The Atlantic Council hosted a panel discussion on February 2 to introduce a report produced in collaboration with Brookings Institution and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The report, Preserving Ukraine’s Independence, Resisting Russian Aggression: What the United States and NATO Must Do, notes that the US must provide lethal defensive military assistance to raise the cost to Russia of its aggression in eastern Ukraine.

“Only if the Kremlin knows that the risks and costs of further military action are high will it seek to find an acceptable political solution,” according to the report.

The report’s authors, all former US officials, are:

  • Ivo Daalder, President, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and former U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO;
  • Michele Flournoy, Chair, Center for a New American Security, and former Under Secretary of Defense;
  • John Herbst, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and former US Ambassador to Ukraine;
  • Jan Lodal, Distinguished Fellow and former President of the Atlantic Council, and former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense;
  • Steven Pifer, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and former US Ambassador to Ukraine;
  • James Stavridis, member of the Atlantic Council board, Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and former Supreme Allied Commander Europe;
  • Strobe Talbott, President, the Brookings Institution, and former Deputy Secretary of State; and
  • Charles Wald, member of the Atlantic Council board and former Deputy Commander, US European Command.

Four of the authors gathered at the Atlantic Council to jointly argue that in order to enable Ukraine to defend itself against Russian aggression, the US should provide Ukraine $3 billion in nonlethal and defensive lethal military assistance over the next three years.

Pifer said the Ukrainian army is in desperate need of anti-tank weapons, better communications gear, and anti-artillery systems. He noted that Russia is sending large amounts of weapons to separatists in eastern Ukraine, including hundreds of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and other instruments of war.

Herbst said the report was put together quickly given the urgent need to address the wider ramifications of Russia’s actions.

Lodal said Russian President Vladimir Putin is challenging the current world order with the conflict in Ukraine. This is not just a threat to Ukraine, it also threatens the United States, Europe, and the wider world, he said.

Talbott emphasized the need to call things as they are. “What we are seeing in Ukraine is an act of war by the Russian Federation,” he said.