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U.S. Congress fiddles while Ukraine burns

Feb 29, 2024 | Editorials, Featured

House Speaker Mike Johnson

Marco Levytsky, Editorial Writer.

February 24 marked the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. During those two years hundreds of thousands of soldiers have died or been wounded on both sides. In its latest report, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said there have been 30,457 civilian casualties since February 24, 2022. In addition hundreds of Ukrainian children have been abducted and taken to Russia to be brainwashed into losing their Ukrainian identity. This has been declared a war crime by the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, who has explicitly supported the forced adoptions, including by enacting legislation to facilitate them and Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for their alleged involvement. According to international law, including the 1948 Genocide Convention, such acts constitute genocide if done with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a nation or ethnic group.

As far as material damage is concerned, a new study by the World Bank, United Nations, European Commission and the Ukrainian government, which was released on February 15, estimated that the cost of rebuilding Ukraine’s economy is expected to reach $486 billion, 2.8 times its 2023 expected economic output.
During the past year the conflict has become a war of attrition. Both armies have entrenched themselves along the 1,000-kilometre frontline and territorial gains have been limited. Most recently the Russians were able to claim a victory when on February 17 the city of Adviivka fell after a battle that lasted a year-and-a-half. The capture of Avdiivka was Russia’s largest territorial advance since taking Bakhmut in May 2023, and was considered a sign that Russian forces had taken the initiative in the war after the failure of Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive.

So why did Adviivka fall after all this time? The answer is simple – the Ukrainian forces were hopelessly outmanned and outgunned. Where at the start of the battle, Ukraine’s Armed Forces (UAF) were able to fire one shell for every two the Russians lobbed on them, by February 17, this ratio had risen to 10-1 in favor of the Russians.

As John Roberts, an American volunteer who is currently serving as an assault instructor for the UAF wrote in a February 20 article for the Kyiv Independent: “We are accustomed to fighting with less artillery than Russia. We have already developed clever ways of using precision fire to counter Russian artillery. Our artillery soldiers use their U.S.-provided weapons efficiently and effectively to batter the second largest military in the world, so that our assaulters have cover while they pierce like needles to rapidly cut Russian forces’ critical arteries.

“We are used to fighting understrength. We are intelligently adapted and trained to push ourselves to the highest level of combat performance, but we cannot deliver miracles. We have already delivered many miracles in this war, and I am sure we will continue to do so, but hoping for miracles is not a reliable way to win a war.”
Roberts places the blame squarely upon “a super minority” within the U.S. Congress. “They have said that we need this or that – border security or healthcare or whatever you want to say – but it is clear to me that this is solely about Ukraine. We didn’t have proper border security or healthcare in 2010 either – or 2000, or 1990, or 1980, or 1970 or 1960, or 1950. Our decision and ability as Americans to have funding for something we supposedly want has nothing to do with enabling Ukraine’s current defense,” he added.

Indeed, a request submitted months ago by President Joseph Biden to provide $60 billion in aid to Ukraine – 90 percent of which will be spent in the United States manufacturing weapons – has been stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives even though it was approved in the Senate by a 70-29 vote. Putin’s sycophant Donald Trump has ordered House Republicans to vote against aid to Ukraine. As a result, House Speaker Mike Johnson has so far refused to bring the initiative to a vote, holding out for an even more draconian measures along the U.S. Southern border than those agreed upon between Biden and the Senate. What’s more, Johnson told his members at a closed-door meeting February 14 that there’s “no rush” in deciding how to handle foreign aid, according to GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

While Trump is an obsessive megalomaniac facing several criminal charges who has the unmitigated gall to compare himself to deceased Russian human rights activist Alexei Navalny while urging Russia to invade any countries who don’t spend enough for defense, Bible-thumper Johnson portrays himself as a devout evangelical Christian. As such he should be aware that in delaying aid to Ukraine, he bears responsibility for more death, more destruction, more abduction of innocent children, more torture of prisoners of war. And for what? For his own political agenda and career. Doesn’t his conscience bother him?

Without Western material support, Ukraine will not be able to withstand the Russian onslaught. An emboldened Putin will attack other countries — including NATO members. This will cost Americans infinitely more not just in financial terms but in human lives. It will also be an abandonment of the principles on which the United States was founded and has stood for in over almost 250. years

As Biden stated on February 23 while urging Republicans to finally approve the aid: “History is watching. The failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will not be forgotten. Now is the time for us to stand strong with Ukraine and stand united with our Allies and partners. Now is the time to prove that the United States stands up for freedom and bows down to no one.”

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