Ukrainian lives are not a priority on the U.S. agenda
Bradley Blankenship
A woman holds and kisses a child next to Russian soldiers in a street of Mariupol, Ukraine, April 12, 2022. /CFP

A woman holds and kisses a child next to Russian soldiers in a street of Mariupol, Ukraine, April 12, 2022. /CFP

Editor's note: Bradley Blankenship is a Prague-based American journalist, political analyst and freelance reporter. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

At the outset of Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine, Harvard University political scientist Stephen Walt made an interesting point about the conflict. "Saving Ukraine" would require the West to make it "easier for Moscow to reverse course," he noted, invoking a saying by the legendary Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu. The phrase goes, "Build a golden bridge for your enemy to retreat across." 

It has become clearer, based, for example, on the words of U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, that an off-ramp is not what the West is seeking. Instead, they want to use the Ukraine conflict to weaken Russia; they want to sap the Russian military and economy by prolonging the conflict. In all likelihood, they can see that Russia will probably achieve its military goals – but they want it to be a costly victory. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's delegation to Poland and Ukraine also shows this clearly, however it is dressed up. During her trip last weekend, Pelosi vowed continuous U.S. military and humanitarian support to Ukraine. The trip came just two days after President Joe Biden asked Congress for $33 billion to up its support to Ukraine. 

Pelosi and her fellow politicians in Washington are painting this as a battle between good and evil, of "freedom against tyranny," as they try desperately to boost their party's atrocious image ahead of contentious mid-term elections. But the reality is that they are merely prolonging a conflict that will lead to more destruction and more bloodshed in Ukraine while also undermining the peace process.

This is because increased Western military support to Ukraine means that the political stakes for Russia jump exponentially in this conflict. Where there may have been a chance for a quick resolution and peaceful settlement, the prospect of a long-term conflict becomes more likely as peace talks grind to a halt. At the same time, Western military equipment being sent to Ukraine has meant that Moscow has had to unleash more of its military might – meaning more damage to Ukraine's infrastructure. 

The Western media is latching onto a narrative that Russia's operation in Ukraine is failing even though it has made clear gains in the Donbas region.

A view of the Azovstal Plant in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine, April 28, 2022. /CFP

A view of the Azovstal Plant in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine, April 28, 2022. /CFP

Military aid to Ukraine will not tip the scale in the conflict but will only prolong what is already happening, resulting in more destruction and death in the embattled country. The ultimate loser in this situation is Ukraine – meanwhile, Western politicians can pat themselves on the back for doing something, even if that thing is objectively leading to negative outcomes for the Ukrainian people, it is supposedly designed to save. 

This all shows that Ukrainian lives are not the main policy focus but that weakening Russia is. It probably also isn't a coincidence that members of Congress are heavily invested in defense contractors and are known to make trades before passing legislation relevant to this sector. The cynic in me would not be surprised to see these members dealing trades around their visit and the White House's funding request. 

It should also be noted that the House of Representatives passed the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 on April 28, sending it to President Biden's desk for signature. A revived World War II policy will allow the U.S. to lend or lease weapons to Ukraine without the country having to pay for them outright. 

This means that the U.S. is giving out a credit line for weapons to Ukraine, which is a clear debt trap given the fact that the U.S. is doing everything it can to ensure that the conflict continues. Inevitably, this could thwart Ukraine's future development or reconstruction after the conflict if it becomes saddled with U.S. war debt. Many countries that signed onto this program in World War II had an outstanding debt to the U.S. for decades.  

If we choose to examine U.S. policy on Ukraine at this point, it becomes evident that Ukraine that is, the nation and its people are not the priority. Rather, more selfish aims like containing Russia to maintain U.S. hegemony, feeding the military-industrial complex or personally enriching politicians (possibly some combination of all of these) are higher on the agenda.

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