Opinion | Condoleezza Rice, Robert Gates: It’s time to repel Russia from Ukraine


Condoleezza Rice was Secretary of State from 2005-2009. Robert M. Gates was the Secretary of Defense in 2006-2011.

As for the war in Ukraine, the only thing that is clear now is that the war and destruction will continue.

Vladimir Putin is absolutely determined to return all of Ukraine to Russian control or, failing that, to destroy it as a viable country. He believes that the restoration of the Russian Empire is his historical destiny – his messianic mission, and as Zbigniew Brzezinski pointed out a few years ago, there can be no Russian Empire without Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Biden shared their hopes for peace between Russia and Ukraine at a press conference on December 21. (Video: The Washington Post)

We have both spoken with Putin several times and we believe that time is on his side: he will weaken the Ukrainians and the unity and support of the US and Europe for Ukraine will eventually be broken and destroyed. True, the Russian economy and people will suffer if the war continues, but the Russians are worse off.

Defeat is impossible for Putin. He cannot give Ukraine the four eastern provinces that he declared to be part of Russia. If he fails to succeed militarily this year, he needs to take the rest of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, control the entire Donbas region, and then move westward to hold positions in eastern and southern Ukraine. It has been eight years since Russia annexed Crimea a year ago. Trust Putin patiently to achieve his destiny.

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At the same time, Ukraine’s response to the invasion has been heroic, and despite the excellent performance of its military, the country’s economy is collapsing, millions have fled, its infrastructure has been destroyed, and its mineral resources, industrial potential, and significant agricultural land are under Russian control. Ukraine’s military capabilities and economy are now almost entirely dependent on the West, primarily the United States. Absent another major Ukrainian breakthrough and success against Russian forces, Western pressure on Ukraine to negotiate a ceasefire will intensify after months of military stalemate. Under current circumstances, a negotiated ceasefire would leave Russian forces in a strong position to resume the invasion when they are ready. This is unacceptable.

The only way to avoid such a scenario is for the US and its allies to quickly provide Ukraine with a dramatic increase in military equipment and capabilities — which would deter a new Russian offensive and allow Ukraine to push back Russian forces in the east. south. Congress provided enough money to pay for such reinforcements; The U.S. and its allies need to make decisions about providing the Ukrainians with the additional military equipment they need, primarily mobile weapons. Thursday’s U.S. deal to supply the Bradley fighting vehicles is commendable, if overdue. Because there are serious logistical challenges associated with sending American Abrams heavy tanks, Germany and other allies must fill this need. NATO members must also provide the Ukrainians with long-range missiles, advanced drones, significant munitions (including artillery shells), greater intelligence and surveillance capabilities, and other equipment. These opportunities are consumed in weeks, not months.

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Members of Congress and others in our public debate: “Why should we care? This is not our fight.” But the United States learned the hard way in 1914, 1941, and 2001 that unwarranted aggression and attacks on the rule of law and international order cannot be ignored. Finally, our safety was threatened and we faced a conflict. This time, the economies of the world, including ours, are seeing inflationary effects and stifling growth due to Putin’s one-sided aggression. Better stop it now, before more is demanded of the United States and NATO as a whole. We have a determined partner in Ukraine who is willing to bear the consequences of the war, so we should not bear the consequences ourselves in the future.

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech to Congress last month reminded us of Winston Churchill’s plea in February 1941: “Give us the weapons and we’ll get the job done.” We agree with the Biden administration’s determination to avoid direct confrontation with Russia. However, the brave Putin may not give us that choice. The way to avoid future confrontation with Russia is to help Ukraine push back the aggressor now. That’s the lesson of history, and it’s the urgency for action that needs to be taken before it’s too late.

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The war in Ukraine: What you need to know

Last: All eyes have been on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unilateral Orthodox Christmas Day ceasefire that began Friday, a temporary truce that Ukraine, the United States and Germany scrapped as a possible ploy to regroup and push Russia further. troops and equipment to the battlefield. Putin this week ordered his forces to observe a 36-hour truce for the holiday, the Kremlin said. Read the latest news here.

Russian Gamble: The Post examines the road to war in Ukraine and the West’s concerted efforts to thwart the Kremlin’s plans through extensive interviews with more than three dozen senior US, Ukrainian, European and NATO officials.

The pictures: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground since the start of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you can help: Here are ways people in the US can support the Ukrainian people, as well as what people around the world are donating.

Read our full coverage Russia-Ukraine war. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.


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