The conflicts in Ukraine, Gaza, and along the US-Mexico border may seem to be worlds apart, but they are colliding on Capitol Hill in Washington. The White House has warned that Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself will grind to a halt if a $16 billion aid package is not approved. However, Republican lawmakers are threatening to make Ukraine aid contingent upon more funds to protect the US-Mexico border. Meanwhile, some Democrats are demanding conditions on aid to Israel, raising worries about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
The Standoff and the Blinking First
There is currently a standoff between the Democrats and Republicans over who gets how much money. While it is uncertain who will blink first, the Republicans have been successful at portraying both Ukraine funding and the border policy proposal as national security priorities. This has made some Democrats and immigration advocates nervous, fearing that the deal will permanently change immigration law in exchange for additional funding for Ukraine.
The House and the Senate are divided over whether to continue sending aid to Ukraine. Republican lawmakers want to tie funding to tightening immigration laws. The aid package includes $13.6 billion to address security at the US-Mexico border. House Speaker Mike Johnson argues that the White House is not doing enough to address this issue. He dismisses the warning from the White House, stating that any national security supplemental package must begin with the security of the border. This domestic dispute in the US could eventually stall the national security package in Congress, affecting not only Ukraine and Israel but also Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific region.
The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a key factor in the debate over aid to Israel. Democrats are clashing with each other and the Biden Administration over whether to attach conditions, including measures to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza, to security assistance for Israel. Washington has become more critical and open with its criticism of Israel. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin recently stated that Israel risks a strategic defeat if it does not do more to protect civilians in Gaza. While affirming America’s commitment to Israel’s security, the US government will continue to push Israeli leaders to avoid civilian casualties and ensure the flow of humanitarian aid.
The Impact of US Funding on Ukraine
The White House argues that if aid to Ukraine is not sent, it will kneecap the country’s war effort against Russia. In the war of attrition imposed upon Ukraine, the bulk of equipment, donations, and material support from the US have enabled Ukraine to push back and hold the Russians. While the absence of US support may hamper Ukraine’s campaign in the long term, the European Union and the UK do not have the capacity to bridge the gap that the US could create. The EU has provided tanks, armored personnel carriers, and cruise missiles, but they won’t be able to fill the void left by the US. This plays into Russia’s hands, as their strategy is to exhaust the West and continue the attritional grinding war.
The Environmental Toll on Ukraine
The war in Ukraine has also taken a terrible toll on the environment. Wildlife populations have been decimated, and the countryside has been ruined by shelling and man-made floods. Ukrainian prosecutors are planning a landmark lawsuit accusing Moscow of war crimes against Ukraine’s environment. These war crimes include disrupting the Dolphins’ own orientation systems through sonar activity, burning oil depots releasing carbon dioxide and toxic smoke, and damaging forests and wildlife with fighting and mines. The destruction of the Kovka dam in southern Ukraine is considered the biggest single environmental disaster of the war, flooding hundreds of square kilometers and destroying livelihoods.
Ukraine aims to prosecute damage to the environment as a war crime, entering new legal territory. Environmental destruction is recognized as a war crime in international law, but no international court has ruled on such a case. Ukraine has registered 2,900 cases of environmental war crimes so far, and the damage continues to mount every day. The country wants to present an invoice to the occupier for every inch of destroyed Ukrainian land, reminding aggressors around the world that wars are costly and that the environment also has its price.
The conflicts in Ukraine, Gaza, and along the US-Mexico border are intertwined on Capitol Hill as lawmakers debate aid packages and conditions. The standoff between Democrats and Republicans continues, with each side concerned about different aspects of the conflicts. Ukraine’s war effort, Israel’s security, and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza all hang in the balance as lawmakers navigate domestic disputes and funding debates. Meanwhile, the environmental toll on Ukraine adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing conflicts. As the situation evolves, it is crucial to find solutions that address the needs of all parties involved while minimizing the impact on innocent civilians and the environment.