Whatever the fight in Congress, where aid to Ukraine is blocked by a small group with hard-to-understand demands, the administration has other options.

The Biden administration can act alone.    

As the following chart shows, the US currently possesses sufficient stocks to send considerable amounts of war materiel to Ukraine to bolster its armory of usable modern and superior weapons.  

The chart is based on Ukraine numbers extracted from US Security Assistance to Ukraine from January 2020-September 2023. The US inventory numbers are extracted from the 2021 Military Balance

Frankly, it is inexplicable why these stocks have not been released either in part or full to Ukraine since 2022 when Russia invaded. The requisite powers exist under the Excess Defense Articles Act

These allow President Biden to sell, or gift, US military equipment no longer needed by the armed forces. How he exercises this power is a matter for him. He can simply declare the materiel excess to requirements. 

It may be that early in the war, the Biden Administration feared that doing so would lead to Russian nuclear escalation, even though we now know that supplies to Ukraine have not and probably will not generate Russian nuclear escalation.

Others have said that perhaps Washington really wanted and possibly still wants neither Russia nor Ukraine to win so that the war ends with a negotiated outcome that meanwhile bled Russia dry.   

Yet President Biden has already stated that he does want to see Ukraine win. And the situation is now urgent. In view of Ukraine’s retreat from Avdiivka, the murder of Alexey Navalny, and the threats Biden made to Putin about the US response to such an eventuality, it is urgent that we react as soon as possible.   

The Russian victory in Avdiivka confirms that the Kremlin now possesses the strategic initiative and a favorable correlation of forces in its favor, while it has also added to the pressures on the Ukrainian ground forces.  

There is no time to lose. If we truly wish to save Ukraine, fulfill the threats we made to Putin, honor the memory of Navalny and those other martyrs whose death at Putin’s hands preceded his, and most crucially, guarantee the security of Europe and of international security, we should now: 

  • release weapons stockpiles  
  • pressure the Congress 
  • sanction Russian energy to bring the economy to its knees, and  
  • use the $300bn in funds confiscated from Russia promptly to Ukraine. 

For as many have observed, a failure to sustain Ukraine renders its situation even more precarious if not hopeless. The well-described consequences of such a loss would be a calamity for international security.   

After all, in this war, and as we have seen too often, Douglas MacArthur’s contention that there is no substitute for victory is not only correct, it is also urgent. 

Stephen Blank is a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.