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Why Every Republican Should Support Ukraine


With Republicans almost inevitably poised to take control of the House of Representatives in November – and possibly the Senate as well – they will have a much greater influence on US policy toward Ukraine. The GOP’s initial enthusiasm for supporting Kyiv has, however, taken on an increasingly isolationist slant since May.

One can’t help but ask, “What’s in it for the Republicans if they win all of Congress and lose their own (ideological) soul?”

In mid-May, the House voted 368 to 57 and the Senate 86 to 11 to give Ukraine $40 billion in lethal and humanitarian aid. About $9 billion was simply for resupplying US military hardware such as Javelins and Stingers previously sent to Ukraine. In other words, $9 billion worth of contracts with the traditionally Republican American defense industry, with national security being the ultimate beneficiary.

Some Republicans have cited President Volodymyr Zelensky’s corruption in Ukraine as a reason for not supporting them in the war.
Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images

It’s not every day that Republicans vote for a bill that 1) strengthens American security, 2) benefits the defense industry, and 3) weakens Russia. Yet all of the “No” votes came from the GOP. While Republicans in favor outnumbered those against by 3-1, it’s worth responding to the latter’s growing arguments against aid to Ukraine.

It’s expensive. After numerous attempts by the Biden administration to push huge spending bills through Congress, questions about the award are normal. But fake stories of more than $40 billion aimed at long-standing US foreign policy goals are disingenuous, especially with the annual US defense budget at nearly $800 billion.

Milton Bearden, head of the CIA’s Afghan station in the 1980s, estimated that it cost America $13 trillion to win the Cold War. Spending $40 billion to watch “Russia weaken to the point that it can’t do the kinds of things it did by invading Ukraine”, according to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, is a saving exceptional cost and investment in our national security. Or, to quote Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, “Anyone worried about the cost of supporting a Ukrainian victory should consider the much greater cost if Ukraine lost.”

A building destroyed by a Russian rocket near Kharkiv, Ukraine, August 18, 2022.
A building destroyed by a Russian rocket near Kharkiv, Ukraine, August 18, 2022.
Photo by VASILIY ZHLOBSKY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

This money could build the wall. If the president were a Republican, building a wall with Mexico might be possible. But now we can build a wall with Russia, and the Germans will pay for it. It was Germany’s thirst for cheap energy via Nord Stream 2 that helped spark the Russian invasion, and as talks of post-Ukraine reconstruction begin, the Germans are likely to pay a substantial part of the bills. . Germany is the leading financial power in the European Union, and the EU will play a leading role there.

Ukraine is corrupt. The Zelensky government came to power in 2019 on a wave of change because Ukrainians were tired of the crooked regimes of the past. Almost immediately, the administration took a positive step towards eliminating corruption by removing immunity from prosecution for MPs.

Much remains to be done, and time will tell if Zelensky’s team is making serious efforts to transform Ukrainian society towards transparency and free markets. Give the administration time while making the new GOP Congress a watchdog of Ukrainian corruption rather than a watchdog of Russian rhetoric.

Biden is for – therefore I am against. Opposing anything the president proposes is a centuries-old Washington tradition, and Democrats are guilty of the transgression under Republican presidents as well. The sensational stories about Hunter Biden and his work with Ukrainian gas company Burisma are not about this Ukrainian administration.

But there are plenty of honest opportunities to criticize the president here: he’s sending slow weapons to Ukraine, which would end the war faster and mean fewer Ukrainian deaths. The same Biden national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, who wrote the Afghanistan debacle last summer, is now a bottleneck in supplying Ukraine with increasingly deadly weapons. Speeches can be made, inquiries made, hearings held. The soul of the GOP rests in peace through strength, not cowardice and complacency against an evil empire.

The real question every Republican needs to ask is “Which side of history do I want to be on?” On the side of a Judeo-Christian country which fights for its survival simply because it wants to be part of the West? Or stand on the fringes of history as a tyrannical regime targets civilians, systematically promotes the rape of women, and attempts to genocide an entire nation?

Some Republicans, unfortunately, have taken the position that Ukraine should simply surrender and accept a peace imposed by the aggressor. Ronald Reagan never believed in such nonsense and addressed such hesitation in his 1964 “Time to Choose” speech: “We can’t buy our security, our freedom,” he said, ” by committing an immorality as great as saying to a billion enslaved human beings behind the iron curtain, “Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins we are willing to make a deal with your slave masters “.

What was true then remains true today, and the aggressor remains the same. In January, the GOP will hold the fiscal strings of US policy toward Ukraine. The question remains: will the GOP keep or lose its own soul?

Brian Mefford is director of Wooden Horse Strategies, LLC, a government relations and strategic communications firm in Kyiv. He is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and has lived and worked in Ukraine since 1999.