Analysis & Opinions - The Cipher Brief

Ten Answers to Skeptic’s Questions on Ukraine

| Apr. 01, 2024

As I and former colleagues with long experience in Russia speak on the need to support Ukraine, we are repeatedly asked the same skeptical questions. The queries reveal that our assumptions about the facts, nature, and stakes of the war are not universally shared.

These questions commonly reflect genuine misunderstanding about the nature of Russia, its reasons for invading Ukraine, the ambitions of President Putin, and what it will take for Ukraine to win. We hear over and over echoes of Russian propaganda and disinformation themes which are seeded and amplified in social and digital media outlets on the right and left.

To be fair, the Biden administration has failed to persuasively explain the stakes of this conflict for America, the consequences of a Ukrainian defeat, and what is America’s strategy to help Ukraine win. Too many citizens do not understand why America is spending billions to help a country they find hard to place on a map and about which there are waves of lies and distortions.

Given the stakes, America could use a primetime speech where President Biden provides a compelling and crystal-clear explanation for America’s role and responsibility, akin to President Roosevelt’s powerful yet simple “arsenal of democracy” radio broadcast in 1940, on why help to a United Kingdom under Nazi assault was vital to America’s own national defense.

All those who support Ukraine must be ready to answer the hard questions posed by citizens who want to ensure we are doing the right thing, and that their hard-earned dollars are being well spent.

Here’s my crack at some of the most common questions posed by Ukraine aid skeptics, along with the answers I would offer.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Kolbe, Paul.“Ten Answers to Skeptic’s Questions on Ukraine.” The Cipher Brief, April 1, 2024.