Taking stock of the situation in Ukraine, $111 billion and 10 months later
If you were to ask any Democrat or Republican politician in D.C. about his reasons for supporting Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukraine, his reductive reply is likely to be "to defend freedom and democracy."
How much has this defense of democracy and freedom in Ukraine, located over 6,000 miles away from the U.S., cost you?
The recent omnibus spending bill granted $45 billion in aid for Ukraine which adds to the $66 billion of taxpayers' money lawmakers already dispatched to Ukraine. This is a total of $111 billion with no accountability measures.
Since it is you who are paying for this project, it is worth taking stock of how things are progressing in that war-ravaged nation.
We first look at press freedom:
Yesterday, the NYT reported that Zelensky signed legislation that significantly expands the "government's regulatory power over the news media."
Is this just an emergency war measure?
No. Zelensky ordered the drafting of a law increasing media regulation in 2019, a short while after becoming president.
Since the beginning of the war, Zelensky applied draconian measures to restrain the press, such as threats of criminal prosecution and fines against media outlets and journalists critical of the government.
Zelensky also banned many media outlets, claiming they were carrying Russian propaganda. But reports suggest that these outlets were merely holding Zelensky accountable. Also, all television channels in Ukraine have been shut down except for the one controlled by Zelensky.
This recently passed bill expands the authority of Ukraine's broadcasting "regulator" to cover the online and print news media.
This "regulator" can fine media outlets, revoke their licenses, temporarily block certain online media outlets without a court order, and request that social media platforms and search giants such as Google remove content.
To sum it up, Zelensky has total control of every syllable being uttered by the Ukrainian media.
Ukrainian journalists have said the new media statute goes far beyond what the European Union requires. The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine warned in a statement that the bill would erode press freedoms.
The European Federation of Journalists called the bill's regulation "coercive" and "worthy of the worst authoritarian regimes." The Committee to Protect Journalists called it a tightening of "government control over information at a time when citizens need it the most."
What about Political Opponents?
Weeks after Russia's intervention, Zelensky imposed martial law to suppress opposition political parties.
Zelensky "temporarily" banned 11 of his political opponents, including "The Opposition Platform for Life", which has 44 seats in Ukraine's national parliament. The party was accused of, you guessed right, being pro-Kremlin.
For Life party member Viktor Medvedchuk was charged with treason, and so was Taras Kozak, the chief opposition leader in Ukraine and owner of one of the banned news outlets. Both were accused of ties with Russia.
Ukraine's National Bureau of Investigation targeted Zelensky's predecessor, former President Petro Poroshenko, accusing him of corruption, treason, supporting "terrorist organizations," and being pro-Kremlin. Observers called this politically motivated.
Zelensky also conducted a purge within government and security agencies. He suspended officials including the chief of the domestic security agency and a prosecutor general, claiming they were pro-Russia.
What about religious freedom in Ukraine?
Earlier this month, Zelensky sanctioned personnel within the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, claiming they were "affiliated with centers of influence" in Russia.
Ukrainian officials claim the Church was promoting pro-Russian views and that some priests were collaborating with Russia.
The church is the largest in Ukraine, with about 12,000 parishes.
The priests and bishops of these churches are not allowed to take money out of the country or to own land, and their capital is frozen.
There is no remorse for these actions, and Zelensky pledged that measures to guarantee Ukraine's "spiritual independence" will continue.
Before the war:
Corruption and cronyism were widespread and innate in Ukraine long before the war. People from all over the world, including the Bidens, struck shady deals with dubious oligarchs in Ukraine to enrich themselves, knowing that corrupt officials will look the other way in exchange of inducements.
Zelensky himself won the presidential election in 2019 after much of his campaign was allegedly bankrolled by one of Ukraine's richest — and most corrupt — oligarchs, Igor Kolomoisky.
Kolomoisky is banned from entering the U.S. for "significant corruption" and used his "influence and power for his personal benefit."
Zelensky passed "tough" laws to target both Zelensky's and Kolomoisky's challengers.
After the war:
Zelensky targeted media houses and churches claiming they were pro-Kremlin. He used politicized government agencies to target his primary political opponent. He is also known as a great facilitator for his cronies.
Zelensky is like Biden which explains D.C. fawning over him.
But unlike Biden, Zelensky can say his lines properly with the right emotions and expressions. He even looks the part, sporting stubble and wearing military-colored clothes. All of this is meant to convey selflessness, exasperation, and strength. His training as an actor has clearly helped him.
But when you dig deeper, there is no relation between his look and his utterances and what is happening in Ukraine.
Zelensky is being called the modern Winston Churchill.
Churchill didn't ban the Labor Party, or adversarial media outlets, or churches; rather, he called for a peaceful solution during World War II, even as the Nazis bombed Britain during the blitz. He used his powers of persuasion to bring people together, not tyrannical, draconian measures.
The best way to judge anyone is to put him in the worst of circumstances. Churchill ensured that the United Kingdom remain democratic even as it was ravaged by war; Zelensky, on the other hand, is using the war to hijack Ukrainian democracy.
This is much worse than the wastage of $111 billion of your funds.
The war in Ukraine had attracted over twenty thousand foreign fighters, who obviously haven't been vetted. These "fighters" could pilfer advanced weaponry for further use or sell it on the black market. The buyers could be terrorists. Biden's open borders would allow these arms into the U.S. and could be used against citizens.
The Nigerian president revealed that weapons from Ukraine are ending up in Nigeria. The Finnish media reported that criminal organizations could be trafficking weapons from Ukraine to the U.S. or E.U. nations.
In other words, you could be funding terror attacks on yourself.
This is nothing short of a scandal.
A handful of corrupt officials and their cronies in the U.S. and Ukraine are profiting at the cost of the well-being and security of their nations.
If the U.S. had independent government agencies, the amounts, the arms, and the aid going to Ukraine would have been tracked, and discrepancies would be reported.
If the U.S. had fair media, journalists would have questioned the powers that be about their unconditional support for the war and the reckless spending. They would also have demanded a diplomatic solution.
Alas, the watchdogs have devolved into lapdogs.
They are slobbering all over Zelensky, such that Obama would feel jealous. They continue to aggressively sell a gratuitous war with no end date.
The long-suffering Ukrainians deserve our empathy for being subjected to such unimaginable hardships. So do the U.S. tax-paying citizens who suffer on myriad fronts due to Biden's misgovernance.