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One year on, Ukrainians continue to defy the odds

As published by the Middle East Institute.

By Mick Mulroy

February 24, 2023

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine — a war of choice by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia has failed on the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. It has committed more war crimes than almost any other country since the end of World War II, deliberately targeting and killing innocent civilians, including children.

The Ukrainians have defied the odds. Most intelligence services and defense analysts believed Ukraine would fall within weeks. They not only did not, but they also took back around 50% of the territory the Russians initially occupied. No one will likely underestimate them again, including Russia.

The United States and NATO must now decide whether we are only going to support them to defend themselves — in other words, not to lose — or if we are going to provide them with the support that would allow them to go on the offensive. That would mean advanced aircraft, long-range fires, and a continuous, uninterrupted logistics supply line of ammunition, weapons, and vehicles.

Specifically, the Ukrainians need the F-16, MiG-29, and A-10. They need long-range fires like the ATACMs, anti-tank guided missiles, Gray Eagle drones, and anti-ship missiles. And they need many more advanced tanks: the Leopard 2, Challenger 2, and the U.S. M1 Abrams. The United States currently has 3,000 M1 Abrams in storage in reserve.

In addition, the U.S. should release the intelligence report on China’s intention to supply lethal aid to Russia for its war against Ukraine. If they move forward to do that, they should be sanctioned to the level of Iran and North Korea — essentially state sponsors of terrorism. If they are allowed to provide Russia weapons and ammunition, it could substantially affect the battlefield. It could extend this conflict for years, with many more innocent civilians dying as a result.

If we chose only to provide the Ukrainians with the support to defend themselves, there would be no end in sight to the war. If we provide them the ability to win and they do so, it will send a clear message to President Putin and any other despot that seeks to invade another sovereign country — the rest of the free world will not allow it.

Mick Mulroy is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, retired CIA officer and U.S. Marine, ABC News national security and defense analyst, and a non-resident senior fellow at MEI.

Photo by GENYA SAVILOV/AFP via Getty Images

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