At least 1,600 Ukrainian refugees have settled in North Carolina since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. We’ve also paid, in federal taxes, our own share of the military and humanitarian aid to this ally in need, not to mention all our charitable donations. During the last three days of September, Congress passed a 45-day stop-gap appropriation with no money for Ukraine. Votes are expected this week on a stand alone bill. The US House is divided. On Sept. 27 it defeated the Biggs Amendment to strip Ukraine funding by a vote of 104-330. NC Republicans voted 2-5 on that amendment.
Many, here and across the nation, are asking if it’s all worth it. Is the situation that dire that we need to continue pouring money into what increasingly seems like a quagmire to many? Let’s consider the facts.
There have been at least 354,000 soldiers and civilians killed and many times that wounded and sickened in the past 18 months. Since the war began, 20,000 to 50,000 Ukrainian soldiers have lost limbs. It is estimated that 7,000 to 10,000 are still in need of prosthetics.
Between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainians have been involuntarily deported by the Russians from the territory of Ukraine and sent to the Russian Federation, including Siberia. Last November 60,000 civilians were “evacuated” from Kherson to other Russian controlled areas. This war crime was a favorite of Stalin’s. The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Putin for his deportation of Ukrainian children. Russia intends to permanently separate these children from their families and erase their Ukrainian identity.
As of April 2022, 11.4 million Ukrainians had sought safety in Europe and beyond.
Since then, about 5.5 million have returned for a net outmigration of 6.2 million from Ukraine.
But the flow hasn’t all been out of Ukraine. Thousands of Russians left at the beginning of the war, and 700,000 men fled Putin’s “partial mobilization” in September and October, 2022.
The destruction of $147.5 billion worth of buildings and infrastructure have been wreaked upon Ukraine by Russian missiles, artillery, and drones as of April 2023. Each side has used up many tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons, ammunition and equipment which will be replaced. Last year, Russia’s war against Ukraine cost the world economy $1.6 trillion. In 2023 the cost is estimated to be another $1 trillion.
The magnitude of the war crimes, crimes against humanity, and atrocities inflicted by Russia on the Ukrainians can hardly be appreciated, much less calculated.
ANOTHER HIDDEN TRAGEDY FOR RUSSIA AND UKRAINE
The dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1991 accelerated the rapid decline of the Russian Federation economically, demographically, and spiritually. From 1991-1995 there was a brief interval of relative freedom (with corruption). In 1995, Russia returned to its old ways of corruption, dictatorship, and alcoholism. By 2022 the Russian total population of 144,713,314 had been declining for years. Life expectancy in Russia for men is only 68.2 years, for women 78 years. The Russian fertility rate before the war was 1.8 children per adult woman. To keep a stable population over the long term, a fertility rate of 2.1 is necessary. Russia is gradually committing demographic suicide.
Ukraine had the same problems, including an even lower fertility rate of 1.214 and corruption, but with substantially more political and religious freedom. At the start of Russia’s war, Ukraine’s population was about 43.9 million. Its population now is around 37 million.
On Aug. 1, 2023, CNN reported that nearly half of those detained by Russian forces in Kherson were subject to torture, including sexual violence, often genital electrocution designed to keep the victim childless, evidence that Russia is committing the crime of genocide.
In 1991 religious freedom was possible in Russia. That year Russian parliamentarians came to North Carolina to study what religious freedom looks like. More recently the dark cloud of corruption and despair has descended over the Russian Orthodox Church as it linked its fortunes to Putin. Its patriarch conveniently proclaimed that Russians who die in battle against Ukraine would have all their sins forgiven.
Although Russia has been impoverished by its war, it has actually gained population! The numbers it has deported from Ukraine to Russia exceed the number Russia has lost in battle plus the number of those who fled.
Ukraine has been known as the “breadbasket” of Europe. Russia is one of the world’s foremost exporters of grain. No one has yet discerned a rational reason that Putin initiated this war. Could it be that Putin’s war was a play for population to serve in Russia’s factories and harvest its crops? Putin wants to restore the Russian Empire — a return to serfdom with Putin as tsar.
A NEW TRAGEDY IN AMERICA?
There is a potential tragedy in America. The 20th century gave plenty of warning that war in Europe would inevitably come to America. The America First movement, led by Charles Lindberg, met its Pearl Harbor. The sinking of American ships by German submarines brought us into World War I. Late entrances by America resulted in much greater cost in lives and futures lost, not to mention the enormous extra financial cost. So history would suggest that ignoring the alliance of Russia, China, and Iran — as they expand into their neighbors’ territory — would only make a more costly (in blood and treasure) conflict later.
A minority of each party in Congress disregards history and common sense, appealing to the understandable, but naïve, desire of Americans to be left alone. America Firsters often claim that the American contribution to Ukraine’s defense is many times greater than the Europeans. But the contribution of the European Union, together with its member nations and the European members of NATO, is roughly equivalent to that of the United States.
Because of the disastrous August 2021 Biden execution of the disastrous January 2021 Trump plan for the withdrawal from Afghanistan, our allies in Taiwan were already skeptical that America would really come to its defense. America Firsters have aggravated that lack of confidence.
Would abandonment of Taiwan and Ukraine really save America money? Not in this universe.