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Sen. Joni Ernst: Ukraine must win the war Putin is waging and Biden needs to step up

As Published In: Fox News

Since the start of Vladimir Putin’s lawless war on Ukraine, the world has witnessed the horrific atrocities he is perpetrating on innocent men, women, and children.

His unprovoked war is causing untold misery and risks food and energy access for tens of millions of people across the globe. But it is also testing our president, our Western alliances, and the entire world order in a way we haven’t seen in a generation.

Putin made his move; the question now is how will we respond? The answer to that question will have far-reaching consequences that will go well beyond Ukraine’s borders or even Europe’s; it will shape the future of America’s role in the world, our national security, and the entire global order.

It is vital that Ukraine wins this war, and we need to do everything we can to help them do so. A Ukrainian victory, expelling Russia from its borders, should be our clear goal, to prevent the advance of the free world's great power adversaries and violent extremists. To do that, the Biden administration must undergo a sweeping course correction in this fight.

To start with, the administration's risk assessments about delivering lethal aid to the Ukrainians are too tentative. Despite Russia's enduring strategic advantage above Ukrainian skies, President Biden still won’t facilitate the transfer of MiG 29's to the Ukrainians.

The president must act now; Ukrainian victory, and the financial well-being of American consumers, very well may rely on unfreezing global neutrality in this war.

The need to contest the battlespace with air defense systems and fighter jets will level the operational playing field, but this administration made a doctrinal and political choice a month ago to deny the transfer.

Policymakers at the top of this administration claim it may take years to train Ukrainians on U.S.-built capabilities like the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System anti-aircraft weapons. However, on-ground American servicemembers who trained Ukrainians conveyed to me and the bipartisan group of senators I recently led to Poland and Germany that the Ukrainian military could be ready to use these weapons within days, if not immediately.

The U.S. can support Ukraine and our allies in Europe, and we can do that without sacrificing our readiness and capacity to protect the homeland.

Beyond lethal aid, fortifying European nations at risk of falling under Putin's sphere of influence in the weeks ahead should be top of mind.

Moldova and Kosovo are U.S. partners at risk of Russian military action or security threats from its regional proxies. These two nation-states exist outside of NATO's defensive framework and need security support to head off threats proactively.

Kosovo is Iowa's partner in the State Partnership Program; our National Guard has provided security support and training for over ten years. Kosovo wants to deepen and extend that cooperation, and the U.S. should step up and increase its training and security support.

Strengthening the sovereignty of our partners and deterring additional sovereignty violations must be prioritized. If not, we can expect the enemies of the United States to become more and more emboldened.

The United States must also engage the 141 nation-states that remain neutral to Russia’s war and compel them to stand with Ukraine.

As long as Russia remains integrated with the majority of the global economy, Putin's war machine will continue to rake in energy royalties.

His lead diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, is working overtime, traveling to India, China, and the Persian Gulf, and sending emissaries to South America and Africa in recent weeks to keep nations around the world on the sidelines.

Unfortunately, President Biden has done the opposite. Gulf Nations failed to return his phone calls following the invasion, and he has yet to engage with the leader of the Western Hemisphere's second-largest economy in Brazil since he was elected in January 2021.

The president must act now; Ukrainian victory, and the financial well-being of American consumers, very well may rely on unfreezing global neutrality in this war.

My life experiences – both in military uniform and out – shape how I view the world today, and there's no doubt the world is a more dangerous place now than it was 15 months ago. Though President Biden would like them to be, global threats are not inert.

Every day our world is getting more dangerous. A doctrine of appeasement and a posture of retreat are not solutions that proactively protect the homeland. Instead, strength, management of prudent risk, and decisive leadership are what the world – and what our Ukrainian friends – need from America right now.

Republican Joni Ernst represents Iowa in the United States Senate. She is the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate and a former commander in the Iowa Army National Guard and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Click HERE to read the op-ed as published in Fox News.