Stanford experts praise Lend-Lease Act in support of Ukraine

April 8, 2022, 12:47 a.m.

Stanford policy experts and Ukrainian advocates praised the U.S. Senate’s unanimous renewal of the Lend-Lease Act on Wednesday. The Act began as a World War II initiative and greatly expedites the procedures of arms and aid transfer to allied nations.

Michael McFaul ’86 M.A. ’86, former U.S. ambassador to Russia and the director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), expressed strong support for the decision and the soon expected U.S. House of Representatives’s passage of the legislation.

“I think this move by the U.S. Congress is terrific,” McFaul wrote to The Daily.

Officially designated as H.R. 1776, the Lend-Lease Act was initially passed by Congress on March 11, 1941 so that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration could “lend-lease” arms and other necessary supplies to embattled Great Britain. The Roosevelt administration later expanded the use of this act to arm and aid the Allies over the course of their struggle against Hitler. However, the conclusion of World War II brought the program into disuse — until now. Late Wednesday evening, the U.S. Senate voted to resurrect the Lend-Lease Act by way of unanimous consent — a procedure that allows a measure’s immediate approval without debate so long as no senator objects.

Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and fellow at FSI, noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration have only increased aggression despite multiple attempts from Ukraine to reach a settlement. Pifer wrote to The Daily that the U.S. and other leading Western nations must continue to increase deliverance of support and aid to Ukraine.

“The Kremlin does not yet appear ready for serious negotiations and has shifted its military focus to the Donbas area,” Pifer wrote. “The United States and West should continue to support Ukraine with the goal of driving the Russian military out or, at a minimum, bringing the Kremlin to negotiate a settlement acceptable to Kyiv.”

Pifer also suggested that Western leaders begin facilitating the transfer of more advanced weaponry to the Ukrainians, including weapons that may require additional training.

“The West thus far has placed a premium on getting weapons to Ukraine that the Ukrainian military can maintain and use with relatively little training, weapons such as and Stinger missiles,” Pifer stated. “If, as it appears, this war could drag on, it is time to consider providing Ukraine more sophisticated and heavier weapons that would require more involved training.”

Josh Pickering M.D. ’22, a Navy veteran who, alongside the Ukrainian Student Association at Stanford, coordinated a mission to deliver medical supplies to refugees displaced by the war, approved of the U.S. Senate’s renewal of the Lend-Lease program, stating that the U.S. has a responsibility to aid Ukraine.

“The U.S. and allies have a responsibility to act to not only protect Ukrainians, but also our stated ideals,” Pickering wrote to The Daily. “Our actions must set the precedent that this type of aggression will not be tolerated in modern society.”

For Pickering, the renewed Lend-Lease program is a continuation of the U.S. and Western nations “acting in a calculated manner to offer support to Ukraine without engaging in open conflict with Russia to decrease the risk of nuclear conflict.” 

Pickering added that though Putin and the Kremlin’s reaction may be unpredictable, and though critics may contend that unregulated weapons transfers have gone poorly in the past, those who are wary of the renewal of Lend-Lease should consider what their own solution would be to aiding in the defense of Ukraine. 

“I would ask those critics, and more importantly historical and international policy experts, ‘What’s your solution?’” Pickering wrote. “What is the recommended course of action to prevent Ukrainians dying and a free country from falling to Russian aggression? What’s your solution for preventing a unilateral invasion from happening again?’”

Jed Ngalande '23 is the politics and government beat reporter for The Daily's news section. Contact him at news 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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