Ex-NATO generals: failure to aid Ukraine is ‘historic betrayal’ and security catastrophe

Military serviceman of the Guard of the President of Ukraine in the center of Kyiv during the visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, April 2024
Military serviceman of the Guard of the President of Ukraine in the center of Kyiv during the visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, April 2024

A group of former high-ranking NATO commanders issued an open letter urging the Alliance to provide Ukraine with maximum military aid, highlighting the risks of Ukraine's potential defeat on the battlefield.

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As NATO approaches its 75th anniversary this year, the authors of the letter called on Western leaders to urgently provide the military aid necessary for Ukraine to resist Russia's brutal assault, restore its sovereign borders, and build a strong democracy with a modernized army capable of deterring future Russian aggression.

NV obtained the letter in which the signatories urged NATO leaders to take the following immediate actions:

1. Unblock all military aid to Ukraine, including expedited delivery of critical weapons systems, innovative combat technologies, and efforts to train Ukrainian forces and replenish the operational stocks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (ammunition of all calibers and spare parts for weapons systems).

2. Announce NATO's intent to support Ukraine until it regains its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and provide Ukraine with a path to NATO membership at the upcoming NATO summit in Washington in July 2024.

3. Establish bilateral long-term security agreements with Ukraine, similar to recent guarantees to Estonia, obliging Western partners to provide continuous military-technical aid.

Global security is "hanging by a thread" in the third year of Russia's war against Ukraine, and Ukraine's ability to continue its successful defense against one of the world's largest armies is in jeopardy, the letter said.

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Further reduction in Western aid will leave Ukraine with no chance to withstand this existential struggle, and the military defeat of the Ukrainian Armed Forces could occur "within months," the authors warn.

Ukraine has already chosen the path of democracy over Russian authoritarianism, they said. If Western countries fail to fulfill their security promises to support Ukraine, it would mean a "historic betrayal" and the almost inevitable eradication of the Ukrainian people and their culture. The Russian leadership does not hide its plans to destroy Ukraine as an independent state. Hundreds of thousands more Ukrainians will die resisting the Russian invasion, and millions will be forced to leave Ukraine and become refugees, the former NATO commanders said.

The broader consequences of Ukraine's defeat will be far more serious for global stability, endangering Western civilization itself, the generals said. Reluctance to help Ukraine and a lack of Western resolve "will inevitably be perceived by other authoritarian regimes as an invitation to military expansionism," leading to further wars.

Losing trust in the U.S. as the leader of the free world, weaker states will seek to ensure their security through agreements with Russia and China. When European countries realize the fragility of NATO's symbolic deterrence, they will also turn away from American influence and seek alternative security arrangements. This could lead to the demise of the Western Alliance and the spread of nuclear weapons, the authors of the letter said.

The West still has time to act to avoid this dangerous, but very likely outcome, the former NATO commanders said. They remind of Ukraine's "indomitable spirit":

"Ukrainians have repeatedly demonstrated that they can effectively deter and defeat Russia on the battlefield, even under conditions of Russian superiority in forces and means," the signatories said.

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However, the epochal threat posed by Russia cannot be met with banal or empty concepts, they said.

If by NATO's 75th anniversary Western leaders do not commit to providing Ukraine with urgently needed resources, the betrayal of Ukraine will signal to Russia and other potential antagonists of the West that the Alliance lacks strategic commitment, inner strength, and collective will to defend the sovereignty of its member states. For the survival of Ukraine and the relevance of NATO, there are no alternatives to Ukraine's victory, the authors of the letter said.

The open letter was signed by:

  • General Sir Richard Shirreff, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (2011-2014)

  • General Riho Terras, Chief of the General Staff of the Estonian Defense Forces (2011-2018)

  • Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, Commander of the US Army Europe (2014-2017)

  • Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, Commander of the U.S. Army Europe (2011-2012)

  • Major General Michael Repass, Commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command Europe (2010-2013)

  • Major General Riho Ühtegi, Commander of the Estonian Special Operations Forces (2012-2019)

  • Klaus Wittmann, Brigadier General of the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces), former staff member at NATO Headquarters

  • Janusz Adam Onyszkiewicz, Polish Defense Minister (1992-1993, 1997-2000).

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine