14:52 18.09.2023

If NATO were truly interested in supporting Ukraine to win the war, they would have supplied all the necessary weapons

8 min read
If NATO were truly interested in supporting Ukraine to win the war, they would have supplied all the necessary weapons

Exclusive nterview of a retired special agent of the US military intelligence, a veteran of the war in Iraq and a geopolitical analyst, David Debatto, to the agency "Interfax-Ukraine"


18 months have passed since Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine. During this time, Ukraine proved that it can stand up to the Russian army, which called itself "the second in the world." How do you assess the operations carried out by the Ukrainian special services during this time and do you feel progress in their professionalism and desire for the victory of Ukraine?

The actions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and by extension, the Ukrainian Special Services, has been nothing short of extraordinary. At the risk of seeming arrogant, I am one of the few Western analysts that have not been surprised by the performance of Ukrainian forces since 24 February 2022. I had visited Ukraine several times between Independence in 1991 and the first Russian invasion in 2014, so I was somewhat familiar with the training and motivation of Ukrainian soldiers as well as the spirit of patriotism within the Ukrainian people. I had developed friendships with several Ukrainians during that time and still maintain those relationships. Of course, since the full-scale invasion in February 2022 Ukraine has received a lot of foreign aid for the military and intelligence services, to include advanced training in combined arms operations. The nation has also been the recipient of far more detailed intelligence and intelligence gathering equipment from the U.S. and other NATO allies, intelligence that has greatly assisted Ukraine in both planning military and intelligence operations, and targeting Russian force concentrations, as well as command and control and logistical centers.

As for singling out Ukrainian Special Services and their performance thus far, I can say unequivocally that they have shown the entire world their unparalleled spirit, iron will, courage, flexibility, and unique inventiveness in planning and then attacking Russian assets in both covert and overt operations. Actions such as the attack on the Kerch Bridge, the many drone attacks in Russia and recently in Crimea and the Black Sea, and the complex but crucial investigations and arrests of high-level criminals and traitors among the ranks of ultra rich Oligarchs (and even some members of parliament and the judiciary), speak to the professionalism and integrity of all the agencies within the Ukrainian Special Services community. Fighting corruption, especially during wartime, is extremely important, not just for winning the war, but for winning the peace afterwards by instituting a stable democracy free of corruption, and setting Ukraine on a clear path to membership in NATO and the European Union. Their indispensable assistance in the fight against the Russian invader, and their defense of National Security and democracy through their relentless pursuit of high-level criminals and traitors in both the public and private sectors is a key part of the overall strategy for Ukrainian victory, stability post-war, and eventual integration into the Western world of nations.

Ukraine is very grateful to the Western countries for their military and financial assistance in confronting the aggressor. But don't you think it's unfair the restrictions that the West puts forward to Ukraine regarding the striking of received weapons on the aggressor's territory? Why can't Ukraine defend its independence with Western weapons, as Israel does, for example?

I have been very vocal with my frustration over the restrictions placed on Ukraine in defending itself against Russian forces. That frustration (and occasional anger) is especially directed at the glacial pace of the Western allies in providing Ukraine with the weapons systems and ammunition needed to win the war against Russia, not just to survive another other bloody day. I am specifically speaking about:

- Modern military jet aircraft such as, but not limited to, the F16 in numbers over 100

- Long range missile systems like the ATACMS and longer range HIMARS missiles

- Large numbers (200-300) of M1 tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Stryker’s

- Sufficient numbers of combat engineering and mine clearing vehicles

- Several squadrons of attack helicopters

If NATO were truly interested in supporting Ukraine to win the war and defeat Russia, they would have supplied all of the above (and more) already. Obviously, they are not interested in Ukraine winning the war, but merely fighting Russia to a stalemate with neither side becoming the winner or loser, but simply being bled to death. In that scenario, Ukraine is at a distinct disadvantage since it has a much smaller population. It is an unconscionable and dangerous game being played by the West for not ensuring a Ukrainian victory and a Russian defeat. It is truly Western cowardice and hypocrisy when telling Ukraine not to defend itself by attacking the very locations inside Russia that are launching continuous deadly attacks on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure. If the situation were reversed, would NATO countries not respond in kind to attacks launched against their cities and infrastructure from locations inside Russia? Would Ukraine tell them not to defend themselves as NATO is now ordering Ukraine to do? I doubt that very much.

Do you not think, as a counterintelligence officer with vast experience, that the EU and US special services pay too little attention to such a real Russian threat as bribing the establishment of Western countries, financing them and helping them gain power. Some of these politicians, after their resignation, take up prestigious positions in financial structures affiliated with the Kremlin, or even come to live or visit the Russian Federation. But the governments in which they worked do not draw conclusions from this.

This question perhaps gets to the core of the issue more than almost any other. As many know, several high-level leaders in Europe in both the public and private sectors have had very lucrative contracts and even employment with Russian businesses, some closely connected to the Kremlin. Germany in particular has had this obvious conflict for many years, with Chancellors, members of parliament and regional officials receiving large financial benefits from consulting contracts with Russian companies, most notoriously, Gazprom, the state-controlled energy company. However, well placed government and business leaders in several EU nations have also held positions on the boards of large Russian multinational companies for years and have expressed a “both sides” attitude when it came to taking a stand on Russian aggression. Two examples of this abhorrent behavior are former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and ex-chancellor of Austria, Wolfgang Schüssel. When asked about the 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Schröder stated that there were “many mistakes — on both sides.” When presented with the same question, Schüssel said he saw no reason to quit his position on the board of the Lukoil, a Russian multinational company. Disgraceful.

That dangerous and cozy relationship got to the point that Germany was almost within just hours of approving the final connection of Nord Stream 2, a decision which would have completed the total acquiescence of Germany to be subservient to Russia for almost all of their energy needs for the foreseeable future, slaves to Russian foreign policy. Based on those facts is it any wonder that the West made no real moves to counter Russia aggression in 2008 in Georgia, in Ukraine in 2014, or again in Ukraine prior to the full-scale invasion in 2022? Is it any wonder that the West is not seriously trying to help Ukraine win the war and ensure that Russia lose? Is it any wonder NATO and the EU want to do just enough to appease Ukrainian leaders and make it appear they support Ukraine “for as long as it takes”, but not to do so much that they truly offend the Kremlin? To me and many others it is obvious what is going on and we don’t like it one bit. Western political cowardice and lucrative business relationships are being paid for with Ukrainian blood and treasure every day. The very existence of the Ukrainian state as an independent and sovereign nation is at stake, and these Western leaders are still being cautious so as not to make Putin believe this is a real war with NATO, but rather that it is a war he can win if he just waits until the West gets tired of supporting Ukraine, or after a Republican victory in 2024, which will essentially amount to the same thing.

Either way, the political cowardice, unethical and hypocritical business relationships with the Kremlin, and lack of vision and courage of NATO and the EU for their repeated failure to decisively confront Russian aggression in Georgia and Ukraine is a dangerous and disgraceful precedent setting display. Believe me, this Western inaction will have far reaching, long term negative consequences for Europe.