Speaker Johnson, Take Note: A Putin Victory Would Be Disastrous for America

Putin’s victorious entry into Kyiv, much like Hitler’s conquest of Paris in 1940, would embolden dictators and tyrants across the globe.

Sergey Savostyanov, Sputnik, Kremlin pool via AP
Presidents Putin and Xi talk during their meeting on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum at Beijing, October 17, 2023. Sergey Savostyanov, Sputnik, Kremlin pool via AP

If Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine becomes a victory for Russian aggression, it will have disastrous consequences for America and the world.

Imagine the world the day after Mr. Putin’s victorious entry into Kyiv (much like Hitler’s conquest of Paris in 1940).

The Iranians will be emboldened. Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, and ISIS, will all celebrate the defeat of what Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called “the Great Satan” (he referred to Israel as “the Little Satan”).

Communist China’s general secretary and president, Xi Jinping, will recalculate the risk of invading Taiwan. Kim Jong-un will question whether the United States would really intervene if he attacked South Korea. North Korea has an estimated 30 nuclear weapons — likely many more by the end of the decade.

The Japanese will wonder if they can still rely upon the United States. A debate will break out about seeking a rapprochement with China or developing Japan’s own nuclear weapons so it can maintain independence without reliable allies. 

The anti-American dictators in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua will view an increasingly cartel-dominated Mexico as an asset for undermining and taking advantage of America and other countries in our hemisphere.

Moldova and Belarus will ask to rejoin Russia. In the Baltic states, Russian minorities will begin demanding autonomy and dual citizenship with Russia. The Nazis perfected this model in the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia in the late 1930s.

Meanwhile, Mr. Putin has been pouring modern weapons into Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania. 

No one should believe that victory in Ukraine will satisfy Mr. Putin. As Herman Pirchner explained in his prescient 2005 book “Reviving Greater Russia,” Mr. Putin sees himself as a great Russian nationalist. His mission is to reconstitute the Russian Empire. 

A defeat for the West in Ukraine would send a catastrophic signal to Mr. Putin — and every aggressive dictator on the planet — that the system which has kept peace for nearly 80 years is collapsing. Overnight, predatory behavior would become the norm.

Since a Russian victory would profoundly change history and lead to more global violence, we must help defeat Mr. Putin despite political challenges.

There are two encouraging glimmers of hope that this is possible. 

First, Congressmen French Hill of Arkansas and Michael McCaul of Texas have introduced the REPO for Ukrainians Act, H.R. 4175, a bill to seize Russian assets and use them to help Ukraine. Senator Risch of Idaho has a similar bill in the Senate, S. 2003.

The House bill came out of committee on a 40-2 vote. The Senate bill came out of committee with a 20-1 vote. The Wall Street Journal estimated that there are $300 billion in Russian assets which could be seized. 

Further, the United States seized resources from Iraq in 1992 and from the Afghan government in 2022. The precedents are clear. This would meet a lot of Ukraine’s economic needs at no cost to American taxpayers. 

Second, the “Defending Borders, Defending Democracies Act,” H.R. 7372, has been introduced with six bipartisan cosponsors. I talked with one of the cosponsors, Congressman Don Bacon of Nebraska. Mr. Bacon is a retired brigadier general, who I first met in 2003 in the Middle East. He knows how vital it is to stop Mr. Putin. He also knows it will take a bipartisan effort to get the job done.

This bill costs $29 billion less than the Senate’s foreign aid bill. It focuses on military aid and cuts out various foreign aid provisions from the Senate bill. It also includes important border security provisions which reinstate the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which the Trump administration instituted — and which Mr. Biden has indicated he could accept.

The House could combine seizing Russian assets with narrowly-focused military aid and some limited but key steps on controlling the border and have a powerful solution to our current impasse. One knowledgeable House observer with whom I spoke said he thought a combined bill could get 300 or more votes in the House. 

Speaker Johnson should lean into this historic moment, bring these bills together, and fight for passage. It would send a powerful message to Mr. Putin, our allies, and the world that America is still capable of projecting decisive power.


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