Mitt Romney exclusive: Damage caused to Russia makes Ukraine investment worth it

Departing senator for Utah hits out at critics of funding for Kyiv and laments state of his party under sway of Donald Trump

IN WASHINGTON 14 September 2023 •

The United States must continue to fund Ukraine’s war effort, because “decimating the Russian military” while using just five per cent of the US defence budget is an “extraordinarily wise investment”, Mitt Romney has said.

The GOP grandee, who announced on Wednesday that he will not stand for re-election as Senator for Utah, hit back at critics within his own party who have argued that America cannot afford to keep funding Ukraine’s army, telling the Telegraph: “The idea that it’s too expensive is a little funny.

“We spend about $850 billion (£685 billion) a year on defence. We’re using about five per cent of that to help Ukraine. My goodness, to defend freedom and to decimate the Russian military – a country with 1,500 nuclear weapons aimed at us.

“To be able to do that with five per cent of your military budget strikes me as an extraordinarily wise investmentand not by any means something we can’t afford.”

Since the war began 18 months ago, the Biden administration and US Congress have sent more than $75 billion on assistance to Ukraine, which includes humanitarian, financial, and military support.

By comparison, the EU as a whole has given roughly the same, while the UK is the second largest individual state donor, committing £4.6 billion in military assistance to Ukraine so far.

But Russia has now lost more than 2,300 tanks and hundreds of other armoured vehicles and artillery pieces, as well as dozens of attack helicopters, bombers and fighter jets. It has also suffered heavy casualties to its infantry forces.

The remains of a Russian tank
The remains of a Russian tank in the middle of a garden at the village of Velyka Dymerka, in Ukraine CREDIT: Shutterstock

While Joe Biden said that he will support Ukraine for “as long as it takes”, the Republican Party is split on its support, heading into next year’s US election.

Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis have said that defending Ukraine from Russia is not a vital US national interest, while Vivek Ramaswamy has said he would stop funding altogether.

On the other side of the party, Mike Pence wants to increase funding, while Nikki Haley and Chris Christie have defended America’s current stance.

In a wide-ranging interview in his office on Capitol Hill, Mr Romney said he no longer recognises large parts of his party, because its “foundational principles” have changed under Mr Trump, who should not run for the presidency, according to the senator.

Sat at the end of a long wooden table looking out to a courtyard in the heart of Capitol Hill, Mr Romney told The Telegraph that the “character” of his party had been “thrown aside”.

“I think it’s fair to say that there has been a decline in respect among the elected class and that the rise of populism and demagoguery has been a little alarming.

“It’s hard for me to recognise some aspects of my own party. Some of the foundational principles of my party – one, that character was critical. We have sort of thrown character to the side. If Donald Trump does it, it’s all just fine.

“We’re the party of strong national defence and pushing back against Russia. But what are we doing? We’ve got Trump and Putin acting like they’re buddies and Trump sending Kim Jong-un a love letter. It’s hard to recognise.”

Mr Romney was one of the most vocal critics of Mr Trump in the GOP, and twice voted to impeach him during his 2016-2020 White House term.

Speaking on The Telegraph’s Ukraine: The Latest podcast, Mr Romney said that the West had made “extraordinary strides to come together to provide the weaponry that Ukraine needed”.

However, he warned against complacency.

“I’m concerned that in my country, you’re seeing some people say, OK, we’ve done enough, let’s move on. In my opinion, that’s very foolish, very short-sighted because, if Russia thinks they can get away with what they did in Ukraine, China’s going to feel the same way about Taiwan.

“Other authoritarians are going to say: ‘Why don’t we take the population and resources of our neighbour? That’s just not something that the liberal democracies of the world can countenance.”

It is not just Russia that is of concern to Mr Romney. China is not playing by the rules, either, he says.

“I wish we had a strategy. If you look at China, they’ve laid out where they want to be in 2049 and where they want to be along the way. They have a strategy which is not just military but also geopolitical. They also have an economic strategy. They’re going to go after key, fast-growing industries and establish raw material dominance, sourcing through their belt and road. It’s a very complicated, complex and comprehensive strategy. Do we in the West have the same? No.

“We have developed that kind of strategy and talk amongst ourselves and say, OK, how are we going to deal with the emergence of China?

“And my view is not to say, ‘How do we get ready to fight them?’ Because no one wants to see a fight between the authoritarian nations and the free nations. But how can we get them to become diverted from a course of conflict, and instead play by the same rules we’re playing by?”

Mr Romney pointed out that China’s vast resources come from manufactured goods that are sold into Western markets for “exceptional profit”.

“They are driving Western businesses out of business, so, this is a place where we come together, and exercise our economic might to say to the Chinese, ‘we’re not going to buy your products, we’re not going to let you come into our markets, unless you agree that you can’t subsidise these key products in industries that you can’t monopolise certain raw materials’.”

Turning to the UK, Mr Romney described Britain as the most reliable, long-term friend and ally that the United States has.

“We share not just a language, but we share a culture, and frankly, the foundation of our country was built on the system of laws and constitutional order that we inherited and borrowed from Great Britain. The ties continue to run extraordinarily deep, and I think we respect the leadership in Great Britain and have for a long time.

“As you look at some of the world’s great leaders, we think of Washington and Lincoln in that category, but we also think of Winston Churchill as one of the greatest leaders in world history.

“So there’s a very close relationship, admiration and respect.”

In a candid moment, Mr Romney said it was “the strangest thing” that Americans care so much about the British Royal family, but shared an anecdote about King Charles.

“I had a chance to meet with him when we were both teenagers,” he said.

“He came to the White House when Richard Nixon was there and I was in the great receiving line. You had to be trained in what you say to royalty. I’ve forgotten what it is, but I did follow that. And that’s my claim to fame!”

Weighing in on the split in the family, Mr Romney said “I think Prince Harry and Meghan are fantastic. But I also think the same thing about Princess Kate and Prince William.”


  1. It would be a lot safer and better world today if he had been elected president instead of the despicable Obama.

  2. Watching the video of a man who has declared he is at the end of the career is an example of the talent that is wasted by the Republican Party. This guy is 76, with the drive and energy of a 40 year old.
    With respect to the three candidates with integrity, ie, Pence, Haley and Christie, he is clearly of a higher calibre than them and always appears presidential.
    The GOP has some damn good people, but the three contenders heading the polls for the nomination next year are the human equivalent of toilet effluence.

  3. “Damage caused to Russia makes Ukraine investment worth it”

    Mitt must’ve read one of our posts. We’ve been saying things like this since last year.
    I wish the entire GOP was made up of people like Mitt Romney. The White House, too.

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