‘Expect Russia to wage war again’: Romney on the danger of leaving Ukraine unsupported
It’s in America’s best interest to support Ukraine and ensure that Russia is less likely to launch future wars
Doing the right thing for another nation can also be the right thing for America. It is in America’s interest to support Ukraine. If Russia were able to conquer, brutalize and subjugate Ukraine with impunity, expect it to wage war again — and expect those wars to damage our economy and threaten our security.
Russia’s gross domestic product, or GDP, is a fraction of that of China, the EU or the United States. Its population is half of ours and an eighth of China’s — and it is declining. Putin’s oligarch-corrupted economy lags far behind. The late John McCain quipped that “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country.”
Putin has aimed to forestall Russia’s decline as a great power by invading Georgia, Crimea and now the rest of Ukraine. These invasions are intended to secure additional population, a larger economy and a more competitive industrial base. Putin cannot restore Russia’s stature simply by capturing Ukraine: he must invade others, possibly a NATO ally, drawing America into war. By helping Ukraine, we make Russia far less likely to launch major new wars.
Ukraine’s vigorous defense is devastating the Russian military. The U.K. estimates that Russia has suffered approximately 200,000 casualties, lost almost half of its tanks, as well as numerous aircraft and guided missiles. Putin’s Russia is not our friend — it has 1,500 nuclear missiles aimed at us — and it is China’s most powerful ally. Weakening an adversary enhances our national security advantage, and it is being done without shedding American blood.
By supporting Ukraine, we not only stand with our European allies, we strengthen our alliance. European NATO members have massively increased their defense budgets, while focusing on the financial stabilization of Ukraine. Our allies have contributed nearly $70 billion in aid. In addition, Europeans have suffered an enormous spike in energy prices as Russian supply has been constricted. Europe has also carried the burden of eight million Ukrainian refugees. We want the EU to do even more. But whether or not the EU has sacrificed enough is irrelevant to our own national interest.
Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was the site of numerous nuclear weapons. In 1994, as an incentive for Ukraine to abandon its nuclear arsenal, the United States signed the Budapest Memorandum, which assured Ukraine’s sovereignty. Were we to abandon Ukraine under siege, we would be saying to the world that America’s commitments are virtually meaningless. It would be a blow to current and future alliances, which are fundamental to our national security advantage — particularly in the context of the escalating China threat. Honoring our word is the right thing to do, and the right thing for America.
It is in America’s interest that China does not invade Taiwan, a source of almost three-fourths of the world’s semiconductors. When Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, former President Donald Trump predicted that China would imminently invade Taiwan. But Ukraine’s vigorous defense and the united action by America and our allies may have forestalled China’s aggression. Without question, China is watching what is happening in Ukraine, and the more Russia’s invasion is blunted, the less likely it is that China will imminently follow suit.
Over the past two years, Congress has appropriated $104 billion in aid, some 40% of which is used by Ukraine to buy military equipment made in America. Our defense budget was more than $740 billion last year — and spending a small portion of that budget to wreak havoc on an adversary, which helps ensure our own safety and national security, is money well-spent.
While transferring our military hardware to Ukraine has depleted some of our own equipment, this process has revealed gaps in our military readiness that we now have the opportunity to fill. Further, much of the type of military equipment required to deter future Chinese aggression — submarines, surface ships, anti-ship missiles — is not impacted by what we send to Ukraine.
The courage and determination of Ukraine’s soldiers, leaders and citizens has far exceeded expectations; but they now face a much larger and wealthier adversary in a war of attrition. The war is theirs to fight. We must walk a fine line, supporting Ukraine as much as possible without ourselves being drawn into conflict.
In some respects, Russia has already been defeated: the weakness and corruption of Putin’s military has diminished the Russian national stature he had hoped to enhance. His abandonment of Russia’s commitment to guarantee Ukrainian sovereignty and his nuclear saber-rattling are signs of duplicity and desperation.
The global competition between dictatorship and democracy is center stage in Ukraine. The world is watching to see whether we have the courage of our convictions. America will not shrink from our support of freedom. Doing what is right is right for America.
Mitt Romney is the junior senator representing Utah.