Hudson Institute

Why a Ukrainian Victory Matters to Americans

Senior Fellow and Director, Center on Europe and Eurasia
Senior Fellow, Center on Europe and Eurasia
A Ukrainian soldier of the 28th Separate Mechanized Brigade fires a 40mm grenade launcher at the front line near Bakhmut, Ukraine, on June 17, 2023. (Photo by Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian soldier of the 28th Separate Mechanized Brigade fires a 40mm grenade launcher at the front line near Bakhmut, Ukraine, on June 17, 2023. (Photo by Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images)

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Ukraine aid is a good investment for the US. The United States has given Ukraine $43.7 billion in military assistance since Russia’s full-scale invasion last year. This is about 5 percent of America’s fiscal year 2023 defense budget, or less than two-tenths of 1 percent of its gross domestic product. 

  • Ukraine is degrading one of America’s two major adversaries. Ukraine has destroyed more than 11,350 pieces of Russian military equipment, including 2,164 main battle tanks, 2,566 infantry fighting vehicles, more than 500 pieces of towed artillery and multiple rocket launchers, 84 aircraft, 99 helicopters, and 12 naval ships—all without shedding a single drop of US blood.
  • President Zelensky: “Ukraine never asked American soldiers to fight on our land instead of us.”

Ukraine matters to the US economy. In 2021, Europe accounted for $3.19 trillion of foreign capital investment in the US (out of a total of $4.98 trillion). In 2022, 45 out of 50 states—including the largest single-state economy, California—exported more goods to Europe than to China. 

  • Ukraine shapes global commodities markets. Ukraine ranks in the top ten in the production of corn, wheat, barley, sunflower, sunflower oil, sunflower meal, and canola. It has reserves of 117 of the 120 most widely used minerals and metals in the world, including titanium, iron, lithium, coal, and other energy deposits. At present, Russia occupies Ukrainian territory containing at least $12.4 trillion worth of raw materials. 

Weakening Russia hurts China. China sees Russia as its stalking horse. Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin signed a “no-limits partnership” 20 days before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and have met 40 times as heads of state. Xi says that Putin is his “best, most intimate friend.” 

  • Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida: “The security of the Indo-Pacific region cannot be separated from European security.” 
  • Taiwanese Representative to the US Bi-khim Hsiao: “I think pushing back on aggression is the key message that will help to deter any consideration or miscalculation that an invasion can be conducted unpunished, without costs, in a rapid way. . . . That is why Ukraine’s success in defending against aggression is so important also for Taiwan.” 
  • Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “China wants Putin to win. The best way to deter the [Chinese Communist Party] is to help Ukraine defeat Russia.”
  • Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR): “Stopping Russia also will allow the US to focus on the greater threat from China. A Russian victory would force us to divert more resources for a longer time to Europe to deter Russian expansionism, creating persistent threats on both fronts. But a Ukrainian victory and a durable peace will secure our European flank as we confront China.”

Ukraine aid strengthens America’s defense industrial base. US military assistance to Ukraine consists of over 40 presidential “drawdowns” from existing US stocks of weapons and materiel. Of the $43.7 billion appropriated for Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion, over $26 billion is dedicated to replenishing US stocks.

  • This year, $215.6 million of Ukraine aid went toward an expansion of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s complex rocket propulsion systems manufacturing capacity in Huntsville, AL, Camden, AR, and Orange County, VA.
  • Last year, the US appropriated $678 million to expand government-owned, contractor-operated ammunition plants in Scranton, PA, Middletown, IA, and Kingsport, TN.

US economic support keeps Ukraine in the fight. Russia has destroyed approximately 45 percent of Ukraine’s economy. Absent economic support, Ukrainian society will collapse even if its military succeeds on the battlefield. The US has sent $23 billion in economic support to date.

Ukraine aid undergoes more extensive scrutiny than any assistance program in US history. Last year, Congress appropriated $41 million to Ukraine oversight alone. More than 160 staffers in 20 federal organizations track US assistance to Ukraine, and their investigations have not found significant waste, fraud, or abuse.

When the US leads, Europe follows. Although some countries like Germany and France could do more, much of Europe is stepping up. The US now ranks twelfth in support for Ukraine as a percentage of GDP, behind the United Kingdom, Poland, the Scandinavian and Baltic states, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Europe follows America’s example. 

Supporting Ukraine puts America first. Former President Donald Trump’s top national security advisors agree that supporting Ukraine is in the national interest of the United States.

  • Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “The least costly way to move forward is to provide the Ukrainians with what they need now, provide them with the tools and resources that they need today. . . . An extended conflict, a conflict that results in Vladimir Putin in control of Kyiv or moving on to Europe will be far more costly . . . than providing them these weapons quickly, effectively training them and ending this.” 
  • Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper: “It’s Ukraine one day, it’s somebody else the next. . . . Eventually this comes home and affects us, and it’s far better to deter war than to have to fight one, and far better to win one than to lose one—so there’s a lot on the line.”
  • Former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis: “We need to put Russia in a box and assure they cannot go further.”
  • Former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster: “Ukraine is fighting a just war and the Ukrainian people need our sustained assistance.”

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