Russia has kidnapped and indoctrinated hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children and openly wishes for the end of the Ukrainian state. Republicans don’t care.
If you want to debate the merits of whether using the phrase “from the river to the sea” is genocidal now that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that that is his government’s goal for Israel, have at it. Netanyahu has through his words and his actions made it a legitimate issue to discuss.
And given the active and unyielding support Donald Trump and his supporters on Capitol Hill are showing for Russia these days, that makes them actively complicit in Vladimir Putin’s efforts to continue to commit crimes against humanity.
Dmitry Medvedev—who was once the president of Russia and who currently serves as the deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council—made his country’s horrific intentions clear once again when, in a Telegram post he wrote, “The existence of Ukraine is fatally dangerous for Ukrainians…they will understand that life [with Russia] in a large common state, which they do not want very much now, is better than death. Their deaths and the deaths of their loved ones. And the sooner Ukrainians realize this the better.”
Meanwhile, the other hallmarks of the genocidal goal of wiping out a society and all traces of its existence continued in Russian-occupied Ukraine, where officials have banned Ukrainian language books and materials from schools. Meanwhile, Russians continue their systematic kidnapping of what they themselves estimate are hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children. These children are then taught to hate Ukraine, forced to speak Russian and recite anti-Ukraine propaganda and songs.
Hamas’ kidnapping of Israelis including children was despicable. What Russia is doing to Ukraine is the same crime on an industrial scale. It is nauseating and does not get nearly the attention it deserves.
Neither do the deaths of Ukrainian civilians due to ongoing Russian attacks targeting population centers and well-known, well-marked civilian centers—including hospitals, schools, hotels, and shopping malls. Late last year the number of civilian dead passed 10,000 with more than 18,500 injured since the current intensified phase of Russia’s illegal war began nearly two years ago, in Feb. 2022. The number is horrendous, even if it does pale in comparison to the unprecedented civilian toll that has resulted from Israel’s current invasion of Gaza.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., Republican leaders seem committed to doing everything in their power to support Russia’s abhorrent campaign against the people of Ukraine.
Despite the clear message from the White House that aid to Ukraine must be approved by Congress by the end of last year, the GOP has dragged its feet and denied approval to the aid package urgently requested by President Joe Biden. They do this, in part, because their party leader, Donald Trump, has long-established ties with Russia and a history of denying aid to Ukraine. (You may recall that an illegal effort to do so got him impeached.)
Under pressure from Trump—and despite being briefed on the necessity for the aid package—House Speaker Mike Johnson has dragged his feet on approving the aid. First, he said it was because he wanted to address security on our southern border. When Democrats and even Republicans in the Senate appeared willing to do that, he then said he did not want to proceed on that. When President Biden pressed, he dug in.
In private calls with GOP members, Speaker Johnson has said he now wants to resist the border deal he has previously characterized as a prerequisite to providing further funding for Ukraine until there is a GOP president.
While some are hopeful a breakthrough may come in the days ahead, other Republicans are threatening to fight it. Close Trump ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said she would move to “vacate the chair” (fire Johnson) if he sought to tie a border deal to assistance for Ukraine. Greene has long opposed helping Ukraine, spouting Russian propaganda lines and suggesting that stopping U.S. support would actually lead to peace.
The impact of not providing more U.S. support for Ukraine would be devastating, eviscerating Ukrainian military capabilities and emboldening the Russians.
Even were a deal on aid to Ukraine reached, much damage has already been done. Our allies’ faith in the continuity of U.S. support has been shaken. Efforts to block aid for Ukraine have also been undertaken by Putin and MAGA friend Viktor Orban of Hungary, and he has gained support from others, including, most recently, Slovakia.
All this is emboldening Russia at a moment when they should be facing ever greater resistance from the West, given the threat Putin poses not only to Ukraine but to NATO and the world. The aid to Ukraine has brought great returns. But currently, Russia is starting to make small “confirmed gains” despite valiant Ukrainian efforts to repel them.
More patriotic, humane, wiser heads in Congress understand they must overcome the MAGA support for Russian genocide as soon as possible. That is why some Democrats are currently contemplating “protecting” Johnson from attacks from the likes of Greene by promising to support him if he enables a supplemental aid deal to get to the House floor.
Given Russia’s plans for Ukraine and the devastating consequences for Europe, the U.S., and the world if they are not defeated in the current war, not only must Congress restore aid flows, it is time to ramp up U.S. support for Kyiv in other ways. We should push to seize Russian assets and use them in the effort to defeat Moscow’s army.
This would not only provide over $300 billion in resources, it would serve—in the words of Bill Browder, a financier and long-time critic of Putin—as “Donald Trump insurance,” sending a message that Ukraine would have plenty of support even if the pro-Russia MAGA candidate wins in November.
The U.S. should also give freer rein to Ukraine to use our weapons as they see fit, including on previously proscribed attacks on military assets in Russia being used to target Ukraine. And we should enable our allies to sell advanced U.S. weapons systems to Ukraine and promise to work with them to replenish their weapons stocks in conjunction with U.S. defense manufacturers.
Rather than pausing or stopping our aid, now, as we approach the second anniversary of Russia’s Feb. 2022 invasion, we should be pulling out all the stops to enable Ukraine—not just to survive, but to win.
Our message needs to become, as one senior former U.S. military officer and diplomat said to me, “not we will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes, but that we will do whatever it takes to win as soon as possible.”
Of course, to do that, not only will we have to overcome resistance from Trump, Greene, and the other members of Russia’s fifth column here in the United States—but we must recognize that the struggle with the supporters of Putin’s efforts at genocide will not go away any time soon.
Indeed, they undoubtedly see this November’s election as a referendum as to whether their views (and therefore those of Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev, and other Russian monsters) will ultimately prevail. And the rest of us will see if all of Ukraine’s sacrifice, suffering, and courage—and the support provided by President Biden, the U.S. government, and the West until now—will be in vain.
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