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War analysts say Ukraine should treat the latest US aid package like it's the last one it'll get

Ella Sherman   

War analysts say Ukraine should treat the latest US aid package like it's the last one it'll get
  • Ukraine is urged to use its $61 billion US aid package carefully as some experts say future aid is uncertain.
  • Political divisiveness and the upcoming US elections could complicate the passage of further aid.

War experts are advising Ukraine to use its latest $61 billion US aid package cautiously as there is always the possibility that American aid could again be derailed by politics.

"Every fight over every next increment has gotten increasingly contentious and increasingly long," said Jennifer Kavanagh, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, referring to the months-long deliberation of the most recent package for Ukraine that passed in the Senate on Wednesday and past assistance debates. "I think that the plan should be what if there is no more money."

During a Defense Priorities Wednesday discussion panel, experts such as Kelly Grieco, a Stimson Center senior fellow, weighed in, saying that "everyone involved in this conflict should treat this aid package as though it's the last one and plan accordingly, because that could be."

The upcoming US presidential election, in which the presumed Republican candidate is far less supportive of Ukraine, as well as the continued divisiveness of the Ukraine security assistance discussion between the political parties in Congress, could complicate the passage of future aid for Ukraine, which has not been brought up yet but almost certainly will as the war drags on.

"It's uncertain who's going to be in office in January," Kavanagh said, further remarking that there is "certainly no appetite for starting the fight over January 2025 now."

With the US aid that was just approved, some conflict analysts assess that Ukraine's next steps to make the most of the new assistance should include building up defenses and exploring the possibility of negotiating with Russia.

"I think Ukraine can win this war. It cannot win militarily in any way, it can win politically, though," Grieco said. "It can actually gain a political victory by not allowing Putin to achieve his main goal, which is to subjugate Ukraine," she said, noting that "Ukraine can remain a viable state and an independent state from Russia."

Both Grieco and Kavanagh emphasized the importance of Ukraine showing up to the negotiating table and using diplomacy with Russia to prevent further land losses.

Other experts, as well as Ukrainian officials, are critical of calls for negotiations between Ukraine and Russia and have said that Vladimir Putin would demand the "demilitarization" of Ukraine in order to take advantage of it.

Experts of the Washington-based Institute of the Study of War said in a March report that they continue to "assess that Russian President Vladimir Putin maintains his maximalist objectives in Ukraine, which are tantamount to complete Ukrainian and Western capitulation, and that Russia has no interest in good-faith negotiations with Ukraine."

ISW has challenged the notion that the war is '"unwinnable" for Ukraine, calling that a Russian information operation.

Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba has said that Russia cannot be trusted, a reality he says is proven by its documented failures to live up to past negotiations.

He reminded the world last November in a statement on social media that "Putin is a habitual liar who promised international leaders that he would not attack Ukraine days before his invasion in February 2022." Kuleba said no one can seriously expect the Ukrainians to negotiate with Russia.

The challenge is that six months of delayed assistance have put Ukraine in a difficult position, one that may not immediately be rectified by the coming aid.

During the panel discussion Wednesday, Kavanagh argued that starting negotiations will also buy Ukraine time as it's expected that the approved US aid will not be flowing in all at once. "The reality is that politics is involved, which means that things won't be perfect and there will be delays," she said.

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