The Hill

After Congress opted not to pass a new aid bill for Ukraine last month, and as members enjoyed their holiday recess, Russia launched its deadliest missile strike against Ukraine. Apartment complexes, residential areas, and other nonmilitary targets were attacked. Dozens were injured, and several civilians were killed.

As the Russian invasion approaches its second anniversary, one-fourth of Ukraine’s population remains displaced. Russia’s brutal war has killed thousands, and several cities, villages and towns have been destroyed. Meanwhile, Russia has had nearly 400,000 casualties. The Russians have lost tens of billions in military hardware, and the Russian economy has contracted by an estimated 3 percent.

Despite the devastation, Russia continues its war without an apparent end. The Russian Federation has not shown any signs of ending the war. Instead, Russian President Vladimir Putin is determined to continue the invasion. In his Dec. 14 press conference, the Russian leader said he would not stop. Putin said he would not rest until Ukraine was demilitarized, and he demanded that Ukraine be prevented from joining Western organizations. Russia will also seek to enhance its disinformation campaigns as it hopes that the international community will tire of the war.

Some Russian propaganda points have already made their way into the mainstream Western media. For example, critics of Ukraine aid claim that the war cannot be won. They argue that sending assistance to the Ukrainians is too expensive. Others state that the Ukrainians are mismanaging funds. Given these reasons, these critics believe that the West should stop funding Ukraine.

These points, however, are far from the truth. First, since the initial Russian invasion in February 2022, Ukrainian forces and volunteers have reclaimed more than half of Russian-occupied territory. In 2022, Ukraine pushed Russian forces entirely out of central and northern Ukraine. The Ukrainians successfully defended their capital, protected major hubs such as Kharkiv in the east and Odesa in the south, and liberated the prominent city of Kherson. Then, in 2023, Ukrainian forces advanced past the Dnipro River and disrupted Russia’s operations around Crimea and the Black Sea. Ukraine is now on course to gain ground in the Russian-occupied east and south.

Meanwhile, the Russians have seen massive failures. According to U.S. intelligence assessments, the Russians lost “87 percent of the total number of active-duty ground troops it had prior to [the start of the war].” Russia also lost “two-thirds of its pre-invasion tanks,” and several naval

vessels were destroyed, to a country that does not even have a navy. These results suggest that the war is far from a stalemate. Instead, Ukraine is currently winning and Russia is losing.

Critics now assert that the U.S. has spent too much money on Ukraine and contend that resources should be allocated elsewhere. Yet U.S. aid to Ukraine has not come at the expense of other U.S. programs. Rather, American assistance was predetermined and agreed upon by lawmakers separately. In fiscal 2022, the U.S. Congress approved $40 billion in aid to Ukraine while the total defense budget in fiscal 2022 was $715 billion. Then, in fiscal 2023, Congress approved $46 billion in aid to Ukraine, whereas the total defense budget for fiscal 2023 grew to $816.7 billion.

In other words, funds appropriated to Ukraine in fiscal 2022 accounted for 6 percent of the total defense budget. Then, in fiscal 2023, Ukraine aid accounted for 5.6 percent of a larger defense budget. With only a tiny fraction of America’s defense budget, Ukraine has successfully degraded Russia from having the second-strongest military in the world to being the second-strongest military in Ukraine.

In other words, it is costing the U.S. peanuts to defeat one of its greatest adversaries, with no American lives being put on the line. Meanwhile, as The Washington Post recently reported, defense aid to Ukraine is actually being used to help rebuild and replenish American weapons stockpiles after arms have already been sent to Ukraine. Several American states that host manufacturing sites have directly benefited from the aid.

Lastly, there is a misconception that aid to Ukraine is being mismanaged. Russian propaganda outlets spread false information that Western military hardware sent to Ukraine was being sold on the black market. There is no evidence at all to support this.

Since the initial Russian invasion in February 2022, the Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General and multiple other agencies have been monitoring U.S. aid to Ukraine. Institutions outside the Department of Defense, such as the Department of State and the Treasury Department, have also conducted independent investigations. They have found no evidence that U.S. aid to Ukraine is being misused. American auditors stationed in Ukraine reached the same conclusion.

To date, the Ukrainians have done well. They forced the Russians out of central and northern Ukraine, they forced the Russian fleet to abandon the Black Sea, and they are slowly liberating territory in the east and south. It costs America a fraction of its defense budget to aid Ukraine, and assistance to Ukraine is closely watched.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this is occurring without the loss of a single American life.

Given this context, congressional leaders would do well to double down on a winning bet and start the new year by passing a new bill to aid Ukraine.

Mark Temnycky is an accredited freelance journalist covering Eurasian affairs and a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He can be found on X @MTemnycky