Why Americans should care about the War in Ukraine

Tatihn Mellieon, Staff Writer

The United States, under the Biden administration, has given more than seventy-five billion dollars to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s invasion. Not only this, but various officials, including Biden himself, have visited the country to show support. Obviously, this money has come out of the pocket of taxpayers, and should be understood in full by us, the supposed taxpayers. 

First, where is our money going? According to data from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, we’ve given almost $4 billion in humanitarian aid, $26 billion in financial support for Ukraine’s economy, and $46.5 billion for military aid, such as training, weapons, grants and loans for weapons. In fact, the U.S. has given more money than all other supporters combined. 

So why are we so invested in the independence of an Eastern European country that borders Russia?

This question has a rather historic answer, dating back to the Soviet Union and Ukraine’s independence in 1991. This was followed by a new constitution being adopted in 1996, a revolution and a unilateral declaration from Russia in 2014, annexing Crimea from Ukraine and beginning conflict on the ground. This is just a brief summary, but the point is more than proven; tensions between Ukraine and Russia are both complex and long-standing.

While Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has been plastered on tv stations and social media for the past year for his speeches, Russia’s President Putin has been relatively silent in comparison, especially in Western media. His most recent address to Russia’s federal assembly was by far his most telling moment in the year since the invasion itself occurred, with accusations that “the people of Ukraine have become the hostage of the Kyiv regime and its Western overlords” as well as claiming “the destruction of the family,” in Western society.

Okay, backstory and context out of the way. Why should you, a supposedly tax paying American, care about any of this? The reasons should be apparent, but I’ll explain nonetheless. 

Firstly, we’re paying a lot of money for Ukraine to defend itself, which most people think is a good idea. However, the question of what happens to all the tanks, missiles and guns afterwards is one that has yet to be answered by the West or Ukraine. Secondly, China is very close with Russia, and their bond has only strengthened since the invasion. During 2022, China both got 10% of its total gas imports from Russia, as well as having signed multiple agreements, one of which included the usage of Russian roubles and Chinese yen to pay for Russian natural gas going to China. If you know anything about current China-U.S. relations, then you know that they’re rather tense. Thirdly, Russian officials have largely claimed the war is no longer about land disputes, but now about the imperial force of the West against Russian independence and culture.

If it hasn’t become obvious, the war in Ukraine is no longer about a country and its people repelling an invading force, instead it is now a proxy war over the idealized version of capitalism both sides represent. The West represents neoliberal capitalism, fighting for individualism and capital above all else, whereas Russia is fighting for an Orthodox Christian oligarchy, where the government works in open arms with the country’s largest industries to push its agenda. 

Both are rather brutal in practice, invading smaller countries for their needs, but it really comes down to which you think is better.