With Passage Of Aid Bill, It's Ukraine 1, Putin Republicans 0

@LucianKTruscott
With Passage Of Aid Bill, It's Ukraine 1, Putin Republicans 0

Presidents Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelensky outside Mariyinski Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine on February 20, 2023

That whisper of wind you heard through the budding leaves on trees this afternoon was a sigh of relief from soldiers on the front lines in Luhansk and Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia as the House of Representatives overcame its Putin wing and passed the $95 billion aid package which included $61 billion in aid to Ukraine.

There hasn’t been a Ukrainian aid bill passed by the House since December of 2022, a little less than a year after Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine began. The Biden administration began asking for this aid package for Ukraine last August, but because Donald Trump told them to, House Republicans have been sitting on their hands and refusing to pass it.

Ukraine’s situation on the ground has reached crisis proportions, with some units along the 600-mile front lines in the east and south of the country completely out of howitzer ammunition with which to counter constant Russian bombardments. Ukraine has also begun to run out of missiles and ammunition for its air defenses, leaving some armored units defenseless against a resurgence in Russian air power and attacks by unmanned suicide drones.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in an interview with PBS News Hour this week, said that the lack of artillery ammunition has left his country outgunned by Russian forces ten to one. “Can we hold our ground? No. In any case, with these statistics, they will be pushing us back every day.”

Ukraine recently suffered the loss of the industrial town of Avdiivka, just west of Donetsk, and is being hammered all along the front lines. Russian artillery and rocket strikes flattened the town in the same way they did in Bakhmut earlier in the war.

NATO allies have kept up their support for Ukraine in the absence of U.S. aid, with Denmark donating its entire stock of 155 mm artillery rounds to Ukraine. But European aid alone has not been enough to stop recent changes in Russian strategy brought on by the lack of aid from the United States. Russia has taken advantage of Ukraine’s weakened air defenses and has begun hammering population centers with heavy “glide bombs” dropped from Russian jets that only months ago Russia was reluctant to use in Ukrainian airspace because of its air defenses.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) told reporters on Wednesday, “I really do believe the intel and the briefings that we’ve gotten.” This is possibly the first time that a Republican politician has stood up and said he believes the American intelligence community since then- President Trump told a news conference in Helsinki, Finland, that he believed Russian intelligence over his own FBI and CIA. That Johnson had to be dragged kicking and screaming into this admission says all anyone needs to know about who Joe Biden is dealing with as he tries to provide leadership for America’s foreign policy around the world. Republicans, led by Trump, have disparaged and lied about U.S. intelligence abilities for nearly a decade now.

Why bother having a CIA, DIA or NSA if you’re not going to pay attention to the intelligence they provide? Much of it these days is so-called “signals intelligence” gathered by satellite surveillance and electronic eavesdropping on enemy communications. Because of civilian satellite companies like Maxar Technologies, at least some of U.S. intelligence is backed up publicly and we can see it for ourselves. Much of it hardly needs expert analysis. We were able to follow the fall of Bakhmut in real time in some of the satellite photos provided by Maxar.

But Vladimir Putin has enough supporters among House Republicans, including such leading lights as Marjorie Taylor Greene, that Donald Trump has been able to stymie aid to Ukraine for almost a year. Now that military assistance from the U.S. will begin flowing again, Ukraine has a chance to counter the Russian summer offensive that is expected to begin as early as June.

Even though a temporary victory has been won against the Putin wing of the Republican Party, I’m afraid we’re in yet another “can you even imagine” moment with the political party that used to call itself “the party of Lincoln.” With six months to go before elections in the fall, there is no doubt in my mind that we’ll be unable to imagine the garbage that will emerge from the mouth of Donald Trump and his Russia-friendly acolytes.

Watch this space.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

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