Ukraine needs our help

Learn more about David J. Kramer.
David J. Kramer
David J. Kramer
Executive Director, George W. Bush Institute and Vice President
George W. Bush Presidential Center
Learn more about Igor Khrestin .
Igor Khrestin
Bradford M. Freeman Managing Director, Global Policy
George W. Bush Institute
Child on a swing against a residential building damaged by a Russian rocket in a residential area of Kyiv, Ukraine in 2022.

Support for additional, much-needed U.S. assistance to Ukraine could mean the difference between Ukrainian victory and defeat in the war that Russia started.

Congress and the Biden Administration must find a way to pass support for Ukraine – whether as part of the president’s supplemental request, an attachment to pending legislation, or as a stand-alone bill.

Supporting Ukraine advances U.S. national security interests because halting Russia in Ukraine not only helps Ukraine but defends us from an expanding Russian threat.  Defeating Putin in Ukraine reduces the likelihood that Putin would threaten other countries in the region and reduce his ability to stir up trouble elsewhere in the world.

Passage of military assistance for Ukraine would be a huge morale as well as military boost for the brave Ukrainians defending their country. At the same time, it would be a major psychological setback for Putin and his forces, who are counting on the inability of America’s political leaders to agree on such support.

Further U.S. aid would also send a signal to Chinese leaders and to others threatening us and our allies that we will stand by our friends in their time of need. While China is the greater long-term challenge, Russia is the immediate problem, responsible for the greatest security crisis on the European continent since World War II.

Russian leaders and Kremlin-controlled media threaten use of nuclear weapons, and the Kremlin has directed cyberattacks against us and our allies – hitting our hospitals and disrupting our food and energy supplies – and interfered in our elections. Putin’s Russia is a clear and present danger.

Ukraine has never asked that we send our men and women to fight their fight for it, but it desperately needs our military assistance. Much of that assistance benefits American workers manufacturing the weapons Ukraine needs.

That aid, combined with the heroic efforts of Ukraine’s men and women, so far has produced amazing returns on investment, with Russia suffering tremendous military losses in personnel and capabilities; its conventional military capacity has been cut in half.

U.S. assistance to date has helped the Ukrainians regain control of more than half of the territory Russia seized dating back to February 2022. Ukraine has essentially driven Russia’s Black Sea Fleet out of Crimea and resumed shipments of Ukrainian exports through the Black Sea, which Russia tried to prevent.

Our European allies have stepped up their support for Ukraine and are providing more assistance in dollar terms than we are: European Union leaders agreed on a new $54 billion aid package for Ukraine on Feb. 1. But U.S. military aid, which costs less than 5% of the Pentagon’s annual budget, cannot be replaced by others.

Ukrainians’ supplies and weaponry are running dangerously low, and the uncertainty over whether the United States will continue to support Ukraine places all of the gains Ukraine has made in jeopardy.

Failure to approve additional aid would mean Ukraine’s defeat by Vladimir Putin’s forces and cost us much more in the long term. For Putin and Russian forces, it would be a welcome gift.

For Ukrainians, failure to provide additional support would be a huge blow to their morale and their ability to defend themselves. It would reveal to the world that the United States is not a reliable ally. To other hostile regimes, it would indicate that the United States is paralyzed by division and politics, opening opportunities to exploit.

Putin will not stop in Ukraine if he is successful there and may eventually threaten a NATO member state, a scenario that would trigger the need for a U.S. military response.  At that point, America will pay with both money and our soldiers’ lives.

Failure to pass assistance for Ukraine would be “the most serious foreign-policy mistake of our lifetimes,” Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser. “It will reverberate for 50 years.”

CIA Director William Burns similarly warned in a recent piece in Foreign Affairs: “For the United States to walk away from the conflict at this crucial moment and cut off support to Ukraine would be an own goal of historic proportions.”

Support for Ukraine is desperately needed. The stakes are enormous. Congress and the administration need to find a way to get it done immediately.