tv Atlantic Council Forum Explores U.S. Arming Ukraine CSPAN September 22, 2017 10:34am-12:04pm EDT
authority. on c-span 3, a look at the trump administration's immigration policies that started at 10:00 this morning hosted by the brookings institution. >> good morning, everyone. my name is hannah. i am a research fellow at the hudson institute and i am happy to be here today for a really entertaining discussion. a debate i hope we are to have
about whether or not the u.s. should arm the ukraine. that is the question at hand. should the u.s. arm ukraine? i wanted to start with a little ll to see how many of you think you have made up your minds about the own -- your own answer to the question. how many of you think you have already decided? how many of you have not decided and are open to being swayed? gentlemen, you have a very tall order at hand. for those of you watching online, on c-span, i invite you tter at thes on twi #futureukraine and you may be wondering why we are covering this topic now. it's been three years since we started having this debate in the u.s. whether or not we should indeed arm ukraine. i think we did have that discussion a couple of years ago
, but things have changed, we have a new president. the situation on the ground has changed significantly in ukraine and we now have a kind of push and you are starting to see curte like ambassador welker who has nearly been named as the u.s. representative of talkingnegotiations about the very real possibility of sending some kind of weaponry to u.k. and it's a debate that really started to reemerge on the policy seen. glad we have with us today two gentlemen who will be , we should noton arm the ukraine side and two arguing we should indeed do that. arguing for pro, ambassador john hirst at the end, director of the eurasia center that served for 31 years as a foreign service officer in the u.s. department of state and was
ambassador to ukraine as well as uzbekistan. sitting next to him also arguing that the u.s. should arm alexandermbassador sandi burch our -- you may know he was the deputy secretary-general of nato from 2002 to 2016, also former u.s. of defense,cretary former u.s. ambassador to nato, russian federation, and republic of korea. an extremely distinguished career. arguing on the con side, that we theld not arm ukraine, spitzer chair in political science at the city college of research also a senior scholar at the institute of war and peace studies at columbia university and a global ethics fellow at the carnegie council
on ethics in international affairs and has written extensively on these topics. and certainly not least, here to my immediate left, the vice president for research and policy at the charles coke institute and vice president for research formerly a research fellow in foreign-policy studies at the cato institute as well as an associate professor of political science at texas state university and a professor at the school of public affairs at ut austin and currently an officer in the u.s. navy reserve and a veteran of the afghanistan war. gentlemen, thank you very, very much for joining us all today and we are going to begin actually with the con side. so many times the debates begin cons left to be
fighting from behind sounds more negative. we are going to start from the we will run the way things is to have both of our colleagues here -- we are going dr. ruger who will start with five minutes of his statements, the case against arming ukraine and then we will switch to the ambassador. who will give five minutes and then to the other doctor and then off to ambassador hirst and we will follow with rebuttals in the same order. a gentleman. dr. ruger, the floor is yours. thank you and thank you for coming out today. thank you for atlantic council in joining us and sponsoring a civil debate in an area that has been sorely lacking in our country. hopefully we will model good, civil discourse. i will start with the case with why we should not arm ukraine with a bigger picture and move down to the particulars and hand off later to my partner.
thinking about foreign-policy and the use of force always has to start with our ends. you cannot look at it in a vacuum. you need to be thinking about what our goals are and what we're trying to achieve and then we can talk about the ways and means we need to do so given constraint and the threat environment. i think we need to make sure we are not just looking at this vis-a-vis russia and ukraine, but to our goals more generally and how this case and what we ought to do or not do tears up from those goals. i would offer the primary goal of foreign-policy should be to secure america's vital national interest and foremost among them is our safety and economic prosperity and our little -- liberal democratic system here at home. while we certainly want to see other societies flourish and to be free and prosperous and
democratic, we need to remove or the primary obligation of the u.s. government is to the american people and we should adopt approaches to the world .ith this end primarily in mind that requires an adult approach in which we make difficult choices about what we're going we usen the world, how our resources and to really zero in on what is necessary for our safety as opposed to what might be desirable or ideal or tertiary. in other words, we need to think like realists. is providing arms to ukraine something that best meets america's interest? we would offer a resounding "no." it isn't necessary for our safety, it isn't actually productive, it's actually quite counterproductive, and could even be that for the ukrainians we are trying to help. therefore, we should show more humility about our ability to produce positive impacts in the world as we go about our foreign policy.
let me make the briefcase for why it is necessary and why it is -- isn't necessary and why it is counterproductive. u.s. allies have strong interest in ukraine. we need to be able to look at the world how it is another way we would like it to be an obviously there are some interest more vital than others. ukraine is not a strong trading partner of the united states. it's a relatively poor country that faces great economic challenges ahead and that's why a lot of ukrainians have been emigrating. geopolitically considered -- significant for us or our allies as supporters would insist. the cold war and kept europe free without ukraine. ukraine was on the other side during the cold war as part of the soviet union. posed ahe soviet union much greater threat to the united states and our european allies than russia does today. regardless of the status of
ukraine, a country that is not an ally of the united states and is not a member of nato, something we need to remember. that is not going to impact -- regardless of that status, it's not going to impact our deterrent or defensive capability in europe. we can defend and deter in europe with our allies without is shown inthis terms of a lot of the research done by people like daryl press on credibility that you do not need to put your credibility on the line in one place for it to be firm in another. our main interest in the region is to improve relations with russia such that we can reduce ourpressure or threats to current allies like the baltic states and work better with russia on issues of mutual interest. this is not to deny the u.s. and russia do not have their problems where they have competing or conflicting interests, but there are places where the two countries can work together, talking about counterterrorism in the middle
east or nuclear nonproliferation when it comes to places like iran and dealing with the difficult situation in north korea. moreover, russia could make things difficult for the united states in various places if we we involved in a tit-for-tat arm this place and they arm another place. that is not necessarily in our interest. this should not be confused with appeasement. the u.s. should be willing to stand firm against russia, but we do not want to create trouble where we have little interest and we do not want a situation where the russians can escalate in a case where they have escalation dominance. where they have the ability to escalate is in their interest, they have greater ability and my partner will go in more about that later. difficults that it is for us to engage in an escalation spiral where that turns out to be good for the united states. i would also say sending arms to ukraine is like -- likely to be
bad for ukrainians or will not help. the commander of the u.s. army in europe, lieutenant general ben hodges noted that sending --itank javelins will not "will not change the situation strategically in a positive way." i think we should listen to my fellow military officer. it might be worse -- not better, but actually worse in the situation gets escalated or if we see the ukrainians do what is called reckless driving where if that country believes the united allies will be firmly supportive of the country should it get into trouble, that it might actually drive recklessly and get into trouble it would otherwise if we didn't have that kind of -- if they didn't have that sense we might come or ride to the rescue either with more arms or with greater military involvement. if is exactly what happened in georgia in 2008 where the georgians that he recklessly and
that conflict had a lot of causes, but the fact is the georgians behaved recklessly and were driving recklessly and that led to a problem for the georgians themselves. we need to remember that there are a lot of unintended consequences of our foreign-policy actions. back to humility, we need to have greater humility about what the united states does in the world. think through second order consequences and be laserlike focus on america's safety for -- first. much andyou all very thank you for keeping in that five-minute box we have given you. the ambassador arguing we should arm ukraine. >> thanks very much and it's good to be here this morning. i agree we need to be clear on goals, but we have to be clear on what is at stake. this debate is really about whether or not we will let russia get away with destroying the international rules-based order. the aggression against ukraine has torn up the international
rulebook and the budapest memorandum. they want to go back to the world of a divided europe where moscow dominated their neighbors and as we have seen in ukraine, today's russia is using military force and hybrid methods to impose their will and undermine societies, including our own. the russians -- if the russians are not stopped in ukraine, they may be tempted to use the same method against our nato allies such as the baltic states and poland and other regimes like china may be emboldened to settle claims by force as well. what is at stake in ukraine is survival, butne's our own security and that of our allies is also at stake. the future of the international order based on role of long rather than the law of the jungle is very much on the line. in 2014,tial setbacks ukraine forces have fought
courageously. while they have benefited from limited military support and training from the u.s. and other allies, the ukrainians have largely been fighting on the road. it time to give them -- on their own. it's time to give them -- to level the playing field. this would not represent an escalation or lead to an esculin torry -- spiral. some of the equipment is a recent vintage to the separatists and the russian-led forces, sophisticated tanks and multiple armed rocket systems and the like. not to mention thousands of so-called volunteers and vacationers. theirave never honored minsk obligations for a cease-fire and heavy weapon withdrawal and they continue to
launch artillery and weapon attacks just about every day, inflicting substantial military and civilian. meanwhile, the occupied carrot -- territories are becoming more and more de facto part of the russian economy. it is substantial evidence russia is behind terrorist bombings in ukraine over the past few months. diplomatic efforts to implement minsk remained deadlocked and while i welcome the decision of the administration to appoint a representative for the negotiations, his prospects for success remain dim. i think moscow remains intent on keeping the situation at a low boil hoping an endless low-level conflict will eventually destabilize the rest of ukraine, topple the government, and bring to power leaders that will abandon the ukrainian's people dream -- ukrainian people's dream of a -- future. invince him to negotiate
good faith. congress has provided some needed leverage with the sanctions bill, but sanctions alone do not seem to be enough. we need additional pressure on putin to convince him prolonging the conflict will need bring increased cost to russia and time is not on his side. the best way to do that is to significantly expand u.s. security assistance and lifted the obama administration's embargo on lethal defensive weapons. the aim is not to encourage ukraine to seek a military victory and i think that is impossible. rather the process -- purpose is to help ukraine protect its forces, reduce agile teas, deter the russians from carrying out further attacks by raising -- the cost of further aggression and increase pressure on russia to negotiate seriously on implementing miss. a lot of what -- minsk. isot of what they need
armored vehicles, reconnaissance drones, and secure communications. the most controversial item under consideration is antitank weapons and would not increase their potential to recapture territory. they would help deter new russian large-scale offensives by creating a greater risk of equipment losses and casualties and i think there's a lot of evidence that casualties are a sensitive issue for putin, who still pretends there are no russians and punishes those who speak publicly of casualties. will this be enough to alter putin's calculus? there is no guarantee, but i think it will make a difference. i think it is no coincidence putin offered peace -- he may be looking for a diplomatic way out. even if increasing security systems don't change his calculus in the short term, it will make it harder for him to
destabilize ukraine and serve as a warning that aggression stronger would mean a western response and will create the foundation of strength and commitment to our values and ultimately make it easier to get back to a cooperative relationship with russia then by demonstrating weakness and lack of resolve when it comes to ukraine. >> thank you very much. now we are going to turn to the doctor for your thoughts on why we should not arm ukraine. >> thank you to the atlantic council for hosting this event not least because the council has taken a very clear position on this. >> not as an institution. >> it is a matter of opinion. i want to make sure it is understood that those who oppose those -- e not caseunderstand the
certainly as made yesterday and in the publications of my two colleagues and others who favor arming ukraine, it is that putting pressure on putin by supplying these arms will make him realize that the war cannot be won, the ukrainian government cannot be toppled, and he will be amenable to some kind of political deal and the ultimate goal is a political deal. that is certainly one possibility. i am not a soothsayer, so i do not know. what about another possibility? the distance from the united states to --, about 6000 miles. if you look at the distance from poland -- russia has a 1165 give or take border with ukraine. on the other side are thousands of russian troops and military bases.
think about this because we need to think carefully before we take the first step. why would the reaction of vladimir putin because he has reacted as such on prior in 2014 and 2015, why would it not be to scale up which he can do easily and reinforce the separatists? then there is a quandary, what did the united states do having put made in the usa weapons in the hands of the ukrainians. one thing is to say we cannot allow them to fall because this is an issue of paramount importance so we scale up and thever more weapons knowing geographical asymmetry. that's one possibility. the second is to intervene in some direct way ourselves although the proponent of arming said no american boots on the ground because they know that would be a nonstarter if they didn't say that.
or the third possibility is to back down. i would submit that many of -- none of those possibilities, especially those interested in american credibility, would be a good one. let's be clear. has weathered sanctions, political isolation, putting his soldiers on the ground and allowed them to die in this cause. it is true as john pointed out before that war is not popular in russia and there has been mumbling and so on, but putin's approval ratings are high and even against opposition he has shown -- there has not been a wit of evidence he is willing to back down. we have to be humble when we predict the follow-up consequences of our military ventures. let me run you through scenarios where we have failed -- ventures where we have failed in anticipating the adversary. a vietnam, iraq, afghanistan,
libya. when i hear esteemed colleagues saying we know how this is going amplay out in a sense, i on ourskeptical based past record. there's a kind of american bruce -- hubris. the other point i would like to make is that ukraine is a fairly substantial military power. it has a military force that has gone from 5000 to about 250,000. now.se spending doubled manufacturerpons manufactures a whole host of things, a tank, and airlift or, aerial refueling tanks, and antitank guided missiles, the latter being manpower.
thisnot clear to me that is necessary and given that this is not a tank or mechanized infantry war, but a war in which has grenade launchers going back-and-forth and even tanks are stationary, what is the target? the ukrainians have been so desperate for anti-aircraft weapons, why not use their own or cheaper systems such as the spike from israel or the one from france? i have a stop sign in my face, i will stop. >> thank you for paying attention to the signs and for keeping our panelists on track today. you heard the doctor mention yesterday we also did a version of this debate on capitol hill yesterday, so the interlocutory's here have become familiar with each other's arguments, which i hope we will get a rollicking debate as soon
as we move into the more argumentative bit. until then, ambassador hurts -- t iss -- ambassador herps going to clear it out for the pro side. >> i agree with will that we need to understand the importance of any issue before we change policy course. i disagree with the notion that ukraine -- the fight in ukraine is not a vital interest of the united states and let me explain why. we have an absolutely critical interest in maintaining the post world war ii, post cold war security -- order which is established in europe -- in 1945, and order based upon the sanctity of borders, sovereign states, the resolution of disputes peacefully.
that order following the most destructive war in human history, world war ii, has given us an absolutely unprecedented plusstory 75 years -- 70 years of stability and prosperity. in 1945, about 10% of the world's population was not now -- nopoverty and major wars between major powers despite all the failures of policies, including failures of american policy which have been laid out. maintaining this is critical for our security and for our well-being. the problem, it is very simple. we have the world's second greatest military power marauding in europe.
wants a new worldot hide his order or world disorder new rules are no rules. nato, the eu,aken it wants to establish a sphere in the post soviet probably beyond that. to achieve these objectives, the kremlin conducted a war against georgia, changed borders, seized crimea and is continuing a hybrid war. we need to stop this. before moscow stumbles into some provocation in the baltic states, nato allies, where we have a firm commitment to intervene, to defend them. nato, thed defensive ,orward defensive our interests
demands that we have mr. putin have a hard time. if we are nice to the kremlin on ukraine we will be able to help ease pressure on the baltic states. i couldn't disagree more. which ride the nice guy approach after georgia with a weak response. we got crimea. crimea and we got another. thank goodness our leaders began to wise up. the response was the covert --paign began in dumb bosque it took sanctions but it took several months to get it. , thendy pointed out, kremlin has two possibilities.
the other is the fact that the russian people do not want to be -- providing weapons will make mr. putin cautious. i agree that american inability to anticipate the future has been a serious problem in foreign policy. i don't think it is a problem here. we are not arguing here that if we give weapons to ukraine this will for sure determines are pertinent from additional aggression in ukraine. it might not. it will certainly raise the cost of that aggression, it will mean he has fewer resources to conduct provocations against our baltic allies and it means the west will respond stronger if he escalates. one final point.
no doubt russia seems to have a greater interest in ukraine than the united states. it doesn't have nearly as much of an interest as the ukrainians. the ukrainian people are fighting for their sovereignty. the russian people want no part of that fight. giving ukraine weapons to do this will discourage moscow and lead to a better outcome. an outcome consistent with our basic interests. >> thank you very much, mr. ambassador. we will now move into a. of three minute rebuttal going in the same order that each of our speakers initially spoke. you,ll start again with doctor. a three minute rebuttal. >> the ambassador has shown a good deal of humility by saying this, we don't know if this will work. what i would bring to the table, it is ok, what next?
get into that spiral model of escalation on one side, escalation on another? it ramps up and up and at what point do we, given that we have fewer interests than ukraine and russia, do we have to then say, no mas? i would be worried about that. if it really is a matter as dyer as the entire rule-based order of the international system is peopleiege,, there are on the hawkish side that say we need to do even more. to get more we need deeply entrenched in this conflict. the cat is out of the bag on that. the fact is we are going to be
john into something that might even seem crazy to us now if we allow this to continue. we need to be clear about what our interests are, what we need to do or not do and be sober about what could occur in what might be next. that is the most important thing. the other thing is that when we talk about some of the lessons of history, there are a lot of tooling case studies. yesterday we talked about, is this like world war i question mark if we don't do something? i would claim that if we do something that is more of a danger when you're talking about getting engaged in a parochial -- in a peripheral area. that has to be a worry in any scenario. be veryon here would be clear about what you need to do.
you might get tugged and dragged into something beyond which you really want to engage. >> ambassador> >? >> thanks very much. -- i am no soothsayer, , because the ukrainians have been fairly the initialter setbacks when they couldn't get their act together reeling by that their neighbor was trying to dismember their the ukrainians fought to
a stalemate. the russians were trying to keep this ambiguous. only by doing so were they able to force the stalemate that is reflected in the minsk agreement. they have had to give up the fantasy in which different parts of southern ukraine would fall like dominoes because of pro-russian sentiment. the ukrainians love their country and are ready to fight for it, even if they speak russian as their first language. even if they are ethnically russian by self identification. putin knows that escalating requires more and i don't think he is likely to go there. i think the russian people would object to that. if they knew that russians would be sent off in large numbers to fight other slavic brothers,
they wouldn't go for it. aremately what we suggesting has the potential to change vladimir putin's calculus in the other direction. that may not be enough. but under the obama administration, the russians didn't freak out. they absorbed it. it included effective technologies. it hasn't been enough to stand by the ukrainians and help them reduce their losses. deter the russians definitively from launching further aggression. fighting a battle ultimately for our benefit. you could say it is the eastern frontier of democratic europe and the ukrainians are fighting for our values and principles. we have stood by them this long and maintain the sanctions and to suddenly pull back at this stage would be seen as a major betrayal of our own values.
it would be seen as a green light by russia to engage in more subversion and efforts to topple the regime. i think we owe it to the ukrainians to continue to stand by them but they are fighting their own battles. from othert weapons sources and they do manufacture antitank weapons. technologies that they would benefit from now is the time to provide them. >> thank you very much. ?> where to begin >i would like to thank him for the kc made for me. he did not mention syria. betting that he is going to play by your rulebook is absolutely not a valid thing to do given the stakes. this came up in yesterday's discussion. nato's future.
i'm sorry, that amounts to heavy breathing. if you have problems within lot thatt, there is a it should do scaling up defense, ending duplication, that they have not done. a wealthy continent has gotten used to a american security guarantee. that we should get involved in a fight on russia's border, the logic of that astonishes me. in the sense of being toppled, the russians would like mr. gone,inashenko notwithstanding the ukrainian economy has started growing. debt is down and inflation is down. what were the ukrainians do with
the weapons? my colleagues say, they will not take the other back. , to thethe other day u.s. military academy, his intention was to take it back. it doesn't matter what we in washington thing. it is what ukraine thinks. principles of international order and russia wrecking them. they have done things that are not kosher. let us look honestly and ask ourselves, have we been always faithful to these principles? a. irag without any reason? rendition? torture? opting out of the climate agreement? the icc?
let us be fair. we have not exactly been the paragons of the international order as well. i would say the main thing boils putin has putmr. forward a peace agreement. there was a very good piece about this saying that it shows ambiguities in holes, that is true. it is not acceptable in its present form. .his may be a time to negotiate the effect of arming ukraine now on thet be salutary diplomatic process. he is putation is, forward this proposal and we want to put pressure on him to give us a better deal. the opposite could also be true. he might calculate, i want to ramp up my negotiating position by scaling up easily and i can do that. in terms of the popularity and unpopularity in russia, that is not a big issue for him. by state is not threatened
his war. it has other problems. >> thank you very much. ambassador, the floor is yours. >> this will lead to an to cause theiral united states to intervene with troops in ukraine. our position is clear. providing weapons training is to deter further russian aggression but also if there is aggression, increase the cost to moscow. that is it. policy provides no risk of america sending troops to ukraine. that is .1. .2, the argument made that -- the smart, policy is to defend yourself at
minimal cost. on, make thegoing russians pay their so you don't have to fight them in estonia or latvia. three, regarding the russian threat to international order. there is no question that american foreign-policy has not been skillful over the past 15 years. there is no question there has been mistakes which cut against the international order. it is also true that american policy in making those mistakes were not driven by the conscious effort to undermine that order. which is what kremlin policy is. it is significant that our distinguished colleagues here have not addressed russian revisionism. indoctrination on the ground. that there is a contradiction between providing arms to ukraine and pursuing diplomacy is simply wrong. we tried a soft approach. i will not use the phrase
appeasement but i think it applies. we applied that after the russians carved up georgia. we achieved nothing. instead of that making the russians more sympathetic to our friends in the region, it prompted them to -- it permitted them to seize crimea. we tried it the same approach with crimea. .hat we got was a war it is time we learned from our mistakes. it is time we toughened up. that will enable us to maintain efforto allies with less , less danger of bloodshed, less danger of american intervening to protect our baltic allies. romania. this is the smart play with a risk we can manage. >> thank you very much ambassador. forhanks to all four of you raising a full set of issues
surrounding the questions. i am interested to notice that none of the four of you mentioned something that is often brought up in ukrainian ofuests for this kind assistance. that is the budapest memorandum of 1994. the argument often goes that the united states, russia, u.k., ukraine, signed the budapest memorandum in order to have a security assurance in exchange for ukraine giving up nuclear weapons. i would be curious to hear from , how yound con side react to that assertion from the ukrainian side particularly? esteemed use another member of the foreign-policy establishment to make our case for us. ledsecretary of state that the negotiations on the memorandum.
mean thethis does not united states is willing to come to the defense of ukraine if it is attacked militarily." there is not a guarantee. , have as wide and far as said that, even the nato article five guarantee is not a guarantee of anything in particular. you can send a strongly worded note as a response. ourcommitments we have made inflated -- the commitments we have made our inflated as much as the threats are in the community. iti mentioned briefly, indeed does not have an enforcement mechanism. much to the ukrainians regret. they feel they were swindled in giving up the fourth-largest nuclear arsenal.
guarantees of their sovereignty which was submitted to the secretary-general of the u.n. by the ambassador and now he says, what memorandum? -- wen't signed it with didn't sign it with this regime. onesfer want from government to the next. i think it gives us a moral obligation to do what we can to help ukraine restore its sovereignty and territorial by supporting them politically and economically. by maintaining the united front with europe on the sanctions but also by giving them defensive weapons so they can prevent further territorial acquisitions by the russians and their proxies based in ukraine. there are also issues relating to the viability of the international proliferation treaty which we are seeing today with north korea which can point to ukraine's folly of giving up
its nukes as one of the justifications for keeping their own. by the rules of the game in europe and respect of the sovereign -- the sovereignty of borders, territorial integrity of independent states which russia has violated. moreshould give us motivation to help the ukrainians and pointing stored a diplomatic solution. that is what i feel is the this.te goal of not to escalate but to bring about a diplomatic solution. >> any additions? >> your questions was narrowly on the budapest memorandum. did the russians violate the memorandum? yes. egregious of the so-called bogus referendum. that is not the issue. the issue is whether the memorandum obliges us to take a think, extremely
force and dangerous. it does not. no reading of the budapest memorandum could lead to the conclusion that we have an obligation. moral obligations but morality, as much as i like be filtered through concrete circumstances, not used automatically as a guide for action. on the budapest memorandum, the answer is, it was a violation but it obliges us to do no such thing as what is being proposed here. >> ambassador? >> i would just make the point that sometimes lawyers statements are too clever. there is no question that the budapest memorandum did not guarantee ukraine security. the united states gave not guarantees but assurances. guarantees versus assurances is fine print. the fact that moscow invaded ukraine against u.s. assurances
was a mark against american credibility. just to emphasize the second point, it is safe to say, the greatest example of counter proliferation was the russian invasion of ukraine in the week reaction coming from the united states, france, and britain. to roguea marker regimes, don't give up your weapons of mass destruction because look what happens to you when you do. -- we repeatedd that mistake in libya. america has made a lot of mistakes in the past 15 years. >> thank you very much gentleman. one of you mentioned this new peacekeeping proposal that has haveed, the ukrainians talked of it for sometime, president putin of russia has also discussed. this is the sort of idea of placing u.n. peacekeepers or some sort of a body inside
.kraine the ukrainians would like for those peacekeepers to be throughout the so-called ln are and dnr, where is the russian proposal would rather have them on the contact line. i believe president clinton's words were, to "protect the oec monitoring mission." now that we are starting to see some willingness or interest from the side of russia in moving forward on a kind of conclusion or some small step toward changing the situation in eastern ukraine, what in your opinions, on both sides, what givingthe united states' of weaponry whether that be radar or night vision goggles, be that antitank missiles or
things that are more lethal, what impact do you see any u.s. provision of arms or military equipment to the ukrainians having on this nascent idea for a peacekeeping proposal in eastern ukraine? inin addition to the flaws the proposal you mentioned and i'm sure sandy will have more to say about this, there is a six month time limit that they stipulated. there is also the question of monitoring of the russian-ukrainian frontier. volunteers,ops and whatever you call them, will they come back and how will they make sure. ? in its present form it is not ideal. to the brunt of your question, providing arms to ukraine. sandy could be right, one possibility could be that
vladimir putin will want to saddle up. certainly. that is not the only possibility. the other is a scale up. what we have seen from the long history of vladimir putin's behavior, i would -- i'm not saying sandy is wrong because it is a plausible argument. it is not the only argument and we should think about, whether in fact we could take a diplomatic opportunity and blow it out of the water. all, therefirst of are reasons to be skeptical about the proposal itself but we utin in theesting p negotiating room and that is what i suggested in the piece i wrote for the hill the other day. putin is a man who feels you have to negotiate from a position of strength. we don't need to send 15 planeloads of weapons tomorrow
morning to increase our negotiating leverage. maintaining the ongoing momentum in terms of cooperation with the ukrainians, which was discussed between trump and the president yesterday. show that we are standing by the ukrainians and there is more hardware in the pipeline, that will contribute to putin's seriousness. the main interest is to test whether he is interested in the asl peacekeeping force opposed to the concept he is put on the table which would be limited in scope, mainly protecting the monitors and the lines of contact, it would turn border.o a de facto and lead to the freezing of the conflict. having access to the whole the occupation,
including the international border so it could become a force that would oversee the actual implementation of withdrawal with heavy weapons, illegal militias. the russians say they are not there but let's hope they would disappear into russia and never come back and the u.n. force would be on the border to make sure they don't come back. optimisticticularly that vladimir putin intended anything more than a distraction. let's see. i certainly hope we can achieve oureakthrough and then debate would be not entirely academic but more academic if the war was coming to an end. [applause] >> dr.? >> i will highlight what my partner said, we are not opposed to diplomatic efforts to resolve this conflict in a way that is better for ukraine, better for peace in europe and better for
the united states. we want to make sure we're not doing something that could encourage us going backwards rather than forwards and those diplomatic efforts. we don't want to encourage him onized vigilante is the part of ukraine. want a resolution of this problem. we are not saying we don't want to do anything, we want to make sure we choose our means carefully and calibrate those toward the ends and we think through, what next? >> ambassador? the peacekeeping proposal might represent russian flexibility. we will find out. in the weeks to come. , thatou cannot rule out providing additional limited equipment to ukraine might provoke kremlin escalation.
again, ise have seen continuing russian escalation in the absence of such counterforce. week reaction to the georgian aggression, then crimea, then another. regularlyen putin maneuver starting in the fall of 2014 in response to western sanctions. maneuvered ways to suggest he was not escalating, to avoid further sanctions. we have seen, as sandy suggested, as we talk about americans providing lethal defensive weapons, in terms of this initiative. the soft approach has failed. it is time to try something better. thank you. thanks to all of you. we will now open the floor to all of you for questions to our
distinguished panel. we encourage you to ask a question to one side or the other or to both at the same time. please when you are recognized and the microphone is handed to you, please introduce yourself and ask a question that ends with a? thank you. thank you, hannaford matt from the cannon institute. will direct the question to both sides. give me her best sense if on monday, the united states were to answer this proposal and send the weapons, what is the most likely russian response you believe on tuesday? , both a metaphorically sides.
the second question, for the pro raj is right and the united states cannot match this escalation dominance, why not take the approach that he implied? of supplying substantively that same capability, and just not doing it directly? ,his particular proposal appears to be a made for tv proposal. it is so perfect and compact that it can be debated. why not do it the way we have done it many times before through third parties etc.? >> excellent question. thank you, matt. we will start with the con side on the general question. the first one also to you as well. >> who starts? >> the con side. bewhat will begins reaction
-- what will vladimir putin's reaction be? i don't know but i don't think he will be starting to scale up the war all of a sudden. there are many reasons he would not want to do that. the sanctions have hurt russia, there is no question. i think he will wait and see what is done with the weapons and what difference it makes materially on the ground. he will not allow the separatists to be defeated. he cannot afford to do that. rather than do that he would scale up. vladimir putint will give a condemnation of the proposal. we will wait and see. i don't think they will immediately withdrawal a peacekeeping proposal. it is very interesting by the way. soon after this crisis broke i and a few colleagues met with russian scholars for an
unofficial discussion on how to politically resolve this question. putin proposal we are tentatively welcoming bears a strong resemblance to some ideas that were suggested in that meeting. thisme back to find that mccarthyism manifesto denouncing us. that is absurd. i don't negotiate on the half of countries. i'm glad to see the diplomatic thing on track and i think it is the only solution. the other question is whether the reforms will go forward in a that isobust way -- your answer with my own time tagged on. >> the pro side on what vladimir putin will do on tuesday? >> a lot of that depends on what
is in the package. for example, all the recommendations in the task that we worked on with the u.s.-ukraine foundation. radar, tactical secure communications, armored fighting vehicles, more intelligence sharing combined with more training for forces which is going on in the significant way already, i think that vladimir putin would rant and rave in the propaganda arena but i don't think there would be a significant escalation. on the ground. no one can guarantee this. i could be wrong. but i think it would more likely an effect on his willingness to negotiate. the second question is interesting, third-party
acquisition or openly? that is an option. it might have advantages in .erms of plausible deniability the russians are good at that game and we can play too. it might make it less likely, john made this point yesterday, the russians may have less sense of immediacy, of a need to respond if they cannot point to a white house press release declaring what we're doing. transparentould be about this because it is in our interest and it is justified and that would be a continuation of a commitment to ukraine that has been strong since the aggression of 2014. since independence in 1991. i don't think we need to be secretive about it but it is an option. >> to follow on the second part of matt's question.
would you be opposed to the united states using a second or third party to deliver weapons? argument thatthe the pro side is making is that this will reassure our allies, that ukraine is a key credibility signal for our , covert loses some of that reassurance so it is not as helpful, if i were on the pro side, it loses value. >> as sandy mentioned i strongly support providing this weaponry to ukraine covertly. [applause] >> that in writing. >> for the following reason. doing it that way diminishes some of the reassurance value,
but only some, not all. the purpose of providing weapons is not to help ukraine reconquer the parts currently under kremlin control. i'm confident that if we do this this would not encourage poroshenko. of this is toe help persuade mr. putin to leave. the way to do that is, increase the price for him on his to help showand him a reasonable way out. in there beating our chest, the russians are toast, that would give him a sense to react badly as we would see it. , it is hiso this decision whether to make this an issue.
we have seen him demonstrate a level of nuance back when the turks shot down the russian jets after the fourth incursion into their airspace the minister of defense and the presidential spokesperson said, we don't know who shot it down, maybe it was in syria. for reasons i can imagine but i don't think were wise chose to be there, beat his chest and say, we did it and force russian reaction. there is no question that moscow is paying a heavy price for its invasion of ukraine, that they did not expect the resistance they have faced in ukraine and internationally. and there are certainly people in moscow who understand the need for a change of course. we want to make that decision come faster. ms. thoburn: we will move on to the next questions. the gentleman in the pink and maybe striped tie there. the microphone should be on its way. great debate.
thank you very much. two quick questions. i wonder if you could talk about the economic repercussions of this because clearly lifting of the sanctions has been a mr. putin's government and they clearly have hurt and i think as the ambassador mentioned, the willingness of our european those haso enforce been flagging. the provision of defensive weapons, should there be an escalation, thereby increase the willingness of europe to maintain and increase those sanctions against further russian aggression. on the other hand we have also seen that the russian economy has so far weathered the sanctions we do have in place. the menus in moscow i have read
shrimpy indicate that are coming from the russian far east. they have been able to substitute and in some cases stimulate the local economy to whether those sanctions. the regime benefits from perceived conflict with the west as a means of staying in power. what is the economic benefit or detriment to the regime -- the benefit or detriment of the economic aspects? at theseork times ran this week about the soviet lieutenant colonel who prevented world war iii in 1983. obviously that seems more far-fetched now but is it becoming less so as the risk our -- the risk factor in moscow has gone way down from the soviet regime and possibly the risk
calculus here is heading the same way? ms. thoburn: we will start with the concept. your mentioning of the fact that the prior soviet union and the modern russian nuclear power should give us a variety about how we deal with this issue. we need to remember that. is to avoidterest problems with nuclear russia. that is the most critical thing to keep in context. i like your tie, by the way. the biggest mistake mr. putin made in my view in beginning this insurgency in crimea was that he thought the sanctions would not be kept in place by a motley crew of 36 countries. that was a big strategic mistake. europeted states and
have stayed together on this. on the other hand at the risk of being happened -- at the risk of being academic, there is a large literature on sanctions. done with a lot of empirical data. i will sum up the findings of the majority. sum-cost, thee less likely economic sanctions will work. does think oftes international politics as economics. states go to war and do all inner of things that are defiance of logic. your question, what effect will this have on european allies in terms of arms? it is interesting to note that in this town there is a huge campaign to harm the ukrainians
-- two arm the ukrainians. the public is not generally in favor. , i talkedl tell you to angela merkel, i talked to so and so, that is all well and good. ares interesting that they telling you this in private when they may be inebriated. if they are serious they should do it openly and publicly. it will not split the alliance but i don't think this is an issue where we and the european ce i to i. to eye.ye ms. thoburn: the pro side? ambassador herbst: the baltic
states, the canadians, are all waiting to provide weapons of the united states makes the decision. it is also true and i would not does,age it the way raj countries that are opposed to sending weapons to ukraine have said to us privately that they are in favor of this. not when they were drunk or high. [laughter] more importantly is what chancellor merkel and germany has been the principal player in europe on this crisis, has said publicly, when she came here to see president obama in january , that5, she said publicly yes, germany opposes providing weapons to ukraine but if the united states were to proceed to provide weapons, germany would
continue to work with the united states on this issue. i was a diplomat for 31 years. this was one flashing amber light. issue that will divide us in europe in any significant way. is right thatraj mr. putin thought sanctions won't hold. i can tell you on the basis of many conversations and a lot of analysis that if we were to provide weapons, some countries in europe would fuss, hopefully he not have an impact on policy but it would not change european sanctions policy. , six oricy is firm seven months ago before the elections in europe, maybe it was possible to think about it but after the dutch and french
elections and what will be chancellor merkel's big victory on sunday, this is not a question. ambassador? sayssador vershbow: i would , this was a mistake, and mr. food made it inevitable -- mr. putin made it inevitable that these would be longer-lasting. i do agree that is interested in getting out of the sanctions and i think that is one of the reasons why i am not convinced that the most likely effect of arming the ukrainians then to it greater degree, would be this escalation is tried to take more and inflict larger .asualties on the ukrainians
he would re-solidify the european consensus as well. reasons,cite other declining energy prices, reforms, he has less freedom of maneuver. even a military buildup will become more difficult. i do think, as john said, this issue will not be as divisive among allies is some predict. there are some countries lining up to provide additional equipment and training. the canadians, the brits, if you others. this will not be a big problem inside nato. dr. menon: i don't run in the
exalted circle that john does. chancellor merkel has said nothing to me on this issue. [laughter] do a google search and read the statements about arming ukraine. yourself, whatever your position is on this may be, is there a great deal of and easy as among the european public and european leaders for this? for the baltics and poland, yes. younger fees tells you why. -- geography tells you why. that is their right to do. i will agree with sandy on one thing. in a net sense, the handling of ukraine has been a loss for russia in the sense that it has permanently alienated and pushed which is the most important of the x soviet states. i'm not here to argue that mr. putin is ace -- strategist.
what should we do? some of the things being suggested here are counterproductive and reckless. covert-non-covert, that is a distinction without a difference. the effect on mr. putin will not be whether his feelings are hurt. it will be what the situation on the ground is and weapons making a difference? ms. thoburn: i would be remiss if i did not get the other side a chance to respond. >> i agree with most of what you said except for the last part. the idea that this would have an instantaneous effect, you're right, they will look at happened -- i what happens on the ground. i did check and you are right, poroshenko's speech at west point, it was not what i would recommend is the right
formulation for liberation but what we heard from him in recent days, i was at the conference and we had a site meeting with him. he is focusing everything on the peacekeeping idea, trying to get to a place where you can see minsk implemented rather than become the cover for frozen conflict. that, mr.e doing putin, he might be cutting his losses by freezing the conflict, putting a peacekeeping force along an international border. fromf that gets him out under the sanctions. i don't think it will. the principles that are at stake with the changing of borders by force and waging undeclared wars against your neighbors is not supposed to be admissible in the 21st century. if the u.s. stays firm and we have angela merkel's support in europe, europe will stay form --
firm as well. ms. thoburn: time for one last question. i can't recall which to defend their position -- i would refer you to an article written by former secretary of state george shultz who clearly states that we have an obligation under the budapest memorandum to provide weapons for ukraine. that it is in our interest in terms of how we deal with russia as well. i will be happy to send it to you if you would like. ms. thoburn: any responses? dr. menon: an appeal to an authority is not an argument. i don't care what they said. read the memorandum. any reading of it puts to rest
the proposition that it requires us to arm ukraine. that is your weekend assignment. anyone who would make that say the russians violated the agreement is one thing but to say there is anything in the text for arming ukraine is preposterous. >> our ambassadors have told us there is no legal obligation, it is a moral obligation in their view. ms. thoburn: ambassadors? >> it is a moral obligation. russians that they themselves signed up for, that they draft the helsinki act and now they are the biggest lawbreakers in the world. we have to take that as our starting point.
it is alsoherbst: the geopolitically smart thing to do. one more point i would like to make which is not an answer to the question. multiple times, they are not defending mr. putin's policies. that is true. the debate has been about american policy. i would like to make something clear because this is at times lost as people look at the work we have been doing here at the atlantic council on the war in ukraine. our position is in no sense anti-russian. it is anti-revisionism, anti-aggression. historianst russian wrote sometime in the late 19 century and this is a simplified paraphrase, that when the russian state marches, the russian people lose. there is a connection between
mr. putin's revisionism and aggression abroad and his oppression at home. our policies, which are designed to thwart that oppression will hasten the day and this is not talking about regime change, but it will hasten the day when we see the right developments direct -- domestically in russia. of our may, part argument is that if we want to see liberalizing changes within russia, the worst thing we can do would be to try to stimulate a rally around the flag effect within russia. useimir putin could americans deeper engagement as a way to stimulate his own power .nd respect this is a traditional thing. as old as politics. why hand in this opportunity. ms. thoburn: i can see that you really want to respond but we are running out of time. we have enough time for a three minute closing statement from
both sides. side,l begin with the con because that is how we started this debate. you just began with interesting remarks about what this might mean for russia. if we could hear first from the withide, we will conclude closing statements from the pro side and we will adjourn. i will reiterate what i said with my opening. this is not necessary for our safety and foreign policy action should be laser focused on that. it could be counterproductive. we should have humility about our ability to predict the future, that is a worldview that all realist share. think this could lead to escalation which would be detrimental to all parties involved in in terms of trying to look forward hear a little bit. one thing i think we probably do not think enough about is what is the general context of the
american debate. russia is oneout much detached from reality. trying to see the world as it is. spends 10 states times what russia does on its military force. europe's gdp alone leaving aside the united states swamps russia completely. european military spending is robust and even if the united states was not a part of this at all, europe is a strong, rich area that could easily do terror russia. -- easily deter russia. it is not to say there aren't challenges or problems but there is a context in which we have to be careful about assuming this is the cold war again. that is the frame of reference for a lot of people in the united states, particularly
people who are more senior in their career and harken back to that lesson. good work int of political science that talks about the analogies people use about their experiences that are formative. unfortunately there are too many formative experiences that harken back to soviet times. russia butly for fortunately for us, russia just isn't the same animal anymore. neither is europe. this is not 1945 when europe has been devastated. europe is a robust economy, a powerful country. i would like to see europe take more of the burden for their own defense and if europe thought that this was such a fundamental international life and security, why aren't the european stepping up to the plate in the way that people here in the united states would even though our interests are clearly less engaged? ms. thoburn: additional
statements? say,enon: i would like to we live in a country where we can have a spirited public debate with senior diplomats for a thoughtful audience. i would like to thank the atlantic council again for that. there are places where you can't do this. it is a good thing. thank you john and sandy. theuld just say that argument that we can run nato doing whatively by john and sandy are suggesting is very curious logic. i don't want nato to be run cost-effectively, i want the europeans do what they promised to do for a long time. the defense of europe is more important to europe than us. it is bizarre to me that a continent, if you take a gdp roughly equal to ours cannot find the wherewithal to defend itself. we are now wringing our hands saying, how do we defend the
baltic, poland? shouldn't this have been thought about before we extended nato to the russian borders? now everyone is trying to figure out what to do? starting a war in ukraine is not how to run nato cost-effectively. thes against nato from get-go but having done it it seems to me we are obliged to make it work internally rather than using the budapest to say,um as a reason that as a way to fix the alliance. my thanks to the con side for closing statements. gentleman on the pro side, two minutes each. >> let me reciprocate the fact, this is reciprocating -- this has been an interesting experience. this has been a controversial subject for several years. to do a lot to strengthen its defenses and the
europeans had to do more and we are making progress on that but there is a long way to go. part of nato's the cleared strategy is to support and help strengthen the defense capacity of neighbors. the countries and between noto and russia -- between nato and russia. preventing a zone of conflict and chaos persisting in the heart of europe is part of nato's strategy. it does defense reforms and other forms of training. this is something where the europeans do have skin in the game and it is important. a couple last word. we diverge on our advice on this issue fundamentally because we disagree with what is at stake. russia succeeds, is it successful in blocking his path to the west.
conflicts, both in europe and between the united states and russia, it would guarantee a point in this relationship between the united states and russia. it's going to be hard to get out of the downward spiral we are in an u.s. russian relations if we can't find a way to solve conflict in the ukraine, ultimately crimea, but first and foremost the ongoing war that russia is maintaining in the done boss. that armingonvinced the ukrainians, broadening the systems we've been giving good create some negotiating leverage. i think we are elected to go down that road, anyway, despite the results of this debate, are what everything the results of -- or what ever you think the results of this debate.
we may have to see a little bit more negotiating before we get to an outcome. interesting, in these closing sections, a new issue has emerged, that is whether or not europe is or should be able to defend itself. there's no question that europe has the wealth, and the ability to spend on defense in order to defend itself. in this case we are the realists and they are the idealists. i will explain. unprecedented because of the, transatlantic institutions that were built in the late 1940's. in the famous statement, nato
was built to keep the germans down, the russians out, and the americans in. frankly, that formula has worked beautifully. theory, maybe we should dispense with this, i think we are playing russian roulette if we do it. let's stick with the formula that works. even though we have to adjust it for the new world. i'd like to think raj for a civil debate. we can probably began on another issue. thank you for coming. adjourn, we started this with a poll to see how many of you made up your mind. i want to see how many of you changed your mind. [applause] -- [laughter] next time. please join me in thanking our panelists, the atlantic council, and the institute.