Petraeus says timing in getting ammunition, supplies to Ukraine will be key as war rages on

By Dan Schere / February 14, 2023 at 4:09 PM

As Ukraine's war with Russia enters its second year, it will be key for the United States and other NATO members to waste no time in getting key supplies and ammunition to the Ukrainians, retired Army Gen. David Petraeus said Tuesday.

Petraeus, who commanded multinational forces during the 2003 Iraq War and later served as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, spoke during a virtual event Tuesday hosted by the Atlantic Council. He said as defense ministers from NATO members meet this week in Brussels to discuss the conflict, that they recognize the Russian offensive threat to the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast in the short term.

“There has to be a real focus on rushing the ammunition, other materiel and supplies to Ukraine to enable them to conduct successful defensive operations, perhaps grudgingly giving up some small amounts of territory seized by the Russians,” Petraeus said.

The mid-term outlook, Petraeus said, will necessitate the timely transfer of tanks that have been committed to Ukraine, longer-range precision munitions, air defenses and wheeled armored vehicles.

“All of this is crucial to enable Ukraine to be ready by May, early June. Whenever it is that they decide to conduct their own counter offensive,” he said.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Tuesday that they expected Ukraine to launch its offensive against Russian forces sometime this spring.

Petraeus added that he believes the conflict will ultimately end with a negotiated resolution.

“We have to hasten that moment when Vladimir Putin is willing to enter meaningful negotiations, at which time Ukraine can start to think seriously about reconstruction with our help, and also an ironclad security guarantee,” he said.

Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, who served as NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe from 1997 to 2000, also spoke during Tuesday’s event and said despite the billions of dollars in military aid the United States has given to Ukraine and all of the efforts made by NATO allies, he thinks that going to the negotiating table is a “policy that’s unlikely to produce lasting success.”

“The reason is, Mr. Putin is determined to take Ukraine. He wants it because he fears China in the long term. And without Ukraine, Russia is a rogue state,” he said.