May 8, 2015 | In The News | The Wall Street Journal

Ukraine’s U.S. Backers Use Cold-War Playbook

When the Ukrainian government started lobbying last spring for U.S. military support, the reception was cool, defense officials say. Pentagon officials weren’t sure they could give even nonlethal gear and intelligence to Ukrainian forces they believed were infiltrated by the Russians.

An early advocate for Ukraine was former Pentagon official Phillip Karber, who in 1985 co-wrote an influential Armed Forces Journal report that called for sending Stingers to the mujahedeen. In briefings to members of Congress and written reports on Ukraine, he repeated arguments he made in 1985: Draw a line to prevent Moscow from advancing further, and introduce modern weaponry to make the invasion more costly.

Thirty years ago, Michael Vickers, who stepped down last month as Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, was part of the CIA team that helped develop the agency’s strategy in Afghanistan. Last year, he visited Ukraine twice and emerged as an important voice within the Pentagon in favor of providing military aid, officials say.