Our Government Says “No” – But Are We Abandoning Ukraine?

Robert A. McConnell
March 25, 2024

Inside the Beltway, one old Washington joke is that one of the most dangerous places to be is between Congress and the local airports when Congress adjourns for a recess.  

Applying this to Congress’ rush out-of-town this weekend for its long-scheduled two-week Spring break however is not humorous.  No one seems genuinely satisfied with the last-minute completion of the funding of government for fiscal year 2024 which started last October, but it is done, and the President has signed it into law.

What was not done and certainly was not humorous is that, while people are dying and war crimes continue in Ukraine, the Speaker did not bring funding for Ukraine to the floor for a vote even though, by all indications, a substantial majority of Members are for the funding.

We are told the Speaker has promised to bring Ukraine funding to a vote as soon as the House returns (April 9), but given all the tortured dynamics of the 118th Congress, we will have to wait to see what happens. Whatever the Speaker’s intentions, there are dangerous and disruptive forces in his caucus.

However, there should be no recess for supporters of Ukraine.  What should happen is that every time a Member of Congress or candidate for Congress stands in front of an audience or is seen in their state or district, they should be asked to justify inaction on Ukraine funding.  How could you leave town without passing Ukraine funding?  How could you, while Putin challenges the United States, NATO, and Ukraine, continuing to commit war crimes against Ukraine, its people, and its heritage against the backdrop of his consistently stated objective to re-establish Kremlin domination over the entirety of the once Russian Empire? (Picket signs would also be good.)

Those members who continue to use fallacious sound-bite arguments against funding for Ukraine need to be challenged publicly.  While we should respect honest contrary views, I know of not one argument being put forward against funding Ukraine that stands against serious analysis – not one.

Current example – there are those like Senator Vance of Ohio who repeat repugnant Kremlin propaganda about Christians being attacked in Ukraine. In its Saturday/Sunday, March 23-24 edition, the Wall Street Journal published a very thorough piece by Jillian Kay Melchior, Is Religious Liberty ‘Under Attack’ in Ukraine, which exposes the misinformation and unequivocally sets forth the truth.  People should know. And people should understand any attacks on religious liberty are being committed in the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine by Russians!

Of course, no discussion of Congress and Ukraine can ignore the atrocious votes this last Tuesday of nine so-called conservatives, so-called Republicans who actually cast votes against H.Res.149, “Condemning the illegal abduction and forcible transfer of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

The International Criminal Court (“ICC”) issued a warrant of arrest for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin because of this war crime of the unlawful abduction of these children.  And under the Genocide Convention, the behavior involved in Putin’s official abduction program is defined as “genocide.”

This bipartisan resolution to condemn these abductions was passed by the House of Representatives on a vote of 390-9!  There were nine elected representatives who voted against the resolution! Nine!

These nine Members voting against condemning genocide allegedly represent the people of their congressional districts.  Can those votes really represent the views of those districts?  Are those constituencies in favor of genocide?

The Rhinos casting those nine votes were:

Andy Biggs of Arizona’s 5th Congressional District which includes much of the East Valley – Mesa, Chandler, Queen Creek, and Gilbert.

Eric Burlison of Missouri’s 7th Congressional District, which includes Springfield, the Joplin metropolitan area, and Branson.

Warren Davidson of Ohio’s 8th Congressional District, which includes a swath of suburban and exurban territory between Cincinnati and Dayton.

Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia’s 14th Congressional District which is mostly rural including the cities of Rome, Calhoun, and Dalton.

Clay Higgins of Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District, which is in the southwestern corner of the state and includes Lafayette, Lake Charles, and New Iberia.

Thomas Massie of Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District where the majority of his constituents live in suburban Cincinnati counties of Boone, Kenton, and Campbell. The next largest population center is the northeastern suburbs of Louisville.

Matt Rosendale of Montana’s 2nd Congressional District which covers the eastern part of the state, including Billings, Glendive, and Miles City.

Chip Roy of Texas’s 21st Congressional District which is an area north of San Antonio and a significant part of Austin, towns of Boerne, Fredericksburg, Ingram, Kerrville, Kyle, New Braunfels, and San Marcos.

Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District which includes the counties of Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, St. Croix, Chippewa (partial), Clark, Douglas, Florence, Forest, Iron, Jackson (partial), Juneau (partial), Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon (partial), Oneida, Polk, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, Vials, Washburn, and Wood (partial).

Before last Tuesday’s vote, it was clear that some Members were determined to oppose support for Ukraine regardless of the facts available and presented that undercut their arguments against funding. This is disturbing, but unfortunately, this happens.

What seems unprecedented is Members casting votes against condemning the genocide of children.

Historically, for over 100 years, the strongest support for Ukraine from our government, from the time of the Peace Conference after World War II, has been from Congress until this rather strange and disappointing 118th Congress.

Now, the fact is those of us supporting Ukraine and our American vital interests in Ukraine have significant challenges ahead with Congress – and the coming elections.


If you follow the subject closely, the Executive Branch of our government has been, shall I say here, “weak” on Ukraine ever since President Reagan left office. (Just one excellent source, The Moscow Factor – US Policy Toward Sovereign Ukraine and the Kremlin by Eugene M. Fishel)

But most relevant today is that the last three Administrations, the ones since Putin invaded Ukraine in 2014, have never clearly stated any strategic objective regarding Ukraine and/or the war.

Yes, of course, the Biden Administration has delivered an extraordinary level of support to Ukraine. It has effectively pulled allies together and, for the most part, kept them committed to supporting Ukraine.

This must be acknowledged and appreciated. And I acknowledge and appreciate what this Administration has done.


As time goes by, the consequences of the Administration having never committed unequivocally to Ukraine’s winning the war and defeating Putin exposes the fecklessness of American support and its disastrous consequences.

Courtesy of a still classified NATO study completed before Putin invaded Ukraine in 2014, the United States has known exactly what Ukraine would have to have to defeat Russian forces invading and seeking to occupy Ukraine since before the invasion! And we have not provided Ukraine with what we know it must have. In the specific case of long-range precise missiles, Washington has consistently and deliberately refused to provide Ukraine with long-range ATACMS.

People – innocent people – are dying while the Administration seeks to placate Ukraine supporters with “the long-range ATACMS are under consideration,” and “we are leaning toward providing.”  Stop leaning and send the weapons.

Weapons and support for those weapons Washington has provided Ukraine has in each case been too little and too late.  Worse, there have been too many instances where what has been delivered did not work.

And as if Ukraine was engaged in some elementary war game the United States has and continues to place restrictions on how American delivered weapons can be used.

In this context it must be noted, Ukraine has never violated any restriction the United States has placed on the use of American-supplied weapons.

The result has been deadly and unnecessarily so.

Because of this policy Russia has American assured sanctuaries from which Russia indiscriminately pounds Ukraine with artillery and missiles killing, maiming, and destroying.

Now, as we know from news reports, Ukraine has been making drones and other weapons in-country that are allowing it to strike targets inside Russia causing significant damage.

Which brings me to another outrageous, disgraceful, story from last week.

Last Friday it was reported Jake Sullivan, the President’s National Security Advisor, made an unannounced trip to Kyiv.  The story from the White House was that Sullivan was there to assure Ukraine of United States support.

In addition, what was learned was that Sullivan was there to urge Ukraine to halt attacks on Russia’s energy infrastructure.  Really, Washington wants to assure Putin additional sanctuaries?

Russia started and continues an unprovoked war against Ukraine, thousands-upon-thousands of Ukrainian civilians have and are being killed, Ukraine’s infrastructure is being savaged by Russian bombardment and not only does the Administration place restrictions on how American-supplied weapons can be used, but now urges Ukraine not to use its own, in-country made weapons to counter Russian aggression.

In what world is the West Wing living?

Ukraine is not engaged in a war game, it is fighting for its very existence, for the very lives of its people – and for what is indisputably in our – the United States’ – best national security interests.

If Washington continues to measure what it provides Ukraine so as to give enough for Ukraine to continue fighting, but not what is needed to defeat Russia, Washington’s strategy - admitted or not - is to bleed Ukraine until ultimately Putin wins while giving the impression Washington tried its best.

History will not judge kindly.

Putin will not stop his advances until he is stopped!

Ukraine can stop Putin if it is provided the weapons and support needed to do the job.

It is long since past time for the Administration to announce a strong unequivocal policy of support for Ukraine to defeat Russia and with that policy clearly stated, put into action the operations and deliveries to Ukraine to implement that policy.

Once feckless Congress provides the money Washington must do what it has refused to do for the entire 10+ years of Putin’s war – deliver to Ukraine what it needs to win.


Co-Founder, U.S.-Ukraine Foundation

Director of External Affairs, Friends of Ukraine Network

The views expressed here are Mr. McConnell’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and/or the Friends of Ukraine Network (FOUN).