Lessons for the US military from the Russian invasion of Ukraine

09.03.20 | By Howard Altman / Military Times
Lessons for the US military from the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Volodymyr Yelchenko, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, said there are many reasons the U.S. should care about the conflict in Ukraine.

There are “plenty of military lessons” for the U.S. in Ukraine, which is now into its sixth year of a Russian invasion that has cost more than 14.000 Ukrainian lives and displaced millions, Yelchenko said in an exclusive interview with Military Times during a break in Thursday’s “US-Ukraine Security Dialogue XI” held at the National Press Club in Washington.

“This is real war going on in the middle of Europe and this experience is different from Syria or Afghanistan or Iraq, so this is probably something which the U.S. military doesn’t have experience with.”

Yelchenko said he has heard from people inside the Pentagon that “they really enjoy learning from Ukrainians, who are on the front line, about their own experience. I think this is very valuable” for the U.S. military.

Michael Carpenter, a former deputy assistant defense secretary responsible for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia and the Baltics, offered a take similar to Yelchenko’s.

“We learn more from how Ukrainians fight this hybrid warfare with the Russians than we do through any other means,” said Carpenter, a speaker at the same forum, in an interview with Military Times.

“And so in terms of how Russia uses electronic warfare, how they use artillery systems, how they do reconnaissance, how they use their special operations forces, all of this is of very high value to not just our intelligence community, but to our military, in terms of understanding what we need to do to prepare in the event that we’re either facing Russian proxy forces, in some theater of war, say in the Middle East or elsewhere, or in the event that a NATO ally is engaged with Russian forces directly.”

To counter the Russians, Yelchenko and his immediate predecessor, Valeriy Chaly, offered Military Times a wish-list of weapons systems that they would like from the U.S.

“Ideally, of course, we dream to have the Patriot system but it's too expensive,” said Yelchenko. “To cover Ukraine, we probably need four to six, which is billions of dollars.”