PoliticsUkraine's US lifeline Teeters on a Thinning Thread

Ukraine’s US lifeline Teeters on a Thinning Thread

Questions raising over US aid commitment towards Ukraine's war
President Biden today announced an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine on March 16, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s risky gamble assumes that the West will tire of the brutal war in Ukraine before he does, and recent developments seem to support his bet.

Seven weeks after President Joe Biden sought $60 billion for Kyiv’s military support, the aid faces obstacles in Congress, notably from Republicans entangled in an immigration dispute. The White House, alarmed by the impasse and diminishing time before the holidays, issued stern warnings about the critical situation. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan emphasized the urgency, framing any opposition to funding as aiding Putin’s strategic position. The concern is whether the U.S. can sustain Ukraine’s resistance amid potential threats to military aid.

Can the US really assure to be with Ukraine for as long as it takes?

With doubts growing, the U.S. commitment is questioned as Russia prepares for winter offensives, raising fears of renewed targeting of Ukrainian civilians and vital infrastructure. Moscow’s military resurgence, backed by allies like North Korea and Iran, adds complexity, while Ukraine competes for attention amid global conflicts, leaving President Zelensky apprehensive about the future.

The fate of Ukraine and the credibility of the United States as a world leader are both on the line. Two weeks ago, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin assured Zelensky in Kyiv that “We will remain with you for the longhaul. “But how reliable is that promise, given the short-term dispute over Ukraine funding and the potential return of former President Donald Trump, who has a hostile attitude toward Ukraine and a cozy relationship with Putin, if he secures the GOP nomination next year?

It used to be unimaginable that Washington would leave a democratic, independent country to fend off a Kremlin-led invasion. Such an action would not only undermine Western solidarity in Ukraine; it would also signal to rivals like Russia and China that U.S. commitments to its allies are worthless in other parts of the world. But the GOP’s worldview has shifted – from its internationalist origins to an isolationist “America First” approach favored by Trump – and this has altered expectations about U.S. power.

The political dynamics that could change the world in a second Trump term are already at work in Washington, especially in the House, and pose a threat to U.S. foreign policy.

Advocates of ongoing aid to Ukraine caution that Putin is paying attention. Republican Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, a member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees, stated last month at the Halifax International Security Forum that “Vladimir Putin, I have reason to believe… thinks he’s going to win this war by outlasting us.” Risch went on to say, “They monitor each phrase that’s uttered in the United States, in Canada, along with the rest of our allies, by the dissenters, but not the overwhelming majority of people who support this.”

According to retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, Moscow is keeping tabs on every move made by members of Congress. ” Hodges stated last week at a Spirit of America briefing that “the big test of will is between the Kremlin and Western capitals — Washington, Berlin, Paris, London, and others.” This nonprofit promotes American ideals by collaborating with military personnel and diplomats.

The U.S. support for Ukraine’s defense is in jeopardy due to the same political forces that have paralyzed Congress and are paving the way for a second Trump term.

America’s domestic havoc threatens its global leadership

Conservative Republicans are insisting on a package of strict immigration policy changes at the southern border as a condition for funding Ukraine that Senate Democrats reject. Johnson may risk losing his fragile leadership position if he relies on Democratic votes to pass a Ukraine funding package. And there is little cooperation or confidence between the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate. Biden’s sinking approval ratings are hampering his ability to persuade the public to continue the massive aid to Ukraine, especially when the U.S. is facing challenges such as high food prices.

Ukraine’s inability to deliver on its long-awaited counter-offensive has, meanwhile, raised doubts about the effectiveness and duration of the aid. Johnson has, for example, criticized the administration for not providing a strategy for winning in Ukraine or a way to end the conflict. These are valid concerns, given that the aid effort involves billions of dollars of taxpayer money. But the situation in Ukraine does not offer the solutions that Johnson wants.

Putin, who can endure huge Russian losses, seems prepared to wage a war of attrition to exhaust his opponent and to wait for political shifts in the U.S. and Europe that will gradually choke Ukraine’s military. Russia and Ukraine have been at war for more than 10 years already – since Putin seized Crimea, a Ukrainian territory, in 2014. As the war reaches a deadlock, neither Russia nor Ukraine are close to a negotiation on resolving it since both have a lot to lose in conceding defeat.

The Ukraine aid package is now entangled in the most stubborn U.S. political issue — immigration.

Biden requested $13.6 billion for security at the US-Mexico border, along with his Israel and Ukraine aid requests, in an attempt to smooth the passage of the measure, which also includes $7.4 billion for Taiwan. But Republicans want policy changes, as well as new funding. In the House, they are advocating for new laws based on H.R. 2, a bill that would enshrine many of Trump’s hardline immigration policies as well as changes to asylum law. A bipartisan group of senators has been working for several weeks to find a middle ground, but there were conflicting reports Monday on whether their talks had collapsed.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer will increase the pressure on Senate Republicans who support more aid to Ukraine but are captive to the pro-Trump faction of their party. He intends to bring a Ukraine-Israel aid package to the floor this week for a vote without immigration provisions included. Zelensky was supposed to remotely address a classified Senate briefing on Tuesday to present his country’s case, but it was canceled because of a “last minute” issue, Schumer said. The Ukrainian president also didn’t address a similar meeting of House lawmakers.

“America’s national security is at stake around the world, in Europe, in the Middle East, in the Indo-Pacific, autocrats, dictators are attacking democracy, our values, our way of life,” the New York Democrat said. “We are at a critical point in history.”

But a group of Republican senators who usually back Ukraine aid indicated Monday they couldn’t proceed without immigration changes linked to the measure. Texas Sen. John Cornyn cautioned, for example, that “our security cannot be secondary to that of other countries around the world, our allies, even those like Ukraine and Israel.”

Given the comprehensive support for Ukraine in the Senate, it seems probable some messy deal will emerge. But the unreliability and instability of the GOP-led House means an aid package faces a highly doubtful fate. The GOP majority still hasn’t passed usually routine bills — like one funding the U.S. Defense Department, for instance. And while the chamber did support an Israel funding bill, it was burdened with cuts to the Internal Revenue Service, which Senate Democrats oppose – a sign of how House Republicans are more focused on partisan messaging than governing or maintaining U.S. power and influence abroad.

The looming threat for Ukraine is that it will get pulled even deeper into a government funding battle that is approaching for January and February. And even before the outcome of the 2024 election is known, it’s clear that there are no longer any assurances that U.S. billions will be there for however long the war lasts.

And all the time in Moscow, Putin is watching and waiting.
Nathan Enzo
Nathan Enzo
A professional writer since 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication, Nathan Enzo ran the creative writing department for the major News Channels until 2018. He then worked as a Senior content writer with LiveNewsof.com, including national newspapers, magazines, and online work. He specializes in media studies and social communications.


Related Articles