Failing to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia would exact a heavy cost on U.S. economic and security interests, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at a press briefing Dec. 8.
"If you think the cost of supporting Ukraine is high now, think about...how high it’s going to be in national treasure and in American blood if we have to start acting on our Article Five commitments," Kirby said.
Funding for Ukraine has been stymied by partisan politics in Congress, with Republican legislators refusing to approve continued aid unless Democrats agree to heightened restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Kirby said that political controversy over aid to Ukraine was "a great gift to Vladimir Putin."
"He’s been banking on that kind of a development since early on in this war," Kirby said, referring to the Russian dictator.
Article Five of the North Atlantic Treaty requires member nations to consider armed attacks on any member nation as attacks on the entire alliance, and render immediate military assistance.
Ukraine has lobbied for NATO membership, but the Alliance has not issued an invitation or set a timeline for Ukraine's accession.
"If [Putin] gets Ukraine, he gets right up against the doorstep of NATO," Kirby said at the briefing.
"If you care about our national security, you ought to see Mr. Putin for what he is, you ought to see Russia for what it is, and realize that helping Ukraine — and they’re not asking for boots on the ground — helping them win this war is very much in our national security interest and in the national security interest of all our allies in Europe."
Kirby was also asked to comment on Putin's announcement that he would participate in Russia's March 2024 presidential elections, seeking a fifth term.
"Well, that’s going to be one humdinger of a horse race, isn’t it?" he said.