Ukraine war a ‘good investment’ for US – Trump rival
Former New Jersey governor and aspiring Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie has condemned “isolationism” and urged Americans to double down on funding the Ukrainian war effort, describing it as a good “return on investment.”
Speaking at the Hudson Institute in Washington on Wednesday, Christie argued he was the only “serious” Republican presidential candidate showing “moral clarity” to the world, often praising US President Joe Biden while taking potshots at GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.
“Our strategy in Ukraine is driven by a principled commitment to support Ukrainians fighting and dying for their country,” Christie said at one point. He added that he would have provided “more weapons, and sooner” than Biden, and wouldn’t have tried to “blackmail” Kiev for “dirt” on Biden, as he – and the Democrats – claimed Trump had done.
Christie pointed out that he has visited Kiev and met with President Vladimir Zelensky, who told him that “without American help, Ukraine would now be occupied by Russia.” Zelensky also said that Ukraine did not need any American soldiers, only weapons to win the war by itself, Christie added.
“We’ve done that, but with less than 4% of one year’s military budget. And with that, the Ukrainian army has degraded 50% of the Russian military capability without one drop of American blood. Seems to me that’s a pretty good return on investment for us, and one we should double down on,” the former governor concluded.
It was, almost word for word, the same exact argument Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, made in early September after he visited Kiev.
“For less than 3% of our nation’s military budget, we’ve enabled Ukraine to degrade Russia’s military strength by half,” Blumenthal wrote in an op-ed at the time. He, too, noted that Zelensky didn’t want or need US troops, but “the tools to win.”
The US has provided over $44 billion in direct military assistance to Ukraine, and over $110 billion in total aid since Biden took office, including money for the salaries of Ukrainian government employees.
Faced with the growing opposition from some Republican lawmakers to continued spending on the Ukraine conflict, the White House has recently changed its “messaging” to present it as stimulus for the American defense industry. The supposed economic benefits have yet to materialize, however.
Christie was governor of New Jersey between 2010 and 2018, and mounted failed presidential bids in 2012 and 2016. He is currently polling at 2% nationally in the Republican presidential primaries, behind Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and venture capitalist Vivek Ramaswamy. Trump is polling at almost 60%.