Allies, enemies and appeasement


INDIANAPOLIS ­— Since the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin began his vicious genocidal assault on Ukraine two years ago, more than 10,000 civilians have been killed and over 18,500 injured, according to the United Nations human rights office. More than 10 million Ukrainians have fled their homes, and 6.3 million have sought refuge outside the country.

Heat and electricity in much of the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine have been knocked out this winter. Children are attending school in subway bomb shelters while Russian missiles and drones rain down on civilians. Dams have been blown up, and nuclear power plants have come under attack.

This all comes after a generation ago, when the United States, NATO and Russia persuaded Ukraine to give up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for security guarantees that Putin has violated with the most violent methods.

The Council on Foreign Relations observed in 2023: “A year after Russia’s invasion, Ukraine is suffering a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. The outflow of millions of refugees has placed a strain on neighboring countries. … In addition, the war has taken a tremendous toll on Ukraine’s infrastructure. Russian air strikes have hit healthcare facilities, residential neighborhoods, and power plants, leaving millions of people without electricity during the winter.”

Former President Donald Trump called Putin’s Ukraine strategy “savvy” and “genius” in the hours after the invasion began. Reuters reported in December that a declassified U.S. intelligence report revealed 315,000 Russian soldiers had been killed or injured, or nearly 90% of its invasion personnel. “The scale of losses has forced Russia to take extraordinary measures to sustain its ability to fight. Russia declared a partial mobilization of 300,000 personnel in late 2022, and has relaxed standards to allow recruitment of convicts and older civilians,” the assessment said.

Is that really the result of a savvy and genius strategy?

The toll on the Ukraine military has been severe. According to Reuters, a Ukrainian civic group said it has confirmed through open sources 24,500 combat and noncombat deaths. But if many of the 15,000 troops listed as missing are also dead, the figure could be much higher, according to a report published in the Ukrainian journal Tyzhden.

Today, Trump is attempting to throw his fellow dictator a lifeline. Ukraine is running out of ammunition and soldiers. Trump is marshaling congressional Republicans to deny aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and to secure the southern border. That is exactly what Putin wants, to let Ukraine wither and starve. He is attempting to outlast the U.S. and NATO, which has not lost a single life in this conflict.

This past week, the U.S. Senate by a 70-29 margin passed a $95 billion supplemental funding bill.

Indiana’s two Republican U.S. senators voted on opposite sides. Sen. Mike Braun opposed it, posting on X: “In the middle of the night, the Senate will vote to give away $70B of borrowed money to foreign nations - not 1 dollar of it a loan, paid for, or offset with cuts. By paying the world’s bills & ignoring our own $34T debt, we are neglecting our duty to our kids & grandkids.”

Sen. Todd Young backed the bill. “This legislation provides vital security assistance to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. We cannot abandon these allies and partners as they face existential threats,” Young said in a statement. “This bill also will help rebuild our defense industrial base, which has significantly diminished in recent years. Restoring our military readiness — from artillery to semiconductors — is critical not to promoting war but to deterring conflict. And the legislation takes steps to interrupt the illicit global drug trade and help disrupt the sale of fentanyl in our communities. Abandoning our allies and partners will empower and embolden authoritarian powers such as China and Russia. Leadership comes with a price, but it also comes with rewards.”

The Council on Foreign Relations reported that the Biden administration and Congress have directed “more than $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine, which includes humanitarian, financial and military support, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German research institute.”

But congressional Republicans appear to be on a path to do Putin’s (and Trump’s) bidding. House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement: “Now, in the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters. America deserves better than the Senate’s status quo.”

And that is complete BS. House Republicans have refused to consider this Senate aid legislation and a border bill that many liberals despise.

Watching all of this inhumanity and dysfunction with delight is Chinese President Xi Jinping. If the United States abandons its commitment to Ukraine, that will green-light Xi’s plans to invade Taiwan, and if that happens, American lives will be lost.

If Taiwan were to fall, it would diminish the U.S. Navy’s ability to reach the Chinese mainland in a future conflict. China has been trying to push the U.S. out of that range, constructing a series of manmade islands that will be used in a coming war.

There is a term for this type of backstabbing an ally: appeasement.

The West tried that strategy before World War II, and the results were catastrophic.


Brian Howey is senior writer and columnist for Howey Politics Indiana/State Affairs. Find Howey on Facebook and X @hwypol.