As Russia's war in Ukraine enters its second year, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., issued a lengthy statement defending the lethal aid being sent to Ukraine as a "direct investment" against Vladimir Putin's "war machine."
"The innocent people of Ukraine have suffered devastating violence and destruction at the hands of Vladimir Putin and his war machine for years," McConnell wrote in a one-year statement, reflecting on Russia's so-called "special military operation" and the hundred billion-plus sent to defend Ukraine against Russian aggression.
"The bloody full-scale escalation that he began one year ago with zero justification is just the latest chapter. The brave and free men and women of Ukraine and their elected leaders have inspired the world with their courage and resolute determination to maintain their sovereignty and freedom in the face of this thuggery.
"As my fellow leading Republicans and I have explained, it is not an act of charity for the United States and our NATO allies to help supply the Ukrainian people's self-defense. It is a direct investment in our own core national interests."
McConnell made the argument that the proverbial front line of American defense begins in Ukraine.
"America is a world power with worldwide interests," his statement continued. "Our security and prosperity are deeply intertwined with a secure and stable Europe. If Putin were given a green light to destabilize Europe, invading and killing at will, the long-term cost to the United States in both dollars and security risks would be astronomically higher than the miniscule fraction of our GDP that we have invested in Ukraine's defense thus far."
McConnell responded to claims that the U.S. is funding a non-NATO ally's defense by saying the older weapons stockpile is being sent overseas, and the new investment is actually helping to modernize the U.S. defense weapons.
"Moreover, the U.S. is largely sending Ukraine older weapons from our stockpile," he wrote. "This means that a significant portion of the money Congress has appropriated is going directly to strengthen America's own defense by replenishing our inventories with more modern versions of these older weapons we have transferred to Ukraine."
The emerging threats from China, which is stressing One China policy control over Taiwan, and Iran — having enriched uranium to 84% of purity, just shy of 90% needed for a nuclear weapon — make this the time to stock up on new investments and weapons for the U.S. defense stockpile.
"Looking toward our long-term future, the increasingly aggressive threats that we face from China and Iran make it more essential, not less, that the United States and NATO demonstrate strength and resolve today," McConnell wrote. "Prime Minister Kishida of Japan has warned repeatedly that Ukraine's fate today could be East Asia's tomorrow if the free world flinches in the face of aggression. He calls the fate of Ukraine and the future of Asia 'inseparable.' Likewise, our partners in the Middle East with whom I've met this week report that Tehran is also closely watching the conflict in Ukraine."
McConnell also urged urgency in the defense and aid spending.
"It is not enough to do the right things; we need to do the right things at the right speed," he continued. "The Biden administration and our allies must act more decisively to ensure that both our collective assistance to Ukraine and the investments we each make in our own militaries take place at the speed of relevance. Every experience tells us it is weakness and hesitation that provoke Putin. The road to peace lies in speedily surging Ukraine the tools they need to achieve victory as they define it."
Ultimately, NATO must be bolstered and Finland and Sweden added to the alliance, McConnell concluded.
"There is a clear path by which a stronger, healthier, more unified NATO can emerge from this crisis stronger than we began it," he wrote. "America and our friends need to finish waking up from our holiday from history, welcome Finland and Sweden into NATO by this summer, and make significant investments in military modernization and our defense-industrial capacities that are commensurate with the major challenges we face."
A meeting of finance chiefs of the Group of 20 leading economies ended Saturday without a consensus, with Russia and China objecting to the description of the war in Ukraine in a final document.
The meeting hosted by India issued the G-20 Chair's summary and an outcome document stating there was no agreement on the wording of the war in Ukraine. The first day of the meeting took place on the anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
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