In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Service, firefighters...

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Service, firefighters work on the site of a burning building after a Russian attack in Odesa, Ukraine. Credit: AP

Ten years into Russia’s long war against Ukraine, far too many Americans are falling prey to a destructive idea. They needlessly believe that Ukraine’s defeat is unavoidable. These Americans have lost their bearings. Defeat is never inevitable so long as a nation is willing to fight. George Washington proved this when he crossed the Delaware River. His army refused to quit — and America prevailed. In 2024, the United States can enable Ukraine to win by making crucial changes that Russian president Vladimir Putin will detest.

First, let’s bust some myths. Outgunned and outnumbered armies routinely overcome larger opponents. The Taliban outlasted Russia and the United States in Afghanistan. Ho Chi Minh defeated America and France in Vietnam. In his darkest hour, Churchill declared “never, never, never” to Adolf Hitler. Henry V ended the Hundred Years’ War at Agincourt. And the list goes on.

Putin insists that he has studied history but demands that we ignore one of its most important lessons. Smaller armies regularly win long wars when they refuse to surrender — and the Ukrainians have the home-field advantage in this fight.

Next, there is the myth of Russia’s inexhaustible manpower pool. Neither Russia nor Ukraine have yet to fully mobilize their populations, as England and France did during World War I and the United States during World War II. Kyiv may take this course soon, but it will only harden its population’s resolve. Ukrainians know if they stop fighting, they face violent national extermination. They are highly motivated as a result.

Meanwhile, Putin fears fully mobilizing his people. He has steadfastly avoided this step despite Russia’s catastrophic losses. Instead, the Kremlin has replaced its casualties in Ukraine with the country’s provincial poor, its psychopaths and its prisoners during a previous, small-scale recruiting drive.

Some Russians are sounding off. They do not want their husbands and sons to die in Putin’s Ukrainian meatgrinder. Russian polls confirm this view among the wider population. Total mobilization in Russia could imperil Putin’s rule — and he knows it. Instead, Putin is betting on Western weakness. His strategy anticipates that befuddled Western leaders will tire of the war and appease him.

We can and must prove Putin wrong. Here’s how.

For starters, the United States must provide a clear and compelling definition of victory in Ukraine that advances our national interests. The requirements of this victory include the Russian military ceasing to kill Ukrainians, departing Ukrainian territory and not threatening the existence of the country in the future.

Since February 2022, the Biden administration has never explained what victory should look like to the American public. It is an astonishing dereliction. However, such a threefold victory is possible for Ukraine. We should say that.

Next, we must strangle the Russian war machine. There is a major gap between America’s rhetoric on Russian sanctions and reality. Moscow is exploiting the economic and oil loopholes that we created for them. We need to close the pipeline of money that is flooding into the Kremlin’s coffers. That means ending exemptions like the G-7’s “oil price cap” debacle and applying a maximum pressure campaign on Iran and Russia.

Finally, Congress must approve funding to keep Ukraine in the fight — including robust training for its soldiers. Meanwhile, the White House must end its maddening policy of “too little, too late” arms releases to Kyiv. The administration waited nearly a year and eight months to deliver 31 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine. The first deliveries of F-16 fighters will not arrive until this summer.

America continues to deny Ukraine access to precision strike capabilities like the ATACMS missile. This is despite repeated pleas by Republican and Democratic senators to do so.

Russia will not stop with Ukraine. If we fail to enable Ukraine’s victory today, we invite endless conflict in Europe tomorrow. Ukrainians have demonstrated their willingness to die for their freedom. By making these three critical changes, Ukraine can and will win.

Peter B. Doran is a senior adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.

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