Congressional Ukraine Caucus Co-Chair Admits the Obvious: The War is Unwinnable

ukraine war unwinnable
White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Watching mainstream media the last week or so, you’d almost forget that there is a war in Eastern Europe between our perpetual frenemy Russia and the breakout hip underdog Ukraine. But don’t be fooled; the proxy war we are fighting with Russia is still on and heading to no clear conclusion.

Finally, some are waking up to the foregone conclusion the rest of us with a modicum of foreign policy and war strategy background had come to when this war first kicked off. Ukraine is not winning the war, and Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t “on the ropes.” 

Let’s dive deeper into the revelations of a Republican lawmaker and what the future will inevitably hold for the embattled Ukrainian people.

Now you want to be realistic?

Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland, Co-Chairman of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, told his constituents at a town hall recently about how the war is going:

“Is this more of a stalemate? Should we be realistic about it? I think we probably should.”

Too bad Congressman Harris hadn’t opted to be realistic before he wholeheartedly supported previous large aid packages to Ukraine. He went on to say of the long-anticipated yet hugely disappointing Ukraine counteroffensive:

“I’ll be blunt, it’s failed. I’m not sure it’s winnable anymore.”

Whoa, hold up a tick. Are you telling us that Ukraine cannot push back the big bad Russian aggressor with our billions of dollars of aid and weaponry? 

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Say it isn’t so; it almost sounds like quite literally every foreign engagement the United States has participated in since World War II.

Congressman Obvious went on to explain:

“I think the time has come to realistically call for peace talks. I know President Zelenskyy doesn’t want it. But President Zelenskyy, without our help, he would abjectly lose the war. And with our help, he’s not winning. It’s a stalemate now.”

Unfortunately, that would require the Biden administration to admit failure, and we all know how well they do that.

Money will fix it, right?

Congressman Harris, who arguably has been a strong supporter of President Zelenskyy and aid to Ukraine, claims his willingness to sign more blank checks is dwindling:

“If there is humanitarian monies, nonmilitary monies, or military monies without an inspector general, I’m not supporting it.”

The chances of a Special Inspector General for Ukraine funds getting approved are slim to none, given the pushback from the Pentagon, Republicans, and Democrats. The argument from the uniparty and the defense machine is that inspector generals for each department are “already monitoring” how well funds and supplies are allocated.

I’m sure they’d love for us just to ignore the fact that accounting errors have plagued the Pentagon and, of course, the findings of mass corruption, fraud, and waste in Afghanistan discovered thanks to the Special Inspector General who was able to take a whole of government approach. But let’s put all that aside for the moment. 

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It’s anticipated that President Biden will be asking for another $24 billion in emergency funds in the fall for Ukraine in addition to the $113 billion we’ve sent already in military, financial, and humanitarian aid.

Congressman Harris rightly explains the bottom line:

“…we don’t have that kind of money.”

I’d like to believe Mr. Harris and the rest of the GOP will stand firm against more funds to Ukraine. However, with whispers that the supplemental funding will be tied to disaster relief funding, my hopes aren’t very high. 

Breeding ground for bad actors

While the United States is well versed in dirty political pool, such as tying unrelated funds together to score expensive wins, Ukraine might as well have written the book on government corruption. Transparency International lists Ukraine as the second most corrupt country in Europe.

Which country holds the #1 spot for most corrupt – Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made moves to appear as though he wants to root out corruption in his country.

Recently he fired every single one of his regional military recruiters who were forging documents claiming recruits were unfit for duty at $10,000 a pop. The Chair of the Ukrainian Supreme Court was fired for taking millions of dollars in bribes.

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Additionally, six of his deputy ministers and five of his regional administrators were sacked for, wait for it…corruption. Now I know everyone wants to believe that the very charismatic President Zelenskyy isn’t also corrupt.

Still, I find it hard to believe that this man has no dirt on him when surrounded by what appears to be mass corruption. And while President Zelenskyy claims victory for Ukraine is nothing less than the complete withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukraine – one has to wonder if that is his end game or if he has been more realistic from the start.

The endgame

Russian General Alexander Khodakovsky recently told reporters:

“Can we bring down Ukraine militarily? Now and in the near future, no.”

General Khodakovsky went on to say that he believes if the war continues, it will end in “neither peace nor war.” It sounds like a stalemate; again, some are and probably have been more realistic about this proxy war in the field than the countries funding this conflict.

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I argue it was never Russia’s intention to “win” the war but merely to keep Ukraine from joining NATO, which was their clear issue in the first place. No amount of money or weaponry will end in a “win” contrary to what the United States government wants to try to sell to the American public.

As Congressman Dan Bishop explains:

“We can’t continue shoveling money out the door to support this conflict with no accountability or transparency. There are no strings attached and no plans to even define what victory looks like.”

The promises made by Presidents Zelenskyy and Biden were never going to be deliverable. There won’t be regime change in Russia, and Ukraine isn’t going to get all its lost territory back. 

The tragedy is the United States will continue to not learn from its foreign policy failures. We will continue to pretend economic sanctions are viable tools in our arsenal to control foreign powers.

We will continue to claim we “fight” and “support” righteous conflicts abroad. And the ones who will suffer from our continued arrogance are the Ukrainian citizens – unwitting pawns in a never-ending unwinnable strategy, just as the Afghans were in the last Forever War.

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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