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RJC urges Congress to maintain aid to Ukraine amid resistance from some in GOP

The move by Republican Jewish Coalition comes as debate in GOP pits foreign policy hawks against those pressing a more isolationist approach

Olena Znak/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Men and women attend the charitable military-patriotic closed training in mountainous conditions called "Side by Side to Victory", that is organized by the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps "Right Sector" in Lviv, Ukraine on May 6, 2023.

The Republican Jewish Coalition is urging Congress to maintain U.S. military funding for Ukraine in its war against Russia’s invasion, amid ongoing resistance from some GOP legislators in the House and Senate who have voiced opposition to continued aid.

“Our elected leaders have provided billions of dollars in assistance to bolster Ukraine’s military,” the group said in a statement released on Monday. “We call on Congress to renew that commitment, and we are pleased that key Republican leaders have pledged to do so.”

The statement, which was unanimously endorsed by the RJC’s board of directors last week in Washington D.C., comes as a growing number of outspoken Republicans have expressed skepticism of protecting Ukraine — intensifying divisions between establishment GOP hawks and nationalist conservatives who favor an isolationist approach to foreign policy.

Sam Markstein, the RJC’s national political director, declined to comment directly on congressional members who are at odds with the group on Ukraine, including Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), among several others. 

“We’re going to make sure that all Republicans understand this is an important issue to us and our board, and we will convey that privately in our meetings and conversations with them,” Markstein told Jewish Insider on Monday. “We would hope that all Republicans would support this position, and we’ll work hard to make sure that they do,” he added. “But there’s always an occasional dissenting  opinion or vote.”

The RJC’s board members were motivated to issue a “strong statement about Ukraine,” said Markstein, as the country prepares for a counteroffensive to reclaim occupied territory and as the looming debt crisis in Washington has stalled negotiations over approving the Pentagon’s annual military budget.

The organization’s “commitment to Ukraine must be accompanied by a meaningful commitment to strengthening our military,” the statement argued, adding that “it is essential to our national security that America prioritize military expenditures much more than we have in recent years.”

“As Jewish Americans, we emphatically believe that it is in America’s national interest to see Russia’s military might diminished and its malign strategic aims thwarted,” the RJC’s board members said. “We know from painful recent history that a world where aggressors believe they can get away with using force to conquer neighboring nations is a more dangerous one.”

The statement warned that a Ukrainian defeat would endanger “former Soviet republics” that are now NATO member states while emboldening China “as it moves ever closer to military action against Taiwan.” 

Meanwhile, “preventing a Russian victory will further American strategic aims in the Middle East by frustrating the designs of Russia’s regional ally, the terrorist regime in Iran,” the statement said.

The RJC’s board members “wanted to send a message to Republicans in Congress about how important the issue is to the organization,” Markstein told JI. He said the group would “prioritize” those conversations in the coming weeks.

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