Karl Altau, JBANC
As we near Christmas and the New Year, it is glaringly apparent that those of us who support Ukraine’s path to victory against the Russian onslaught will be left with a big chunk of coal in our stockings. Victory will have to wait.
The Grinch rejoices today, but he will not prevail.
The United States House of Representatives has gone home for the holidays, but the Senate remains in Session and is still working on a compromise package granting $61 billion in aid to Ukraine. They were called back by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to try to salvage a deal, which is now centering instead on overhauling U.S. immigration policy. This is a massive speed bump, at a time when remaining available support to Ukraine dries up at the end of 2023.
Even if the Senate passes a bill, House Speaker Mike Johnson has said he will not call back his colleagues this year to finalize the legislation. The House is not scheduled to officially return until January 9. Bets are shifting to a January agreement that will be palatable to both Democrats and Republicans and hopefully agreed to before a January 19 spending deadline, which will also occupy much bandwidth.
Despite some disillusion from the fringes of both parties, support for Ukraine in the United States remains high. This is also true for the general populace, despite dips earlier in the autumn.
A Fox News poll conducted December 10-13 found that “Since November, there has been a 10-point surge in those thinking the U.S. should be doing more to help President Zelenskyy’s country. Both Democrats (+13) and Republicans (+7) are more likely to think there should be additional help for Ukraine.” One positive factor is seen as the recent visit of the Ukrainian president to the United States to press his case.
Ukrainians continue to defend their homeland and to help preserve the world order against a revanchist Russia. Putin’s pals in other countries are waiting to see how things play out.
Estonia certainly takes its commitment to helping defend Ukraine seriously. We were reminded of this during an event on December 5 in the U.S. Capitol, hosted by the three Baltic embassies, and leading Ukrainian and Jewish organizations in the United States. Marko Mihkelson, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Estonian parliament, reminded guests, which included nearly ten Members of Congress, that “support for Ukraine must last until victory.”
The Estonian Ministry of Defense agrees: “We need to signal very clearly to Russia that we’re ready for a long war and that we will boost our industry and we will commit our resources.”
Indeed, Estonia has provided help on a per capita basis like no other country. In mid-December, the Ministry published a roadmap: “Setting Transatlantic Defence up for Success: A Military Strategy for Ukraine’s Victory and Russia’s Defeat,” available at: https://kaitseministeerium.ee/en/setting-transatlantic-defence-success-military-strategy-ukraines-victory-and-russias-defeat
Victory would be a great gift for Ukraine, and it will be something to build on. As former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer tweeted on December 19: a “stable, secure Europe requires stable, secure #Ukraine. Ukraine left alone will in [the] future tempt further aggression by #Russia. #NATO therefore should put Ukraine on [a] definitive path to membership by launching accession negotiation at its July 2024 summit.”
As has been said, the best defense is a good offense.
What can we expect from Putin and Russia? More of the same. As we witnessed during Putin’s annual Q&A event on December 14, we saw his usual bravado, stemming from a perceived belief of a position of strength following the stalling of Ukraine’s counteroffensive and Russia’s continuous broad attacks. Russian forces and equipment are being decimated at a staggering rate, but Ukrainian casualties are also high, and Ukrainian civilians suffer from daily air strikes. Putin may believe that the West is slowing its support. Fortunately, Western resilience remains strong and unified. The U.S. is joined by over 50 nations and allies comprising the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, spearheading military assistance. These contributed weapons are being put to good use by the Ukrainians, but more are needed to secure victory.
Alas, the war continues, along with Russia’s desired march toward a reconstituted USSR.
So, what can we do to help? As Ukrainian organization Razom states: “This cannot wait, and the people of Ukraine cannot be left out in the cold. Failing to reach a deal will mean Ukraine won’t have the ammunition needed to fend off Russian attacks like the brutal air raids that have targeted civilians in Kyiv.”
You can help Ukraine with a Christmas present: your call to Congress to demand that Ukraine receive supplemental funding. This would help secure $61 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. Tell your Senators and Representatives that the Grinch can’t win – Ukraine needs our support today! We cannot tire in our mission to secure Ukrainian victory. Ukraine’s victory will be a victory for all of us.
Call your Member of Congress by calling the Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121.
Find your Representative or Senator at: https://congress.gov. We also encourage you to sign up for ALA’s Call to Action UNIT: http://tinyurl.com/5yjwu2db The site will provide you with the tools to contact your elected officials on these important issues.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!