and third largest population in Europe, Ukraine is not tiny Georgia or Chechnia that simply do not have the physical gravitas to deter Russian aggression. Trying to occupy and hold Ukraine would be a daunting undertaking that will end as did Soviet Russia’s war in Afghanistan. That war hastened the end of the USSR. Today’s war against Ukraine will be the end of the Russian Federation as we know it.

The Defense One report on the war is an important contribution to the overwhelming body of evidence that the Ukrainian people are unwavering in their determination to resist Russian aggression and occupation of their sovereign land. Defense One has now added yet another study to the chorus of reports prepared by American Foreign Policy Council, Heritage Foundation, Atlantic Council, US Ukraine Foundation, Dr. Phillip Karber and the Patomic Foundation and others.

Their conclusions are the same as in Congress, Pentagon, NSC, DOS, and other agencies that Ukraine is a reliable partner and major asset in resisting Russian aggression and the lynchpin in forcing Putin to stand down in his dangerous schemes to subvert democratic societies, undermine the international order, and restore a Russian empire.

All of this begins with Ukraine. It also will end there. But the US and the West must finally resolve to unwaveringly stand up for Ukraine, by providing the military hardware and software to contain, deter, and roll back Russian aggression on the battlefield. They also must stand with Ukraine by providing assistance in fighting Russia’s hybrid tactics designed to undermine and subvert Ukraine’s democratic institutions. The Defense One report is in many ways a scathing assessment of US past efforts on both counts.

Borys Potapenko

 

 

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