Ukraine Can Beat Russia, But Only if the U.S. House Stops Blocking Aid

Ukraine can beat Russia, but it’s complicated and requires the U.S. House of Representatives to engage and stop blocking essential military assistance.

What would winning look like? For the Ukrainians, winning is either driving all the Russian invaders out of their territory, including Crimea, or causing the Russians to withdraw to avoid military defeat.

On March 4th, Dmitry Medvedev, former president of Russia and current deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, clarified the Russian objectives in “the war against Ukrainian existence,” as he so charmingly described it. Medvedev said Russia would continue its “special military operation” until the other side surrenders. According to Medvedev, “the concept that Ukraine is not Russia needs to disappear forever. Ukraine is definitely Russia.”

Peace talks with any Ukrainian government, Medvedev stressed, would not be possible until they recognize the new reality on the ground. So, until and unless the Russians understand that they can’t win militarily, a negotiated settlement is not an option.

Many setbacks for Russia

Ukraine has been forced onto the strategic defensive because the lack of leadership and policy chaos in the U.S. House of Representatives has denied them the vital ammunition, longer-range missiles and air defense needed to repel Russian attacks. The Russians, seeing an opportunity in the U.S. failure to act, renewed offensive operations, causing the Ukrainians to suffer significant loses and withdraw from the fortified city of Avdiivka, which they had held since 2014, simply due to munition shortages.

Media headlines suggest that Russia is winning, but that’s not true. Forced to pause ground offensive operations, Ukraine is having significant success against the Russian Navy and Air Force.

Employing seaborne drones and anti-ship missiles, the Ukrainians have sunk or disabled about a third of the Black Sea Fleet and driven the Russian navy out of the southwestern Black Sea and opened a shipping corridor to get Ukrainian grain to foreign markets.

In late February, the Ukrainians shot down 13 combat aircraft forcing the Russian air force to launch missiles farther from the front lines giving Ukrainian air defense more time to target incoming missiles. They have destroyed 342 Russian planes and 325 helicopters since the start of the Russian invasion, according to the Oryx website, which uses open sources to track equipment losses on both sides.

About 90% of the force the Russians began the invasion with has been destroyed. The Russian force now in the field is poorly trained, poorly lead and desertions are rising.

If Ukraine gets the support they need, it is realistic that by end of 2024 they could drive the Russians back far enough to permit continuous long-range strikes into Crimea and begin to make it untenable for Russian forces to remain there.

Russia’s ability to avoid sanctions on its oil industry is propping up the Russian economy and funding military operations. Consequently, Ukraine has started hitting the Russian oil industry with massive drone strikes on refinery and storage facilities up to 800 miles inside Russia.

Since the beginning of 2024, Ukrainian drone strikes have hit over 15 refineries and several oil depots and rising.  The British Defense Ministry estimates the Ukrainian attacks have reduced Russian refining capacity by 10% so far.

Russia’s economy can’t withstand the pressure

Domestically, Putin has placed the Russian economy on a war footing, which is unsustainable for very long. Once a nation starts spending 40% or more of its annual income on military and security forces as Russia is, the rest of the economy suffers. Inflation is at 7%, and shortages are appearing that will impact middle class Russians this year and grow steadily worse.

Western sanctions are causing problems across the board, especially in the Russian defense industrial complex. But we need to bear down harder, plug loopholes the Russians are exploiting and sanction any country assisting the Russian war effort.

Some 300 U.S. companies are still operating in Russia. There should not be any. We should target sanctions to force these companies to stop doing business with Russia. This is serious business with negative implications for our own national security, and if a few companies have to take a hit to their bottom line, so be it.

What it will take for Ukraine to win

To win, Ukraine needs timely and sustained Western military and economic support.

Due mainly to the six-month pause in U.S. assistance, Ukraine’s focus in 2024 will have to be on sustaining the force, accessing, equipping and training more troops and developing a military strategy to hold liberated territory and prepare to regain offensive operations.

But 2025 can be a decisive year if, in concert with the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which includes some 50 countries, we provide the Ukrainians anything they need to carry out deep strikes on Russian sustainment capabilities, while improving their air force, air defense, and ground combat capabilities and ammunition stocks so they can maintain pressure on the Russians and resume limited offensive operations this summer.

NATO and European Union members are increasing their support to Ukraine. If the U.S. House stops blocking assistance so we can do our part, the Ukrainians can win.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, thousands of Russian nuclear weapons left on Ukrainian soil made Ukraine the third largest nuclear power. To secure independence from Russia, Ukraine agreed to give up these nuclear weapons in exchange for security pledges. The 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances prohibited Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom from threatening or using military force or economic coercion against Ukraine. China and France gave similar assurances in separate documents.

Let’s not make that look like a bad decision for Ukraine.


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