The Cost Of Freedom In Ukraine

The Cost Of Freedom In Ukraine


Leonard Zwelling

It is my understanding that the United States has spent between $77-113 billion supporting Ukraine in its fight to resist Russian aggression that dates back to February of 2022. The European Union has also contributed billions. The question is not why we have supported the Ukrainians. Ukraine is a democracy and tight to the border of one of our most dangerous enemies, Russia. Even though Russia is a basket case economically and its people thirst for real freedom, for now it remains a second-rate country with oil, gas, and nuclear weapons and thus very dangerous, especially with Mr. Putin’s aspirations to recreate the Soviet Empire, starting with Ukraine.

In the beginning of the Russian invasion, Ukrainian flags were everywhere in the United States. We had to support this country that shares our values and political system against the Russian Army. Now, questions are finally getting raised, mainly by Republicans in Congress. What is the United States getting for this treasure? At least this time, unlike in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, we are not contributing blood in another fruitless war, but that’s a lot of cash not being used for border security in the south of the United States. It is fair for the GOP to ask, what’s the goal? What’s the end game? How will we know when enough is enough?

It seems really unlikely to me that the Ukrainians can actually push the Russians out of Crimea or the Donbas. The best the United States can hope for is that the Russians will come to the peace table and agree to a cease fire. Unlikely. Mr. Putin is seeking more and more weapons from his allies in Iran, China, and North Korea and Mr. Biden is logically reluctant to give Ukraine more advanced weapons systems for fear that the Russians will decide that such aid is an act of war or worse, determine that the United States’ aid will tip the balance toward Ukraine which will necessitate the use of a tactical nuclear weapon by the Russians.

Mr. Biden and the Congress have some tough choices to make, but the American people should expect some accountability for all of their money being spent to prop up a government which, while bravely fighting on, may be no match for the Russians over the long haul.

It is time for Mr. Biden to let us in on his goals for his program of Ukrainian aid and what he expects America to derive from the expense and by when. The ultimate goal is surely to get Russia out of the territory that was Ukraine just a few years ago. That would include Crimea, but to Russia, that’s like asking us to give up Hawaii. Russia sees these lands as Russia and while maybe not taking new territory the Russians will never give up what they currently have.

In the meantime, Ukraine is bearing the brunt of the Russian aggression and winter is just around the corner.

Mr. Biden should demand a battle plan from Mr. Zelenskyy that outlines exactly what success against Russia looks like. Then Mr. Biden needs to let us in on the plan and Congress needs to decide if the cost is worth it. The answer is not obvious to me.

Like most Americans, I support the Ukrainians in their fight for freedom. What is less clear to me is what success looks like and when can we say enough is enough. Mr. Biden, help me out here.

Dr. Zwelling’s new novel, Conflict of Interest: Money Drives Medicine and People Die is available at:,

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2 thoughts on “The Cost Of Freedom In Ukraine”

  1. If Ukraine falls, Russia will likely begin to infringe on other countries. A BAD idea if any NATO nation is invaded. We will have to fight, and you are right: American lives will be lost. Right now, our Army is 15,000 soldiers short of recruitment. And, only 24% of young Americans qualify physically and mentally for military service. Our nation may NOT be able to fight a larger war in Europe or Asia. We have devolved into softness, a predictor of national decline.
    We do need to hear more explicit plans for America supporting Ukraine. And, we need to get our young people in better shape. Otherwise, future threats from Russia and China will be problematic. We will not sustain American values from a point of weakness.

    1. Leonard Zwelling

      All correct, BUT what is our goal in Ukraine? It should be stated outright that our aid is to prevent the need for Americans to fight should Poland be invaded and Article 5 invoked. Unfortunately, this is starting to be reminiscent of Europe in the late 1930’s. We may be coming to the point when we have to decide not whether we want to fight, but how and where. Personally, I’d rather send money to Ukraine than troops to Poland.

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