New Era of Uncertainties: How US Foreign Aid Works in Times of War

Mariam Tarasashvili


Russia’s full-scale military aggression against Ukraine in February 2022 has brought immense damage to the people of Ukraine and Europe, their critical resources and infrastructure, and the whole idea of sustaining peace based on democratic principles. Rebuilding peace and democracy in this challenging time requires a lot of effort; foreign aid serves as the instrument for achieving this goal. It is noteworthy that since the invasion in 2022, Ukraine has become the top European recipient of US Foreign aid for the first time since World War II. This article examines the foreign aid relationship between the US and Ukraine in the years 2022 and 2023 and suggests that foreign aid is an important foreign policy tool despite certain criticisms regarding the effectiveness of the aid, its oversight mechanisms, and the diverse range of critical approaches, which argue that aid is perceived as a capitalist instrument serving the interests of a strong capitalist West rather than those of developing countries. Contrary to criticism, this article suggests that US aid to Ukraine in this difficult time is important in illustrating that democracy can survive in the global arena, undermining Russia’s future aspirations of attacking others, and supporting a secure environment for cooperation among states. Th is article studies the determinants of US foreign aid from the perspective of the donor and the recipient country, as a two-way and complex process, through the prism of liberalism. Based on the liberal tradition, we can assume that US assistance in Ukraine is focused on aiding Ukraine in countering authoritarian Russia and safeguarding democratic principles but is also influenced by the recipient’s commitment to liberal values, including the promotion of peace, a robust economy, and a thriving democracy.

Keywords: foreign aid, US-Ukraine aid relations, US strategic interests, recipient influence on donor decisions, Russia-Ukraine conflict, liberalism.

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