Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

The Case Against Western Military Assistance to Ukraine

Table of Contents

  1. It’s extremely unlikely that, had the West not helped Ukraine, Russia would have attacked a NATO member next
  2. Western military assistance to Ukraine makes proliferation more, not less, likely
  3. Providing military assistance to Ukraine is not cheap once you take into account the indirect costs
  4. The argument that committing to Ukraine’s defense was necessary to deter wars of aggression is flawed
  5. The argument from credibility is a self-fulfilling prophecy and a recipe for the sunk cost fallacy

During the surprise visit that he made to Kiev, Biden declared that he came because “it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about US support for Ukraine in the war” and to show America’s “unwavering support for the nation’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, especially in recent weeks, several Western officials have publicly their country’s and the West’s commitment to Ukraine’s defense in very strong terms.

The view that it’s in the US and more generally in the West’s interest to commit to Ukraine in such a forceful way is largely uncontroversial among commentators. People who disagree with that view are widely demonized for acquiescing to Putin’s war of aggression and painted as “appeasers”. In this essay, I argue that most arguments people make to support this view are unpersuasive, misconstrue the nature of the West’s interests and deny the trade-offs involved in a commitment to defend Ukraine.


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