For several months, an increasing and disturbing presence of Russian military troops and equipment has lined the Ukrainian border, heightening concerns that Russia intends to invade in the coming days. With tensions between these two countries expected to reach a boiling point, it is worth considering the gravity of the consequences of such conflict and why the danger facing our friends in Ukraine matters to the United States.

This isn’t the first time Ukraine has been the target of Russian aggression. As you might remember in 2014, Russian armed forces seized control of the Crimea Peninsula from Ukraine. While Russia has held de facto control over that area since then, it is not recognized by the United States or other member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). At the time of the Crimean invasion, former President Barack Obama showed lackluster leadership and refused to help our Ukrainian friends or impose sanctions on Russia.

Amid another imminent threat facing Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly intending to gain control of the country, now is not the time for the United States to take a back seat on the global stage. President Biden should promise lethal aid, and lots of it, as well as the strongest possible economic, diplomatic and political sanctions. Indeed, it is vital that America and our NATO allies consider ways to assist Ukraine in this time of desperate need. 

Indeed, this unfolding situation requires strong and decisive action. Unfortunately, Putin and several other leaders around the world recognize the weakness displayed by President Biden, especially after his careless and disastrous withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August. Beyond the alarming situation of Russia testing and provoking the United States and our allies through its presence along the Ukrainian border, bad actors in other areas of the world are similarly becoming empowered to test their limits. We see this happening in areas of eastern Europe, the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Taiwan Strait.

Although I remain concerned about President Biden’s shortfalls in leadership amid these ongoing tensions worldwide, I am proud that Congress is at least poised to deliver the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2022 to his desk. Passed in the House last week and soon expected for a vote in the Senate, this vital piece of legislation authorizes the necessary resources and funding to provide a defense that can stand up to our adversaries, like Russia, while also sending support to our allies. Among many other things, this NDAA authorizes $300 million in security assistance and intelligence support for Ukraine, as well as up to $75 million in lethal assistance. It also continues to prohibit military cooperation with Russia and any recognition of Russian sovereignty of Crimea.

Unfortunately, at a time when our adversaries are becoming increasingly and alarmingly more aggressive, President Biden and many Democrats still stand by an effective cut in the current version of the annual defense appropriations bill. For the priorities contained in NDAA to be fully realized and accomplished, the authorized funding increase must be replicated in the appropriations process. Congress must not only authorize the resources our military needs but enact the related funding to ensure the success of our military, and I remain committed to doing just that.

During times of crisis, our nation needs a strong commander in chief to lead American military and diplomatic efforts to deter bad actors. This includes not only supporting our friends around the world in their time of need, but providing for our national defense to counter threats of terror and hold the line on our strategic adversaries.