The Ukraine Quandary: Assessing Conservative Resistance to Further Financial Commitments

Antonio Graceffo


This February, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III reaffirmed America’s steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine, emphasizing its crucial role in ensuring the ongoing security of not just the United States, but also Europe and the world at large. Austin emphasized, "The battle against Russia's aggression will shape global security for years to come." Nevertheless, there are voices within Congress advocating for a reduction or cessation of funding for Ukraine.

The latest debate in Congress centers around a $95 billion funding bill, with $60 billion allocated to Ukraine and the remainder earmarked for supporting Israel, Taiwan, and bolstering US Naval forces combating the Iranian-backed Houthis in the Red Sea. While some mainstream media outlets and the White House depict Republican hesitancy to endorse the bill as a withdrawal of support for all these causes, the reality is different. Republicans are primarily expressing reservations regarding support for Ukraine, while maintaining steadfast support for Israel, Taiwan, and counterterrorism efforts. President Biden rightly pointed out that rejecting the bill plays right into Putin’s hands.



Echoing the sentiment of the president, Secretary Austin remarked, "The Kremlin continues to gamble on our collective waning interest in Ukraine, anticipating our support to dwindle and fade away." This observation aligns with independent studies revealing that both Russia and China exploit the rising war funding weariness among the United States and its allies. Whenever foreign military aid funding faces delays in Congress, Beijing is quick to tell nations like Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and other nations with territorial disputes with China—that the U.S. is an unreliable partner. The underlying message is for these nations to capitulate to China's demands rather than counting on the U.S. to defend them.

Beijing's tactic hasn't been effective thus far, especially since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Initially, China promoted a narrative suggesting that the US would abandon Israel, implying that Taiwan and others should align with Beijing. However, with the US reaffirming its commitment to funding Israel, China has shifted its messaging, arguing that the US is overextended and cannot sustain support for both Ukraine and Taiwan. In reality, US aid to Israel and Taiwan makes up only a small fraction of the assistance provided to Ukraine, and none of the funding debates are focused on reducing support for either Israel or Taiwan.

Russia is also capitalizing on the narrative of funding fatigue. The Kremlin perceives that decadence and selfishness of the West, along with liberal social movements, are eroding US commitment to either engage in warfare or continue supporting Ukraine financially. What's interesting about this line of reasoning is that while US liberals and Democrats advocate for ongoing funding for Ukraine, they also tend to advocate for socially liberal movements. In contrast, conservatives oppose such initiatives, and Moscow has exploited these sentiments, positioning itself as an anti-woke, anti-globalist force safeguarding Christian values. Ironically, Russia itself has one of the poorest records of religious freedom in Europe.



Even among the majority of conservatives who reject the notion that Russia champions traditional family, religious, and social values, there's widespread fatigue regarding funding for war. The conflict has imposed significant economic strain, with escalating fuel and food prices affecting numerous countries. The continuous stream of news detailing the horrors of the war can lead to emotional desensitization for many individuals. Media coverage of the conflict has either diminished or become lost in the background noise of the overly saturated media landscape. Even discussions about funding allocations are losing their audience, as reports of looming government shutdowns have surfaced repeatedly over the past four years. Citizens who are concerned by the threat of their own government shutting down are less likely to care about funding for a foreign government.

The top concerns for Republicans revolve around the economy, crime, and immigration. While continued funding for Ukraine may momentarily benefit some defense contractors, in the long run, it will only add to the US debt and exacerbate economic woes. Rampant crime and drug-related deaths plague the US, particularly in areas where law enforcement is hamstrung in its ability to fight crime. Additionally, incarceration rates are declining while crimes committed by repeat offenders are on the rise. Illegal immigration remains a pressing issue. Drug cartels pose a significant threat, destabilizing Mexico and increasingly endangering US national security through the smuggling of drugs, people, criminals, and gang members into the country.

The US allies in Europe see a potential Putin victory as a threat to their national security, and that assessment is probably correct. Even those close to Putin are suggesting that after a victory in Ukraine, Russian forces will roll on into Europe. As a result, the Europeans arrive at the conclusion that because their security is imperiled, the US must continue funding Ukraine. And this is where the argument breaks down: US Republicans believe that if Europe’s security is at risk, Europe should defend itself and not rely on the U.S.



The United States accounts for 70 percent of NATO's total defense spending. Since NATO's establishment, nearly all member nations have consistently fallen short of the 2 percent funding requirement year after year. While most NATO members have increased their defense spending since the Ukraine war began, as of 2023, only six members, aside from the US, met the 2 percent target. Currently, 35 percent are projected to reach the target by 2025, which does not account for the fact that the US has a massive arsenal built up over decades by hitting or exceeding the target year after year.

The United Kingdom and France, arguably possessing the most potent militaries apart from the US, still face limitations in their ability to engage in large-scale warfare. Together, they possess around 200 pieces of artillery and fewer than 200 tanks, while the entirety of Europe has only four operational aircraft carriers. Additionally, only nine out of 31 NATO members have mandatory military conscription.

Therefore, the “funding fatigue” for Ukraine primarily originates from a main source: Conservatives in the U.S. who prioritize addressing domestic issues, as well as focusing on Taiwan, China, Israel, and counterterrorism – and that Europe should assume greater responsibility for its defense and cease relying on US military assistance.


Author Bio:

Antonio Graceffo, a Highbrow Magazine contributor, is a Ph.D. and also holds a China-MBA from Shanghai Jiaotong University. He works as an economics professor and China economic analyst, writing for various international media. Some of his books include: The Wrestler’s Dissertation, Warrior Odyssey, Beyond the Belt and Road: China’s Global Economic Expansion, and A Short Course on the Chinese Economy.

For Highbrow Magazine


Photo Credits:; The President Of Ukraine (Flickr, Creative Commons); Donkey Hote (, Creative Commons).


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