TASK FORCE MEMBERS: 2021
Dr. Stephen Blank (U.S. Institute for Peace)
Gen. Philip M. Breedlove (USAF (Ret) Former SACEUR)
Ian Brzezinski (Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy)
Debra Cagan (Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense)
Gen. Wesley Clark (USA (Ret) Former SACEUR)
Amb. John Herbst (Atlantic Council)
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges (CEPA)
Glen Howard (Jamestown Foundation)
Dr. Donald Jensen (U.S. Institute for Peace)
Dr. Phillip Karber (Potomac Foundation)
Hon. Robert A. McConnell (McConnell & Associates)
Herman Pirchner (American Foreign Policy Council)
Amb. Sandy Vershbow (Former NATO Deputy Secretary General)
PRIORITY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR U.S. ASSISTANCE TO UKRAINE (May 2021)
Moscow’s war on Ukraine is entering its eighth year and, despite the announced pullback of the massive Russian deployment on Ukraine’s eastern border, the situation remains precarious and could still take an ominous turn. Russia has not reversed its military build-up in occupied Crimea nor has it lifted its partial naval blockade in the Black Sea, including its declared closure of the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov until October.
The massive build-up of forces, weapons and equipment is but a part of a larger Russian offensive. Russian officials and media personalities continue to spread disinformation about a purported Ukrainian offensive as well as Kyiv’s alleged bombardment of civilians in Russian-occupied Donbas.
In addition, Moscow continues its ongoing economic and diplomatic pressure on Ukraine. These efforts coincide with ongoing diplomatic efforts to isolate Ukraine from Europe and induce Western allies to force Ukraine to agree to Russia’s terms for a federalized Donbas that would legitimize Russia’s puppet leaders and give them the power to bring the central government to a standstill and undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty.
At an absolute minimum, Moscow has been and is trying to rattle Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, intimidate key European states, test the Biden Administration and gauge international reactions to Russian provocations. Of course, all of the Russian maneuvering could be a prelude to a new Russian military offensive – to seize the water canal north of Crimea, additional land in Donbas including Mariupol, and/or introduce so-called Russian “peacekeepers” into occupied Donbas.
Russia’s announced pullback will take time to evaluate. It could be nothing more than a head fake as in 2014, when an ostensible retreat after the seizure of Crimea preceded Russian intervention into the Donbas. The pullback, in any case, is of the troops alone. Equipment is to stay for future “exercises”. The Sea of Azov blockade remains in place, none of the military build-up in Crimea is affected. And nothing was said about the Russian forces inside Ukraine.
Unless the planes are removed and the equipment withdrawn the Kremlin will remain prepositioned for ready action.
Since 2008, the United States and the West have been late in responding to Kremlin aggression in Georgia and Ukraine at every turn and in some cases, like after Moscow’s escalation at the Straits of Kerch in November 2018, not responding at all. Germany and France have continued this pattern following the latest Kremlin provocation by issuing a statement calling on both Russia and Ukraine to stand down. But the U.S. broke the pattern as the Biden Administration made a series of calls to Kyiv and Moscow expressing support for Ukraine if Russia escalates, and announced new sanctions with built-in headroom for further tightening if Moscow fails to deescalate.
Russian aggression toward and annexation and occupation of Ukraine has never been just about Ukraine. It is part of a broader mission to undercut NATO and the European Union, especially among their newest members, as well as reestablishing Kremlin domination over Ukraine and other former Soviet states. This means that NATO and the U.S. have a great strategic interest in helping Ukraine thwart Kremlin aggression across the board and resist the redivision of Europe into spheres of influence.
President Biden’s telephone diplomacy was good and timely start to preventing further Kremlin aggression now in Ukraine. Likewise, Secretary Blinken’s May 5-6 visit and his indication that the Administration is considering further military support is encouraging. But more needs to be done – and quickly – so that the United States and its allies can retake the initiative before Russia’s next move. We and our allies need a well thought out series of strategic measures not just to deter Moscow now, but to strengthen Ukraine’s security for the immediate and longer term, and to position ourselves, allies and friends against provocation elsewhere in Europe.
There are actions that can be taken now, by the Biden Administration, and there are actions to be authorized and appropriated for by the First Session of the 117th Congress.
There are critical actions that should be taken by the Administration to make the strong public statements of support for Ukraine a reality.
A solid, high-profile person should be nominated and confirmed to fill the far too long vacant position of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. A fundamental element to a “strong commitment” to the country is to have a prominent ambassador in place.
Additionally, in the short term, we need to let Moscow understand concretely the price that it will pay if it launches a new offensive.
As to the status quo, it is time to accept that the Minsk Trilateral Contact Group and the Normandy Format are going nowhere. With the agreement of Kyiv, the United States needs to step forward and take leadership of international diplomacy, working shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine in all negotiations with Russia over the illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian occupation of Donbas as well as Russia’s unacceptable moves to deny Ukrainian access to the Sea of Azov. Ideally Washington should more deeply involve co-signer of the Budapest Memorandum, the United Kingdom in this effort, and possibly Canada, rather than working solely with Berlin and Paris. Washington should therefore take the initiative to form an effective new negotiation mechanism. If that proves too difficult to do, the United States should restore the activist bilateral diplomacy practiced by then-Assistant Secretary of State Toria Nuland during the Obama Administration and Special Envoy Kurt Volker during the Trump Administration.
The United States should fully support President Zelenskyy’s Crimean Platform Initiative and attend the first Summit meeting in August at a senior political level.
Regarding preventative actions to be taken immediately, they should include sanctions that bite – for instance on a major bank like Vneshekonombank. This would be a conditional sanction that would come into effect if Moscow escalates. Ideally, we would reach agreement to apply these sanctions jointly with the EU, which would make the sanctions more damaging; therefore, the Biden Administration should reach out immediately. But since timing is important, the Administration should act quickly and after initial outreach, announce the sanctions unilaterally if the EU is not able to respond quickly.
The U.S. can and should take tangible steps to enhance Ukraine’s military defense without waiting for additional action from Congress.
American intelligence including satellites should be focused on Russian military activities from the Crimean Peninsula, to Russian occupied Donbas, to Ukraine’s eastern borders, to Russian activities in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, and be provided in a timely manner to Ukraine. Some of this intelligence should be released publicly as well, including evidence of direct Russian involvement inside Ukraine despite Moscow’s claims not to be a party to the conflict. United States and NATO ships should be on patrol in the eastern Black Sea and combat planes should be routinely overflying the Black Sea to complicate Moscow’s military plans. And, perhaps in conjunction with key Allies, the U.S. should provide additional equipment immediately to enhance Ukraine’s defense capabilities. The list should include more Javelins and four times as many launchers as have been provided to date (90 launchers and 340 Javelins). Including Belarus, Ukraine has 3,000 miles of border from which Russia could attack - 90 launchers can only cover a fraction of that. More need to be in place quickly. Additional equipment should include communications equipment, drones, counter battery radar for missiles and the new Stinger missiles. The purpose of all this is to confirm U.S. military support and suggest to the Kremlin the military cost of action will be higher than anticipated.
Another quick step the U.S. should take to bolster Ukraine would be to name it a Major Non-NATO Ally, while reaffirming U.S. support for Ukraine’s eventual membership. While this would not dramatically expand Ukraine’s access to U.S. defense trade and security cooperation, it would be a powerful symbol of the U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s defense. This would not only give Moscow pause now, but suggest the long term prospects for its intervention in Ukraine will not improve.
While Allies remain cautious about any new moves on NATO membership (such as launching a Membership Action Plan for Ukraine), the U.S. should urge them to consider measures short of membership that would demonstrate a stronger NATO commitment to Ukraine’s defense. This could include a persistent Allied military presence at a Ukrainian training center in Eastern Ukraine and/or establishing a NATO-Ukraine naval facility for common use at the port of Odesa. This would show a readiness by Allies to put some “skin in the game” in face of Russia’s ongoing aggression.
In strengthening NATO’s southern flank and raising serious doubt and uncertainties for Russian planning a force package with air assets and air defense in NATO member Romania would be very much to Ukraine’s advantage. Air assets would include Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), reconnaissance, air superiority and strike capability. Air exercises could and should be conducted with Ukraine and over the Black Sea.
Another important step would be providing the Ukrainian military with Covid vaccine. As yet the U.S. has not provided Ukraine vaccines although there is some indication the U.S. may soon provide some vaccine through COVAX. Special consideration should be given the armed forces defending the West’s security interests against Russian aggression.
Finally, in order to put defense assistance on a more secure basis and deter further threats that, as we have seen, can arise quickly, the Administration should engage Congress on possible legislation to enable the government to enter into a relationship with Ukraine akin to that of the Lend-Lease program of World War II where we give Ukraine surplus weapons systems in return for long-term lodgment in naval, air, and air defense bases. This legislation could be written so that, once enacted, it would provide the Executive with the ability to create such a program if Moscow were to escalate.
The United States and NATO should be working on a multi-dimensional strategy for bolstering security in the Black Sea region. We have recognized and acted on Russian military and energy threats in the Baltics and Northern Europe. We are taking serious action against Russia’s latest hegemonic claims in the Artic. Have we done as much to provide that same sense of security for NATO members on the Black Sea; Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, or for NATO’s strategic partners Ukraine and Georgia. It is in the Black Sea region that Russia believes it has relative impunity.
A good start would be work on creating an annual exercise in the Black Sea region that would combine three existing, yet currently separate, exercises:
• SABER GUARDIAN (a land exercise in Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria);
• SEA BREEZE (a maritime exercise hosted by Ukraine); and
• NOBLE PARTNER (a land exercise in Georgia).
In addition, the U.S. should work to establish an air sovereignty exercise in Romania with the capacity to reach out over the Black Sea as well as back-stop Ukraine’s limited air assets. Such a NATO package could involve more allies, provide for emergency capabilities as well as provide a helpful degree of ambiguity, reminding Russia of the risks of any sudden military move.
This will not be a simple matter. Gaining the support of Turkey, Hungary and Bulgaria for this effort pose different problems; but all are anxious to establish a good relationship with the new Administration and this will provide some leverage. NATO should also establish command and control centers in the Black Sea basin on allied territory and then create permanently garrisoned forces there to provide a genuine conventional deterrent that would stop Russian threats at the lowest rung of the escalation ladder.
The same impulse should make Kyiv more amenable to undertake the necessary reforms related to training, military organization, strategy, and its still corrupt public defense industry that would (a) meet NATO requirements; (b) increase its ability to absorb more sophisticated Western military equipment and (c) produce a more capable military able to exact a greater price on Moscow for its aggression.
117th CONGRESS – FIRST SESSION
Obviously, there are recommendations made above that will need ongoing support from Congress. But, as recommended above we urge passage of legislation establishing the lend-lease program.
In addition, however, specific things need to be authorized and provided for in the FY2022 appropriations bills.
Modern military command capabilities are needed - automated processing, exploitation and dissemination systems to allow leaders from the tactical level to strategic level to facilitate rapid decision-making.
Although mentioned above as things the Administration can start to address there needs to be clear authorization and funding for more Javelins and missile launchers.
Russia has been waging war against Ukraine for almost eight years now and regardless of whatever Russia’s announced “withdrawal” of its recent massive buildup of forces along Ukraine’s border, the reality remains that if and when Russia wants to impose its will by force it unequivocally will have air superiority – imposing damage, supporting land forces, dominating the coastline and countering almost anything Ukraine can do. This reality must be changed.
Ukraine’s air force cannot be modernized and equipped in the short-term but steps need to be taken now.
The United States last exposed our ground troops to battle without significant – if not dominant – air cover early in the Korean War. We should not be urging and expecting Ukraine to defend against superior Russian forces without air cover.
Ukraine needs a layered air defense. Mentioned earlier was America’s new Stinger missiles. What Ukraine has in the field now are old Soviet versions which Russians know and can easily defend against. Ukraine needs the best we can provide including our new Stingers. For mid and higher altitude defense Ukraine needs the ability to sense, command, control and shoot at mid and high altitude targets.
We need to be focused on funding the appropriation command-and control systems needed to build Ukraine’s air defense system.
Ukraine needs aircraft! Building Ukraine’s air force will take time but the time to start is NOW. Ukraine’s limited fighter aircraft are rapidly reaching their expiration date. We need to assist Ukraine in building its air force with modern fighters comparable to the fighters being used by other European countries and especially NATO members. Training could begin immediately here in the United States. Congress should authorize ways to get the aircraft to Ukraine perhaps through a lend-lease program.
Many needs may not be headline grabbers but necessary to the mission of helping Ukraine build its military to be a significant force for self-defense and stability in the critical region.
Naval infrastructure, training and sustainment to ensure the growing fleet of small combatants is operationally relevant. (The relevant infrastructure is almost non-existent and while providing boats is critical as we have recommended strongly before, they need to be based somewhere (e.g.: housing for sailors) and maintained (now decrepit shipyards). Naval transfers should also serve to give Ukrainian and NATO force much greater situational awareness of the Black Sea and of Russian deployments there. A list of potential capabilities that would support these goals follows:
New – Assistance in building layered air defense in Ukraine should begin, including:
- Modern aircraft comparable to what other European countries are putting in the air. Ukraine is defending Russia’s violation of European stability and needs the best fighter. Ukraine’s air force cannot be modernized overnight but the effort must begin.
- Training with aircraft mentioned should begin now.
- Transfer to Ukraine new Stinger short-range air defense missiles with training package
- Air Command-and-Control systems
- For mid and high altitude defense Ukraine needs U.S. or NATO compatible systems.
Strengthen Ukraine’s land-based defense capabilities including:
- Continuation of Javelin program – transfer Javelin missiles with launchers
- Transfer of NSM or Harpoon Block 2 land-based coastal defense battery
- Counter battery radars to strengthen Ukraine’s defensive capabilities and troop resilience. We have never delivered what they need in the quantities needed
- Inexpensive anti-drone systems to frontline and sea control Ukrainian forces
- Anti-drones – whatever the U.S. is developing to counter drones should be “loaned” to Ukraine to be tried/tested there
U.S. assistance with Ukraine’s “mosquito fleet” should continue and be developed:
- Transfer sixteen Mark VIs with onboard weapons and equipment (short range anti-ship missiles (e.g.: Sea Griffin B or similar), automated [email protected] system (e.g.: SYNTACS C2), tactical multipurpose drones (e.g.: COYOTE) to provide asymmetric and simultaneously cost-effective response to Russian maritime threats in both theaters (the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea)
- Transfer of mobile radars FURUNO FAR 3000 or GIRAFE for Maritime Domain Awareness system improvement
- Assistance in naval infrastructure upgrades. The shipyards that exist (e.g.: Mykolayiv) are in a terrible state of maintenance. This is not as flashy as providing Mark VIs, but critically important. Naval base creation in Ochakiv and Berdyansk (including maintenance facilities, housing for crews, weapon storage and logistics and training centers)
- Transfer of Unmanned Underwater Vehicles for different purposes (underwater and surface surveillance, mine countermeasures, ASW critical maritime areas/port security).
The United States needs to provide military advisors in Land Forces Command and in other tactical units in Ukraine’s Land and Air Forces and Navy.
TASK FORCE MEMBERS: 2019-2020
Amb. John Herbst, Chair (Atlantic Council)
Nadia K. McConnell, Vice Chair (US-Ukraine Foundation)
Robert A. McConnell, Vice Chair (McConnell and Associates)
Stephen Blank (American Foreign Policy Council)
Gen. Phillip M. Breedlove (USAF [Ret] Former SACEUR)
Ian Brzezinski (Former Deputy Asst. Secretary of Defense)
Debra Cagan (Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense)
Michael Carpenter (Former Deputy Asst. Secretary of Defense, Penn Biden Center)
Gen. Wesley Clark (USA ([Ret], former SACEUR)
Peter Doran (Center for European Policy Analysis)
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges (Center for European Policy Analysis)
Glen Howard (Jamestown Foundation)
Donald Jensen (Center for European Policy Analysis)
Dr. Phillip Karber (Potomac Foundation)
Herman Pirchner (American Foreign Policy Council)
Amb. Alexander Vershbow (Former NATO Deputy Secretary General)
UPDATED RECOMMENDATIONS of the National Security Task Force (May 2020)
In May 2020 the Task Force updated its recommendations and submitted the updated version as testimony to six Congressional Committees – the House Committees on Appropriations, Armed Services and Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committees on Appropriations, Armed Services and Foreign Relations – to be included in their respective considerations of the FY21 authorization legislation and appropriations bills.
CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE TESTIMONY:
Thank You Mr. Chairman, the Friends of Ukraine Network (FOUN) is a non-partisan coalition of former ambassadors, leading policy and international security professionals. It also includes other experts who have dealt with key aspects of Ukraine’s relations with the United States and the international community.
FOUN is an outgrowth of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation (USUF) and U.S. Department of State-sponsored U.S.-Ukraine Policy Dialogue programs of 2005 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.
The Foundation has organized FOUN into several task forces on different dimensions of areas where the United States should support Ukraine’s security and prosperity. Today the FOUN Task Force on National Security offers this Committee recommendations for consideration as you develop (the FY 2021Defense Authorization/FY2021 Defense Appropriations) Bill.
In this regard FOUN emphasizes that Ukraine’s security matters to the United States and its allies for many geopolitical reasons, including the fact that Ukraine is part of the greater Black Sea region. The greater Black Sea region is where West meets Russia/China/Iran. It is where Europe, Russia, Eurasia, and the Middle East all converge. Great Power Competition prevents great power conflict and so competing here in all domains (diplomacy, information, military, economy) provides us the best chance to deter Russia, contain Iran, keep China at bay, while helping the 40 million people of Ukraine achieve their aspirations for freedom, democracy, economic prosperity, and closer integration with the European Union and NATO.
If Ukraine is not secure then Russia completely dominates the Black Sea, presents a threat to NATO allies in the region (Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey), dominates Georgia, and continues to suppress Moldova.
But beyond the Black Sea, as former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Sherman Garnett has written, Ukraine is the keystone in the arch of Central and East European security. And, as many, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, have observed, if Moscow can suborn Ukraine, then Russia will once again be an empire and have direct access to all the borders of Central and Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Since Russia has been pursuing policies designed to undermine European security for most of this century and does not accept any of the borders of the post-Cold war settlement as legally fixed and irrevocable, and does not accept the sovereignty of any European state east and south of Germany, the consignment of Ukraine to Russian influence would encourage Moscow to probe further into Europe.
Thus, if Ukraine is not secure then Belarus becomes much more vulnerable to pressure from the Kremlin and Russian ground troops are soon back in Belarus, and Russian provocations against our NATO Baltic Allies - Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia – with greater risk to Poland.
Ukraine matters and the United States must provide the support Ukraine needs and must do so in a manner fully informed by the situation in Ukraine.
FOUN does acknowledge and recommend the invaluable information on Russia’s aggression in Ukraine provided regularly by the United States Mission to the OSCE. These reports are available at https://osce.usmission.gov
Here FOUN urges direct assistance for Ukraine, presents an update on Russia’s response to the United States sanctions on Nord Stream II, recommends additional sanctions and offers suggestions on the counsel the Zelenskyy Administration needs to hear from Congress.
Recommendations for Direct Assistance
Attached to this statement are the FOUN’s Priority Recommendations for U.S. Assistance to Ukraine 2020 which contains the recommendations of all three FOUN task forces and was published late last year.
As many Members know, FOUN has been discussing these Recommendations with individual offices and members of committee staff since late last year. Two things need to be emphasized here. First, in regard to the recommendations from FOUN’s other two task forces (Economic Security Task Force and Democracy & Civil Society Task Force), some details are being updated and updated material will be forwarded to Congress as appropriate. Second, in that original document you will find recommendations for military assistance, priority capabilities, specific options and recommendations related to NATO and U.S. Government foreign policy but this statement provides updated emphasis on these recommendations as well.
The overriding objective of these recommendations is to strengthen Ukraine’s deterrence capabilities. For example, once Ukrainian forces had the American Javelin anti-tank missiles, aggression by Russian tanks in Eastern Ukraine abated noticeably. Russia wishes to avoid casualties, it neither wants nor can afford large numbers of body bags returning to Russia from a war it says it is not fighting. The threat the Javelins present to the Russian tank corps is a genuine deterrent.
Lesson learned, but Russian tanks have not and are not the only form of Russian aggression being faced by Ukraine where deterring weapons can and should be provided. Grenade launchers also would provide genuine deterrence against new Russian ground assaults against Ukraine. Additional counter-battery and counter-mortar systems would also deter Russian artillery and rocket attacks and help negate Russia’ huge superiority in electronic warfare (EW).
We need to help Ukraine protect its citizens and make the costs of all types of aggression prohibitive and against Russian interests.
Russia unlawfully seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and, in addition to the flagrant human rights violations Russia is committing against the people of Crimea, especially Crimean Tatars, including deportations, it is militarizing the Peninsula with troops, weapons, aircraft, ships, and missiles, including nuclear-capable missiles.
In addition, the Russian navy has become more and more aggressive in the Black Sea. Not only has the Russian navy essentially shut down Ukrainian and Ukraine-related commercial access through the Kerch Strait to the Sea of Azov (and critical Ukrainian commercial ports there), the Russians are taking additional steps to strengthen their illegitimate control over waters vital to Ukraine and other countries on the Black Sea.
Ukraine needs the ability to deter Russian aggression at sea as well as on the land.
With this in mind, FOUN strongly supports Ukraine’s need to build a “mosquito fleet.” This would involve fast, maneuverable patrol boats equipped with weapons such as torpedoes and Hellfire missiles that will present a significant deterrence to further Russian aggression on the sea and counter Russian military and economic threats to Ukraine.
Washington has already commendably sent two Perry-class frigates to Ukraine. In the Recommendations, FOUN recommended the provision of at least six but preferably twelve Mark V patrol boats. The Department of Defense is reportedly prepared to deliver two Mark VI patrol boats and that would be a welcome step forward. Mark VIs are superior to the Mark V but the bottom line is that the Ukrainians need more boats – properly equipped -- to protect their extensive shoreline.
Likewise, Ukraine needs anti-ship missiles for coastal defense – both land-based short-range missiles and ship-based anti-ship missiles. The United States has many 1970s-vintage Harpoon anti-ship missiles in storage; they would be ideal for increasing this dimension of Ukraine’s deterrence capability.
In addition to providing Ukraine sufficient deterrent naval capability, the United States and its NATO allies must develop and implement a more effective Black Sea strategy to contain Russian ambitions. Likewise, they should work with Ukraine to help it formulate an equivalent and credible Black Sea strategy for itself. Russia’s steady efforts to establish dominance in the Black Sea is a significant threat to Ukraine and other Black Sea countries, including NATO members Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.
In addition to providing the recommended weapons the Department of Defense should be directed to provide a report on U.S. and NATO Black Sea strategy by a date certain.
As a complement to the above measures, the United States and its European allies and partners should agree that Russian Navy vessels and merchant ships that sail directly from ports in Crimea should be banned from all ports in NATO and European Union nations.
Air defense capabilities
There is no possibility Ukraine could ever defeat a genuine Russian air war, but the Russians have not used air power since the first months of the war in Eastern Ukraine. Attacks by Russian aircraft would represent a major escalation on Moscow’s part and undercut the Kremlin’s propaganda that the war is an internal Ukrainian conflict in which Russian armed forces are not involved.
However, the threat remains.
FOUN recommends that the U.S. provide air defense artillery and other excess air defense systems, such as the Avenger and Hawk, to deter Russian reintroduction of air power to the conflict. Similarly, the transfer of radars to Ukraine will also counter Russian aerial and electronic superiority in the aerospace domain.
Military Industrial Complex
Corruption in the public sector of Ukraine’s defense manufacturing industry has been the source of significant concern for a long time. Indeed, our Department of Defense has been “on the case” for some time with designated representatives working with the government and management to improve the Defense Industrial Ministry and the huge manufacturing conglomerate Ukroboronprom.
Reforms, including the break-up of the Defense Industrial Ministry and Ukroboronprom, are already in progress. But Ukraine would benefit from ongoing and active U.S. participation and encouragement of ongoing reform efforts.
Relations with NATO
With the goal of attaining NATO membership, in the near-term FOUN recommends to the Administration and urges Congress to support a decision by NATO to grant Enhanced Opportunity Partner status to Ukraine in recognition of its strategic importance and substantial progress toward interoperability with NATO forces.
Energy as a weapon
FOUN acknowledges and appreciates the sanctions Congress imposed in the FY2020 NDAA related to companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. These sanctions had an immediate impact: the departure of the Swiss company laying the final segment of the pipeline in Danish waters. Moscow is now actively trying to end run U.S. sanctions and get the final 100 miles of completed. Six Nord Stream 2-related ships have recently been pre-positioned at the German Baltic port of Mukran, while others are preoccupied with the global pandemic. We would recommend that additional sanctions be considered on both the companies supplying support vessels to the Russians and on key European actors representing Russian interests in Nord Stream 2.
Various sanctions have been imposed on Russia tied to its invasion of Crimea, its war in Donbas, its meddling in the internal affairs of other nations. All these sanctions have extracted a cost, slowing Russian economic growth and discouraging foreign investment.
However, even though it faces plunging demand for oil and gas, and the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic, the Kremlin continues to make choices that impose devastating casualties and costs on Ukraine and other nations. Instead of making choices to enhance the welfare of the Russian people and protect its population from the Coronavirus pandemic, Putin and his regime continue to wage war and illegally occupy the territory of Ukraine, as well as Georgia and Moldova.
FOUN believes that sanctions on Russia need to be strengthened if we hope to change Putin’s calculus and convince him to end his aggression and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. FOUN recommends that serious consideration be given to developing a schedule of new sanctions that would prevent the Kremlin from adapting to the current sanctions regime and impose new sanctions every four to six weeks until Russia backs down from its aggressive and destabilizing behavior.
The Kremlin only responds to pressure; the costs imposed by today’s sanctions are substantial and may have acted as a deterrent, but have not proved sufficient to change Russian behavior. Sanctions should increase on a clearly defined schedule until the sanctioned acts end.
Non-recognition of Crimean Annexation
In March, 2019, the House of Representatives passed and sent to the Senate H.R. 596, the Crimea Annexation Non-recognition Act.
The FY 2016-FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Acts included similar language to this bill, prohibiting Department of Defense funds from being used on any action that recognizes Russian sovereignty over Crimea. If enacted H.R. 596 would apply that prohibition across the entire federal government.
FOUN urges early enactment.
Congressional Advice and Counsel to the Government of Ukraine
Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected President of Ukraine just over a year ago by a remarkable 73% majority. He ran for office as a reformer and as one who would seek an end to the war with Russia.
Here FOUN focuses on the reform efforts. For almost a year the President governed as a reformer installing many solid reformers in the ministries and pressing the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) to pass a number of good reform laws. There were primarily two areas where the President did not move forward. He did not fight for much needed reforms in Ukraine’s banking laws, most importantly for laws that would prohibit oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi from regaining control of Privat Bank, and he did not move aggressively to reform the judiciary. And it must be noted there are other oligarchs with considerable influence who work against the best interests of the people of Ukraine.
More recently, at the insistence of the IMF and western governments, President Zelenskyy has pushed through the Rada an important agriculture reform law and just last week the banking law. However, the push for overall reform appears to be slipping away.
The President’s first cabinet was mostly quite good and ministers were working to implement reforms and improve policy in their respective areas of responsibility. However, in early March Zelenskyy fired most of his cabinet and brought in replacements with less experience and less committed to reform and the fight against corruption.
FOUN would like to give Zelenskyy and his team the benefit of the doubt and monitor the changes over time, but indications are not good. Beyond the questionable appointments, the transition from one minister to another is disruptive at a time when Ukraine needs reform and stability.
There is a genuine concern that President Zelenskyy’s governance may be slipping away from reform and following unfortunate patterns from Ukraine’s past.
President Zelenskyy should be warned against proceeding down a path devoid of a clear and unequivocal commitment to reform. There certainly are ways Congress, or Members within Congress such as the Congressional Ukraine Caucus and Senate Ukraine Caucus, can let President Zelenskyy know that there is deep concern in Washington that he is heading in the wrong direction.
FOUN’s recommendations for assistance are not lessened because of the President’s backtracking on reform – the people of Ukraine deserve our support and Ukraine and Ukraine’s security remain of vital national interest to the United States. However, Congress and the Administration have many ways to express concern and FOUN believes such concern should be made clear now.
RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE FOUN NATIONAL SECURITY TASK FORCE FOR 2020 (September 2019)
The Kremlin’s war on Ukraine is well into its sixth year. Scores of shelling incidents across the line of contact in the Donbas occur daily and Ukraine suffers casualties and fatalities weekly, despite repeated efforts to establish a lasting ceasefire. Moscow’s harassment of shipping in the Sea of Azov and its use of Russian forces to seize Ukrainian ships last November at the Kerch Strait, in contravention of international law, represent dangerous escalation. Moreover, Moscow’s offer of Russian passports to residents of the occupied Donbas further exacerbates tensions. Moscow has yet to respond to the gesture by new Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to establish ease of movement of the local population in both directions across the line of contact, as a step toward reintegration of the occupied territories in accordance with the Minsk agreements. As President Putin seems to have no interest in ceasing Russia’s aggression against its neighbor, we see the need to bolster further Ukraine’s defense capabilities.
MILITARY ASSISTANCE – GUIDING PRINCIPLES:
• The overall objective is to strengthen Ukraine’s deterrence by raising the costs of further Russian aggression.
• Military assistance should be grounded in Ukrainian national strategic planning — defending forward and fighting.
• It should enhance Ukraine’s own capability to produce the required equipment.
• It should be based on the most rapid time to field, taking into account training requirements, translations of manuals, support tail required, etc.
• It should avoid creating a concentration of high-value targets — headquarters units, armor, etc.
• It should assume enemy air superiority at all points.
• All assistance should include a continued commitment to training and maintenance as well as a supply of spare parts.
• Air defense artillery to challenge Russian air superiority
• Coastal defense systems — surveillance, detection, artillery anti-ship missile systems, electronic warfare systems
• Territorial sea protection — small, high speed, well-armed craft with low cost
• The United States should provide excess air defense equipment like the Avenger system and the Hawk system and NATO allies should consider providing the Roland system.
• The United States should provide at least six, and as many as twelve, Mark V PT boats, which carry torpedoes as well as the capacity to be equipped with at least fifty, and as many as 100, Hellfire missiles.
• The United States should provide gratis the 1970s Harpoon anti-ship missiles currently sitting in storage.
• The United States should provide the radar and intelligence systems necessary to track the Russian Navy in the Sea of Azov.
• The Administration and Congress should identify funding mechanisms for the long term.
NATO AND U.S. GOVERNMENT FOREIGN POLICY:
• The United States, NATO, and other Western allies should strongly condemn Russian actions.
• The United States should act bilaterally and through NATO to integrate Ukraine into the NATO/Georgia com-mon maritime picture.
• The United States and NATO should leverage the growing U.S. military presence in Poland to intensify exercises with the Ukrainian military in western Ukraine.
• The United States should work with other allies to facilitate Ukrainian acquisition of unmanned maritime surveillance systems, which would enhance its anti-submarine warfare (ASW), intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance programs (ISR), mine-clearance, and anti-ship capabilities.
• The United States and NATO should make clear that any further illegal seizure of Ukrainian ships or denial of Ukrainian access to the Sea of Azov will be met with additional, more robust sanctions banning access to U.S./European ports by Russian ships from Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and Don River ports.
• NATO and the EU should send a joint fact-finding mission to the Sea of Azov and bolster the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission along the Sea of Azov coast.
• NATO should increase the frequency of maritime patrols in the eastern Black Sea and establish a permanent command element in the Black Sea.
• The United States, United Kingdom, and France should convene the UN Security Council and, if Russia blocks UNSC action, the General Assembly to affirm the right of Ukrainian ships to use the Kerch Strait and Azov Sea without interference from any nation.