American Aid to Ukraine Is Not Free
Although people on the left and right want you to think it is
Many are under the misimpression that American aid to Ukraine is free. Critics on the left and right increasingly argue that these funds should instead be allocated to solve problems at home. Those arguments completely miss the point. Not only are there conditions set on American aid to Ukraine, the United States enjoys vast benefits in exchange for its support.
Any Republican who is critical of continued support of Ukraine needs to reexamine their own party’s position on rampant defense spending. How does that solve any domestic problems?
Any progressive Democrat who wants to push peace at all costs should seriously ask themselves if Vladimir Putin is actually ready to make a peace treaty in good faith. How do we know that Neville Chamberlain’s ghost won’t reappear?
American aid to Ukraine is near the top of the Congressional agenda for new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Some reports suggest he had to make concessions with Freedom (*cough* Fascist *cough*) Caucus colleagues in order to avoid a record 15 failed attempts at becoming Speaker.
I’ll admit, the total numbers are glaring (see below). America has made a huge commitment towards supporting Ukraine in its effort to counter Russian aggression and preserve its right to self-government.
But none of it is free. Just ask the United Kingdom who only recently paid off its World War II debts to America. While American aid to Ukraine is mostly in the form of grants (not loans as in the U.K. context), there are still conditions that must be met. And anyone would be hard-pressed to argue that the aid is not in America’s best interests.
How much American aid to Ukraine are we talking about?
On January 6, 2023, the Biden Administration announced an additional ~$3 billion in security aid to Ukraine. The announcement also noted the current totals:
In total, the United States has committed more than $24.9 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration. Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $27 billion in security assistance to Ukraine and more than $24.2 billion since the beginning of Russia's unprovoked and brutal invasion on February 24.
Over $24 billion since January 2021 is a serious chunk of change. That doesn’t even account for what Congress has also approved in Ukrainian aid, which would bring the grand total to over $60 billion.
And these totals don’t even account for the $44 billion Congress proposed to add in December 2022, which is now largely in Kevin McCarthy’s hands. If approved, it would bring the totals to over $100 billion.
Those are jaw-dropping numbers, even for someone like me who is probably on the more hawkish end of the spectrum in advocating for Ukraine’s defense.
The aid comes with conditions
It’s important to highlight that not all aid is the same. Some is for short-term military support, while other aid is for long-term. Some is for humanitarian purposes, while other aid is for financial and budgetary assistance. The Council on Foreign Relations has some helpful charts that break down the types and amounts of aid as of December 2022.
Regardless of aid type, the grants America has made to support Ukraine are mandated for specific purposes. Ukraine cannot freely choose how to spend any financial aid, for example. They are bound by certain conditions.
Funds to Ukraine are provided by the United States through the World Bank. There’s third party monitoring within the Ukrainian government to make sure the funds are being used appropriately. The World Bank is responsible, as described in this press release, to make sure appropriate safeguards are in place.
The greatest benefit of American aid to Ukraine is not monetary
The amount of American aid to Ukraine is major. But in the context of America’s total budget, it’s relatively small. In 2022, the total aid sent to Ukraine was about 1% of the U.S. federal budget. The federal government spent more money on health insurance premium tax credits.
But still, America’s funding to Ukraine does not necessarily benefit American taxpayers economically. It does, however, provide immeasurable benefits in terms of national security and protecting democracy around the world.
Countries like Taiwan watch the Ukraine war with serious trepidation. China undoubtedly keeps a close eye on how the United States and western allies continue to come to Ukraine’s defense.
If America and the western world simply give in to Russian aggression and demands in Ukraine, what’s to stop further atrocities against other smaller democracies around the world?
Supporting Ukraine does far more than support Ukraine. It strengthens democracies everywhere. Including at home in America. It has reminded everyone - well, most people - that basic freedoms are not guaranteed. That democracy has to be fought for continuously.
Continued support of Ukraine also keeps one of the 21st century’s worst dictators on his backfoot. Slowing aid or forcing peace only plays into his hand. And it not only empowers Putin, but also Xi Jinping. Both of whom are intent on destroying the western world order in exchange for more autocracy everywhere.
So before you criticize American aid to Ukraine as wasteful and free…
Ask yourself how you would enjoy living in a world where Russian and Chinese adventurism is not put in check?
How would you like to empower Putin, Xi, and other aspiring autocrats?
Ukraine may not be paying back the United States’ aid through monetary means. But they are paying with something far more valuable instead.
The war in Ukraine has effectively become a proxy war between autocracy and democracy. The liberal world order is at stake. The many freedoms that most of us enjoy and take for granted is not the reality in a Putin-run autocracy. Basic freedoms like criticizing the government or having unrestricted access to the internet would disappear overnight.
Or something even more basic, as President Zelenskyy reminded all of us: the warmth in our homes.
If you think I’m being hyperbolic about the impact Putin or Xi could have on democracy if left unchecked, revisit the history of Neville Chamberlain and Hitler. Look into the contemporary thinking in Britain and France at the time in 1938. Almost nobody took Hitler seriously, and despite the recent memories of World War I, nobody took the costs of freedom seriously either.
Freedom is not free, and there shouldn’t be an ultimatum cost associated with it. The democratic world should therefore continue supporting Ukraine at all costs because it’s not only in Ukraine’s best interests. It’s in all of ours too.
Brazil experiences its own version of January 6th, straight from the Q-Anon playbook.
Great Twitter thread on how Putin has failed to achieve any of his military objectives in Ukraine.
Andrew Tate arrested for human trafficking in Romania after potentially the best Tweet in 2022.
Make sure to follow us on Medium and at polispandit.com. And if you’re not already subscribed to this Newsletter, smash the subscribe button!