POLITICS: DC and EU need to aid Ukraine now or face worse war later
Washington and European Union members have been playing with fire, dithering for months over aid to Ukraine, even as Europe braces for the next onslaught.
In DC, Democrats have held up a bill to provide Kyiv with desperately needed billions because it also includes fixes to the laws President Biden has abused to rush illegal migrants into the country — anathema to the party’s radical base.
Meanwhile, Hungary has blocked a $54 billion EU aid package, leaving European nations scrambling to find ways to get new funding to Kyiv.
A fast infusion of cash and war materiel is critical.
“If we don’t act, Ukraine will fall,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned bluntly. “And everyday Americans will feel the impact — not years but months away.”
So why haven’t Democrats raced to OK the modest concessions Republicans seek to stem the migrant crisis as part of a $106 billion bill that includes aid for Ukraine?
Consider: As Russia has restocked its forces, Ukrainian soldiers have increasingly found themselves falling short on ammunition — and scrambling to make do.
“We cannot fulfill our tasks 100%,” a commander from Ukraine’s 93rd Mechanized Brigade lamented.
Thanks to dwindling supplies, his crew has to ration shells for their M109 Paladin Howitzer to repel Russian forces near Bakhmut.
“My crew and other crews are just waiting” for fresh ammo, he said.
The Russians have tapped into their Soviet-era reserves, and their growing arms industry is churning out even more ammunition and weaponry every day.
German intelligence predicts the Kremlin will try to capitalize on its edge on ammo by launching a major assault, possibly in the next few weeks.
And Europeans know where this is headed longer-term: Norway’s military boss, Gen. Eirik Kristoffersen, notes that Moscow has already transitioned to a “war economy,” benefits from arms shipments from Iran and North Korea and is resupplying forces faster than expected — even as Western countries have seen their own stockpiles depleted after being shipped to Ukraine.
Kristoffersen also warns that NATO itself has only two or three years to prepare for a Russian attack: Having built a huge arms industry that dwarfs Western military production, Putin’s all too likely to keep making use of it once he finishes off Ukraine.
And leaked German defense plans show that Berlin also fears Moscow may launch World War Three.
The Kremlin’s rhetoric has grown more aggressive, with not-so-subtle threats to its neighbors — the three Baltic nations, Poland and Moldova.
So getting Ukraine the ammunition and other arms it needs should be top priority in Washington and every NATO capital.
Senate negotiators have been trying to craft a proposal that can pass with bipartisan support — though Dems’ delays may already have torpedoed those talks.
EU members are also aiming to OK a plan for Ukraine aid in coming days . . . or weeks.