What are the United States’ goals in the Ukraine war? Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently announced that the United States wants “Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” The U.S. commitment toward that end has been substantial. Congress passed the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act by near-unanimous vote, invoking the “arsenal of democracy” we provided to Britain during World War II. President Biden is seeking $33 billion in additionalaid. When the defense ministers of some 40 countries gathered at Ramstein Air Base in Germany last month, the focus was not a peace settlement but outright Ukrainian victory or at least the “permanent weakening” of Russia’s military power.
But as the violence continues, the war fever rises, and we had better be clear about our objectives. A commitment to a long, grinding proxy war with Russia would have severe consequences not only for the Ukrainian people but also for the security interests of the United States and its allies.
Ukrainians’ stirring resistance to the Russian invasion should not blind us to the horrendous cost in lives and property. A staggering 28 percent of Ukraine’s population has reportedly been displaced, either internally or abroad. If the war drags on, that share will grow.
About one-third of Ukraine’s basic infrastructure — roads, rail lines, bridges — has been damaged or demolished. Such destruction will continue. Ukraine’s economy is projected to contract by nearly half this year. Even if the war were to stop tomorrow, rebuilding and returning to pre-war levels of production would require years and hundreds of billions of dollars.
Read the full article in The Washington Post.