Ukraine Updates

March 2022_Ukraine Updates Feature Image

Last Updated on May 11, 2022.

As the war in Ukraine unfolds following Russia’s invasion, Win Without War will be providing regular updates on key developments, useful commentary, and more.

Wednesday, May 11th

News You Need

 

Commentary & Analysis

 

Our Take 

+ Another supplemental for the weapons industry. The latest supplemental for Ukraine will be another bonanza for the arms industry. Last time, negotiators turned a $1.75 billion request from the president to replenish DoD weapons stockpiles after transferring weapons to Ukraine into a $3.5 billion appropriation. In this week’s Ukraine supplemental bill, a $5 billion request from the president for replenishment has become a $8.7 billion appropriation. These huge plus-ups are unnecessary – the Pentagon is well aware of what these weapons cost. The extra appropriated funds amount to a massive giveaway to arms manufacturers, allowing them to create cost overruns with no fear of budgetary constraints.  

+ Some positive developments. The supplemental does contain some important provisions for supporting fleeing Ukrainians and limiting the war’s negative consequences around the world. $350 million for humanitarian aid to refugees from the conflict and $900 million for refugee resettlement in the U.S. are both valuable contributions toward protecting the people who bear the brunt of this war. $4.35 billion in food aid is badly needed to limit the effects of famines around the world brought on by the conflict. And the requirement for a DoD Inspector General to report on where U.S. weapons are going in Ukraine is crucial to understanding and mitigating the proliferation concerns around massive weapons transfers. Congress should preserve and expand on these programs going forward.

+ Ukraine’s problems are global problems. The White House unilaterally declared defeat on an effort to include funding for the domestic COVID-19 response in the supplemental, a request that was already a step down from a previous effort to fund a global COVID response. A May 9 presidential statement made clear that Congressional Republican discomfort drove this latest decision. The initial walk back from funding international COVID aid, now compounded by the inability to secure even domestic COVID funding in a key appropriations supplemental, brings U.S. global leadership sharply into question on the eve of a May 12 Global COVID-19 Summit co-hosted by the United States. We have the power to tackle many broader problems that will help support Ukrainians: global vaccination to prevent new COVID-19 variants; fixing our broken asylum system so that it no longer victimizes Ukrainians or anyone else; ending IMF surcharges that punish Ukraine and other countries for shocks out of their control. Congress should push the White House to assume truly global leadership on the COVID crisis in a way that will help Ukrainians and the rest of us, and not give in so quickly to expedient political calculations.

 

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The IMF’s Punitive Surcharges

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: War Crimes in Ukraine

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Global Impact of the War in Ukraine

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine  

Russia’s Actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance 

 

Wednesday, May 4th

News You Need

 

Commentary & Analysis

 

Our Take 

+ Keep up the pursuit of peace. The Biden Administration’s rhetoric on the Ukraine conflict has shifted in recent weeks, putting greater emphasis on degrading Russia’s military capacity in the long term than seeking an end to the violence in Ukraine. This is a mistake. Some hawks see strategic opportunity in a drawn out conflict that will weaken Russian power, but the reality is that a longer war only brings more pain for Ukrainians and more threat of escalation. Congress must be vocal in demanding that the administration put as much energy into reaching a negotiated resolution to the conflict as it has into providing for Ukraine’s defense. The U.S. needs to be seeking out off-ramps to end this war, not closing them down.

+ No endless sanctions. We have written about the necessity of off-ramps for U.S. sanctions on Russia before, but with the administration painting the conflict as likely to endure for years to come, the need for off-ramps is more acute than ever. One of the key problems with U.S. sanctions policy is that it tends to calcify, inflicting collective punishment on regular people for indefinite periods of time with no prospect for relief. If sanctions against Russia follow the path of endless economic pressure, rather than remaining clearly tied to the goal of achieving peace in Ukraine, it will only become harder to reach a negotiated end to the conflict. Congress should demand an explanation from the administration of the conditions that will result in broad-based sanctions against Russia being withdrawn.

+ AI war profiteering. Weapons manufacturers aren’t the only shady characters profiting off the war in Ukraine. Clearview AI, a U.S. facial recognition technology company with close connections to the far right, has put its products to work in Ukraine to identify Russian soldiers. Plainly, the company’s aim is to use the conflict to launder its reputation, as it faces a range of lawsuits in the U.S. for mass privacy violations. The U.S. should not be exporting privacy-destroying technology, and policymakers should not be taken in by Clearview’s naked attempt to curry favor in Ukraine. Congress should use its oversight power to ensure that there is no collaboration between Clearview AI and the U.S. government in Ukraine and should take quick action to protect people at home and abroad from surveillance technology run amok.

 

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: War Crimes in Ukraine

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Global Impact of the War in Ukraine

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine  

Win Without War Executive Director Sara Haghdoosti Examines World’s Reaction to Ukrainian Refugees

Russia’s Actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance 

 

Wednesday, April 27th

News You Need

 

Commentary & Analysis

 

Our Take 

+ Humanitarian aid for all. The UN announced yesterday that it is seeking an additional $1.25 billion from donor countries to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. The U.S. and its allies should act quickly to fulfill the request, and Congress should seize this moment to adjust its humanitarian response to conflict around the globe. The COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic downturn have led many donor countries to limit their humanitarian funding, while the need for humanitarian response remains. Just like people in Ukraine, people in Yemen, Mozambique, Cameroon, and elsewhere have crucial humanitarian needs that donor countries have been slow to meet. Congress should work to fill the gaps everywhere.

+ Protect stateless people. Some 40,000 Ukrainians lack the legal protection of citizenship in any state. Statelessness leaves them uniquely at risk as they flee Russian violence, as nearly all of Ukraine’s neighbors lack adequate legal protections for people without a documented claim to citizenship. The U.S. cannot assist them adequately either, as our legal system also lacks a consistent framework for serving stateless people, despite the fact that such a framework is required by international law. Congress should both address this shortcoming at home and provide legal support for Ukraine’s neighbors to draw up policies that will protect stateless Ukrainians as they make their way to safety.

+ Diplomatic confirmations. The Senate is expected to confirm Bridget Brink as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, making her the first U.S. ambassador in Kyiv since 2019. That important ambassadorial position is not the only one that has sat vacant for the duration of the Biden administration. Roughly 60 ambassadorships remain unfilled, largely due to obstructionism by Senate Republicans. Diplomacy cannot take place without diplomats, and the U.S. cannot pursue positive foreign policy goals with its diplomatic structure in disarray. Congress should move quickly to take up current ambassadorial nominations, and encourage the White House to put forward nominees for posts that it has not yet moved to fill.

 

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: War Crimes in Ukraine

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Global Impact of the War in Ukraine

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine  

Win Without War Executive Director Sara Haghdoosti Examines World’s Reaction to Ukrainian Refugees

Russia’s Actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance 

Wednesday, April 20th

News You Need

 

Commentary & Analysis

 

Our Take 

+ No generosity for bomb makers. Congress has been extraordinarily generous in its appropriations for arming Ukraine. An emergency spending package allots $6.5 billion to support DoD’s efforts to aid the Ukrainian military. Yet the package is also generous to the U.S. arms industry. Congress allocated twice the amount of money the Pentagon requested to spend on replacements for the weapons and ammunition it has been sending to Ukraine – a $1.75 billion gift to the weapons industry. There is no reason U.S. arms manufacturers should be making a massive profit off of the horrible conflict in Ukraine. Congress should closely track how that money is spent and if further Ukraine assistance bills come up, Members should keep in mind that they have already appropriated plenty of funds for buying weapons.

+ End family separation. When the Trump administration ended, people cheered the apparent end of that administration’s policy of separating families at the U.S. border with Mexico. Yet, over a year into the Biden administration, children are still routinely being separated from parents and caregivers at the border under a series of cruel and dehumanizing policies. Neither Ukrainian children – of whom at least 50 have reportedly been removed from the care of their guardians at the border and sent to under-resourced shelters – nor children from any country deserve this kind of treatment. Congress should pressure the administration to end these separations and refuse any attempts to extend the racist Title 42 policy, which is responsible for thousands of family separations at the border.

+ Close the small arms black hole. So far, the U.S. has transferred roughly 7,000 small arms to Ukraine, in addition to thousands of light anti-tank weapons, 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft weapons, and hundreds of small drones. Those weapons may be useful in Ukraine’s struggle against Russia’s imperialist invasion, but even U.S. government officials acknowledge that where they go after the conflict is anyone’s guess. As someone familiar with U.S. intelligence reports told CNN, each weapons shipment sent to Ukraine “drops into a big black hole” created by the confusion of war, making it impossible to track where the weapons end up. Flooding a conflict zone with easily transferable small arms is a dangerous business, and could lead to more violence in the long run. Congress should demand that the Pentagon improve its end use monitoring capacity, both for Ukraine and for all arms sales.

 

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: War Crimes in Ukraine

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Global Impact of the War in Ukraine

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine  

Win Without War Executive Director Sara Haghdoosti Examines World’s Reaction to Ukrainian Refugees

Russia’s Actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance 

Wednesday, April 13th

News You Need

 

Commentary & Analysis

 

Our Take 

+ Peace is a prerequisite for justice in Ukraine. Each day, new reports of Russian atrocities filter out of Ukraine, including unverified reports of chemical weapons use. Many observers have rightly condemned these acts as horrific and criminal, but some have argued that dangerous escalation is the only available response. The reality is that any plausible accountability mechanism for war crimes requires the cessation of hostilities in order to function. Congress should be pushing for a negotiated settlement to the conflict that preserves Ukrainian sovereignty, both to end the horrible suffering in Ukraine and to allow accountability mechanisms to do their work.

+ IMF surcharges are foolish in Ukraine and around the world. Ukraine owes $22 billion to international financial institutions, much of it to the IMF. Ukraine took on those loans in an attempt to grow its economy, an offense so apparently egregious that the IMF forces Ukraine to pay surcharges on the debt – payments on top of interest that the Fund demands of countries that are at most risk of defaulting on their debt. By one estimate, Ukraine must pay the Fund $178 million in surcharges in 2022 alone, which is absurd in the midst of an invasion. It is also indicative of the harm surcharges cause for indebted countries around the world. Congress should order U.S. representatives at the IMF to use their power to end surcharges, both for Ukraine and for all indebted countries.

+ An industrial policy for people. When GEN Milley told Congress last week that the war in Ukraine could drag on for years, most people were horrified. Arms manufacturers, however, were giddy, especially when they reportedly received an invitation to the Pentagon a few days later to discuss how the department could support them to produce arms for Ukraine in the case of a multi-year conflict — at a tidy profit, of course. This is a form of industrial policy for war profiteers, but the Ukraine crisis could also produce more generative industrial policy. Why not hold similar meetings to bring U.S. industry and agriculture to bear on addressing the humanitarian harms that the war in Ukraine has caused, both in Ukraine and around the world? Congress should press the Biden administration to have at least as strong a response to famine and displacement as it has to countering Russian aggression.

 

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: War Crimes in Ukraine

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Global Impact of the War in Ukraine

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine  

Win Without War Executive Director Sara Haghdoosti Examines World’s Reaction to Ukrainian Refugees

Russia’s Actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance 

Thursday, April 7th

News You Need

 

Commentary & Analysis

 

Our Take 

+ Invest in renewable energy, now. Increasing oil and gas production in other parts of the world in an attempt to undercut Putin’s fossil fuel base will only guarantee worse climate outcomes while doing nothing to lessen demand for Putin’s product. Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders and Representatives Cori Bush and Jason Crow offered a real alternative by introducing the Energy Security and Independence Act, which would authorize $100 billion through the Defense Production Act to permanently wean the U.S. off Russian fossil fuels by jumpstarting renewable energy transition. Congress should take this chance to tackle climate change while undermining the fossil fuel profits that fund Putin and other authoritarians’ human rights abuses.

+ Support Russian expats and regime refugees. As the last vestiges of Russian democracy evaporate, tens of thousands of Russians are voting with their feet, making a brave and difficult choice to leave their homeland. Abroad, the multilateral sanctions regime hinders access to their personal finances, while they face all the challenges of political refugees from other climes. The United States should take steps to ease their burdens and provide them safe haven. They will have an outsized role in helping Russia emerge from the Putin years as a democracy at peace with its neighbors. 

+ Yes to trials, for and beyond Russia’s leaders. In response to mounting evidence of war crimes, world leaders are invoking Nuremberg and calling for trials for Putin and other Russian officials. The impunity with which Putin acts, however, stems from the selective application of international law for decades – precepts that powerful actors can side step, and which almost never apply to political leaders until they’re on the outs. Securing legal accountability for Putin means strengthening, and universally applying, a legal system from which not even U.S. officials and their close allies can be exempt.

 

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Global Impact of the War in Ukraine

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine  

Win Without War Executive Director Sara Haghdoosti Examines World’s Reaction to Ukrainian Refugees

Russia’s Actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance 

Win Without War President Stephen Miles Talks Ukraine on The Mehdi Hasan Show

Tuesday, April 5th

News You Need

 

Commentary & Analysis

 

Our Take 

+ Help rights monitors record abuses. Accountability for the atrocities in and beyond Bucha will likely take years. To ensure that justice is eventually done, the United States can support efforts, through and beyond the UN Human Rights Council, to give Ukrainian civil society groups the resources they need to collect and preserve evidence of Russian government war crimes. Without this evidence, a push for postwar trials and on-the-ground reconciliation efforts may quickly run aground.

+ Dramatically expand refugee intake infrastructure. For years, U.S. policy towards its southern border has centered on more guards and fewer resettlement agents. This border militarization, meant to keep out Central and South American asylum seekers and refugees fleeing decades of violence and instability in which the U.S. played a role, threatens to hamper U.S. efforts to rapidly process Ukrainians arriving via Mexico. Let this be a wake up call to rapidly expand resettlement infrastructure and make it accessible to all refugees, not just communities that are more politically palatable to help.

+ Financing fossil fuels abroad won’t check Putin. Financing fossil fuel projects overseas is a losing proposition for the United States. Environmentally, it will reduce incentives for a rapid shift to renewable energy and accelerate the worst impacts of climate change. Politically, it will further ensconce a global fossil-fuel economy on which Russia relies. You can’t checkmate Russia by carving them out of the global supply chain for oil and natural gas — as long as there is demand for fossil fuels, Russian oil and gas will always find its way to the market. By accelerating the shift to renewable energy, however, you can tank demand for these planet-killing products and rip the market out from under Russian leaders and profiteers entirely. 

 

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Global Impact of the War in Ukraine

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine  

Win Without War Executive Director Sara Haghdoosti Examines World’s Reaction to Ukrainian Refugees

Russia’s Actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance 

Win Without War President Stephen Miles Talks Ukraine on The Mehdi Hasan Show

Thursday, March 31st

News You Need

 

Commentary & Analysis

 

Our Take 

+ Give anti-corruption efforts some teeth. The impetus to crack down on Russian oligarchs’ ill-gotten gains is a good one. But to have real impact, it must go beyond headline-making yacht seizures. The United States can start by applying the same checks and balances required for the banking industry to the private investment industry — through which many oligarchs anonymously invest millions (or billions). Some oligarchs are already running PR campaigns to argue they’ve done no wrong, so members of Congress can support anti-corruption enforcement by boosting funding for these programs at State, Treasury, and DOJ.

+ Ensure the provision of medical supplies. With a global pandemic ongoing and reports that dozens of health care workers in Ukraine have been killed, there is an urgent need for medical care and supplies. Congress should ensure that the WHO and local aid providers have sufficient funding and support to deliver medical supplies — not just to help those wounded in the war, but critical medications for people with chronic conditions, mental illnesses, and disabilities.

+ Don’t forget about other international crises. Policymakers and the public have rightly been focused on the Ukraine war, but we must not forget that there are ongoing global crises that demand attention. Poverty and starvation in Afghanistan are mounting under the cruel and inept Taliban rule, exacerbated by banking restrictions and sanctions imposed by the United States. Famine in Yemen grows increasingly dire as the Ukraine war further threatens Yemen’s food supply and the Saudi-led coalition intensifies its war there — with military support from the United States. Congress must simultaneously work to end U.S. complicity in these and other global crises.

 

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Global Impact of the War in Ukraine

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine  

Win Without War Executive Director Sara Haghdoosti Examines World’s Reaction to Ukrainian Refugees

Russia’s Actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance 

Win Without War President Stephen Miles Talks Ukraine on The Mehdi Hasan Show

Tuesday, March 29th

News You Need

 

Commentary & Analysis

 

Our Take 

+ Open the door even wider to refugees. Last week’s Biden administration decision to accept 100,000 Ukrainian refugees was both welcome and insufficient. Welcome, because it will save lives and demonstrate U.S. commitment to those most impacted by Russia’s invasion. Insufficient, because it seemed to underscore that U.S. refugee policy is more sympathetic to white Europeans than those fleeing conflict and persecution in the Global South. Fortunately, Congress can help right this imbalance by pressing the administration to raise the overall refugee cap and making much needed TPS designations for Cameroon, Colombia, the DRC, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Lebanon, and Mauritania.

+ A sky-high Pentagon budget won’t make Ukraine, or us, safe. A massive level of U.S. military spending didn’t deter Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; ramping up the Pentagon’s budget even more won’t end it. Fossil fuel dependency and corruption, both in the United States and globally, financed Putin’s imperial fantasies. At home, public health crises and rampant inequality feed a cynicism that makes democracy’s defense all the harder. $800+ billion for the Pentagon solves none of these challenges, though by enabling aggressive military posturing and a new global arms race, it increases the odds of world-ending miscalculation on all sides.

+ For the president, personal outrage is public policy. While “the personal is political” is true for everyone, it’s especially true for the president of the United States. On Saturday, the White House was right to quickly walk back President Biden’s off-the-cuff remark that Putin could not remain in power. Though President Biden affirmed yesterday that regime change in Russia is not U.S. policy, chalking up the moment to an expression of personal moral outrage doesn’t quite cut it. To keep this crisis from turning into a NATO-Russian war, leaders of countries supporting Ukraine must carefully calibrate their public comments toward a political resolution to the war, however understandable personal anger may be. 

 

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Global Impact of the War in Ukraine

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine  

Win Without War Executive Director Sara Haghdoosti Examines World’s Reaction to Ukrainian Refugees

Russia’s Actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance 

Win Without War President Stephen Miles Talks Ukraine on The Mehdi Hasan Show

Thursday, March 24th

News You Need

 

Commentary & Analysis

 

Our Take 

+ Relieve Ukraine’s debt to help prevent poverty. $100 billion worth of Ukraine’s infrastructure has already been destroyed, increasing each day as more homes, schools, stores, and hospitals are ruined. Ukraine has around $94 billion of foreign debt, which it is still required to pay off in the midst of a horrific war. Ukrainians should not have to pay twice for this war, especially as 90% of the population faces poverty in the next year. Congress can support Ukraine by urging the IMF and World Bank to cancel their share of Ukraine’s foreign debt and by advancing reforms to automatically suspend the debt of any nation in a severe crisis.

+ Keep U.S. and NATO decisions transparent. At a time when senior Russian military officials are not returning U.S. calls, it is vital that the Biden administration and NATO countries continue to telegraph the purpose and limits of actions in support of Ukraine. Adopting “strategic ambiguity” while Secretaries Blinken and Austin are not speaking with their Russian counterparts is a risky approach that could invite Russian overreaction as much as deter it, especially given the amount of weaponry the U.S. is funneling into Ukraine. Congress should encourage the White House to keep its cards on the table and remove all guesswork for Russian officials about U.S. intentions.

+ Time to declare “no first use.” There’s a type of armchair strategist who thinks the U.S. can walk right up to the line of nuclear annihilation without fully crossing over. They think a “low-yield” warhead here or there is some sort of strategic coup, or at least signals to an antagonistic government that the U.S. means business. In reality, the only business likely to result is the death of millions. To date, the Biden administration has wisely refused to engage President Putin’s unacceptable nuclear saber-rattling. Congress can reinforce this position by passing legislation that establishes a policy of “no first use” of nuclear weapons – in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or anywhere.

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Global Impact of the War in Ukraine

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine  

Win Without War Executive Director Sara Haghdoosti Examines World’s Reaction to Ukrainian Refugees

Russia’s Actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance 

Win Without War President Stephen Miles Talks Ukraine on The Mehdi Hasan Show

Tuesday, March 22nd

News You Need

 

Commentary & Analysis

 

Our Take 

+ Prepare de-mining efforts now. Even if it ended today, Russia’s invasion will harm people in Ukraine for years through unexploded ordnance and land mines. The U.S., responsible for ongoing civilian harm in Southeast Asia decades after the Vietnam War’s end, should draw lessons from its own de-mining programs to inform and begin scaling up multilateral and civil society initiatives that will save lives 20 years from now.

+ Trust Ukraine to compromise. President Zelenskyy is signaling, and Turkish officials appear hopeful, that a diplomatic resolution to the war may be  coming into focus. A deal struck soon will mean some bitter pills for Ukraine and its allies. It could also, in sustaining the Ukrainian government and safeguarding its independence, prove far better than the most optimistic U.S. projections just four weeks ago. Congress has applauded Zelenskyy’s efforts to repel Russia’s invasion; it should support him if his government chooses tough compromises that save lives and preserve their country. 

+ Support the president in Europe. President Biden will be attending an emergency NATO summit in Brussels this week, as well as visiting the European Council and stopping in Warsaw. Congress should encourage President Biden to further solidify the multilateral response to Russia’s invasion, both in terms of military and humanitarian support. In particular, members should use the president’s Poland visit as an opportunity to gain clarity on how the U.S. can best assist refugees, and how it can encourage partner countries to do the same.

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Global Impact of the War in Ukraine

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine  

Win Without War Executive Director Sara Haghdoosti Examines World’s Reaction to Ukrainian Refugees

Russia’s Actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance 

Win Without War President Stephen Miles Talks Ukraine on The Mehdi Hasan Show

Thursday, March 17th

News You Need

 

Commentary & Analysis

 

Our Take 

+ Respond to alarming humanitarian projections. While statistics can sometimes numb us to an unfolding crisis on the scale of Ukraine’s, at other times they can galvanize further humanitarian action. A just-released UNDP preliminary impact report is shocking: if trends continue, Ukraine could see 7 million IDPs, and up to 90% of the country’s people could face poverty. Pundit and policymaker soundbites on Ukraine overwhelmingly center Javelins and risky military operations at the expense of urgent humanitarian remedies. Members of Congress must re-center this conversation on the humans impacted, which U.S. wealth and international reach can more immediately help. 

+ Zelenskyy offers no-fly zone alternatives. In his speech to Congress, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy requested a no-fly zone over his country – a move which would risk direct conflict between the U.S. and Russia. He also, however, offered alternative plans that he believes will protect Ukrainian airspace and do not court nuclear escalation, a likely concession to the fundamental impracticability of a no-fly zone. In their rush to moonlight as military strategists, no-fly zone proponents and some members of Congress should keep in mind: if even Zelenskyy is ready to accept a no-fly zone is unworkable, then his secondary asks – for air defense systems, some of which the U.S. has already promised Ukraine – should be the absolute limit of congressional consideration.

+ Keep “KleptoCapture” from being klepto-captured. While the DOJ’s launch of Task Force KleptoCapture is welcome, Washington’s record on rooting out corruption is not. The Supreme Court all but permits political donations to be made quid-pro-quo; the IRS is more likely to hound a working class family for tax evasion than a CEO pilfering millions from public coffers. In addition to seizing a few Russian billionaire yachts for show, Congress can force the Biden Administration to get real about uprooting the network of secret trusts, shell companies, and tax havens from which both Russian oligarchs and their U.S.-based partners profit. This can both hasten the end of Russia’s invasion and strengthen U.S. democracy at the same time.

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Global Impact of the War in Ukraine

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine  

Win Without War Executive Director Sara Haghdoosti Examines World’s Reaction to Ukrainian Refugees

Russia’s Actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance 

Win Without War President Stephen Miles Talks Ukraine on The Mehdi Hasan Show

Tuesday, March 15th

News You Need

Commentary & Analysis

Our Take 

+ Protection from Putin-driven LGBTQI+ hate. Putin’s speech announcing the Russian invasion of Ukraine used the same language of “traditional” values he has used to justify repression of LGBTQI+ people in Russia. That language has permeated Russian national security documents in recent years, embedding a heterosexist and transphobic view of gender and sexuality into Russia’s defense planning. As LGBTQI+ people in Ukraine become targets of Putin’s war, Congress should ensure that they have the legal and practical tools they need to escape the country if they choose.

+ Fund food aid. Russia’s war in Ukraine is creating a global food crisis. Wheat prices reached record highs last week, and high prices for agricultural inputs make it difficult for farmers to plant enough crops to meet demand. In areas where conflict, the pandemic, climate change, or failed governance strategies have weakened food systems, feeding people will be much more difficult this year. Congress needs to make sure that the U.S. is funding international food aid programs and doing all it can in its bilateral relationships to prevent famines in vulnerable areas.

+ Remember: regime change is a failing strategy. Some rhetoric — including from some members of Congress — has touted sanctions as a way to achieve regime change in Russia. This approach is both damaging and foolish. Broad-based sanctions hurt regular people in Russia much more than they hurt the Putin government, and history shows that broad-based sanctions tend to help authoritarian governments remain in power, rather than lead to their overthrow. Even talking about regime change is counterproductive. If Putin believes that the only acceptable outcome to the U.S. is his ouster, it limits both his incentive to seek a peace deal and Ukraine’s ability to credibly negotiate one.

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Global Impact of the War in Ukraine

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation 

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine  

Win Without War Executive Director Sara Haghdoosti Examines World’s Reaction to Ukrainian Refugees

Russia’s Actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance 

Win Without War President Stephen Miles Talks Ukraine on The Mehdi Hasan Show

Thursday, March 10th

News You Need

‘No Off-Ramps’: U.S. and European Officials Don’t See a Clear Endgame in Ukraine, Ashley Parker, et. al., The Washington Post (3/10/2022)

Ukraine’s Biggest Children’s Hospital Treats People Wounded by Russians, Igor Kossov, Kyiv Independent (3/9/2022)

How a Playground for the Rich Could Undermine Sanctions on Oligarchs, David Kilpatrick, et. al., The New York Times (3/9/2022)

Commentary & Analysis

Over 200 Groups Call on Biden to Use the Defense Production Act to Help Ukraine by Accelerating the Clean Energy Transition, STAND.earth (3/9/2022)

No-Fly Zone in Ukraine: War with Russia by Another Name, International Crisis Group (3/7/2022)

Emerging Patterns of Civilian Harm in Ukraine, Center for Civilians in Conflict, (3/9/2022)

How the Left is Reckoning with Russia’s War, Jonathan Guyer, Vox, (3/9/2022)

Our Take 

+ How to say “no” to the No-Fly Zone. The Biden Administration and many members of Congress have rightly rejected calls for a No-Fly Zone over Ukraine. The steps between imposing a NFZ and nuclear war are too few and too quick. In the face of mounting atrocities, however, these calls are understandable, and humanitarian action is warranted. For people in the U.S. hopeful that their government can protect civilians, both Congress and the Administration can commit to raising the refugee cap for people fleeing Ukraine and other deadly crises, while stressing that the escalation following a NFZ would visit even greater violence on Ukrainians and, maybe, the world.

+ Centering people with disabilities. Persons with disabilities in Ukraine are experiencing a unique terror. They face more and steeper barriers finding safety in the midst of urban warfare and bombardment. They wrestle with special challenges trying to navigate borders. Air raid sirens are inaccessible to those with trouble hearing; those with physical disabilities may not be able to make the journey to a border; those with intellectual impairments may struggle to fill out the forms undergirding an asylum claim. Even as the U.S. appropriates funds for the humanitarian response in Ukraine, people with disabilities need clear champions in Congress to highlight their situations and ensure that assistance meets their needs.

+ Go slow(er). For progressives seeking to secure universal health care, keep people housed, and defend voting rights, Congress’s deliberative process is maddening. Responding to Russia’s invasion, it can be a blessing. In a rush to “do something,” Congress can err by making sanctions and economic restrictions immoveable law, obstructing a diplomatic resolution that is the quickest way to save lives in Ukraine. Members should press for input into legislation being rolled out in response to the crisis; leadership should make space for it. 

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

Statement: Win Without War Condemns Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Russia’s actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Win Without War President Stephen Miles Talks Ukraine on The Mehdi Hasan Show

Tuesday, March 8th

News You Need

Humanitarian Crisis Worsens For Ukrainians Trapped in Russia’s Onslaught – Michael Schwirtz, et al., The New York Times (3/7/2022)

More Than 4,500 Antiwar Protesters Arrested in One Day in Russia, Group Says – Brittany Shammas and Reis Thebault, The Washington Post (3/6/2022)

Ukraine’s Refugee Tally Hits 2 Million as More Try to Flee Through Safe Routes — Nabih Bulos and Henry Chu, The Los Angeles Times (3/8/2022)

Commentary & Analysis

Russia’s Attack on Ukraine is a Clear Warning to us to Become Energy Independent With Renewables — Admiral Dennis V. Mcginn, The Hill (3/3/2022)

Making Sense of Ukraine, Russia, And Nuclear Threats, Stephen Young, All Things Nuclear (3/4/2022)

War in Ukraine Spells Bounty For Weapons Contractors, Bill Hartung, Inkstick (3/7/2022)

Russia’s War on Ukraine is Dire For World Hunger. But There Are Solutions — Nurith Aizenman, NPR (3/6/2022)

Our Take 

+ Don’t dither with dictators; decarbonize. The Biden Administration and Congress should think hard before undertaking a rumored “hat-in-hand” visit to the Saudi government to ask for ramped-up oil production. Global dependence on authoritarian petrostates is why we’re witnessing a horrific Russian invasion while reading the latest devastating IPCC climate change assessment. Turning to the Saudi government, which has blockaded and bombarded Yemeni civilians for years, for help containing the energy market fallout from a Russian government blockading and bombarding Ukrainian civilians, is a lose-lose way to conduct foreign policy.

+ Rally behind international accountability mechanisms. With Ukraine experiencing the fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II and scores of civilians already killed, the U.S. must fully embrace international accountability institutions such as the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court. These multilateral bodies’ inquiries into and judgments upon Russian government actions will lack serious sting if the U.S. does not wholeheartedly endorse them.

+ Times like this are why safeguards exist. In less than a week, the U.S. and NATO have delivered some 17,000 anti-tank missiles and other arms to Ukrainian forces, the tip of an increasingly large weapons transfer iceberg. Even in a rush to help an ally, jamming weapons into a warzone always entails considerable risk, whether by inadvertently abetting human rights abuses or unwittingly arming foes through war economy exchanges or battlefield seizure. The U.S. has multiple end-use monitoring regimes, and Congress should be directing frank questions to State and DOD on how its Blue Lantern and Golden Sentry programs will stay on top of this influx.

Talk of the Town

Additional Resources 

Statement: Win Without War Condemns Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Russia’s actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Win Without War President Stephen Miles Talks Ukraine on The Mehdi Hasan Show

As the war in Ukraine unfolds following Russia’s invasion, Win Without War will be providing regular updates on key developments, useful commentary, and more.

Friday, March 4th

News You Need

Tens of Thousands of Ukrainians Can Stay in the U.S. Without Fear of Deportation — Joel Rose, NPR (3/3/2022)

‘Horrifying’: Yemeni Students Flee War in UkraineKareem Chehayeb, Al Jazeera (3/3/2022)

Wheat Prices Hit Fresh Highs as War Halts Exports From Ukraine and Russia — Emiko Terazono, Financial Times (3/4/2022)

Commentary & Analysis

How to Defeat Russia — Alex Pareene, The AP (Alex Pareene) Newsletter (3/2/2022)

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Imperils Human Rights Defenders and Political Exiles — Isabel Linzer and Yana Gorokhovskaia, Just Security (3/3/2022)

An Appeal for the Immediate Cessation of Hostilities in Ukraine and Respect of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Laws — Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (3/4/2022)

The Dangerous Allure of the No Fly Zone — Mike Pietrucha and Mike Benitez, War On The Rocks (3/4/2022)

Defense-Spending Hawks See an Opportunity in Russia’s War on Ukraine — Dan Grazier, Business Insider (3/4/2022)

Our Take 

+ Protect human rights defenders. Before the war, Ukraine was a haven for human rights defenders – home to people who agitated for human rights in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and other countries. Russia will likely target these individuals as it folds a campaign of transnational human rights repression into its broader invasion. The United States and other countries must continue warning human rights defenders at risk of Russian targeting and extract and resettle those who request help.

+ Worry about wheat. Ukraine is one of the world’s breadbaskets, accounting for a significant percentage of global grain exports. Even as Russia’s invasion immediately harms people in Ukraine, its consequences for global food prices could prove disastrous. While funding for short-term humanitarian aid is crucial, Congress must press the Biden Administration to develop longer-term plans to manage food prices while preserving humanitarian responses in countries facing famine in the absence of Ukrainian wheat, like Yemen and South Sudan.

+ Isolate dangerous rhetoric. Senator Lindsay Graham’s call for Putin’s assassination is not just cringe-worthy chest-thumping – it’s an easy way to push the United States over the edge of a dangerous international impasse. The continued and swift condemnation of statements like these from other members is vital. When Congress weighs in on U.S. foreign policy, other governments listen. They should hear resolve in the defense of human rights, not invitations to war.

Additional Resources

Statement: Win Without War Condemns Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Russia’s actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Win Without War President Stephen Miles Talks Ukraine on The Mehdi Hasan Show

Wednesday, March 2nd

News You Need

Convoy Still Stalled Outside Kyiv, But Casualties Mount in Ukraine as Russia Advances – Kareem Fahim, Alex Horton, Karla Adam, and David L. Stern, The Washington Post (3/2/2022)

Ukraine Refugees Given Right to Live in EU For Three Years — Jennifer Rankin, The Guardian (3/2/2022)

What The Russian Invasion of Ukraine Could Mean For Global Hunger — Siobhan Mcdonough and Youyou Zhou, Vox (2/27/2022)

Commentary & Analysis

What is the Plan Behind Sanctioning Russia? — Daniel W. Drenzer, The Washington Post (3/1/2022)

The Undocublack Network Stands in Solidarity With Black Migrants Facing Mistreatment And Discrimination In UkraineUndocuBlack Network (2/28/2022)

How Putin’s Ukraine War Has Intensified The Nuclear Threat — Emma Claire Foley, Responsible Statecraft (3/1/2022)

Russia/Ukraine: Invasion Of Ukraine is an Act of Aggression And Human Rights CatastropheAmnesty International (3/1/2022)

Our Take 

+ Focus on civilian harm. The toll borne by people in Ukraine is terrible. As Russian forces press on Ukrainian cities, the shocking human cost will likely only grow. Congress and the Biden Administration must keep humanitarian efforts front and center, but avoid sensationalizing the harm inflicted or let it become an abstracted statistic in a larger geopolitical contest. Those killed had loved ones, passions, and aspirations. They deserve respect and, as soon as possible, accountability.

+ Focus on off-ramps. If the Biden Administration and Congress frame economic sanctions as solely punitive – or worse, as a means to pursue regime change within Russia – then Putin may escalate conflict in a way that devastates Ukrainians, Russians, and eventually the rest of us. Though the Russian government’s actions invite stiff multilateral pushback, it’s still time to talk about diplomatic off-ramps.

+ Focus on the need to end our addiction to fossil fuels. Putin draws much of his power – and supports his invasion – through Russia’s vast oil and natural gas reserves. Policies that double down on fossil fuels thus only serve to further strengthen Putin. The U.S. and Europe should undermine Putin and help simultaneously confront the devastating climate crisis through rapid decarbonization of our energy supplies.

Talk of the Town 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14): “How the world treats Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees should be how we’re treating all refugees in the United States… we really need to make sure that when we talk about accepting refugees, that we are meaning it for everybody, no matter where you come from.” 

Joint Statement from the Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group Condemning Russian Nuclear Threats: “We, the Co-Chairs of the Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group, condemn President Putin’s threats to escalate a conflict of his own creation into nuclear war…”

Additional Resources 

Statement: Win Without War Condemns Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Russia’s actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Win Without War President Stephen Miles Talks Ukraine on The Mehdi Hasan Show

Monday, February 28th

News You Need

Putin Declares a Nuclear Alert, and Biden Seeks De-escalation — David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, The New York Times (2/27/2022) 

Black Immigrants Report Racist Treatment As They Try to Flee Ukraine — Khaleda Rahman, Newsweek (2/28/2022)

Ukraine Seeks “Immediate Ceasefire” and Russian Withdrawal in 1st Direct Talks During Putin’s Ongoing InvasionCBS News (2/28/2022)

Commentary & Analysis

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine — David Klion, Jewish Currents (2/24/2022) 

177+ Organizations Urge 18-Month TPS or DED and SSR Designations for Ukraine – (2/24/22)

Now is not the time to demand bigger military budgets — William Hartung, Responsible Statecraft (2/25/2022) 

What Now? Pandemic. Social Unrest. And War – Mike Trahant, Indian Country Today (2/28/2022) 

Coverage of Ukraine Has Exposed Long-Standing Racist Biases in Western Media — H.A. Hellyer, Washington Post (2/28/2022)

Our Take

+ Focus on people. The U.S. government must continue to prioritize protecting refugees from Russia’s invasion. Immediately, this includes ramping up funds for a humanitarian response for Ukraine and designating Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) and Special Student Relief (SSR). It must also press Poland and other neighboring countries to end any discrimination against and equally protect refugees from LGBTQI+, African, and Middle East communities fleeing the conflict.

+ Focus on accountability. Real accountability requires getting serious about tackling corruption. Doing so will require recognizing that Russia’s oligarchs don’t just have their money in Russian banks, but also in South Dakota’s secret trusts and luxury real estate in New York City, London, and beyond.

+ Focus on nuclear risk. Yesterday, President Biden made the right call by responding to Putin’s flagrant nuclear saber-rattling with further efforts to unite U.S. allies, instead of placing the United States’ own nuclear forces on high alert in turn. The more that Russian government plans go awry in Ukraine, the more Putin may try to up the ante with the U.S. and other NATO countries. The U.S. government must avoid the kind of tit-for-tat escalation that ends in a nuclear war.

Talk of the Town 

Additional Resources 

Statement: Win Without War Condemns Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Russia’s actions in Ukraine: Messaging Guidance

Fake News in a Time of War: Resources for Combatting Disinformation

The Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Win Without War President Stephen Miles Talks Ukraine on The Mehdi Hasan Show

March 3, 2022