In 2014, when Russia made a quick lunge for Crimea, Ukraine wasn’t prepared.
Ukrainians who had no training were taking up arms, scrambling to beat back Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas soon after. And while the U.S. has provided military assistance to Ukraine in the meantime—and Ukraine’s military has bulked up—lawmakers warn that the Biden administration hasn’t done enough to provide the sort of assistance that would be needed to thwart another Russian attack.
Ukraine’s assistance packages have been hefty, for sure. The U.S. has provided over $2.5 billion in assistance to Ukraine since 2014. The Biden administration itself carved out $60 million worth of assistance earlier this year.
But the situation in Ukraine is not looking good. Russian troops are amassing at the border and threatening invasion. And, by some estimates, they could overtake Ukrainian forces in 30 to 45 minutes, according to Robert Lee, a Russia military analyst and Ph.D. candidate at King’s College London.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), who just visited Ukraine last week to get a lay of the land firsthand, told The Daily Beast Ukraine is vulnerable to takeover.
“My readout from the ground is that it is a very serious situation. Russia is very much amassing its forces at the borders in a very offensive [way] with offensive capabilities,” Gallego said in an interview. “Ukraine itself is bogged down in the eastern front in the Donbas… with most of its fighting men there and is vulnerable to invasion.”
To make matters worse, Russia is building up troops all along Ukraine’s border in an attempt to disperse Ukrainian forces and weaken any potential defensive operations, Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksi Reznikov, told Politico in a recent interview.
“It doesn’t mean that we can’t help Ukraine become more resistant to that, but we have to move very fast,” Gallego said of the matchup. The situation could change, he said, if the White House and Pentagon were to step up their game and help provide lethal aid to Ukraine.
That sort of assistance would be needed immediately; Russia is showing signs that it’s not…