These are some of the latest headlines describing how our ally, Ukraine, continues to be mercilessly pounded by Russia as its air defense is “at the edge of its capacity,” while the GOP orchestra, led by maestro, wannabe emperor Trump, is hideously fiddling.
• Russian forces conducted the second largest combined drone and missile strike of 2024 on the morning of February 7…Russia targeted Kyiv City during the February 7 strike for the third time thus far in 2024….
• International analysts say the onslaught of Russian missiles, stockpiled for months, aims to overwhelm Ukraine’s limited missile defense.
• Russian Strikes Hit Ukrainian Cities at a Tense Time for Kyiv. The attacks killed at least five people, officials said, as Ukraine raises pleas for more American aid… Russian forces are pressing assaults in towns and villages along the front, American aid is in doubt…
Michigan Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin explains that that a lack of continued U.S. support would leave Russia “able to strike Ukraine’s cities with ballistic missiles, destroying its economy, damaging critical infrastructure like energy plants, and raising worldwide food prices…”
Prescient of the failure of the Senate to pass the bipartisan agreement that would send help to Ukraine, as well as Taiwan & Israel (and what is now called “an extraordinary spectacle”), Slotkin writes, “…If not, historians may remember this as the moment when America gave up on defending democracy. When our political polarization got so bad that we abandoned the principles our grandparents fought for.”
Former President Trump’s first national security advisor, retired Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, predicts:
The United States has a clear choice: arm the Ukrainians with the weapons they need to defend themselves or cut off aid and abandon democratic Ukraine in its struggle for national survival against Putin’s aggression. As the United States Congress fails to sustain support for Ukraine, North Korea, China, and Iran are expanding their support for Russia. The abandonment of Kyiv would be a gift to the Moscow–Tehran–Beijing–Pyongyang axis of aggressors. Allies and partners would lose trust in America as those aggressors are emboldened. The result could be cascading conflicts even more costly than the interconnected wars in Ukraine and across the Middle East. It is past time for Congress to make the right choice.
And indeed, members of that “axis of aggression,” are expanding their support for Russia’s invasion:
• Russian authorities are reportedly paying Iran $4.5 billion per year to import Iranian Shahed drones to use in Ukraine.
• Russia is reportedly unfreezing North Korean assets and helping North Korea evade international sanctions in exchange for missiles and artillery ammunition for Russia to use in Ukraine. The New York Times
Fortunately, while a spineless GOP fiddles, Ukraine’s European and Asian allies are stepping up to help Ukraine:
• Leaders of the 27 European Union countries sealed a deal Thursday to provide Ukraine with 50 billion euros ($54 billion) in support for its war-ravaged economy. (The European Union, collectively, has provided about $148.5 billion in assistance since Russia launched its full-scale invasion, surpassing the total of $113 billion appropriated by the U.S.).
• German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall plans to send tens of thousands of 155mm artillery shells, dozens of Marder infantry fighting vehicles, 25 Leopard 1A5 tanks, and an unspecified number of Skynex air defense systems to Ukraine in 2024.
• South Korea plans to sign a contract with ammunition producer Poongsan in 2024 to mass produce 155mm shells that have an extended range of 60 kilometers….these shells may go to European allies for indirect transfer to Ukraine.
• The Netherlands scrapped plans to sell six F-16 fighter jets to a U.S. company and will prepare the planes for delivery to Ukraine instead. This makes it a total of 24 F-16s the Netherlands has provided embattled Ukraine.
On a different continent, embattled Ecuador is indirectly providing about $200 million worth of “scrap” weapons (probably Cold War vintage Osa air-defense vehicles) to Ukraine, A similar ring-trade is being worked out with Greece.
Under a U.S. legal authority called “excess defense articles” (EDA), a U.S. president can “declare military systems surplus to need, assign them a value—potentially zero dollars—and give them away on the condition that the recipient transport them.”
At Forbes, David Axe writes that the use of an EDA-based ring-trade should come as no surprise as already last fall, “pro-Russia Republicans in the U.S. Congress made it clear they probably never will approve direct military aid to Ukraine.”
He adds, “The Republicans are falling in line with disgraced ex-president Donald Trump’s personal hatred of Ukraine—and equally personal fondness for authoritarian Russia.”
Whether the despised Roman emperor “fiddled” while Rome was devastated by a massive fire is historically in question — the violin was not invented until 1,500 years later.
However, there is nothing metaphorical about the GOP’s cowardly fiddling.
Institute for the Study of War
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.