The Russian invasion of Ukraine nears two months since its inception, and foreign aid has strengthened a strong defensive force and provided much needed assistance to an ailing nation. It has proven indispensable for those who remain within the nation, but, even so, the West has not done all it can for Ukraine.
In the past month, the West has been providing Ukraine with billions of dollars worth of modern equipment and humanitarian aid. The United States has provided $6.9 billion in traditional aid and $3.5 billion in military aid. The UK has given $1.5 billion in military aid and $400 million in humanitarian aid. Similarly, Germany has sent $2 billion in military aid and $400 million in humanitarian aid. The list goes on and on, but the point is that foreign aid has been given in abundance to Ukraine. This aid has been invaluable not only in turning the tide of the war decisively in Ukraine’s favor, but furthermore in sustaining the civilian population of the nation by supporting Ukraine’s essential infrastructure.
Yet, despite the fact that such a large sum of foreign capital has been given, it is the bordering states of Ukraine who continue to do the most for the people of Ukraine, rather than the major Western powers whose assistance is commonly reported. Financially supporting Ukraine’s basic infrastructure is imperative, but we must not forget that the main purpose of the defense of Ukraine is to ensure the safety and lives of millions of Ukrainians, 10 percent of whom have fled the nation. After all, it is the people of a nation who determine its character, its stances, and those at the very core of its being. Thus, providing refugees with homes and assistance is perhaps the most important aid that could be given, as of now, to assist Ukraine as a nation. Poland, Romania, Hungary, Moldova, and Slovakia have collectively taken in more than 4 million refugees. The United States, France, and the United Kingdom, conversely, have accepted a measly 60,000, with the U.S. having only accepted 704. The upper limit for refugees provided by the U.S. government, for instance, is 100,000, but refugees experience such an immensely difficult time obtaining asylum that — although there are thousands of Ukrainians currently at the Mexican-American border — only few can actually obtain asylum. The United Kingdom faces a similar problem, with noble aspirations for admitted refugees, but requires a grueling application process for entry. While it is completely infeasible for a large portion of Ukrainians to make their way to major Western nations, these are the very same governments who speak of openness in receiving more refugees. It is not necessarily the fact that Western nations do not currently have enough refugees which is so problematic, but rather that the process to seek refuge in these countries is so poorly structured and long-winded that it seems to work against those in need. Thus, refugee assistance may be the most important aid that can currently be offered.
What the West has done for Ukraine is admirable. The foreign aid provided has been instrumental in financing the defense of the nation and in ensuring the health of its people, but more can be done relatively easily with popular support throughout Western democracies, as their governments and people continually support pro-Ukrainian legislation. Western nations have a moral obligation to do what they can to support a democracy under siege, and setting up a more efficient refugee-admission process would perhaps be the most significant step at the moment.
By William Buehler