The Ukrainian military is capable of defending this line if it is given adequate NATO support, led by the United States. Five packages are needed:
● As was done in Iraq when it appeared that the Islamic State might take Baghdad, several hundred advisers, special forces and security assistance specialists should be deployed immediately to assess the situation and begin to build the necessary working relationships with the Ukrainian army.
● NATO supplies, ammunition and weapons systems should be shipped to Ukraine; most of what is needed can come from European nations.●Intelligence and command-and-control support should be provided, including NATO surveillance planes.
● Air defenses should be improved, including patrols by NATO AWACS aircraft.
● Intensive training and operational assistance should be provided to create a solid defensive line. . . .
Russia’s petroleum revenue cannot sustain such aggression forever. But for now, we must tangibly support Ukraine or our confrontation with Russia could intensify until we are once again relying only on nuclear deterrence to avoid catastrophe. Notwithstanding our war-weariness and the many demands on our budget and military, it is very much in our national interest to avoid this outcome.
Jan Lodal is a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council.