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Economic Benefits and Enhanced Security: Ukraine Aid as an Investment

A world that seeks freedom, openness, prosperity, and security is one in which the United States actively upholds its interests. American assistance was swiftly provided to Israel following recent attacks. Meanwhile, the United States takes measures to support Taiwan against potential Chinese aggression as well as aid Ukraine in its struggle against Russia's invasion. Furthermore, these actions serve to safeguard our own borders as well as align with American values and interests.

Ukrainian, Israeli, and Taiwanese support goes beyond just moral responsibility; it is based on sound strategic reasoning.In contrast to engaging in direct confrontations with those who threaten us, American taxpayers are more cost-efficient in supporting other nations in countering those threats. A major advantage to the United States of supporting nations like Ukraine is that it reduces the risk to our troops during a time of conflict.

Strategically, the United States stands to gain from Ukraine's successful resistance to Russian aggression. Supporting Ukraine's victory can help restore American credibility as a dependable partner, especially in the aftermath of the challenging troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. Failing to support Ukraine would send a troubling message to other nations, particularly China, regarding our commitment to defending allies against aggression. Sustaining our support for Ukraine is crucial for upholding our global reputation.

"Helping Ukraine is not just the right thing to do, it is also in our own self-interest. A strong, democratic Ukraine is a bulwark against Russian aggression and a force for stability in Europe." - Joe Biden, President of the United States

Operationally, our interests are best served when Russia's military capabilities are undermined. By supporting Ukraine, we gain valuable insights into our own vulnerabilities as well as identifying weaknesses in Russia's military capabilities. Reports from sources like the Congressional Research Service have pinpointed deficiencies in Russian training, tactics, equipment, coordination, command and control, and logistics, which have led to early losses and attrition. The head of the Defense Intelligence Agency has estimated that Russia may require five to ten years to rebuild its conventional forces. This significantly impedes its ability to conduct military operations in Ukraine or elsewhere.

With the Russian threat reduced, resources allocated to the European Deterrence Initiative can be redirected to address other high-priority areas, ensuring a more efficient use of resources in Ukraine's fight.

Assisting Ukraine has also allowed us to identify and rectify vulnerabilities. For example, it has prompted a review of U.S. munitions production and stockpiles. The conflict in Ukraine has led the Department of Defense to request multi-year procurement authorities for specific munitions and prioritize surge capabilities.

Furthermore, the combat experience gained from Ukraine has provided invaluable insights. It serves as a real-world laboratory for the U.S. military to prepare for other potential contingencies. Lessons from Russia's use of cyber capabilities, propaganda campaigns, and cyber attacks to disrupt Ukrainian military logistics and harm civilian infrastructure have informed the U.S. Department of Defense's cyber strategy. This experience is also deepening our understanding of countering unmanned systems, small drones, and adversarial electronic warfare systems.

Economically, providing aid to Ukraine yields a high return on investment. It results in increased U.S. security, contracts for the industrial base, job creation, and a significant reduction in adversary capabilities. In the fiscal year 2022/23, the U.S. defense budget slightly exceeded $1.6 trillion, with the defense portion of aid to Ukraine accounting for just over $44 billion, approximately 2.7% of defense spending. Multiple supplemental appropriations added approximately $11.6 billion for personnel and operations in support of Ukraine, which remains a relatively modest investment compared to the costs of direct military engagement.

In contrast, Russia is estimated to allocate over 37% of its budget to the war in Ukraine, straining both financially and in terms of military capability. By continuing support for Ukraine, the United States can reap strategic and economic benefits while minimizing the need for direct military action.


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