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Europe must do more for Ukraine; U.S. has to protect its own border

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By U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz

Most Americans are sympathetic to Ukraine and understand Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion is the next big step in his goal of recreating the old Soviet Union. If Putin is successful in Ukraine, he won’t stop until he involves NATO countries, and the United States will be treaty obligated to send American troops to fight. Doing nothing in the face of aggression is how World War III will eventually start. 

Gving Ukrainians the bullets to do the fighting and dying for their freedom was the right thing to do, and Congress has duly supported Kiev with sufficient military aid. But President Joe Biden has not been a good-faith partner.

The Biden administration has neither explained the American objective in Ukraine nor his strategy to achieve it. Will American military spending continue until Ukraine has pushed Russia back to its prewar boundaries? Its pre-2014 boundaries? Or until the Putin regime collapse? We don’t know because Biden refuses to tell us. 

"As long as it takes" is a slogan, not a strategy. 

Successive administrations failed to offer clear benchmarks for what a victory in Iraq or Afghanistan looked like. Nobody in this administration is even trying regarding Ukraine. 

In the near term, U.S. military aid must be contingent on European burden sharing and equal European assistance going forward. The U.S. has provided nearly as much military aid to Ukraine – a reported $46.6 billion – as every other nation combined. 

When President George H.W. Bush rallied a coalition to support Kuwait after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded, Bush crossed the globe constantly, passing the hat and ensuring that nations as far afield as Japan paid their fair share to ensure the world’s energy supply would remain secure. 

We need this administration to bring our allies to meet their pledge to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense now, today. Unfortunately, Biden’s diplomacy seems to be lagging. The largest European states consistently fail to meet that benchmark, pledged at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales shortly after Russia’s last Ukraine invasion. 

Germany, the largest economy in Europe and the most pivotal balancer to Russia, pulled back at the last minute from enshrining the two percent annual commitment into law. That needs to change – the administration cannot expect American taxpayers to pay for European security indefinitely.

The United States must invest its savings in its own security. It should match the dollar value of any aid it gives to Ukraine with securing the southern border. The Biden administration has been criminally negligent in refusing to enforce America’s southern border, repealing reforms like the Remain in Mexico policy, and auctioning off the border wall. 

Now illegal alien crossings are on the rise again, with 130,000 apprehended in July. Even Democratic mayors of blue cities are asking for action on the border. As long as Biden refuses to secure our southern border, Americans shouldn’t be asked to continue funding the defense of Ukraine’s.

But Biden has appeared interested in none of this. As they have done over the past seven years, he and other Democrats have instead attempted to use Ukraine as a political cudgel against Republicans. This is particularly difficult to swallow since the Obama-Biden administration did not support arming Ukraine with any military aid the last time Russia invaded in 2014 and the Biden Administration paused some military aid in the runup to the 2022 invasion out of fear that it was too provocative.

Congress has its own work to do to be responsible stewards of our nation’s money. It needs to investigate why deterrence failed, same as it investigated the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Putin is to blame, certainly, like al Qaeda was to blame for 9/11. But were there policy choices like delaying lethal aid, lifting sanctions on the Nordstream 2 pipeline, or Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal that made war more likely? 

After all, Putin has invaded a neighbor under every president since Bill Clinton, except for Donald Trump. With the amount of money Americans are being asked to spend, we deserve to know where we fell short.

Stopping Russia before it draws NATO and therefore the U.S. into war is the right thing to do. But the burden cannot continue to be solely on the shoulders of the American people, especially while Western Europe gets a pass. There must be policy space between Biden’s current strategy of "as long as it takes" and those demanding "not another dollar." 

If Biden wants to continue funding Ukraine’s war effort, he must do so with conditions set forth by Congress. 

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