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Congress’ turn to strengthen Ukraine

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley, Defense Minister Lloyd Austin and Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov will attend the meeting of the Ukrainian Security Advisory Group at Ramstein Air Base, Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany, on 26 April.


Photo:

Thomas Lohnes / Getty Images

The Biden administration on Thursday rolled out a $ 33 billion request for aid to Ukraine, and let’s hope Congress does not suddenly advocate for poverty. Vladimir Putin seems set for a long war, and the investment in defeating him will be cheap if successful.

About $ 20 billion of the package is earmarked for military aid, with more for a mix of humanitarian and financial assistance as well as sanctions enforcement. “The cost of this fight is not cheap. But it will be more expensive if we let it happen,” President Biden said.

The request includes such crucial Ukrainian needs as “accelerated cyber capabilities and advanced air defense systems”; increased intelligence support; and more “artillery, armored vehicles, anti-tank and anti-air capabilities.” Ditto for funding for a “stronger NATO security position” to guarantee US troop deployments to deter a Putin attack on Poland or the Baltic states.

Congress can scrutinize and shape the details to ensure Ukrainians end up with long-range artillery, as well as training in more complex Western systems such as air defense and unmanned vehicles. Ukrainians also need systems that can work together and to scale, not just a potpourri of what is available in Western stocks.

A promising development on that front was this week’s meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where Western countries discussed how to better coordinate military aid to Ukraine. Germany committed heavy weapons such as 50 Cheetah anti-aircraft guns. One test will be whether these weapons are moving into Ukraine with what US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called “the speed of war.”

Another pressing priority is to rebuild US weapons stockpiles. A panel of Pentagon procurement experts told Congress this week that the United States has burned a third of its two-month Javelin anti-tank supply in Ukraine. Stinger anti-aircraft missiles are also dwindling. Refilling will take years due to brittle or closed production lines, and it’s better to get started now.

The risk is, as always, that Mr Biden’s Ukraine funding will become a hostage in Congress. Sir. Biden’s Thursday letter to Congress mentions his $ 22.5 billion request for more Covid-19 aid, and Democrats want to keep Ukraine’s arms above domestic spending. Immigration struggles also threaten to derail the bill.

But voters understand that these are separate cases, and legislators can sort out their differences accordingly. The efforts in Ukraine are enormous for US security. The war is in a crucial phase as Russia tries to expand its control in the east of Ukraine and crush the Ukrainian army. Defeating Mr Putin’s war of conquest is still possible, and the West can make the world more secure by showing that an alliance of democracies can defeat a looting dictator.

Wonder Land: If President Biden is willing to say that the Russians are committing genocide in Ukraine, then why would he not say that his goal there is to defeat Russia or Vladimir Putin? Photos: AFP / Getty Images / Sputnik / Reuters / Roscosmos Space Agency Composition: Mark Kelly

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