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Yuri Poluneev
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US Congressional Committees Propose Plan for Victory in Ukraine

Yuri Poluneev is a London-based independent Ukrainian analyst with a focus on international economy, post-Soviet economies and geopolitical risks, with international experience in project finance, multilateral financial institutions, policy making as well as financial and central bank regulation.  Formerly Executive Director of the Board of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia, deputy Head of the Supervisory Board of the National Bank of Ukraine and member of Parliament.


A few days ago, the House Foreign Affairs Committee (chaired by Republican Michael McCaul), the House Armed Services Committee (chaired by Republican Mike Rogers), and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (chaired by Republican Mike Turner) issued a report “Proposed Plan for Victory in Ukraine”, which aims to answer critical questions about the US and allied support for Ukraine as well as to present a plan to enable Ukraine (and its allies) to win and Russia – to lose its aggressive campaign.1  The main premises of the document are:

  1. Russia and its allies (China, Iran, Iran’s proxies, like Hamas and Hezbollah, and North Korea), have combined their forces and efforts to undermine globally the US political and economic positions, with the explicit goal to establish a new world order of totalitarianism.
  2. This alliance has been the most dangerous array of the US adversaries since WW2.
  3. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has become “a bellwether” to see if the United States and the rest of the free world can stand up to unprovoked aggression and advancement of interests by the totalitarian coalition.
  4. The US and donors’ aid to Ukraine is not charity. After the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, supporting Ukraine to defeat Putin’s invasion is seen critical to restore American deterrence and global power reputation in Europe, the Middle East, and the Indo-Pacific.
  5. If Russia wins in Ukraine, the resulting power vacuum would usher in a much more dangerous, unpredictable and counter-progressive world order not only for the US and its allies but for the whole world.

The report addresses the following critically important questions:

  • Why a victory for Ukraine in Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression is in the US national interest?
  • What existing and new accountability measures have been put forward by House Republicans in the State & Foreign Operations appropriations bill, Department of Defence appropriations bill, and the National Defence Authorization Act (including a U.S. strategy requirement and a cost-matching requirement with other donors for non-security assistance) to ensure aid to Ukraine is not a “blank check”?
  • How the Ukraine aid burden has been shared among the US and other donors;
  • And what should be done (a broad outline of a plan for victory), which includes requiring the administration to adopt a credible strategy for a Ukrainian victory, strengthening existing accountability measures, transferring weapons to Ukraine at the speed of relevance, ratcheting up sanctions and export controls on the Putin regime to defund its war machine, and pressuring the administration to galvanize the G7 and EU to transfer the $300 billion in frozen Russian sovereign assets to Ukraine?

The document criticizes the Biden administration's approach to the conflict, particularly its perceived hesitation in providing critical weapons to Ukraine and its overall handling of foreign policy. The proposal emphasizes the need for a more assertive stance, including providing Ukraine with advanced weaponry, enforcing tighter sanctions against Russia, and transferring frozen Russian assets to Ukraine. The document suggests that these measures are crucial for Ukraine to gain a stronger position for negotiations and for a lasting peace. The plan emphasizes the importance of U.S. leadership in the conflict and the need for a clear, decisive strategy.

The document specifically points out the following inadequacies in the US support and Ukraine strategy:

Debilitating Hesitation and Delays in Weapon Supplies (significant delay and perceived reluctance of the US Administration to provide Ukraine with advanced and necessary weapons, including Abrams tanks, cluster munitions, artillery, F-16s, GLSDB, and ATACMS.). As a result, in June 2023, Ukraine launched its counteroffensive without many requested weapons, which had a negative impact on Ukraine's strategic planning and allowed Russian army to fortify their positions:

  • In October 2023, shorter-range variants of ATACMS missiles were used effectively on the battlefield, but they were fewer in number and arrived months after Ukraine's counteroffensive began. The delay in providing these weapons is seen by the authors as a US failure arm Ukraine promptly and properly.
  • The Biden administration agreed to train Ukrainian pilots and provide F-16s only after over a year of pressure from Congress and NATO allies. However, this assistance was not scheduled until 2024. Meanwhile, the UK and France took the initiative to provide long-range missiles to Ukraine and, in fact, delivered the weapons.
  • In March 2022, the U.S. declined to offer political support for Poland to deliver its entire MiG-29 fleet to Ukraine, a move that could have significantly bolstered Ukraine's air defences and saved lives and critical infrastructure.
  • Finally, only in January 2023, the Administration agreed to send M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley armoured vehicles to Ukraine. This decision came after the UK and Germany had already pledged main battle tanks.

Insufficient Assertiveness in Foreign Policy and Lack of Decisive Action. The document argues that the strategy adopted by the Administration is seen as lacking the necessary determination and assertiveness needed to effectively counter Russian aggressive advances. The document criticises the Biden administration for projecting a weak image of the US abroad, particularly in its handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, border security, and the response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

  • The document suggests that stronger pre-invasion sanctions against Russia and maintaining sanctions on Nord Stream 2 could have been more effective. It argues that Biden’s appeasement policies, including rolling back sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and failing to arm Ukraine sufficiently, did not deter Putin and led to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
  • The report argues that Biden's administration failed to deter Russian aggression by imposing much deeper sanctions on Russia during the troop build-up around Ukraine and by rolling back Trump-era sanctions, which is viewed as a missed opportunity to prevent the war.
  • The authors associate the Russian invasion of Ukraine with a perceived sense of American weakness following the Afghanistan withdrawal, suggesting that this impacted the global perception of the US credibility and deterrence capabilities. The document connects Russia's invasion of Ukraine to the Biden administration's handling of the Taliban and the withdrawal from Afghanistan, implying that these actions signalled American weakness and emboldened adversaries like Putin.
  • Deterioration of American Deterrence: The Biden administration is accused of allowing American deterrence to crumble, with adversaries becoming increasingly willing to challenge the US national security interests globally. This has been attributed to the administration's perceived weak responses to various international crises.

The authors of the document provide several concrete recommendations on how to prevent Ukraine from losing the war:

  1. Provide Critical Weapons – Quickly and in Adequate Quantity: The authors emphasise the need for the US to supply Ukraine with critical weapons systems at fast speed. These include the longest-range variant of Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), F-16 fighter jets, sufficient quantities of cluster munitions, artillery, air defence systems, and battlefield armour.
  2. Tighten Considerably Sanctions on the Putin Regime: The strategy includes a call for much tighter and deeper sanctions against Kremlin. The intent is to exert more financial and political pressure on Russia, thereby impacting its capacity to continue the conflict and inflict maximum pressure on the Russian economy. The document criticizes the current sanctions and export control regime under the Biden administration as being riddled with loopholes. It specifically calls for the U.S. to ramp up and strengthen the enforcement of sanctions on Russian oil exports. The document implies that these oil exports are a significant source of funding for Russia that needs to be more effectively targeted and restricted through sanctions regime.
  3. Transfer Frozen Russian Sovereign Assets to Ukraine: The authors suggest that up to $300 billion in frozen Russian sovereign assets should be transferred without undue delay to assist Ukraine, which is seen as essential for bolstering Ukraine's financial and military resources. This action would require that the US Administration leads a coalition of allies in a decisive and unambiguous way. The document, in particular, refers to Bipartisan and Bicameral Bill (REPO Act) that requires the Biden administration to lead a coalition of allies to transfer up to $300 billion in frozen Russian sovereign assets to Ukraine. This measure would represent a decisive strategic financial action intended to apply significant economic pressure on Russia while directly supporting Ukraine's needs in the conflict.
  4. Ensure Ukraine Negotiates from a Position of Strength: The strategy underlines the importance of Ukraine being able to make significant advances on the battlefield. This is deemed necessary to force Putin to the negotiating table and to ensure that any peace is negotiated from a position of strength, rather than from a position of necessity or desperation.
  5. Develop and Present a Credible Plan for Victory: The authors criticise Biden's strategy of supporting Ukraine "for as long as it takes" as ineffective and suggest instead that a clear and credible plan for victory should be presented that would include, among other things, supplying Ukraine with the necessary weapons to achieve a breakthrough on the battlefields.
  6. Shorten conflict duration: The document recommends a strategy to end the conflict by giving Ukraine the resources it needs to win now and simultaneously applying maximum sanctions and pressure on the Russian economy. This approach aims to shorten the conflict's duration and lessen its highly negative global impact.

Being the first of its kind a robust critique of the US Administration’s response to the war Ukraine, the report also proposes a series of credible and urgent measures on the plan how to win the war in Ukraine. There is no doubt that, if implemented, these recommendations would contribute to what Ukraine, jointly with its allies, defines as a victory on the battlefield and would significantly strengthen Kyiv’s position in future peace negotiations. There is only one “but” – how the well-formulated plan correlates with day-to-day realities on the US political landscape. In the meantime, the United Kingdom picks up the lead.




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