The rhetoric from prominent Republican candidates over the Russian invasion of Ukraine is frightening, to say the least.
Former president and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has promised to end the war within 24 hours of assuming the presidency if elected in 2024. Of course, this should be taken with a pinch of salt; the Washington Post claims he made more than 30,000 false or misleading statements during his first term from 2017-21, so whether we all wake up to peace in Eastern Europe on January 21, 2025, will remain to be seen.
Trump is not the only candidate against support for Ukraine in the running.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy have both pledged to withdraw support for Kyiv if elected president. While both are relative outsiders barring a Trump collapse, their views reflect growing discontent in Republican circles over a war taking place in a country nearly 5,000 miles from Washington D.C.
It’s not a universal view thanks to candidates like former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, but it’s one which is likely to dominate debates over the coming year, given the lack of end in sight for the conflict.
The Ukraine War and History
I understand why many Americans are skeptical over continued support for Ukraine. After all, domestically, the nation is struggling. A year of high inflation has left many Americans out of pocket, and it’s fair to argue that billion-dollar investments in Ukraine may serve U.S. citizens better if they were invested in infrastructure or manufacturing projects instead.
I also gather that sending military equipment to Ukraine is perhaps controversial given rising tensions regarding Taiwan and the Korean peninsula. I dread to think what a conflict in Asia would entail, but it’s arguably a fair concern when U.S. equipment is being destroyed in battlefields in Zaporizhzhia rather than stockpiled in military bases in Texas.
That said, Ukraine is effectively fighting off Putin’s forces on NATO’s behalf. Conflict in Eastern Europe was only a matter of time given the aging Putin’s admiration for the “glory days” of the Soviet Union.
Whether the Russian President would have invaded Ukraine if it was a member of NATO will never be known. However, the now-regular occurrence of Russian drones falling apart over Romania suggests he has a total disregard for the borders of a military alliance created to counter Russian aggression.
Without continued U.S support, Ukraine’s defenses will eventually become overwhelmed, and Kyiv will fall to the Russian Federation.
Belarus is effectively already a puppet state, so Putin’s next target would either be a renewed Georgian offensive, or a border country which is a member of NATO.
An invasion of a NATO ally would undoubtedly invoke Article 5, where all members are dragged into a conflict despite their geographical distance from it. If that happens, U.S. troops will be deployed across Europe, resulting in loss of life for the nation’s armed forces – something which should be avoided at all costs.
Concessions such as giving the Donbas to Russia will only appease Putin. And if you’re wondering what happened the last time sovereign democratic nations appeased a dictator intent on bringing conflict to Europe, just ask Neville Chamberlain.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
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