Nineteen retired US generals and former officials are urging President Joe Biden's administration to send more arms to Ukraine or risk “unintentionally seizing defeat from the jaws of victory”.
In an opinion piece for The Hill, the former generals, diplomats and officials said the US has been reluctant to provide the war-torn country with heavier ammunition out of fear of provoking Russia into using its nuclear arsenal.
“We may think that each day we delay providing Ukraine the weapons it needs to win, we are avoiding a confrontation with the Kremlin,” the piece read.
“To the contrary, we are merely increasing the probability that we will face that danger on less favourable grounds.”
Among those who signed the article were Philip Breedlove, former supreme commander of Nato forces in Europe; Kurt Volker, former US ambassador to Nato; and Marie Yovanovitch, former US ambassador to Ukraine.
Pentagon figures show that the US has sent more than $9 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia's invasion on February 24, including a recent $1bn in security assistance announced last week.
The most recent package included munitions for Himars defence systems, but the former generals and officials argued that the administration should deliver them in larger quantities to “maximise their impact on the battlefield”.
Such weapons, they said, would stop Moscow's aggression.
“With the necessary weapons and economic aid, Ukraine can defeat Russia,” they wrote.
Kyiv, they argued, also needs long-range weapons such as Army Tactical Missile Systems, which have a range of up to 300 kilometres.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum last month, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the Biden administration has been reluctant to take such a step to avoid a “third world war”.
The signatories added that nuclear deterrence is still an effective tool, and that Russia's threats to use the weapons in its arsenal have proved hollow.
“It is to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's advantage to threaten nuclear war, but not to initiate it,” they wrote.