What Are We Buying in Ukraine for $80 Billion?

Political News

A gruesome video is circulating online that shows a Ukrainian POW being beheaded by what appears to be a Russian soldier. The video has not been verified, and its provenance has not been revealed. But it’s given Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a golden opportunity to garner sympathy from decent people everywhere.

Actually, if the video is real, it’s only going to make it harder to achieve a negotiated peace. Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian government will find it difficult if not impossible to end the war without demanding that at least some Russians are turned over to the Hague to be tried for war crimes.

And there have been war crimes aplenty. Deliberately targeting civilians in missile attacks and artillery barrages are grave crimes — the evidence for which is all over Ukraine. Zelenskyy would be kicked out of office if he gave the Russians a pass on war crimes.

But the war has entered a new phase — bloody, intractable stalemate. It’s almost as bad as World War I as both sides are fighting a war of attrition hoping to destroy the will to fight the other. And right now, Ukraine’s allies are privately wondering how much longer this can go on.

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Wall Street Journal:

The front lines have remained relatively static in recent months, with Russia advancing into the center of the eastern city of Bakhmut, a focal point of the war since last summer.

Ukrainian forces have been fighting to hold off Russian advances in the east while Kyiv’s Western allies train and equip fresh brigades for a planned offensive to retake occupied territories.

As Ukraine gears up for the offensive, Germany on Thursday approved Poland’s request to send more MiG-29 jet fighters, which used to belong to the former East Germany, to Ukraine.

Ukraine’s coming offensive is the worst-kept secret on planet Earth. Not only has it been known for months that Ukraine was going to attack in the spring, but leaked Pentagon documents posted online in the last few weeks give the Russians a pretty good idea of where the blows are going to fall.

Over the last 14 months, U.S. taxpayers have financed Ukraine’s war for survival to the tune of $80 billion. More than that, given the fierce combat, U.S. stockpiles of ammunition and artillery shells are melting away. The Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson wonders if “stalemate” is worth what we’re paying, and more important — is it worth the risk of nuclear war?

Above all, Americans should demand the bipartisan Washington consensus that supports indefinitely funding the war explain what our strategy is, define what the American interest is in it, and detail how they plan to achieve something beyond an interminable war of attrition that risks pulling us into direct conflict with nuclear-armed Russia. At the very least, the American people deserve more than inane platitudes from Antony Blinken about “Ukrainian victory” and “standing united with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” as if total Russian defeat and withdrawal is a realistic outcome.

We’re going to have to start weighing the consequences of continuing a war that is bleeding our military stockpiles dry while China looms over Taiwan.

One of the results of this slow, grinding warfare has been the rapid expenditure of munitions, at least on the Ukrainian side. U.S. weapons stockpiles are now badly depleted, and our defense industrial base is taxed to the point that we have been unable to deliver some $20 billion in promised military supplies to Taiwan. This of course raises the question of China, which the Biden administration, along with Republican leaders in Congress, refuse to talk about candidly in the context of the Ukraine war.

What if China invades Taiwan? It would be problematic for the United States to defend Taiwan while at the same time keeping Ukraine supplied with enough arms to keep it from a devastating defeat.

Republicans in the House plan to carry out a long-overdue audit of military expenditures in Ukraine — if the Biden administration will cooperate. This is important given Ukraine’s history of rampant corruption and the billions upon billions of U.S. dollars that have flooded into Ukraine over the past 13 months.

We’ll see how the spring offensive goes, but regardless, it’s time for all of Ukraine’s Western allies to pressure President Zelenskyy to get serious about seeking peace with Russia.

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