The US must give Ukraine the ‘weapons it needs to win’ now or risk facing a more dangerous challenge from Russia later, former US generals and ambassadors say

  • Nearly 20 former US generals, ambassadors, and officials signed an op-ed urging Biden to send more weaponry to Ukraine.
  • They wrote Ukraine needs longer-range munitions if it is to stand a chance at defeating Russia.
  • Delaying important weapons deliveries to avoid confrontation will only lead to a more difficult situation later, they said. 

A collection of former US ambassadors and generals, as well as former officials from the State Department and the Pentagon, urged the Biden administration to immediately send more advanced weaponry to Ukraine, arguing that delays risk a more difficult and dangerous situation with Russia later if it is left unchecked.

In a Wednesday op-ed published in The Hill, nearly 20 former senior officers and officials wrote that Ukraine needs more long-range weaponry to fend off Russian advancements and disrupt the military’s ammunition storage, fuel sources, and supplies. 

The signatories, which includes former ambassadors to Ukraine and top US generals in Europe, said that the Biden administration should send Ukraine ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System). These missiles can strike targets almost 200 miles away and be fired from the US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), which have already been used to great effect in Ukraine.

The much-celebrated HIMARS currently in Ukrainian hands fire precision-guided missiles that can strike targets 50 miles away. Former generals and officials argue that Ukraine needs longer-range missiles to strike Russian targets in Crimea — the annexed peninsula behind frontlines where Ukrainian forces appear to have attacked Russian positions in the rear multiple times in August. 

Ukraine also needs a consistent resupply of ammunition, spare parts for artillery platforms, and short- and medium-range air defense systems to fight Russian missile and air strikes, wrote the signatories, among which were two former generals who served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe. 

If the West doesn’t deliver the necessary weapons to Ukraine, they wrote, the world risks a more dangerous Russia down the road. 

“We should not fool ourselves,” they wrote. “We may think that each day we delay providing Ukraine the weapons it needs to win, we are avoiding a confrontation with the Kremlin.”

“To the contrary,” they continued, “we are merely increasing the probability that we will face that danger on less favorable grounds. The smart and prudent move is to stop Putin’s aggressive designs in Ukraine, and to do so now, when it will make a difference.”  

The Biden administration has been reluctant to provide Ukraine with weapons that would give it the capacity to strike targets within Russia’s borders, perhaps viewing it as a step too far in terms of US involvement in the war. Russia has already accused the US of waging a proxy war in Ukraine.

“We are not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia,” President Joe Biden said in late May.

The US has provided Ukraine roughly $10 billion in security assistance under Biden, aid packages that have included HIMARS, Stinger anti-aircraft systems, Javelin anti-armor systems, drones, small arms, and attack helicopters, among other systems. 

During remarks at a security conference in Moscow on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the US of dragging out the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine by continuing to provide Kyiv with assistance. Putin’s remarks ignored the reality that he could call Russian troops home to end the war, which he launched without provocation in late February, whenever he wants.