What Would Ukrainian ‘Victory’ Look Like? GOP Lawmaker Asks
Defense Secretary Austin was just the latest government official to be accused of swerving questions about how the war in Ukraine will end.
“Have the words ‘win’ and ‘victory’ been purged from the administration's vocabulary when it comes to Ukraine?” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., asked Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday.
Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley were on Capitol Hill to testify to the Senate Armed Services Committee on the recent 2023 defense budget request. But that didn’t stop Cotton from bringing the question around to Ukraine.
Cotton asked Austin why his written testimony included the word “deterrence” 29 times, but not a single mention of “victory” or “win.”
“Do you want Ukraine to win or do you want this war merely to end?” Cotton asked.
“I think the chairman pointed out very accurately what a desired end state would be,” Austin responded, alluding to Milley’s response to a question from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
“What does winning look like?” Milley told her a bit earlier. “I think it looks like Ukraine remains the free and independent nation that it’s been since 1991 with their territorial integrity intact…But that is not an easy fight that they’re involved in.”
And on Tuesday, Milley told the House Armed Services Committee that he expects the war in Ukraine to last for years, if not decades.
“I think it’s an open question right now, how this ends,” Milley said on Tuesday. “Ideally, Putin decides to cease fire, stop his aggression, and there’s some sort of diplomatic intervention. But right now that doesn’t look like it’s on the immediate horizon.”
“Ukraine maintains its sovereignty and its ability to protect its country and defend itself,” Austin told Cotton on Thursday. “It maintains its government. Russia is weakened militarily and…from a geopolitical standpoint is a pariah.”
“We can see those things beginning to happen,” he said.
Defense Secretary Austin was just the latest government official to be accused of swerving questions about how the war in Ukraine will end. National security advisor Jake Sullivan and President Joe Biden have been similarly mum on what exactly the end goal in Ukraine is.