Russia-Ukraine War at One Year: Congress Should Not Offer Another Dime Until These 4 Questions Are Answered

COMMENTARY Global Politics

Russia-Ukraine War at One Year: Congress Should Not Offer Another Dime Until These 4 Questions Are Answered

Jan 20, 2023 3 min read

Commentary By

James Jay Carafano @JJCarafano

Vice President, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute

Victoria Coates @VictoriaCoates

Senior Research Fellow, International Affairs and National Security

Much good would come from the defeat of Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. Halfpoint Images / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

It is essential that in providing Ukraine with the support it needs, Washington does it in a way that provides full accountability to the American people.

How does the administration reconcile its actions and policies that appear to be in direct conflict with winning the war in Ukraine?

If President Biden refuses to work closely with conservatives on Capitol Hill on Ukraine strategy, he risks undermining a year of concerted U.S. engagement.

Much good would come from the defeat of Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. It would prevent future Russian aggression in Europe and deter Chinese expansionism by demonstrating western resolve and lethality. It is essential, however, that in providing Ukraine with the support it needs, Washington does it in a way that provides full accountability to the American people and neither adds major unfunded liabilities for the U.S. taxpayer nor consumes resources required to counter the People’s Republic of China.

Retaining the ability to confront Russia and China simultaneously will require some of our European allies to do more toward supporting the effort in Ukraine. This will enable the U.S. to shoulder the bulk of the load deterring China in the Pacific.

Absent a plausible plan to help Ukraine win the war in a fiscally responsible manner, conservatives should not support additional Biden administration requests for funding Ukraine. 

>>> The Russia–Ukraine War at One Year: The Biden Administration Owes the 118th Congress More Answers

To date, U.S. aid has been vast in scale, blanket in nature, and lacking an overarching strategy. As we contemplate the one-year anniversary of Putin’s brutal invasion, it is past time to ask the administration hard questions about the U.S. strategy regarding the conflict, its goals and objectives. As yet unanswered questions include:

  • How has the administration adjusted to the intelligence failure that, on the eve of the invasion, assessed the invasion would produce a quick Russian victory?
  • How much additional funding does the administration estimate will be required to enable Ukraine to win the war?
  • What does the administration see as the end game for Ukraine?
  • How does the administration reconcile its actions and policies that appear to be in direct conflict with winning the war in Ukraine, notably the release of "Merchant of Death" Viktor Bout and components in the Inflation Reduction Act that depress domestic U.S. energy production?

While Congress pursues clarity on these points, lawmakers should also be pondering what they can do responsibly to foster a victory in Ukraine that will deter China and prevent future Putin aggression. 

Here are some ideas:

1. Help Ukraine win. 

For the United States victory would be a Putin regime that is unable to mount a subsequent attack on a NATO country that could obligate our direct involvement in a European war.

2. Unleash American energy dominance. 

President Biden should lay out a strategy to insulate the American people (and our allies) from the fallout of Putin’s energy war. This will require maximizing our production of and access to reliable fuels (oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear) and constructing pipelines and export terminals to move fuels where they are needed for domestic consumption and export.

3. Prevent the use of nuclear weapons. 

President Biden has justified restricting certain military aid to Ukraine in the hopes of preventing Putin from using a nuclear weapon, but this only allows Putin to hold our aid hostage with nuclear threats as he has been doing since the beginning of the war. The PRC will not be a constructive partner of any sort on Ukraine, but Beijing could help dissuade Putin from using a nuclear weapon if they believe it would harm their own interests.

4. Ukraine’s leadership must work with conservatives in Congress. 

President Biden has politicized the Ukraine issue in Congress. Ukrainian leadership could help restore bipartisan support for assistance to the war effort by more actively engaging with congressional conservatives and addressing their concerns about corruption and a drift into endless war.

>>> Applying Lessons of the Naval War in Ukraine for a Potential War with China

5. Opening Ukraine’s reconstruction to the PRC is a hard stop for the U.S. 

Congress should set the terms for reconstruction if Ukraine expects American taxpayer investment or U.S. government support for American entities that participate in the reconstruction process. All Americans need to hear directly and unequivocally from President Zelenskyy that their money will not be spent on contracts with PRC entities or to free up other resources for this purpose.

Many Americans remain unconvinced that continued engagement in Ukraine is in our vital national interest. The burden is on the Biden administration to make this case. Currently, less than half of the country approve of the way he is handling the situation.

If President Biden refuses to work closely with conservatives on Capitol Hill on Ukraine strategy, he risks undermining a year of concerted U.S. engagement, allowing Putin to regroup for potential future aggression and failing to deter China—all of which would be a sad waste of the $100 billion already committed to Ukraine.

This piece originally appeared in Fox News