The US Cannot Help Ukraine Win the War

American foreign policy seems only to have two gears: ensuring everything pours in through military aid or ensuring nothing gets in through sanctions. Neither works, and sanctions have no more weakened Russia than military aid has helped Ukraine.

On April 20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the long-delayed $61 billion aid package for Ukraine. On April 23, it easily passed the Senate, and the next day, President Biden signed it into law.

Biden said that, though “it was a difficult path… we got it done.” He said the package of lethal aid is “going to make America safer. It’s going to make the world safer.” The American media told a tale of the aid package permitting Ukraine to go back on the offensive in 2025. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “I think this support will really strengthen the armed forces, I pray, and we will have a chance at victory.”

But what Ukrainian officials and military analysts were saying was more sobering. According to a senior Ukrainian official, the American aid package “will help to slow down the Russian advance, but not stop it.” It “does not,” he said, “contain a silver bullet.” A Ukrainian military analyst told the Financial Times only that “The aid provided by the US buys us and the European Union time.” Another military analyst pointed out that, even with the new aid package, “Russia will still have an artillery advantage, it just won’t be as great.”

In December 2023, then Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhny told U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin how much aid Ukraine would need to defeat Russia. And it wasn’t $61 billion. It was $350-400 billion. The Economist pointed to the “sobering facts” that “although the new package will boost Ukraine’s defensive capabilities, it is not enough to help it recapture any more of the territory it has lost to Russia.”

Though $61 billion is a lot of money, it is not really even $61 billion. It is not all budgeted for new weapons, and it is not enough to change the inevitable long-term outcome of the war.

Of the $61 billion, $8 billion is set aside to keep the Ukrainian government solvent. $11 billion is dedicated to supporting current military operations in the region. $23 billion is for replenishing the U.S. stockpile of weapons that has been diminished by what has already been sent to Ukraine. That leaves only about $14 billion for procuring weapons for Ukraine. That is only about 21-23% of the total aid package. The Russian Foreign Ministry estimate pegs the amount that “will be spent on military needs” for Ukraine at about 25%.

Though restocking of U.S. supplies could allow the U.S. to transfer more weapons in the future, some of the new arms that are supposed to change the current situation may have already been sent and used, possibly including the secret long-range ATACMS missiles that turned up in Ukraine last month and have twice been launched. So, some of the $14 billion will pay that back and may already be used up. That portion of the package, then, also won’t change the current situation.

And there are reports that, because the West simply does not have and cannot produce, enough artillery shells, the aid package may be sorely lacking in what Ukraine needs most.

But the problem is not only that the aid package is not enough. It is that one aid package is not enough. Even if the military aid package does buy Ukraine a few months – or even a year – Russia is still outproducing the West in artillery shells, weapons and equipment, and can, at least, last out the year. Then what? Will the United States, whether the President is Biden or Trump, come up with another $61 billion package that still won’t be enough? Will that congressional battle be any easier than the recent one? Even if the aid package changes the current situation on the battlefield, it cannot change the long-term outcome of the war.

The current package of lethal aid will alter the situation. It will prolong the war, and it will prolong Ukraine’s suffering. But it will not alter Ukraine’s inevitable defeat.

If American foreign policy really has Ukraine’s interests and strengthening Ukraine in mind and not American interests and weakening Russia, then it will stop sacrificing Ukrainian lives for American goals and start pushing for a diplomatic solution, instead of blocking one, and offer this money as aid for what will be Ukraine’s badly needed postwar recovery instead of as lethal aid that will continue to contribute to its destruction.

Ted Snider is a regular columnist on U.S. foreign policy and history at and The Libertarian Institute. He is also a frequent contributor to Responsible Statecraft and The American Conservative as well as other outlets. To support his work or for media or virtual presentation requests, contact him at