Supporting Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s unjust invasion is a bright spot of bipartisanship in an otherwise polarized country. But Americans’ enthusiasm for more aid packages like the $40 billion bill the House of Representatives just approved may be flagging as consumers struggle under the weight of inflation, supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and skyrocketing gas prices. Sen. Rand Paul has delayed the Senate’s vote due to his concerns about the ballooning cost and specifics of the funding bill’s content.
This pause is a good time to reassess the U.S. approach to Vladimir Putin’s war. While the spending package included plenty of help for Ukrainian military forces, including weapons, and for things like U.S. missile production and to increase our stock of critical ammunition, nearly half of the funding package was not for Defense. It was for “diplomatic support,” mostly for the State Department, and for humanitarian aid. And its weapons mix reflects the administration’s stubborn refusal to unshackle the Ukrainian government to launch a true counteroffensive that could force Russia to end the war. Instead, the arms package suggests Biden’s goal is to keep Ukraine in the fight until Moscow is ready to negotiate. Unfortunately, the administration’s approach allows Putin to set the terms for peace talks and sets up Ukraine for a protracted war. It is neither sound policy nor morally defensible.
The policy of the United States should be to help Ukraine win, which requires backing Ukraine’s efforts to force Russia to stop its assault and return to Russian territory. Rather than bleeding the Russian military, the U.S. goal should be to end the war quickly to stop the suffering of Ukraine’s people and allow its economic recovery. To that end, Ukraine must be equipped to carry out a punishing counteroffensive in defense of its sovereignty, and compel Russia to contrive an off-ramp.
With the clear objective in mind, the United States should do the following: