McConnell on One-Year Anniversary of Ukraine Escalation

HELSINKI, FINLAND — U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued the following statement today regarding the one-year anniversary of Russia’s escalation in Ukraine:

“The innocent people of Ukraine have suffered devastating violence and destruction at the hands of Vladimir Putin and his war machine for years. The bloody full-scale escalation that he began one year ago with zero justification is just the latest chapter. The brave and free men and women of Ukraine and their elected leaders have inspired the world with their courage and resolute determination to maintain their sovereignty and freedom in the face of this thuggery.

“As my fellow leading Republicans and I have explained, it is not an act of charity for the United States and our NATO allies to help supply the Ukrainian people’s self-defense. It is a direct investment in our own core national interests. America is a world power with worldwide interests. Our security and prosperity are deeply intertwined with a secure and stable Europe. If Putin were given a green light to destabilize Europe, invading and killing at will, the long-term cost to the United States in both dollars and security risks would be astronomically higher than the miniscule fraction of our GDP that we have invested in Ukraine’s defense thus far.

“Moreover, the U.S. is largely sending Ukraine older weapons from our stockpile. This means that a significant portion of the money Congress has appropriated is going directly to strengthen America’s own defense by replenishing our inventories with more modern versions of these older weapons we have transferred to Ukraine.

“Looking toward our long-term future, the increasingly aggressive threats that we face from China and Iran make it more essential, not less, that the United States and NATO demonstrate strength and resolve today. Prime Minister Kishida of Japan has warned repeatedly that Ukraine’s fate today could be East Asia’s tomorrow if the free world flinches in the face of  aggression. He calls the fate of Ukraine and the future of Asia ‘inseparable.’ Likewise, our partners in the Middle East with whom I’ve met this week report that Tehran is also closely watching the conflict in Ukraine.

“It is not enough to do the right things; we need to do the right things at the right speed. The Biden Administration and our allies must act more decisively to ensure that both our collective assistance to Ukraine and the investments we each make in our own militaries take place at the speed of relevance. Every experience tells us it is weakness and hesitation that provoke Putin. The road to peace lies in speedily surging Ukraine the tools they need to achieve victory as they define it.

“I have spent the past week traveling with a number of fellow Senate Republicans to meet with several of America’s closest partners and rally our allies. We have reassured our friends about our nation’s resolve to keep investing in our American arsenal that underpins the collective defense of the whole alliance. At the same time, we have challenged our friends to invest more in defense and shoulder more of the burden themselves. There is a clear path by which a stronger, healthier, more unified NATO can emerge from this crisis stronger than we began it. America and our friends need to finish waking up from our holiday from history, welcome Finland and Sweden into NATO by this summer, and make significant investments in military modernization and our defense-industrial capacities that are commensurate with the major challenges we face.”

Related Issues: Ukraine, China, Russia, National Security