Team Dover Airmen load pallets of ammunition onto a C-17 Globemaster III bound for Ukraine during a security assistance mission at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Aug. 9, 2022. The Department of Defense is providing Ukraine with critical capabilities to defend against Russian aggression under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cydney Lee)
No, Weakening Russia is Not “Costing Peanuts” for the U.S.

Does the war in Ukraine enable the United States to strategically defeat Russia on the cheap? This has become a central argument for countering pressures to end the war or cut its funding.

“Focusing on the price tag of aid instead of the value of what it buys ignores the fact that the war in Ukraine has become the equivalent of a proxy war with Russia, and a war that can be fought without any U.S. military casualties, that unites most of the world’s democracies behind a common cause, that deeply punishes Russia for its act of aggression and strengthens every aspect of deterrence,” Anthony Cordesman, emeritus chair of strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote late last year, adding that the “costs of such aid are low in grand strategic terms.”

A headline at the Center for European Policy Analysis a few days earlier put it more simply: “It’s Costing Peanuts for the U.S. to Defeat Russia.” Timothy Ash, an associate fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program at Chatham House, argued in a guest post that “from numerous perspectives, when viewed from a bang-per-buck perspective, U.S. and Western support for Ukraine is an incredibly cost-effective investment…. A Russia continually mired in a war it cannot win is a huge strategic win for the U.S. Why would anyone object to that?”

Such defenses are materializing because Americans increasingly do object to that. Support for financing Ukraine’s defenses is showing cracks among the public, as the number of Americans who believe the U.S. is doing too much for Ukraine rose from 6 percent in March to 30 percent in November. That shift was almost entirely driven by Republicans, among whom opposition rose from 6 percent to 48 percent during that period—fueled, no doubt, by growing criticism of the U.S. involvement in the war by conservative media and Republicans in Congress. Still, other polls show that a larger majority of Democrats than Republicans support diplomatic efforts to end the war, even if it involves Ukrainian concessions.

Read the full piece in The New Republic.

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