Brent Scowcroft Center US Navy Fellow Mark Seip writes for the Hill on the unanswered questions that remain following Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s visit to Washington:
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was in Washington yesterday to meet with President Obama, address a joint session of Congress, and make a public address on his country’s confrontation with the Kremlin at the Atlantic Council. While Poroshenko was asked several questions during his visit, there are three key ones that should have been asked to better understand his point of view and the way ahead for his country:
What is the next step based on the results of your visit to Washington and to the NATO Summit? Poroshenko’s visit here, while not completely without result, did not go far enough in supplying the lethal equipment he says Ukraine needs to end the conflict in the East. He finds himself in the middle of U.S. domestic politics between a White House who offered $46 million in non-lethal equipment only and a Congress looking to vote on a $350 million offer that could include some defensive lethal capabilities such as anti-tank systems. As he told Congress, “Blankets and night vision goggles are important, but one cannot win a war with blankets.” Nor did Ukraine get much of what it wanted from NATO’s meeting in Wales. By emphatically declaring that the defense of Alliance members is paramount, NATO implied that non-members would be left on their own. In fact, most NATO leaders will not even use the word ‘invasion’ after Russian equipment and soldiers entered Ukraine. The Summit Declaration devoted multiple paragraphs to Ukraine, but these words were not backed up with enough action from the alliance. There is a silver lining for Ukraine from attending Wales; according to its defense minister Valery Heletey, five of the member nations agreed to provide equipment. Knowing that Europe is divided in providing aid and the United States is reluctant to offering offensive military equipment, what is Mr. Poroshenko’s next move militarily to meet the challenge he faces?