WICKER: Ukraine will need U.S. help for the long haul

Submitted by Senator Roger Wicker

“We need to give Ukraine the tools they need to defeat Russia even if it takes months or years,” Wicker writes.

Vladimir Putin thought he could seize the capital of Ukraine in three days. Yet after two months of bloody fighting, Ukrainian troops have staved off defeat. Russia has lost over 15,000 troops and is now regrouping for a major offensive in eastern Ukraine. In their wake, they have left a devastating trail of murder, torture, and shattered lives. Evidence of war crimes against civilians has shocked the world, and cities like Mariupol, once vibrant, are now leveled, with men, women, and children buried under rubble. Putin’s atrocities are among the worst since World War II.

Ukrainian troops have fought heroically. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, they have destroyed roughly 1,000 Russian tanks, 4,000 ground vehicles, and more than 300 manned aircraft according to Ukrainian reports. Russia has lost potentially a quarter of its initial invasion force, its elite paratroopers have been mostly wiped out, and the pride of its navy fleet, the Moskva, is no more, having been sunk by Ukrainian missiles. In addition, Putin has lost nine generals and has placed his war effort under new command. Yet the Russians still hold the advantage in numbers and artillery, making the outcome of this war uncertain.

In his recent Easter address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy showed the strength of heart that has sustained his people throughout the war. He vowed that no “wickedness” would ever destroy Ukraine and offered a prayer for endurance: “Let us not lose our longing for freedom. Let us not lose our zeal for a righteous fight.” Such resolve has rallied the entire free world to Ukraine’s cause.

U.S. Prepares More Aid for Ukraine

With the war entering a second phase, members of Congress are preparing a new military aid package for Ukraine. Congress had already approved $6.5 billion in defense aid in March, which will soon run out. President Biden is now seeking a $33 billion aid package. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am working to ensure this bill provides much-needed helicopters and drones, as well as the anti-tank and anti-air missiles that have been so decisive in repelling the Russians.

Despite these funding efforts, it is still taking too long to get weapons into Ukrainian hands. As I had requested, President Biden recently appointed Terry Wolff, a retired general, to coordinate the delivery of aid, which should help speed up the process. Even so, the Administration has resisted Ukraine’s request for certain assets like MiG fighter jets. President Zelenskyy recently met with Biden officials and renewed his request for these jets, as well as tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, and missiles.

Putin Must Lose This War

President Reagan once called the Soviet Union “the focus of evil in the modern world.” After two months of unprovoked brutality, it is obvious that the Kremlin remains one of the chief forces for evil in our world. For all his recent failures, President Biden did the right thing in calling Putin’s war what it is: an attempt at “genocide” and an effort to “wipe out the idea of being Ukrainian.” Yet with this moral clarity comes a solemn obligation to help the Ukrainian people achieve victory.

Russia is now preparing more bloodshed and a long-term occupation in eastern Ukraine. We need to give Ukraine the tools they need to defeat Russia even if it takes months or years. Like West Germany during the Cold War, Ukraine has become the front line in the contest between freedom and despotism. They will need our help for the long haul.

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Submitted by Senator Roger Wicker

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