Since Russia invaded Ukraine for the second time in eight years, Russian troops have ravaged Ukraine’s cities, raped its women, and stolen its children. Russian missiles and Iranian drones strike Ukrainian cities daily, often hitting civilian targets. Russia is the aggressor. Ukraine is the victim.
For Americans who believe in respect for national borders, the primacy of national sovereignty, and the right to self-defense, support for Ukraine is natural. Ukrainians are not asking for, nor do they want, US troops to help them fight Russia. All they ask for is the resources required to give them a fighting chance.
Meanwhile, Russia is among America’s top geopolitical adversaries. As former Secretary of State and Hudson Distinguished Fellow Mike Pompeo said last week, a Russian victory “would be felt well beyond Ukraine’s borders, including by strengthening a Russia-China-Iran alliance that aims to weaken the US and our allies across the globe.”
As Congress debates additional support for Ukraine, detractors will spread false and misleading information. It is important to understand the facts.
Fact: The US is not writing “blank checks” to Ukraine, and most of the money allocated to help Ukraine never leaves the US.
- Every dollar spent in support of Ukraine is authorized by Congress and used for a specific purpose. There has never been a “blank check” to Ukraine.
- Approximately $70 billion of the aid authorized for Ukraine will never leave the US. Instead, it supports our world-leading defense industry and creates well-paid jobs across 38 states.
- After witnessing the effectiveness of US military equipment in Ukraine, European countries alone have placed $90 billion in orders for American-made military hardware. This makes America safer and creates well paid jobs for Americans.
Fact: For a relatively modest amount of money, US aid helps Ukraine dismantle Russia’s armed forces without a single American firing a shot or being shot at.
- Russia is a top geopolitical adversary of the United States, and a close ally of China, Iran, and North Korea.
- Estimates vary, but up to 300,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded in Ukraine. The original Russian invasion force from February 2022 has effectively ceased to exist.
- Open source reporting has collected visual evidence that Russia has lost more than 12,900 major pieces of equipment in Ukraine by the time of this writing. Since this number is limited to visually confirmed losses, the actual number is likely far higher.
- These losses include: 2,439 main battle tanks, 1,026 armored fighting vehicles, 2,977 infantry fighting vehicles, 368 armored personnel carriers, 914 pieces of artillery, 201 multiple rocket launchers, 93 aircraft (including three strategic bombers), 132 helicopters, and likely thousands of other pieces of military hardware.
- Ukraine has destroyed or damaged 16 ships and submarines, including the guided missile cruiser Moskva (previously the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet) and the submarine Rostov-on-Don. Their destruction supports broader US security objectives outside the Black Sea. For example, Russia has used both vessels to support Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Fact: There has never been more accountability for US military assistance than what is available for Ukraine aid.
- Soon after Russia’s invasion, the US government established the Ukraine Oversight Interagency Working Group. More than 160 officials across 20 federal oversight agencies monitor US aid to Ukraine.
- To date, Congress has allocated $50 million for the inspectors general of the Department of Defense, Department of State, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to increase oversight through the working group.
- The groups have completed dozens of reports, with dozens more in the works. According to the working group, “Investigations related to the Ukraine response have not yet substantiated significant waste, fraud, or abuse.”
- The White House’s proposed Ukraine supplemental will add another $15 million to fund additional oversight activities. Among other things, this additional funding will allow the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General to “increase inspections and investigations beyond its 27 current and planned projects that span foreign assistance, management, and operational activities.”
Fact: Europe has spent more than the US on Ukraine aid.
- According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy’s Ukraine aid tracker, total European commitments are now more than double those of the US after totaling all aid (military, economic, humanitarian, and refugee).
- Twenty European countries have given more to Ukraine than the US as a percentage of GDP.
Fact: A victorious Ukraine means a safer Taiwan.
- The choice between security in Europe or security in the Indo-Pacific is a false dichotomy. In terms of US national interests, the two regions are intimately linked.
- Russia is China’s junior partner. A weakened or defeated Russia means a weaker China. Beijing is watching how Western powers support Ukraine, so a strong and victorious Ukraine makes Taiwan stronger and deters Chinese aggression.
- It’s no coincidence that earlier this year, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Ukraine while Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russia. During this visit, Xi told Vladimir Putin, “Now there are changes that haven’t happened in 100 years. When we are together, we drive these changes.”
- In Kishida’s own words, “The security of the Indo-Pacific region cannot be separated from European security.”
Fact: European stability, which Russia is trying to undermine, affects the American worker.
- North America and Europe account for approximately 48 percent of the global economy.
- Europe is America’s largest source of foreign investment. In 2021, Europe accounted for $3.19 trillion out of a total of $4.98 trillion of foreign capital investment in the US, or about 64 percent.
- The US and Europe are each other’s largest export markets. In 2022, 45 out of 50 states—including the largest single-state economy, California—exported more goods to Europe than to China.
- Europe matters to the American heartland too. Arkansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma each export five times more to Europe than China.
- When Americans build something to be exported, that protects American jobs. European stability brings untold benefits to the US economy and, by extension, to the American worker. Aiding Ukraine helps preserve that stability.
Fact: The lessons the US learns from Ukraine will make America stronger in the Indo-Pacific.
- Supporting Ukraine has exposed major shortcomings in the American defense industrial base, which the US is now addressing. Thankfully, these shortcomings were uncovered when America was not directly at war.
- Deployment in Ukraine has tested American-made military hardware in a way that is impossible in peacetime. The US is learning what works, what doesn’t work, and how to make improvements. This prepares America for future warfare to a degree that is unachievable through exercises alone.
- The US is replacing all the weapons it gives to Ukraine with newer, more effective systems.
- As Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said, “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a wake-up call to us all.” Because of their support for Ukraine, US allies and partners in East Asia are spending more on defense to better prepare for future threats.
Fact: The weapons the US is sending to Ukraine do not impact America’s ability to fight an Indo-Pacific conflict.
- Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) rockets, older AGM-88 and AGM-88E air to surface anti-radiation missiles, and AIM-7 and AIM-9M interceptors, which the US is sending to Ukraine, are either irrelevant to an Indo-Pacific fight or are expiring anyway.
- The most effective way to use these weapons is to send them to Ukraine. The 10,000 Javelins or the 2,000 Stingers that the US has given to Ukraine will not be a determining factor in whether the US can deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. But they were the determining factor that allowed Ukraine to defend Kyiv in the beginning weeks of the war.
- America’s weapons of choice in a conflict against China will be torpedoes, the AGM-158 JASSM and AGM-158C LRASM strike missiles, naval mines, and Tomahawk cruise missiles. None of these have been provided to Ukraine.
Fact: Because of lessons the US learned by arming Ukraine, Taiwan is receiving weapons sooner.
- For the first time, the presidential drawdown authority (PDA), which has been used so effectively for Ukraine, is being used to arm Taiwan. Had the US not supported Ukraine, it is unlikely that Washington would have used the PDA to arm Taiwan.
- Congress has authorized up to $1 billion in weapons for Taiwan using PDA.
- In July 2023, the US announced a $345 million military aid package for Taiwan as part of the $1 billion in PDA approved by Congress.
- Even though the lethal High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is in high demand from US allies and partners, Taiwan’s order for additional HIMARS will now arrive one year earlier than planned because the US reprioritized the sale.
Fact: Iran and North Korea enable Russia to attack Ukraine. Russia supports Hamas.
- Some of America’s top adversaries, and the enemies of America’s closest allies and partners, have aligned with Russia.
- By the end of 2022, Iran had provided more than 1,700 drones to Russia for use in Ukraine. Earlier this year, Moscow and Tehran agreed to start producing around 6,000 Iranian-designed drones in Russia. Meanwhile, Iran and its proxies are using the same drones to threaten Israel and attack US troops in the Middle East.
- North Korea has reportedly delivered more than one million artillery rounds to Russia for use in Ukraine. There have also been reports that North Korea has provided ballistic missiles to Russia.
- Russia regularly votes in the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly to protect Hamas—even as Hamas commits atrocities against Israel. In October, only weeks after the group’s terrorist attack against innocent Israeli civilians, Russia received a Hamas delegation in Moscow.
Fact: Ukraine is not a new “forever war.”
- Not a single US service member is fighting against Russia in Ukraine.
- The US is not a belligerent in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
- Ukrainians are not asking for, nor do they want, US troops to help them fight Russia. All they ask for is resources, which the US is more than capable of providing.
Fact: The US is not engaged in a proxy war against Russia.
- The definition of a proxy war is a war “fought by states acting at the instigation or on behalf of other states.”
- The US has never instigated Ukrainians to fight. The US is not forcing the Ukrainians to fight on its behalf. The US is merely fulfilling Ukrainians’ requests for weapons and assistance as they fight a war of self-defense.
- Ukrainians are fighting a war of national survival. Russia invaded Ukraine, not the other way around. Russia is the aggressor and Ukraine is the victim.
- If Russia stops fighting, the war will be over. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine as it is known today will be over.
Fact: The US needs to provide both military and nonmilitary aid to achieve the greatest effect.
- Some propose providing only one type of aid as a compromise with those who do not want to provide any aid to Ukraine. However, this proposal is a half measure and would yield disappointing results.
- The Ukrainian military is not the only actor defending against Russia. As shown by Russia’s indiscriminate targeting of civilians with ballistic missiles and Iranian drones, the whole of Ukrainian society is at war.
- The first year of Russia’s invasion eliminated almost 30 percent of Ukraine’s economy. Even so, Ukraine’s government and essential public services (law enforcement and first responders, diplomats, utility workers, etc.) need to function properly for the nation to remain on a total war footing.
- US support needs to be broad in scope. Those who call for the US to give only military support fail to see the bigger picture in Ukraine.
Fact: Claims that US aid to Ukraine has cost “$900 per American household” and that the newly proposed aid package will add “over $1,000” to the tax burden of “every family of four in America” are wildly misleading.
- These numbers are often used to mislead Americans into thinking that they are shouldering an unnecessary financial burden to help Ukraine amid economic difficulties and high inflation at home.
- These numbers are misleading because federal income tax is not levied evenly across households.
- In 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, the top 1 percent of earners paid 42.3 percent of all federal income tax. The bottom 50 percent of taxpayers (those making $42,184 or less) paid only 2.3 percent of all federal income tax.
- Approximately 60 million tax returns reported income of $30,000 or less. The effective average tax rate for this group was 1.5 percent before any tax credits were applied.