Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice thinks the way forward for the war in Ukraine is: more, now. More weapons and more money to Ukraine’s forces trying to kick Russia out of their country.
“My argument is simply, let’s have a sense of urgency about getting everything to the Ukrainians that they need to fight this war on behalf of people who believe that the international system cannot allow an aggressor to win,” she told NPR.
If funneling more weapons and more money to Ukraine sounds like an escalation, Rice argues it is “Vladimir Putin’s escalation,” pointing to the continued bombing of civilian targets and infrastructure by Russian forces.
Rice expanded on her arguments in an interview with NPR, including why the United States should continue to care about the war.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
On why the path forward is more aid and not negotiating a ceasefire
First of all, that’s gonna have to be — and the Biden administration’s been absolutely right about this — that’s gonna have to be a Ukrainian decision. After all they’ve suffered, after the war crimes that have been committed, after the destruction of their country, to tell them now, ‘Negotiate now,’ I think would not be morally acceptable.
There will eventually be a ceasefire and a negotiation. Our job as Ukraine’s partner in this is to simply help them be in the best possible position when that negotiation takes place. And that, unfortunately, is not right now. And so we have to be prepared for the fact that this will probably go on. It may go on for some time, but we have to leave the Ukrainians or help them to leave themselves in the best possible position when those negotiations take place. And that’s not now.
On increasing military aid without provoking a direct confrontation with Russia
Well, the way we could not have a direct confrontation with Russia is to make sure that Russia is deterred from perhaps expanding this war into places where we have an Article five commitment like Poland. The way to avoid escalation with Russia is to show Vladimir Putin that he cannot win on the aggression that he has carried out. And we’re not talking about giving the Ukrainians the means to march to Moscow, which is sometimes the way that Putin seems to describe it. We’re talking about the means to protect, defend and in fact take back some of the territory that, since February 24th — almost a year now — the Russians have illegally seized and decided to make Russia.
One point that I’ll make: a lot of this has already been authorized. The money has been authorized. And here I think the Biden Administration has done a good job of doing the right thing. Let’s just do it with more of a sense of urgency. Let’s try to anticipate — we could have anticipated months ago that the Ukrainians were gonna need air defenses because the Russians were going to use these missile barrages against Ukrainian population centers. So let’s be very urgent about getting them what they need. And let’s remember that they are fighting the fight of those who believe in a rule of law in international politics.
On why members of Congress and the public should continue to care about the war in Ukraine
We want an international system, a world order, in which countries do not have the right – just because they’re bigger – to extinguish their smaller neighbors. That has implications for China and Taiwan. That has implications across the globe. I’ve said this before, we’ve just never done very well when we assumed that either these struggles would go away or we would be kept out of them. We thought that in 1914, we thought that in 1941 until Pearl Harbor, we thought that until 2001 when it came to our own shores.
Yes, it’s a heavy burden, but we are the only power that shares the values and the interest of an international system that protects freedom, that protects the weaker from the stronger and we are not this time being asked to spill American blood to do that . We’re simply being asked to give the Ukrainians the tools. They’re more than willing to make this their fight. To tell them we’ll leave them to the tender mercies of the Russians because we can’t get military equipment to them, because we can’t spend the money to get military equipment to them, I think that would be an abdication of who we are, what we’ve been — and an abdication of the possibility of defending ourselves.
Audio story produced by Alejandra Marquez-Janse
Audio story edited by Jonaki Mehta