Support for Ukraine: Use Resumption of U.S. Aid to Spur Counteroffensive against Russia

U.S. military assistance to Ukraine, which had been stalled due to a deadlock between Democrats and Republicans, has taken a significant step toward resumption. It is hoped that this will contribute to Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia.

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted in favor of an additional budget proposal of about ¥9.4 trillion, the key element of which is the transfer of weapons to Ukraine. The budget proposal is expected to go into effect soon after it is passed by the Senate and signed by U.S. President Joe Biden.

The Biden administration submitted the budget proposal to Congress last year. However, the Republican Party, which holds the majority in the House of Representatives, opposed it on the grounds that the government should prioritize measures against illegal immigration over support for Ukraine. For a long time, a vote could not be held.

The Ukrainian military was running out of weapons and ammunition due to the halt in aid from the United States, its biggest supporter. This allowed the Russian army to expand the areas it occupies, including the loss of the eastern Ukrainian defense base of Avdiivka to Russian forces in February.

The deadlock in Congress was broken by Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, who in mid-April met with former U.S. President Donald Trump, who had opposed supporting Ukraine, and reportedly got his approval on the condition that the original budget proposal was amended.

The revised proposal would change one-sixth (about ¥1.5 trillion) of the original budget into a loan that must be repaid, rather than a grant. The amendment was made in line with the wishes of Trump, who did not want the burden on the United States to increase, and the amended proposal passed the House of Representatives.

Trump’s compromise may have been based on his concern, with the U.S. presidential election in November in mind, that he would be criticized for “abandoning Ukraine.”

The United States still plays a significant role in ensuring peace and stability in the international community. If its leadership is weakened, the world could return to an era in which major powers compete to expand their sphere through military force. The United States should realize the weight of the responsibility it bears.

However, support for Ukraine should not solely rely on the United States. Europe and Japan must also step up their efforts and do whatever it takes to ensure that Russia’s barbaric actions end in failure.

Japan, which is restricted in the military assistance it can provide, has supported the civilian sector by such measures as providing power generators, but is this enough to fulfill its responsibilities as a member of the Group of Seven industrialized nations? At the very least, Japan should consider providing equipment that will help strengthen Ukraine’s defense capabilities.

There is speculation that the Russian military will launch a large-scale offensive as early as May. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, a senior military official has been ousted on corruption charges.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy should reestablish his domestic foundation and make effective use of the support from the international community.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 23, 2024)