The Disastrous War in Ukraine

W.J. Astore

A blank check of support is often a dangerous thing, especially in war

Remarkably, U.S. aid to Ukraine may soon exceed $100 billion if the Biden administration’s latest ask is approved. And more than a few Americans believe Ukraine merits this vast sum—and more.

They argue the Ukraine war is a necessary one and applaud the Biden administration for taking a firm stance against Russian aggression.  They see Putin as a dangerous dictator who seeks to revive a Russian empire at the expense of Europe, and they wholeheartedly approve of U.S. and NATO military aid.  They argue Ukraine is winning the war and that, once the war is won, Ukraine should be invited to join NATO.  They see NATO as a benign presence and dismiss Russian concerns that NATO expansion is in any way provocative. And they see negotiation with Putin as at best premature and at worst as rewarding Putin for his Hitlerian aggression.

My stance is different.  Yes, I denounce Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and hope that he loses, but I’d prefer to see a negotiated settlement.  The longer the war lasts, the more people die, Russian and Ukrainian, and the greater the chance of miscalculationfollowed by escalation, possibly even to nuclear weapons.

I don’t think the U.S. government cares a whit about defending democracy in Ukraine; heck, it barely defends democracy in America. I think the government and specifically the MICC (military-industrial-congressional complex) has several goals:

1.     To weaken Russia militarily and economically via what some term a proxy war.

2.     To sell more natural gas to Europe (hence the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines).

3.     To sell massive amounts of weaponry to Ukraine.

4.     To elevate Russia to an “evil empire” once again, ensuring higher Pentagon spending.  Notice how there’s been no “peace dividend” in the aftermath of the Afghan War. Indeed, Pentagon budgets have soared since the Russian invasion.

5.     To support the narrative of a new cold war against Russia and China, ensuring even more spending on weapons and wars.

6.     Finally, as Biden stated openly, the desire to effect regime change in Russia, i.e. the overthrow of Putin by his own people.

Again, I’m no Putin fan, and I truly wish he’d give up and withdraw his forces. But I very much doubt he’ll do that. It seems more likely that both sides, Ukraine and Russia, will continue launching missiles and drones at each other while the war escalates further. Consider recent reports of Ukrainian attacks on Russian barracks in the Crimea even as Russia targets infrastructure in Odesa.

So, while it’s true U.S. and NATO aid will keep Ukraine in the war, it’s also true Ukrainians and Russians will continue to suffer and die in a war that is already escalating in dangerous ways. It all has the makings of a far-reaching disaster, but what we’re encouraged to do is to ask no questions while flying the Ukrainian flag just below our American ones.

A blank check of support is often a dangerous thing, especially in war.

53 thoughts on “The Disastrous War in Ukraine

  1. I completely disagree with your opinion, Mr. Astor. Behind it there is the notion that the war was somehow created by the US military-industrial concept. You are blaming the victim, and want to negotiate with an imperial aggressor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For the record, I’m not claiming war was created by the MICC in America. War has been with us almost since the dawn of human history. Nor am I blaming the victim, by which I assume you mean Ukraine.

      And “imperial aggressor”? Is Russia the only imperial aggressor in the world?

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      1. Well, let’s see now. i guess if ~ just in the past 21 years ~ we forget about Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, among other places, then the USA certainly isn’t an imperial aggressor. Which means that Russia Must be the only one, eh?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I didn’t say “the war” was created by the U.S. MICC. I clearly said it was Putin’s decision to invade.

          That said, the MICC is certainly prepared to profit from “the war” in many ways, as I listed. Do you disagree with my list? Please feel free to tell me how I’m in error.

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          1. It was Putin’s decision to invade; but he had a lot of reasons for thinking that that was a good idea. Like i said back in March at https://bracingviews.com/2022/03/05/orwells-1984-holds-many-lessons-for-the-new-cold-war/ : “To understand what is happening in Ukraine, one must also be familiar with the history of Russia’s interaction with Western Europe over the past 200 years. Napoleon and Hitler both tried to bring the ‘blessings’ of the West to Mother Russia, and failed at terrible cost, particularly to the Land, Country, Nation, and People that was ~ and still is ~ Russia.

            “NATO is hard on all of Russia’s borders except in Ukraine; and, given that history spanning over two centuries, it is not at all difficult to understand why Russia wants to keep it that way. This in no way justifies, excuses, or exonerates Putin and his illegal, immoral, and quite insane invasion of Ukraine. It merely speculates on a very real possible motive.”

            To me, the most significant thing about America’s War with Russia in Ukraine is how quickly it came after the last American left Kabul. Just when the MICC was looking for something to justify its budget after the post-9/11 Forever War was officially over, along comes Putin’s SMO just in time to keep The Gravy Train rolling.

            Aknost like it was planned that way, or something, eh?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. NATO came to Russian borders (to Finland and Sweden) as a result of Russian aggression.
              NATO expansion into Eastern Europe in 1999-2004 period resulted in Eastern Europe being more DISARMED than ever, and focusing on overseas expeditionary warfare, not “countering Russia.”
              As soon as Poland joined NATO in 1999, a period of the biggest thaw in Polish-Russian relationship followed in 2000-2004 period. The countries were more friendly than ever before or after. If “expansion of NATO” threatened Russia, how can this fact be explained.
              Careful study of NATO expansion shows that the “Russia” was not the motivator of Eastern Europeans, nor was “containing Russia” the motivator for the US. Countless scholarship testifies to that – here is one book: https://www.amazon.com/Defending-Eastern-Europe-defense-policies-ebook/dp/B09B692DZQ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3A7ODRX2UUGO1&keywords=defending+eastern+europe&qid=1670873445&sprefix=defeding+eastern+europe%2Caps%2C71&sr=8-1

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              1. HOW GORBACHEV WAS MISLED OVER ASSURANCES AGAINST NATO EXPANSION

                DECLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS SHOW SECURITY ASSURANCES AGAINST NATO EXPANSION TO SOVIET LEADERS FROM BAKER, BUSH, GENSCHER, KOHL, GATES, MITTERRAND, THATCHER, HURD, MAJOR AND WOERNER

                On the 12 December 2017 the National Security Archive at George Washington University posted online 30 declassified US, Soviet, German, British and French documents revealing A TORRENT OF ASSURANCES ABOUT SOVIET SECURITY GIVEN BY WESTERN LEADERS TO GORBACHEV AND OTHER SOVIET OFFICIALS THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS OF GERMAN UNIFICATION IN 1990 AND ON INTO 1991. Some of the documents have been publicly available for several years, others have been revealed as a result of Freedom of Information requests for the study. See the briefing here:
                https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/russia-programs/2017-12-12/nato-expansion-what-gorbachev-heard-western-leaders-early

                US Secretary of State JAMES BAKER’S FAMOUS “NOT ONE INCH EASTWARD” ASSURANCE ABOUT NATO EXPANSION in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on 9 February 1990 was only part of a cascade of similar assurances.

                As the authors, Svetlana Savranskaya and Tom Blanton argue: “The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991, that discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that SUBSEQUENT SOVIET AND RUSSIAN COMPLAINTS ABOUT BEING MISLED ABOUT NATO EXPANSION WERE FOUNDED IN WRITTEN CONTEMPORANEOUS MEMCONS AND TELCONS AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS”.

                The documents reinforce former CIA Director ROBERT GATES’S CRITICISM OF “PRESSING AHEAD WITH EXPANSION OF NATO EASTWARD [IN THE 1990S], WHEN GORBACHEV AND OTHERS WERE LED TO BELIEVE THAT WOULDN’T HAPPEN”.

                Continued at https://natowatch.org/newsbriefs/2018/how-gorbachev-was-misled-over-assurances-against-nato-expansion [EMPHASES added.]

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                1. What about it? Did anybody in the Clinton administration 90s publicly disavow and disown the promises made by the Bush, Sr team?

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            1. “War being eternal” is not some philosophical aside with no meaning, JLUBECKI.

              It is a Fact of Life with a great deal of meaning to every Human who has ever been, is now being, or will be killed or maimed, and made orphaned, childless, widowed or widowered, homeless, helpless, and hopeless by It.

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              1. Right. Of course, that was in the context of who is chiefly responsible for the war in Ukraine, and, of course, Russia is, not Ukraine or the MIC.

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    1. Have Clintonista/Obomberist/Bidenite crony capitalist/corporatist Democrats in either place EVER voted Against any War in the last 30 years; especially one that increases the profitability of the MIC? In which many of those folks, no doubt, have personal investments and from whom they get plenty of campaign “contributions”?

      The ONLY one that comes to mind is California Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who was the ONLY elected politician in either place that voted against the Cheney/Bush Authorization to Use Military Force [AUMF] on September 14, 2001 that launched America’s Forever War.

      Other than that, Democrats have a long history of being War-Mongers; just as long as do the Republicans; MAGAt or otherwise.

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      1. The only serious political force that is opposing US aid to Ukraine (besides non-significant lefties in the blogosphere) is MAGA right, with several Congressional votes, etc. That fact cannot be dismissed by obfuscation.

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        1. i’m not “obfuscating” anything. i’m merely pointing out that the Democrats are a bunch of War Mongers [even Bernie and “The Squad”], and have been for a long, long time.

          And if the so-called “MAGA Right” is against the War in Ukraine, it’s about the only thing it’s been right about since the dawn of The Age of Trump and the reign of POTUS MAXXIMMUSS XLV began back in 2016.

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          1. Perhaps the coinciding of the left (certain section thereof) and the vastly more powerful right in this case should be analyzed, instead of skimmed over.

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            1. Who is the MAGA Right “vastly more powerful” than?

              And what sections of the Left have voiced any meaningful opposition to our War in Ukraine? Seen any big anti-War demonstrations lately?

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            2. Are you volunteering to provide this analysis, Lubecki?

              What strikes me is the bipartisan consensus in Washington to approve virtually all aid requests for Ukraine. There is even strong resistance to any oversight. No special inspector general. Nothing. Just send money and weapons to Ukraine with unquestioned and absolute faith that nothing will go wrong.

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              1. The aid and money for new weapons is all borrowed money. The IMF just said Ukraine needs $5 BILLION a month just to keep treading water.

                What leading indicator is this?
                As interest rates continue to rise, the federal government is spending more to service the national debt, the Treasury Department said Monday. According to the latest monthly Treasury statement, the U.S. made $103 billion in gross interest payments on the debt in the first two months of the 2023 fiscal year, which began in October — an 87% increase from the $55 billion it spent in the same period a year earlier.

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  2. I have long appreciated your questioning US militarization, but this essay goes too far. Your points 1 – 3 (especially #2) are breath-takingly cynical. Re negotiating with Putin: do you believe that the Western Allies could/should have negotiated with Hitler? If so, how? What would you be willing to give up (Jews? territory?) to stop the blood bath among soldiers and civilians? I hate to raise the Hitler comparison, mostly because I believe that Putin is in many ways worse!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Western allies did negotiate with Hitler. It didn’t work out well for them.

      Knowing what I know about Hitler, I’d have no interest in negotiating with him.

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        1. The Versailles Treaty GUARANTEED that someone like Hitler would arise, Ray. And by the time Hitler was in a position to actually have something to negotiate about, the last thing Western leaders wanted was some way to avoid getting into a Second World War.

          They knew and understood that global Military War was the ONLY way that the global Economic Depression was going to be dealt with.

          Liked by 1 person

              1. ” the last thing Western leaders wanted was some way to avoid getting into a Second World War.”- that conspiratorial claim, what is the source of this claim? Historical work, a prominent historical claiming in that 1934 Western leaders wanted a world war? Because, this is what you are claiming, and I find it to be a falsehood.

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        2. I invite you to read more detailed and recent historiography of the interwar period (Zara Steiner, Adam Tooze). Our understanding of the period has evolved dramatically beyond “blaming Versailles.”

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          1. Sorry; i’m busy reading about This War and What led to it and Why it is happening the way it is.

            And most of all, i’m learning about Who is actually, really benefitting the most from this War.

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            1. Oh, ok, so it is Ok to make claims, and then say “I am busy with something else, no time to examine something else that I claimed.”

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              1. In this case, YES.

                Because talking about the relationship between Versailles, the Great Depression, negotiations with Hitler, and getting WW II started is a complete and total waste of the time i have to spend on Bracing Views today.

                That OK with You? Congratulations: You win. How many points do You get?

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    2. Actually Katie, the US Military-Industrial Complex is making more money off this Ukraine War than the Russian Oligarchs having their wealth seized.

      The Military-Industrial is paid with borrowed money, in progress payments as the weapons, missiles, bombs and bullets are delivered, while your Grandchildren’s children will still be paying Today’s costs of the WAR if we don’t blow ourselves up before then.
      I agree with all of Bill’s points.

      The US is the BIGGEST ARMS MERCHANT in the History of Nations.

      US POLITICIANS ARE SLEEPWALKING TOWARD THE NUCLEAR ABYSS

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    3. Hello Katie: I know it may sound “cynical” of me to suggest the U.S. is profiting from the Ukraine war, but what about prominent European officials who are saying the same thing, and in public?

      Here’s a link and an excerpt: https://www.businessinsider.com/european-officials-accusing-us-profiting-from-ukraine-war-report-2022-11

      Officials told the publication that the Biden administration was making a “fortune” from Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, while European countries were left to suffer.

      “The fact is, if you look at it soberly, the country that is most profiting from this war is the US because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons,” one unnamed senior official told Politico.

      “We are really at a historic juncture. America needs to realize that public opinion is shifting in many EU countries,” the official added.

      The comments were backed publicly and privately by some European officials, diplomats and ministers, according to Politico.

      Europe is bracing for a difficult winter due to soaring energy costs. While oil prices have fallen back below pre-invasion levels, natural gas prices remain far higher and are likely to help push the eurozone into recession, according to the European Commission.

      Officials, including French president Emmanuel Macron, have called US climate legislation, and ensuing gas prices, “not friendly.” A Politico report explained that third-party sales of natural gas exported from the US were increasing prices being in Europe.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. There is a very fine line, Katie, between “cynicism,” on the one hand, and “realism,” on the other.

      And the best way to “stop the blood baths among soldiers and civilians” is to eliminate the ability of Anybody to make any kind of monetary profit whatsoever from being in the Business of War.

      And to eliminate the politicians who keep stealing from their and other Nations’ futures to pay for that Business; and who, of course, always get their fair share of a return on that “investment.”

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      1. bravissima and bravissimo, JG, WJA, and RJ. thank you for your insights, sobering percipience, and stark, laser-focussed, unapologetic elucubrations regarding the US’ capitalist-funded war machine, which will likely leave our grand-progeny broke, drowning in a sewer of debt, resource depletion, and a benighted dystopia of planet depredations from which none of us esurient consumers can be exculpated.

        yes, we are a cynical crwth here, KATIE, but i suspect that some of us have moved beyond cynicism to outré pyrrhonism, w/ ample justification for doing so. we can recognize and insouciantly accept that ‘forever wars’ are naught but sanctioned murder, but who gives a flying fluckster, as long as one can make a buck?

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          1. just trying to offer you beleaguered blokes a respite from my motoring mouth that has never learned how to apply its brakes!

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  3. As an aside, it would be easy for me to fly a Ukrainian flag and to cheer for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, to praise Joe Biden, to hate Vladimir Putin, and to cheer every time the U.S. sends more weapons to Ukraine as more and more people die, especially all those evil Russians.

    This is what we’re being told to do by the mainstream media. My site, hopefully, offers an alternative to the mainstream narrative.

    I remain skeptical that defending Ukrainian “democracy” is a top priority for the U.S. government and that profit from weapons sales, natural gas exports, etc. is not a concern since America is benevolent and righteous and good.

    As I said, our government isn’t even upholding democracy in our own country. Nor is our own government known for its truth-telling. All governments lie, as I.F. Stone famously noted. All.

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  4. AMERICA’S WAR AGAINST EUROPE: What Was Uncle Sam Up To In Ukraine? by Noah Carl 120922

    When it comes to explaining how we ended up with Russia launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and Europe proceeding to cut itself off from its main energy supplier, there are TWO MAIN CAMPS.

    One camp says that PUTIN IS AN IMPERIALIST BENT ON RECREATING THE SOVIET UNION, WHO INVADED UKRAINE (A COUNTRY HE DOESN’T CONSIDER REAL) IN ORDER TO EXPAND RUSSIA’S TERRITORY AND POPULATION. According to this camp, there’s nothing the West could have done to prevent Putin’s invasion short of allowing Ukraine to become a hollowed-out vassal state, or arming Ukraine to the teeth in the faint hope of deterring Russian bellicosity.

    The other camp says that PUTIN SAW US/NATO INVOLVEMENT IN UKRAINE AS A THREAT TO RUSSIAN INTERESTS (INCLUDING BOTH THE SECURITY OF RUSSIA ITSELF AND THE INTERESTS OF ETHNIC RUSSIANS IN THE DONBAS), AND HE INVADED THE COUNTRY AS A WAY TO NEUTRALISE THAT THREAT. According to this camp, the West could have prevented Putin’s invasion by enforcing an agreement along the lines of Minsk II, i.e., one that enshrined Ukrainian neutrality.

    The key element here is US/NATO involvement, since without such involvement Kiev would never have risked provoking its larger and more powerful neighbour. Despite this, FEW IN THE SECOND CAMP TRY TO EXPLAIN WHY THE US/NATO GOT INVOLVED IN UKRAINE. Or if they do, they chalk up to “misguided policy” or “policy mistakes”; US officials were just too wedded to the principle that every state can choose its own alliances.

    YET THERE’S AN ALTERNATIVE POSSIBILITY: THE US GOT INVOLVED IN UKRAINE IN ORDER TO PROVOKE RUSSIA; IT TOOK THE VARIOUS ACTIONS THAT IT DID, STARTING IN 2008, WITH THE AIM OF INCITING CONFLICT BETWEEN RUSSIA AND UKRAINE (THOUGH NOT NECESSARILY ALL-OUT WAR).

    WHY WOULD IT DO THIS? Two primary reasons. First, TO GET A GEOSTRATEGIC RIVAL BOGGED DOWN IN A COSTLY AND PROTRACTED CONFLICT, THEREBY DEGRADING ITS ECONOMY AND ARMED FORCES. Second, TO DRIVE A WEDGE BETWEEN EUROPE AND RUSSIA, THEREBY LIMITING FUTURE COOPERATION BETWEEN THEM AND CEMENTING THE POWER OF THE US-LED NATO ALLIANCE.

    The first reason is self-explanatory – the US wants its rivals to be less powerful. But the second requires further elaboration. WHAT WOULD THE US HAVE TO GAIN BY DRIVING A WEDGE BETWEEN EUROPE AND RUSSIA? IN SHORT, REDUCED EUROPEAN STRATEGIC AUTONOMY AND INCREASED RELIANCE ON THE US.

    Continued at https://noahcarl.substack.com/p/americas-war-against-europe {EMPHASES added.]

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      1. The US introduced Nukes into this World and is the only Nation to use 2 of them to kill over 200,000 CIVILIANS in WAR.

        Since then, the US with the most expensive Military in the History of Nations, invaded and bombed ONLY poor 3rd World Countries and couldn’t get a win in any of them.
        Afghanistan being one of the poorest, is the latest example of a poor Country inflicting a humiliating defeat on the rich US the World saw only last year.

        Americans have been so brainwashed to worship the Pentagod, they don’t question the $2,000,000,000,000 the US Taxpayer spent in that 20 year occupation of Afghanistan, all the Time the US Military claiming they were winning the WAR until the Truth could no longer be avoided and covered up.
        With the frantic hurried US exit from Kabul on the way out, a remote controlled American drone killed a CIVILIAN family of 10 including 7 children. No American has been held accountable, while Americans absolve themselves of any wrong doing, at the End, Almighty God will hold the US accountable.

        With that recent exposure of Pentagod lying, with the current US WAR with Russia over Ukraine being in NATO, Americans still eat up what the Pentagon claims as Gospel Truth without question, as in ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!’
        Too many BLIND US Patriots bury US Sins under the rug, not recognizing US Propaganda for what it is, while casting stones at others.

        What you call ‘anti-US propaganda’ is justified criticism of US Imperialism using it’s Economic-Military Force to control and punish other Nations that will not submit as an obedient US Vassal lap dog.

        The US is not that exceptional compared to all the previous Empires that disappeared throughout Human history since the 1st one Ancient Biblical BABYLON now called Iraq.
        The US invaded Iraq in 2003 in violation of the very same International Law Russia is demonized for violating.
        The Tail struck the Head causing the unravelling of the 2600 year Babylonian Military-Economic Political System.

        It’s not News to me since The Kansas City Times was quoting me recorded the Prophecy on September 13, 1976, “He came to town for the Republican National Convention and will stay until the election in November TO DO GOD’S BIDDING: To tell the World, from Kansas City, this country has been found wanting and its days are numbered […] He gestured toward a gleaming church dome. “The gold dome is the symbol of BABYLON,” he said.” […] He wanted to bring to the Public’s attention an “idea being put out subtly and deceptively” by the government that we have to get prepared for a War with Russia.”

        That 1976 FUTURE is NOW with the Revelation of the details GENERALLY unfolding in the spirit of the letter.
        The World is waking up to see Americans may hasten “its days are numbered” part of the 1976 Vision, and waits with bated breath.

        With the benefit of 46 years hindsight, the last 8 years of intensified FBI, Military, Intelligence and Think Tank “experts” on TV constantly, unanimously, demonizing Putin and Russia, with no dissent allowed, the People have been prepared.

        Few will recognize “this country has been found wanting and its days are numbered” as the 1st 2 parts of the 3 part Writing on the Wall from Daniel 5 in the Bible during the Captivity of BABYLON.
        The 1st 2 parts are concerned with the Economy and the 3rd part is concerned with regime change the US has made as American as Apple Pie.

        People may not know the Bible history, but everyone knows what’s implied saying ‘the Writings on the Wall’ people increasingly can see these Days for the near term Future.

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        1. JG, you must know by now most of the contributors to Bill’s site are intelligent and literate and you have to assume most regulars would recognize what’s important and significant in reading. I use caps sparingly or bold print when I want something to stand out, but mostly I trust others having the Judgment to know.

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    1. Three more conversations with retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor. Well worth the time. It appears that the de-militarization and de-Nazification of the Kiev Regime (installed in 2014 by U.S.-sponsored coup) has gotten well underway. Hopefully the Nazi American Terrorist Operation (NATO) will follow soon, as well.

      (1) Dr. Michael Vlahos & Col. Douglas Macgregor: Is the war in Ukraine entering its decisive phase? Pt.1

      (2) Dr. Michael Vlahos & Col. Douglas Macgregor: Why NATO strategic failure? A war of deceit, denial Pt2

      (3) < href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKgddWP_59I”>Michael Vlahos & Douglas Macgregor: What is to be done? Can a corrupted US military be renewed? Pt.3

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  5. Yeah…: What could POSSIBLY go wrong? Remember: ““This is about supporting the Ukrainians, not fighting the Russians”… :

    BIDEN ADMIN WANTS TO BOOST EFFORTS TO TRACK U.S. WEAPONS IN UKRAINE, MAY SEND ANOTHER HANDFUL OF TROOPS [Excerpts] by Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee 121222

    <<< Senior U.S. Officials Stressed That Any New U.S. Troop Presence In Ukraine Would Be Limited And Modest, Most Likely In The Single Digits. >>>

    The Defense Department is working to shore up efforts to track weapons provided to Ukraine, according to three senior U.S. officials, including discussing whether to send a small number of additional U.S. troops to Ukraine.

    The discussion comes as the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches and the Biden administration contends with the ground war and a new political battlefield at home. The INCOMING REPUBLICAN HOUSE MAJORITY HAS SIGNALED IT WILL BE MORE SKEPTICAL OF A “BLANK CHECK” FOR UKRAINE AND WILL WANT MORE ACCOUNTABILITY ABOUT HOW U.S. WEAPONS ARE DISTRIBUTED AND USED. SOME GOP LAWMAKERS COULD TRY TO BLOCK ECONOMIC AND MILITARY AID — OR LIMIT U.S. TROOP PRESENCE.

    The Pentagon has a couple of dozen U.S. troops in Ukraine, including a very small number already assigned to making sure weapons reach their intended recipients. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other military leaders want to enhance the accountability mission and make sure there are experts in country to help Ukraine use critical weapons systems, including air defense and counter-drone systems.

    THE OFFICIALS SAID THEY WOULD LIKE TO PICK UP THE PACE OF THE WEAPONS CHECK BEFORE JANUARY, WHEN THERE WILL BE MORE PRESSURE FOR ACCOUNTABILITY FROM HOUSE REPUBLICANS.

    The senior U.S. officials stressed that any new troop presence would be limited and modest, most likely in the single digits. In addition to security concerns, they said, sustaining people in Kyiv remains challenging, with finite space and an unreliable supply of essentials like running water and electricity.

    The State Department also caps how many U.S. government officials — civilian and military — can live and work in other countries, and that limit is low in Ukraine, officials say. Some could live and work in neighboring countries and travel in for missions if the cap is not raised, the officials said, but an increase could also spark criticism from Republicans and others that the Biden administration is pushing the limits of a pledge not to send U.S. troops to Ukraine.

    “THIS IS CLASSIC MISSION CREEP,” a former U.S. official said.

    “THAT’S RIDICULOUS,” A U.S. DEFENSE OFFICIAL SAID, EXPLAINING THAT IT IS AN “EXTREMELY LIMITED” ADDITIONAL PRESENCE WITH A “VERY SPECIFIC” MISSION. “THIS IS ABOUT SUPPORTING THE UKRAINIANS, NOT FIGHTING THE RUSSIANS.”

    Full article at https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/biden-weighing-send-us-troops-ukraine-track-weapons-rcna61078?mod=djemCapitalJournalDaybreak [EMPHASES added.]

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