World

Help Ukraine Hold the Line

After more than two years of brutal, unrelenting war, Ukraine is still ready and has the capacity to defend its democracy and territory against Russia. But it cannot do so without American military assistance, which the United States had assured the Ukrainians would be there as long as it was needed.

A majority of Americans understand this, and believe that curbing the revanchist dreams of Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, is America’s duty to Ukraine and to American security. A survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Ipsos found that 58 percent of Americans favor providing economic help to Ukraine and sending more arms and military equipment to the Ukrainian government. And 60 percent of respondents said that the U.S. security relationship with Ukraine does more to strengthen American national security than to weaken it.

While that support has declined somewhat since the beginning of Russia’s invasion, and it is weaker among Republicans, many Republican members of Congress also support continuing military aid. So it is distressing that the fate of Ukraine has fallen prey to internecine Republican politicking. House Speaker Mike Johnson has the power to do the right thing, but time is running critically short.

Without American artillery, as well as antitank and antiaircraft shells and missiles, Ukraine cannot hold off an army that has a far deeper supply of men and munitions. “Russia is now firing at least five times as many artillery rounds as Ukraine,” as Andrew Kramer of The Times reported. As summer approaches, Russia is expected to prepare a new offensive thrust. Mr. Johnson knows this. He also knows that, if he brings it to a vote, a $60.1 billion aid package for Ukraine would most likely sail through the House with bipartisan support. Many Republican members and most Democrats want to pass it. The Senate passed it in February.

Yet so far, Mr. Johnson has avoided a vote, fearing that a clutch of far-right House members, who parrot the views of Donald Trump and oppose any more aid for Ukraine, could topple him from the speaker’s post. To placate them, the speaker has said he will produce a proposal with “important innovations” when legislators return to work on Tuesday. These may include lifting the Biden administration’s hold on liquefied natural gas exports, including a proposed terminal in his home state, Louisiana; calling the aid a loan; or seizing billions of frozen Russian assets.

None of those conditions are wise. Tying aid for Ukraine to unrelated political goals, such as undoing President Biden’s climate change agenda, may be typical of congressional horse trading, but it turns Ukraine into a pawn in partisan conflict. “This is not some political skirmish that only matters here in America,” Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister, said on his visit to Washington last month. The speaker’s decision, he said, “will really cost thousands of lives there — children, women. He must be aware of his personal responsibility.”

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