Tweet
🧵on US security assistance to Ukraine. It's working. Ukraine might be one of the biggest successes of US sec assistance. And the reason is b/c US aid didn't focus on some high-end shiny objects but on core mil tasks. That focus s/d remain. 1/
In 2014, the US had no security assistance relationship with Ukraine. They got like $2m in asst from State FMF for int peacekeeping. The Ukrainian military was in a total shambles. Corruption had literally gutted the military. 2/
As war erupted in 2014, we scrambled in the USG to rush aid. But a number of issues arose. Ukraine's needs were enormous. They needed stuff right away. And they needed to be able to use that right away. Those posed real constraints initially. 3/
US also had two general concerns 1. Provoking Russia w/ lethal aid - USG was nervous that c/d trigger a full Russian invasion. 2. Tech security. Remember Ukr was corrupted, its govt/mil major target for Russian intel. 4/
Sending hi-tech crown jewels was seen as basically giving US systems to Russia and its defense industry, which would exploit them - both to improve their own systems and to improve their defenses vs. ours. 5/
Now, those concerns were legitimate but c/d be overcome. That was the case w/ Javelin. There was real consideration in the USG about sending Javelin. But the main issue wasn't really provoking Russia. We couldn't get them there in time to address the present crisis. 6/
It went like this...Crisis b/w Ukr-Russia escalates, USG assesses how to help Ukr, finds lead time to deliver Javelin 6 weeks or more + training. And concludes won't make a difference now. Crisis subsides and now little interest in provoking Russians. 7/
Like 6 weeks later we would do it all again. (In 7-8 yrs you can read some declass'd memos from me).

Hence the lethal/non-lethal to Ukraine emerged kind of by accident. It was an absurd policy - we didn't have a non-lethal policy for the Yanukovych govt. But... 8/
there was an indirect benefit to this policy. It forced US assistance to focus less on high end systems but on defense reforms and aid make Ukrainian forces function better (ie providing secure comms, so they didn't use Russian cellphones). 9/ ua.usembassy.gov/dod-announces-250m-to-ukraine-2/
We also provided a lot of useful kit, such as counter-mortar radars, allowing Ukrainian forces to hit back at Russian fires. And then the money began to ramp up... 10/
The constraints began to loosen and the amount of kit that could be provided increased. But there were still ceilings. This meant the security assistance relationship didn't devolve into those w/ Middle Eastern countries... 11/
Where leaders press for the coolest thing in Janes Defense, and we often go along, buy high end kit for them. Not actually build their militaries.

For Ukraine ambitions were focused on building a real, capable military. Not fancy kit. 12/
I've seen critiques saying we should have given Ukraine Patriot. Well, if money was no object, sure. But look at the budget numbers. We did a Patriot sale to Kuwait for $1.4bn. If US gives Ukraine Patriot, that's it. That's all they get. 13/ www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-kuwait-patriot/u-s-state-department-clears-1-4-billion-sale-of-patriot...
Now that Ukraine is at war it is even more impractical to provide super high end systems they don't know how to operate. As I argued in a recent report, we are unlikely to be able to to surge game changing high end weapons. 14/
www.americanprogress.org/article/how-the-united-states-should-respond-if-russia-invades-ukraine/
But that said, the concerns of provoking the Russians or tech security are just far outweighed by Ukraine's needs. So if there are systems we can provide and they can use. We should do it. But here's the thing... those assessments are happening. USG is looking at everything. 15/
The US and Ukraine also now have an extremely well developed security relationship now - built in part by all the aid. Unlike in 2014/15, we have a really clear sense of needs and ability to absorb. Money, unlike before, is now no object. 16/
But the needs now are super practical - resupply and stockpiles. The US got $1bn in security asst out the door to Ukraine in record time because of that. And it is no doubt having a huge impact on the battlefield. 17/
To be clear, the key X factor for me has been the determination and bravery of the Ukrainian people. The Ukrainian military has also been clearly underestimated. And that's in no small part to the assistance of the US. We need to keep it up. 18/end
And one addendum. If you notice that the US has two security assistance programs - one at State (FMF) and one at DoD... Well, they do the exact. same. thing. It's crazy. Here's how to reform US security assistance. www.americanprogress.org/article/plan-reform-u-s-security-assistance/

Recommended by
Recommendations from around the web and our community.

A very insightful thread from an insider about how the US has helped Ukraine, and how to help them in the future.