This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of an Alliance that US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin describes as the “strongest and most successful in human history.” Its 32 members will meet in Washington in July for NATO’s 75th-Anniversary Summit. But what would ordinarily be an occasion for celebration, camaraderie, and good cheer has been muted by the collective appeal of a group of retired generals who have issued a dire warning of what may come unless the Alliance resets its policy regarding military and technical support to Ukraine.

For the first time since World War II, an authoritarian superpower on Europe’s border invaded a peaceful and much weaker neighbor and ignited a horrific conflagration in the very heart of Europe.

In their appeal, the generals correctly recognize the purpose of Russia’s war as being one that the world thought would never be replicated – the genocidal obliteration of a nation. The generals warn that the West’s failure to support Ukraine would lead to its inevitable defeat and catastrophic consequences for the world: hundreds of thousands of additional casualties, millions of refugees, loss of confidence in the US as leader of the free world, probable dissolution of NATO as its separate members seek accommodation with authoritarian states, and an open invitation for wars, expansionism and conquest by other regimes.

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But all this could be averted if the Alliance were to adopt, at its July Summit meeting, policy decisions binding all its members… decisions that would significantly enhance Ukraine’s ability to prevail militarily while simultaneously convincing Putin that the Alliance is serious in its commitment to ensuring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The generals consider it critically important that all restrictions on the types and amount of weapons provided to Ukraine be removed and that transferred equipment offer a technological advantage over the enemy. Ensuring Ukraine’s operational reserves, including adequate ammunition supplies, weapons maintenance, and expanded training abroad, is especially important. Until Ukraine recovers its sovereignty and territorial integrity, such continuing and timely support should be guaranteed through long-term bilateral security agreements with member states and fixed per each member’s GDP level.


Finally, in acknowledging the courage, sacrifice, and importance of Ukraine’s contribution to the security of the Alliance and defense of freedom, the generals urge the Summit members gathered in Washington to provide Ukraine with a clear plan of accession to NATO.

Among those who signed the appeal are Gen. Sir Richard Shirreff, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (2011-2014); Gen. Riho Terras, Chief of the General Staff of the Estonian Armed Forces (2011-2018); Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, Commander of the US Army Europe (2014-2017); Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, Commander of the US Army in Europe (2011-2012); Maj. Gen. Michael Repass, Commander of the US Special Operations Forces European Command (2010-2013); Maj. Gen. Riho Ühtegi, Commander of the Special Operations Forces of Estonia (2012-2019); Klaus Wittmann, Brig. Gen. of the Bundeswehr, ex-employee of the NATO Headquarters; Janusz Adam Onyszkiewicz, Minister of Defense of Poland (1992-1993, 1997-2000).


On a related note, and simultaneous in its timing, Senator Roger Wicker, ranking member of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, in an op-ed to the New York Times, stated that America faces “some of the most dangerous global threat environments since World War II” and calls for increased spending for military readiness to avoid a “state of extreme vulnerability in a matter of years.” Given the coincidentally urgent appeal of the retired generals and the concerns expressed by one of America’s most knowledgeable experts on the looming military imbalance between free and authoritarian states, Ukraine’s pivotal role in constraining Putin’s expansionist interests against the Alliance takes on an even more critical urgency.

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