To underscore the potential consequences for Russia, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark A. Milley, sent an unequivocal message to his Russian counterpart when they met in late December: yes, said General Milley, the Ukrainian army stands little chance of repelling the larger and better armed Russian force.
But a quick victory would be followed, General Milley told General Valery Gerasimov, by a bloody insurgency, similar to the one that led the Soviet Union to leave Afghanistan in 1989, according to officials familiar with the discussion.
General Milley did not detail to General Gerasimov the planning underway in Washington to support an insurgency, a so-called “porcupine strategy” to make the invasion of Ukraine hard for the Russians to swallow. This includes forward positioning weapons for Ukrainian insurgents, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, which could be used against Russian forces.
The United States began using social media to highlight arms transfers to the Kyiv government shortly after it first became clear that Mr Putin was assembling a potential invasion force on along his country’s border with Ukraine. The message from the United States was not subtle, with the government releasing photographs of planes loaded with weapons and equipment.
More help may be on the way. On Capitol Hill, senators from both parties rallied behind legislation that would allow Mr. Biden to use the Lend-Lease Act of 1941, last used in World War II, to lend military equipment to the ‘Ukraine.
The bill, led by Senators John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, and Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, is part of a bipartisan sanctions package targeting Moscow that lawmakers are negotiating, although a spokesperson for M Cornyn said senators are also exploring other ways to pass the bill given its broad support in the Senate.