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MDAA's 60th Congressional Roundtable Virtual event, Saving Ukraine on Friday May 17th, 2024.

“We have just come back from Warsaw, Poland, the last three or four days, where no place in the European theater or in the NATO theater feels the urgency of what is going on directly across in Ukraine than Poland, Romania and the Baltics. They have a different viewpoint, an urgency viewpoint, that came to life. We were there last week on Victory Day, World War II, 1945, no better placed to understand how important it is for coalition. No better place than Poland to understand how critical that is for survival and to deter that aspect. We held our European Missile Defender of the Year 2024. First time ever, a Polish armed forces earned that award. 

But it brings us in our travels to the facts that Ukraine’s in trouble and there’s serious consideration from our war fighters, from our allies, that Ukraine may not survive this summer. You’ve seen a lot of this coming up in the press here in Washington DC, National Security Advisor, the pundits, the think tanks, have come up on urgency. We’re not here to explain why that happened because there’s a lot of reasons for that, but we got to figure out how we can do everything we can to save Ukraine for the next couple months as they get through this year.

This is a war of attrition. It’s just symbolic that it’s gone back to trench warfare with drones. As a war of attrition, they’re winning that war because the cost of those drones are $10,000 to $25,000, and we’re shooting those things down with million dollar defense. We’ve got to be able to find ways, and I believe, Ukraine, we’ve got the best here on technologies on how to do that cheaper, faster, quicker.

  • Mr. Riki Ellison, Chairman and Founder of MDAA, Saving Ukraine, May 17th, 2024 

“But first of all, from a Ukraine perspective and even from an Alliance perspective, when we look at what’s required, we have to build out the architecture. But first of all, we have to stop the bleeding. We have to match the threat then with equal defensive capabilities, and then we can talk, after we do those two things, about turning the tide to gain the offensive. In order to do that, if we have this logical string through the process, we have to be eyes wide open about the threat.” 

“.. Who’s going to remind us of how real that threat is, how the enemy is adapting and how, oh, by the way, they are ramping up, the enemy is ramping up, their drone production. In February of ’23. There was approximately 100 drones employed in that month. Now, fast-forward to April of ’24, oh, almost 6,000 drones employed. The enemy is adapting, the enemy is ramping up, and it’s time for the Alliance to think about how we defend every inch of Alliance territory. Obviously, that also translates into helping Ukraine defend their territory.” 

“We also have to be eyes wide open right now about the dwindling stockpiles. I think you hit on this and it’s a reality, it’s something we talked about with the Chiefs of Defense over the last week. We had every CHOD, every senior military leader, in the NATO headquarters building yesterday. We talked about the need to basically double down on supply and the required weapons, whether that’s ammunition, shells, but definitely missiles, Effectors, and missile defense systems, whether that’s Patriot, NASAMS, SAMP/T, you name it.” 

“I was encouraged to see the two-star, the chief of staff of the Ukrainian forces, laid out a list of his asks of what’s most important right now, for not only the Alliance and Alliance nations, but also other nations that are helping. But he laid them out from a priority perspective, which I thought was very helpful. Number one was, or he defined the problem, was an absence of air superiority. That was an army guy talking so I thought the fact that he mentioned that shows the lessons learned without air superiority, you basically devolve into just a grinding trench warfare war of attrition. 

Number two, right underneath air superiority was an absence of armament, needed armament in ammo, but specifically weapons for the air defense systems, EW capabilities, electromagnetic warfare capabilities, and then obviously, offensive UAVs as the Ukrainians now take the fight to the enemy.” 

  • Brig Gen Christopher Sage, Director, IAMD, Joint Air Power and Space at NATO HQ, Saving Ukraine, May 17th, 2024 

“I think if this war is lost, it will not be only lost by Ukraine, it will be lost by civilization. It’ll mean that in 21st century, our business is not to find a way to reach the stars or to complete the standard model of particle physics or to know the origin of the universe or create artificial intelligence. In 21st century, it’s possible that someone comes to a peaceful country and simply tries to enslave its people. I think it’s very important to say.

Now, from this point of view, what does it mean to win this war for Ukraine and, as I try to argue, for the civilization? It means that, first, Russia will not feel encouraged. Russia will not feel like this was a successful step that can be followed by next one. It’s not about the territory. It’s not about where the line goes. It’s about achieving the situation when Russia feels that they lost this round and they don’t want to continue. It’s extremely important. 

Second, the victory in this war is when people in Ukraine will be able to live their lives like they want and build houses, give birth to children, plant trees, create businesses, develop technologies, do science, and not being afraid of someone who will come, torture you, and enslave them, and this has to be guaranteed. These two things from the global and local Ukrainian point of view would mean the victor in this war, in my opinion.” 

“The next obvious thing is that war is about logistics. You need weapons that are long-range enough to cut the enemy’s logistics. This is, again, has a concern about the questions that Riki asked. We have to do it not only on the occupied, but also on the enemy’s territory from the war logic point of view. The sort of crucial component, as it was discussed, we need high-end air defense assets to be able to counteract ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles and so on. 

Everyone knows that this is important, and about this I can add only that time is crucial during the war. What could do the job in 2022? Now, we need 10 times more. Not giving this kind of help in time results in the necessity to give 10 times more in one year. Pure logic tells us that time is a crucial component here.” 

  • Mr. Alexey Boyarsky, Professor of Physics Leiden University and Advisor to the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Saving Ukraine, May 17th, 2024 

“I think there’s a misunderstanding that Putin is very good at using a playbook that KGB operatives have been taught since the beginning of time, which is plausible deniability, plausible stories. For example, Alexey pointed out, saying, I’m seeking as an objective to protect Russian-speaking people around the world. Well, that’s of course false. I mean, simply false. These Russian-speaking people are not seeking his protection nor do they wish to be part of the Russian Federation. 

But it’s the same thing that Adolf Hitler said in World War II, quite frankly, where he said his objective was to protect German-speaking people. And so, you see the similar application. History doesn’t repeat itself exactly, but it does rhyme. We’re seeing a very similar prospect there. But it does create confusion. It does create plausible explanations. When Putin feigns interest in a peace treaty, he has no sincerity there. Peace treaty perhaps on his terms, but the only thing that’s going to produce a cessation of a major conflict is once Putin and Russian forces can no longer impose their will through force. Enough force has to be delivered, enough defense, such that they cannot impose their will. That’s another principle that Sun Tzu or Clausewitz taught, but is not being applied sufficiently. 

And so, one of the things that I would argue, I argued then, I’d argue two years ago, I’d argue now in the conflict, this artificial distinction and where the present Biden administration has been pressuring the Ukrainians not to take the fight into Russia, to restrict intercepts of Russian aircraft to Ukrainian airspace and other things, I argued then, I’d argue now that’s not an appropriate way to think about this conflict. You’re ceding the initiative to the attackers to, at the time and place of their choosing, to initiate force and to initiate combat operations, forcing the Russians to defend their supply lines that are in Russia, forcing the Russians to defend their depots, their airspace, and not just to simply loiter in Russian airspace and launch weapons into Ukraine, I think, has been a mistake and remains a mistake.” 

  • Mr. John Rood, Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Department of Defense, Saving Ukraine, May 17th 2024 

“Until we fix that fundamental mismatch between what the operators see as overly expensive return on investment and what procurement takes forward. We’re buying today the weapons for three, five, and seven years from now. I don’t see low cost intercepts in there. When I hear the army say, “Oh no, no, we’ve got this Coyote drone thing,” I have to remind myself, “Well, it’s a shoot shoot doctrine with $150,000 a round weapon.” That does not strike me as low cost, just a data point. That is, by the way, when the Army brags about low cost, that $300,000 intercepts, they’re low cost. Let’s call it what it is. There’s a procurement operator mismatch, and that is an expensive mismatch. 

The second thing is, it is a sad, sad, sad day when we describe NATO as more agile than the United States. NATO is currently more agile than the United States in responding to these air defense issues. When an organization of 28 countries that can’t agree that the sun came up in the morning, or 30 now, can suddenly move faster on air defense initiatives, something is wrong in the United States system. I can’t explain where it’s coming from. I think part of it comes from a part of DOD, known as CAPE, who’ve inserted themselves inappropriately into policy decisions. Part of it comes from services, like I said, committed to programs of record. Part of it comes from just a lack of ingenuity, not by the pilots or the shooters, not by O-4s and O-5s and E-6s, E-7s, but a lack of ingenuity at the SES level, GS-15 level flag and O-6 level, to really make the kind of changes that are necessary.” 

“I’ll give you one last thought. Not everything can be cheap, I get that. If you’re going to intercept a IRBM that’s coming in at Mach 9 or an extremely high altitude, I’m not breaking out a $50,000 Interceptor. That’s not Iron Dome. That’s not a Tamir. There are expensive shots. What you can’t do is have every shot be an expensive shot. You have to make them spend money on expensive weapons that then you shoot down the expensive weapons. But when they build stuff cheap, you got to be able to shoot it down cheap.” 

  • RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery, Former Deputy Director of Plans, Policy, and Strategy, US European Command, Saving Ukraine, May 17th, 2024 

“Thank you, everybody. A phenomenal discussion. It has to go that way. We have to go else we’re going to lose Ukraine. No question that we have to do the couple things here to enable the funding, to enable the policies to get this in play.” 

  • Mr. Riki Ellison, Chairman and Founder of MDAA, Saving Ukraine, May 17th, 2024 


Mr. Alexey Boyarsky
Professor of Physics Leiden University and Advisor to the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine

Brig Gen Christopher Sage
Director, IAMD, Joint Air Power and Space at NATO HQ

RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery
Former Deputy Director for Plans, Policy, and Strategy, US European Command

Mr. John Rood
Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Department of Defense

Mr. Riki Ellison 
Chairman and Founder, Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance

Click here to watch the virtual event

Click here to read the transcript

Mission Statement

MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.