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WASHINGTON — Ukraine’s military has an urgent need for nonlethal military assistance like body armor, night-vision goggles, communications gear and aviation fuel to defend against a potential Russian attack, according to a new analysis by a former NATO commander and a former Pentagon official.
But wary of provoking Russia, the Obama administration has been reluctant to provide it, they say.
“Implementation of U.S. nonlethal military aid is seriously flawed and needs immediate correction,” Gen. Wesley K. Clark and Phillip A. Karber wrote in a copy of the report that The New York Times obtained on Tuesday. General Clark, who is retired, is the former NATO commander who led the alliance’s forces during the 1998 Kosovo conflict, and Mr. Karber is a former strategy adviser to Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger.
The visit of General Clark, who ran for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, and Mr. Karber took place in late March and early April. They traveled at the invitation of Ukrainian officials, and the trip was paid for by the Potomac Foundation, an American nonprofit research center.
With travel costs covered by the non-profit Potomac Foundation (an organization with a long history of supporting East European and former Soviet Republic training for NATO membership), Clark and Karber traveled to Ukraine to undertake a joint militarily oriented, nonpublic assessment, and do so on a non‐partisan basis.
"a 501(c)(3) non-profit, private operating Foundation which conducts policy analysis of international security/economic issues and domestic political developments. These analyses are presented in the form of conferences, seminars and papers which are published and disseminated to the U.S. Congress, the Administration, the media, and other policy organizations."
Appeal by Yulia Tymoshenko to the US Congress
I appeal to members of the US Congress to take all possible steps to support Ukraine, defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, especially taking into account the conclusions of the recently published Interim Report of Gen. Wesley K. Clark and Dr. Philipp A. Karber "Immediate Improvements Needed in Rapidly Implementing US Military Assistance for Defense of Ukraine".
It is obvious that Russia’s aggression has not only economic and political but a military component. Therefore, Ukraine needs comprehensive aid. In particular, this concerns military and technical aid that, in my view, should include air defense and anti-armor equipment and assistance with training of military personnel.
I fully support the recommendations of the Interim Report of Gen. (ret.) Wesley K. Clark and Dr. Philipp A. Karber, namely:
- A "Force Multiplier" criteria applying a ban on support equipment that is not lethal (neither a weapon nor ammunition) needs to be dropped immediately; in particular, we need communications equipment, aviation fuel and other military equipment to defend our country;
- to make Ukraine a priority and immediately appoint a high-level official with military experience who will become a responsible person for the US military assistance to Ukraine;
- to provide Ukraine with professional advisory support on military and national security issues.
The letter specifically urges to White House to follow the recommendations of a recent nonpartisan report on Ukraine written by former NATO General Wesley Clark and defense strategy adviser Phillip Karber. That report advises the U.S. to send items that are non-lethal but have important tactical value: things like night-vision goggles, body armor, communications devices and aviation fuel.
In their letter, the lawmakers express concern that the White House is not moving with enough urgency and that bureaucratic red tape may be delaying critical aid and decisions.
Going beyond recommendations, the House Armed Services Committee is making an assertive oversight move as well. In Thursday’s letter, the members ask that the administration brief the committee on its efforts to assist Ukraine and on the overall situation in the region on Tuesday, April 29, the first full day that Congress will be back following its Passover and Easter recess.