Top Ukrainian Official: Western Weapons Are in Safe Hands | Opinion
After Sept. 11, 2001, the United States and its allies and partners funneled hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of military equipment to Afghanistan and Iraq. Unfortunately, some of this assistance ended up in enemy hands. This will never happen in Ukraine, not least because Ukraine has already shown something found in neither of those countries—a will to fight for ourselves.
The most decisive battle of Russia's war against Ukraine was supposed to be won by Moscow within the span of a work week. In the beginning days of the invasion with Russian forces surrounding Kyiv, there was speculation that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would flee to London to set up a shadow government as various talking heads—and Western government officials—predicted that Russian forces would easily sack the capital.
With just a few months of retrospection, it's remarkable to see just how foolish those predictions were. Ukraine won the battle of Kyiv decisively and has valiantly defied military expectations since March despite being severely outnumbered and outgunned by a ruthless Russian force. Ukraine could not have had such success without the unprecedented level of military assistance provided by the United States and our European allies.
Most recently, the shipment from the U.S. to Ukraine of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) has allowed Ukraine's armed forces to take out hundreds of high priority Russian targets that were previously out of reach, including enemy control points, command centers, and ammunition depots deep in Russian-occupied territories. As the Russians continue to escalate their war of attrition against Ukraine, the Biden Administration's announcement on Aug. 8, 2022, of another $1 billion in security assistance is welcome news to the Ukrainian soldiers countering these advances.
This assistance is a matter of life and death for us, and I can assure the American people and their elected representatives that Zelensky and his administration view the weapons' effective deployment as not only a top priority but a sacred duty we have before the Ukrainian people. That is why Zelensky has implemented layers of control and accountability to ensure oversight of the assistance provided to Ukraine.
On a government-to-government basis, Zelensky and his team of advisors meet regularly with representatives from the countries providing this assistance to report on where and how this assistance is being used. We thank the members of the Verkhovna Rada, the Parliament of Ukraine, for supporting an initiative led by the presidential office to create a special commission to monitor and control all foreign assistance provided to Ukraine, which includes representatives from every parliamentary faction. Also, delegates from the Verkhovna Rada hold almost weekly virtual meetings with their counterparts from Europe to ensure the legislative bodies have the necessary information to fulfill their oversight roles.
The government is also organizing briefings for relevant U.S. congressional committees on security assistance oversight, and we are cooperating closely with the newly arrived U.S. defense attaché Brigadier General Garrick M. Harmon. Rest assured, he will have unprecedented levels of access and support from the Zelensky administration.
However, it is simply not sufficient for governments to retain this information. The public must be informed about how these weapons are used and there must be another layer of oversight provided by independent third parties.
For this reason, by decision of the Staff of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine created a joint information center to ensure a unified information policy in the military sector, to implement reliable and operational communications, and to provide the public with objective information on the situation on the frontlines. The center also fast tracks accreditation of journalists and other authorized persons so that they have access to the equipment when it arrives in Ukraine and as it is deployed on the front lines. Many brave journalists from the United States and Europe have gone to the front and provided great reporting from there. We are very grateful for their professionalism and dedication.
Ukraine must and shall prevail as history teaches us ideologically driven aggressors like Russia and Nazi Germany do not stop in Crimea or the Sudetenland. They go on to Kyiv and Paris until they are beaten back. We have started beating Russia back but our mission is far from over. The security assistance provided by the American people is vital for us to complete our mission and make sure this conflict does not spread further. A victory for Ukraine will be a victory for the United States and all democracies.
Andriy Yermak is a Head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine. Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, he has been, on behalf of President Zelensky, in charge of priority issues including negotiations for Western military assistance, sanctions policies against Russia, and future security guarantees for Ukraine.
The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.