In March 2021, the Biden Administration sent a $125 million military aid package to Ukraine, which included “patrol boats, counter artillery radar systems, tactical and medical equipment, satellite analysis capability, and combat evacuation procedures,” according to the Pentagon. And that is only the first military aid package from the Biden Administration; under the Trump Administration there were hefty aid packages sent to Ukraine as well. The U.S. has contributed a lot of military aid to Ukraine over the years since Russia invaded Crimea in 2014. But the U.S., according to Ian Brzezinski, an Atlantic Council expert focused on Europe, can and should do more. Since 2014, the ongoing conflict in the Donbas region has taken the lives of over 13,200 people, and the recent amassing of 100,000 Russian troops on Russia’s Western border with Ukraine and in Crimea does not point to any sort of de-escalation. The U.S. must do more to strengthen Ukraine’s military in order to deter Russian aggression.
Ukraine wants and needs better air defense and anti-missile systems. A common strategy coming from the Russian front is to strike command and control structures and critical logistical systems with ground-to-ground missile attacks. That is why it is imperative for Ukraine to have more adequate anti-missile systems and better defense to intercept attacks from the separatist-controlled territories. While Ukraine is unlikely to ever equal Russia in terms of its capacity for direct combat – it would be a fool’s errand to even attempt to do this – it can and should better develop its defense capabilities.
It would be beneficial for both the U.S. and Ukraine to come together to develop a joint weapons systems program or defense program, according to Oleksandr Danyluk, Chairman of the Ukrainian Center for Defense Reforms think tank. Danyluk gives two reasons that illustrate why Ukraine is worthy of greater military aid from the U.S.: first, Ukraine’s decision to remove all of its nuclear arsenal (the third largest in the world at the time) in exchange for assurances of sovereignty from Russia in 1994 was a huge breakthrough for Ukraine-U.S. relations; and second, Ukraine is expending its own people and blood in order to protect U.S. allies in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and ultimately, Western values in Eastern Europe. The third reason to help is that Ukraine has been in an on-going conflict for 7 years with Russia and the death toll is rising. The only solution to deter Russian aggression in Ukraine is for the U.S. to help Ukraine strengthen its military and defense systems.
Written by Sarah Wood