Nov 9, 2022
I never expected midterms to have any impact on the level of support in Congress for arming Ukraine – even less so now, given the results coming thru.
If the Senate was 98-2 in favour of arming Ukraine pre-midterms, its likely more like 90-10 now, worst case.
From a US security perspective its just a no brainer to arm the Ukrainians to take out Russia, and Iranian, military capability. The best bang for buck, quite literally, for the US, and putting zero US lives in danger.
1. Erodes Russian military capability – each Russian tank taken out now is one less for NATO forces to face down the line;
2. Forces Russia to divert resources from consumption to the military, eroding domestic living standards and ultimately eroding support for the Putin regime;
3. The conflict is a great advertising opportunity for the superiority of Western military technology against Russia. It cements an image that Russian military kit is substandard. Just imagine the US is only supplying Ukraine with second/third generation military technology and its still beating the best the Russians can offer. Just think that stingers and javelins are taking out Russian air power and tanks – what would much higher spec kit do? So imagine if you are a third country, like India, Egypt, Pakistan or Turkey, thinking about investing in new military kit. Who’s kit would you want? Certainly not Russia. So this will impact on Russian arms sales, but also give Russia less diplomatic leverage. Net net it is eroding Russian power.
The conflict will boost arms US arms sales, and is also a great trigger for other NATO members to finally step up and meet the 2% of GDP defence spending commitment – much of the arms sales will go to the US.
4. By allowing the Ukrainians to erode the Russian’s perception of power, you also erode their diplomatic clout – just look what is happening in Central Asia, where countries like Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, et al are showing much greater willingness now to tow an independent line from Moscow – as they realise Moscow is stretched militarily. See recent Azeri gains against Armenia, which has now opened the way for substantive and potentially definitive peace talks. The US, rather than Russia, is now leading those peace talks. Incredible to look back and think that Russia was unable to come to Armenia’s defence in recent fighting despite a strong case to be made under the terms of the mutual defence agreement. Why not? Likely because Russia lacked spare military capability and did not want to be seen to lose, and likely badly. Likely the Kazakhs are making the same calculation over Northern Kazakhstan.
5. Actually putting all the above together, the war in Ukraine must provide the US with the best chance for regime change in Russia, of taking Putin out. He is being weakened militarily, economically, diplomatically. And yes, the US would absolutely love to see Putin removed from power – the calculation will be the next Russian leader cannot be as bad as Putin.