The McCain Institute’s support for Ukraine through its Ukraine Business Alliance (UBA) is featured in a recent column by The Washington Post’s Columnist David Ignatius. McCain Institute Executive Director Dr. Evelyn Farkas and 2022 McCain Global Leader Col. Hennadiy Kovalenko, as well as members of the UBA, are quoted in the opinion piece from the recent UBA trip to Kyiv and Lviv in which Ignatius accompanied the business delegation.
The group met with senior Ukrainian officials, thought leaders, and NGOs. The trip included members of the McCain Institute’s UBA, which convenes senior executives from American and European technology and defense companies, U.S. and Ukrainian government and military leaders, and foreign policy experts to strategize innovative public-private partnerships to support Ukraine.
“Without a robust humanitarian demining effort, restarting critical prewar industries, including agriculture and steel production, will be near impossible,” said Evelyn Farkas, the McCain Institute’s executive director, who led the group.
“If you stop supporting us, forget about Ukraine. It’s as simple as that,” Col. Hennadiy Kovalenko, a Ukrainian defense ministry official, worried in a meeting in Kyiv with American visitors.
Read more excerpts from the column below and see the full article HERE.
Opinion | As the U.S. fights over aid, Ukraine’s hopes hang in the balance
The Washington Post, November 2, 2023
By David Ignatius, Columnist
House Republicans who question U.S. military assistance to Ukraine should meet some of the military amputees who are gathered at a hospital in Lviv learning to use their new limbs and, if possible, return to the battlefield.
“Don’t be afraid to fall. Learn to get up.” That’s the admonition that Olga Rudneva gives to amputees struggling to walk. She runs the prosthetic clinic called Superhumans that I visited in early last month. Her words could be a motto for Ukraine itself.
If the Biden administration can’t gain congressional support for its supplemental aid package, even more soldiers in trenches and minefields fighting Russian aggression might end up in clinics like this, or worse. Continued American aid is a desperate concern, too, for millions of Ukrainian civilians who might freeze in the dark this winter if Kyiv lacks enough air-defense systems to stop Russian drones and missiles from striking at its energy infrastructure.
As the Ukraine war grinds on, the world’s attention has shifted to the bloody battle between Israel and Hamas. The danger for Ukraine is that if out of sight, it might be out of mind — and become a casualty of American political squabbles. “If you stop supporting us, forget about Ukraine. It’s as simple as that,” Col. Hennadiy Kovalenko, a Ukrainian defense ministry official, worried in a meeting in Kyiv with American visitors.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) put new Ukraine aid in jeopardy when he separated it from military assistance to Israel, which the House passed Thursday. But Johnson has said he favors helping Ukraine, and President Biden hopes he’ll deliver. “The idea that the Ukraine situation isn’t urgent is profoundly mistaken,” a senior administration official told me.
The Ukraine war is nearing another inflection point, according to Kyiv’s top general, Valery Zaluzhny. To break out of the bloody stalemate, “technology is the answer,” he wrote in the Economist this week. He said Ukraine needs more drones, missiles, jet fighters, air-defense weapons, and electronic-warfare and mine-breaching tools to “escape from that trap.” This aid can come only from America and its partners.
The tragedy is that this assistance — a cheap price to pay for stopping Russia’s advance — seems caught up in the politics of Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency. ABC’s Jonathan Karl recounts in a book, “Tired of Winning,” to be published this month, that former Fox News host Tucker Carlson told him Trump’s opposition to Ukraine assistance is “more radical” than he states publicly. “I hate the war in Ukraine more than anything,” Carlson told Karl. “And [Trump is] like the only person who agrees with me on that.”
Visiting Ukraine last month, I heard firsthand why American help is needed to break through a war of attrition that is exhausting Ukrainian soldiers and civilians. Mines have been a special problem: As Ukraine launched its counteroffensive this spring, the first wave of troops found the minefields “impenetrable,” Kovalenko said.
The casualties were horrific. You can see the impact at the clinic in Lviv. A soldier named Alex who had the left side of his body ravaged by an explosion now learns to kick a soccer ball with his prosthesis. A double amputee named Vadim wobbles as he tests his new legs.
Many of these soldiers can’t return to battle, but others, less badly wounded, are rejoining units. “Every time I hear they want to go back to the front lines, I hate it,” Rudneva said. But she’s working hard to help make it possible.
My visit was organized by the McCain Institute, as part of its Ukraine Business Alliance, a group of companies working with the Ukrainian government, including tech giants Microsoft and Palantir.
Drones are crucial in this war, but they’re a double-edged weapon. Ukraine at first imported its drones from Turkey, the United States and other countries, but it’s now manufacturing more than half its fleet at home, Oleksandr Kamyshin, Ukraine’s minister of strategic industries, told us.
But Russia is using waves of drones — many supplied by Iran — to attack Ukraine’s energy supplies and power grid. Ukraine’s anti-drone missiles can be 10 times more expensive than their targets. “That disparity can’t continue,” said Jon Gruen, chief executive of Fortem Technologies and a member of the business alliance. His company is providing Ukraine an inexpensive anti-drone system that uses nets to catch incoming attackers — one of the items Zaluzhny said he needs.
Russian mining has spawned Ukrainian innovations in demining technology, including autonomous systems that can detect and detonate mines. “Without a robust humanitarian demining effort, restarting critical prewar industries, including agriculture and steel production, will be near impossible,” said Evelyn Farkas, the McCain Institute’s executive director, who led the group.
“Technology is the only way to bring Ukraine to victory,” argued Natalya Kushnerska, chief operating officer of a project called Brave1 that’s trying to coordinate domestic defense technology innovation. Her group is funding 70 projects for unmanned vehicles, robotics, demining and electronic warfare.
But the Russians keep coming. And unless the U.S. Congress gets its act together, this will be a very cold and bitter winter in Kyiv.