As the saying goes, “if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem” – and Washington, we have a problem.

The White House, Senate, House of Representatives, Republicans and Democrats – instead of airing their Festivus-like grievances towards one another in the media, should be huddled in the Oval Office coming up with a solution. Country must prevail over party. Lives and democracies are at risk.

In a little over one-week, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine will enter its third year.

In February 2022, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley gave Ukraine 72 hours before capitulating. The United States offered to evacuate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his family to safety. His response would immortalize him and fuel Ukraine to resist the Russian invader: “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”

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And that is exactly what the US and NATO did. They came to the defense of a democracy in peril, providing weapons, ammunition, training, intelligence, humanitarian assistance and assurances that they would “stand by Ukraine.”

America was united. During his first State of the Union speech President Biden called upon members of Congress – Democrats and Republicans – to stand in the House chamber in a show of support for Ukraine. He stated: “Let each of us here tonight in this Chamber… send an unmistakable signal to Ukraine and to the world… We, the United States of America, stand with the Ukrainian people.” He added: “This is a real test. And it’s going to take time. So let us continue to draw inspiration from the iron will of the Ukrainian people. To our fellow Ukrainian-Americans who forged a deep bond that connects our two nations, we stand with you.”

The Netherlands Providing Extra EUR 1 bln in Defense Assistance, EUR 400 mln for Recovery to Ukraine
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The Netherlands Providing Extra EUR 1 bln in Defense Assistance, EUR 400 mln for Recovery to Ukraine

The Hague makes another substantial manifestation of support for Kyiv

But that was two years ago – standing has a time limit in Washington; Presidential elections complicate things.

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Our government is stuck on stupid.

The House voted against funding Ukraine, Israel and securing the border along party lines. House Democrats voted no on a $17.6 billion stand-alone Israel aid bill. The Senate just passed a $95 billion national security supplemental package that provides funding to “Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific,” with 22 Republicans voting yes, and Democratic Senators Peter Welch and Jeff Merkley, along with Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, voting no. The supplemental package does not include any border security provisions and is not likely to survive in the House. Our government is stuck on stupid.

Republicans, led by Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA), are wary of another “forever war.” Their position is further complicated by an unsecured southern border and the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, not to mention Houthi threats to commercial shipping and US Navy ships in the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden, and Iranian proxies throughout the region attacking US bases – 170 since October 18.

Bundling this “trifecta of inaction” has become an impossible task. Washington must focus on the “wolf closest to the sled” – Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine poses the most significant threat to the US. A Russian victory threatens eastern Europe – Poland, the Baltic states, and Finland. All NATO countries who are not likely to stand idly by as Russia resets.

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Despite Putin’s assurances to Tucker Carlson last week that he “had no interest in attacking countries on NATO’s eastern flank,” he said that once about Ukraine too. Putin’s word is worthless – wanting to believe him again is foolhardy.

As Biden stated in Warsaw, Poland in March 2022: “We have a sacred obligation under Article 5 to defend each and every inch of NATO territory with the full force of our collective power.” The U.S. would likely be drawn into a war with Russia should Ukraine fall. Supporting a Ukrainian victory today ultimately saves American lives later.

The White House must acknowledge that “defend Ukraine” and “weaken Russia” have run their course. American support to Ukraine has not transitioned with the situation on the ground.

The White House must articulate a winning strategy for Ukraine. The killing stops when Russia is defeated. The President, our nation’s Commander-in-Chief, needs to become part of the solution. That begins with a plan, and a message – to the American people, Ukraine, NATO and Russia – America supports a Ukrainian victory.

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Defensive weapons are not going to win this war. They will, however, extend it. As Gen. George S. Patton said, “Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.”

Ukrainians have demonstrated their ability to kill Russians and destroy their equipment – having eliminated 395,990 Russian soldiers since Feb. 24, 2022. They simply lack the offensive capability right now to decisively expel Russian forces from their country.

The President needs to throw the weight of the US behind Zelensky and his new Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky. Where America leads, others (NATO) will follow, and still others (Iran, China, North Korea) will take notice.

It begins with a plan – US Support to Victory in Ukraine – and would be delivered in four phases.

The President needs a plan – the free world is looking towards America for leadership. It is time to deliver.

Phase I is the messaging and begins with the President declaring his intent to support a Ukrainian victory in a speech from the Oval Office. This gives the President a platform to sell the way ahead directly to the American people – and puts Congress and Russia on notice.

The President must make three additional points. The first, his intent to activate the defense industrial complex to begin maximum production of critical ammunition and weapon systems to replenish wartime stocks and immediate shipment to Ukraine. He would also announce his intent to pull salvageable M1 Abrams tanks and Bradly infantry fighting vehicles from existing stockpiles in boneyards such as the Anniston Army Depot and the Sierra Army Depot. These refurbished weapons are fully capable of taking on Russian T-55/62 tanks, along with the BMP-1/2 infantry fighting vehicles currently deployed in Ukraine.

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The second would be the creation of a Presidential Advisory Council for the War in Ukraine, consisting of retired Flag Officers who spent their careers preparing to fight the Russian Army. Army Generals the likes of McCaffrey, Keane, Petraeus, Hodges, Hurtling, and Kellogg. Air Force Gen. Breedlove, Navy Adm. Stavridis, and Marine Corps Generals Kelly and Mathis.

The third would be his support for Ukraine’s rapid accession into the NATO alliance after Russian forces have been defeated and removed from the country.

Phase II is the immediate delivery of critical weapons systems and ammunition needed now to defend Ukraine: 155mm artillery, HIMARS munitions, Patriot missiles, Stinger missiles, small arms, Javelin missiles, drones, cluster munitions, etc., required to hold off the relentless “meat assaults” in Avdiivka.

Phase III is the buildup of combat power, training, and logistical support necessary to re-launch their offensive. It would include ATACMS, fighter jets, ground launched small diameter bombs, cluster munitions, engineering equipment, etc. This provides precision deep strike capability to shape the battlefield, interdict Russian supply lines, defeat Russian missile/drone attacks at the point of origin, make the Crimean Peninsula untenable, and affords no sanctuary for Russian troops, their equipment, or their commanders in Russia.

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Phase IV is support to the Ukrainian offensive. This begins in Phase I and runs throughout the plan. It involves joint planning with Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky’s staff, intelligence sharing, logistical sustainment, and battlefield assessments.

The President needs a timeline and a cost estimate. He needs to identify the specific weapons that will be provided to win the war and provide a clear end state. He needs a plan – the free world is looking towards America for leadership. It is time to deliver.

Copyright 2023. Jonathan E. Sweet and Mark C. Toth. All rights reserved.

Jonathan Sweet, a retired Army colonel, served 30 years as a military intelligence officer. His background includes tours of duty with the 101st Airborne Division and the Intelligence and Security Command. He led the U.S. European Command Intelligence Engagement Division from 2012-14, working with NATO partners in the Black Sea and Baltics. Follow him on Twitter @JESweet2022

Mark Toth is a retired economist and entrepreneur who has worked in banking, insurance, publishing, and global commerce. He is a former board member of the World Trade Center, St. Louis, and has lived in U.S. diplomatic and military communities around the world, including London, Tel Aviv, Augsburg, and Nagoya. Follow him on Twitter @MCTothSTL.

The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post. 

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Comments (4)

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Imokru2
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Despite the four point plan above, the dems and Republicans have failed the American people.
On the one hand is Biden, never the sharpest knife in the drawer and wrong on most decisions over the past 40 years, who is now just an old man in mental decline and who is not really sure what is going on around him.
On the other hand, we have Trump who is a mouthy polarizing figure who will lose to any candidate not named Biden.
There is one bright light and that is Nikki Haley, who I think will end up running as an Independent under No Labels. The American people had better wake up and grab that brass ring,

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Bok
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The phases are good. However, most want genuine border security for the USA. The president refuses to protect US borders against hordes of illegal crossings, because it will give him votes, and cheap labor to the wealthy elites. Why can't we protect the US AND Ukraine? Biden has refused to do both; he could end the stalemate in seconds by re-implementing Trump's executive orders, but he is willing to sacrifice Ukraine for political gain. Don't believe the propaganda. Yes, there are a few that don't want to support Ukraine, but they are VERY few. They are NOT favoring Putin, but trying to prevent the collapse of the US. It is not either/or - We can do both.

Just Victory
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@Bok, The RepubliPutins had their chance to do both but threw it away in subservience to a demagogue who thinks Putin is a "smart guy" and NATO is just a US military-industrial retail shop. When the tail wags the dog there is no hope of saving the US from itself.

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John
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Some leaders said they would be there for Ukraine for as long as it takes. Now they cannot get past dictator admirers in their own governments. A handful of enemy aligned subversives ties the hands of the world's largest democracy. All at a critical time when if Ukraine support is botched, allies essentially open the gateway to a potential new world war with the other autocratic nations; waiting...waiting...waiting to strike.



Ironically the deniers of aid, falsely claim their priority concern is for improving 'national security'. As though a wall stopping unarmed refugees, somehow will stop now likely threat of a future conquest by despots that have ramped up war manufacturing.

A isolationist nation may find itself very isolated indeed, when its abandoned past allies have all fallen.

The money requested for Ukraine support mostly stays in our own nations to improve weapons manufacturing capacity. This is critical to thwart current and future foreign threats. 



Allies help your future selves.....help Ukraine now!!!

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Just Victory
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The plan outlined forgets to include a firm and fundamental US commitment to defend the UN Charter and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ukraine is fighting to defend the existing world legal framework that Putin is trying to destroy. It's no coincidence that other despots have decided to imitate Putin by trying to seize and assault the victim of their choice in a display of "might is right".

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