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© Brendan McDermid/ReutersIn Scranton, Pa., 155-millimeter artillery shells are being manufactured.
President Biden wants the world to believe that the biggest obstacle facing Ukraine is Republicans and our lack of commitment to the global community. This is wrong.

Ukraine's challenge is not the G.O.P.; it's math. Ukraine needs more soldiers than it can field, even with draconian conscription policies. And it needs more matรฉriel than the United States can provide. This reality must inform any future Ukraine policy, from further congressional aid to the diplomatic course set by the president.

The Biden administration has applied increasing pressure on Republicans to pass a supplemental aid package of more than $60 billion to Ukraine. I voted against this package in the Senate and remain opposed to virtually any proposal for the United States to continue funding this war. Mr. Biden has failed to articulate even basic facts about what Ukraine needs and how this aid will change the reality on the ground.

The most fundamental question: How much does Ukraine need and how much can we actually provide? Mr. Biden suggests that a $60 billion supplemental means the difference between victory and defeat in a major war between Russia and Ukraine. That is also wrong. This $60 billion is a fraction of what it would take to turn the tide in Ukraine's favor. But this is not just a matter of dollars. Fundamentally, we lack the capacity to manufacture the amount of weapons Ukraine needs us to supply to win the war.

Consider our ability to produce 155-millimeter artillery shells. Last year, Ukraine's defense minister estimated that the country's base-line requirement for these shells was over four million per year but that it could fire up to seven million if that many were available. Since the start of the conflict, the United States has gone to great lengths to ramp up production of 155-millimeter shells. We've roughly doubled our capacity and can now produce 360,000 per year โ€” less than a tenth of what Ukraine says it needs. The administration's goal is to get this to 1.2 million โ€” 30 percent of what's needed โ€” by the end of 2025. This would cost the American taxpayers dearly while yielding an unpleasantly familiar result: failure abroad.

Just this week, the top American military commander in Europe argued that absent further security assistance, Russia could soon have a 10-to-1 artillery advantage over Ukraine. What didn't gather as many headlines is that Russia's current advantage is at least 5 to 1, even after all the money we have poured into the conflict. Neither of these ratios plausibly leads to Ukrainian victory.

Proponents of American aid to Ukraine have argued that our approach has been a boon to our own economy, creating jobs here in the factories that manufacture weapons. But our national security interests can be โ€” and often are โ€” separate from our economic interests. The notion that we should prolong a bloody and gruesome war because it's been good for American business is grotesque. We can and should rebuild our industrial base without shipping its products to a foreign conflict.

The story is the same when we look at other munitions. Take the Patriot missile system โ€” our premier air defense weapon. It's of such importance in this war that Ukraine's foreign minister has specifically demanded them. That's because in March alone, Russia reportedly launched over 3,000 guided aerial bombs, 600 drones and 400 missiles at Ukraine. To fend off these attacks, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and others have indicated they need thousands of Patriot interceptors per year. The problem is this: The United States only manufactures 550 per year. If we pass the supplemental aid package currently being considered in Congress, we could potentially increase annual production to 650, but that's still less than a third of what Ukraine requires.

These weapons are not only needed by Ukraine. If China were to set its sights on Taiwan, the Patriot missile system would be critical to its defense. In fact, the United States has promised to send Taiwan nearly $900 million worth of Patriot missiles, but delivery of those weapons and other essential resources has been severely delayed, partly because of shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.

If that sounds bad, Ukraine's manpower situation is even worse. Here are the basics: Russia has nearly four times the population of Ukraine. Ukraine needs upward of half a million new recruits, but hundreds of thousands of fighting-age men have already fled the country. The average Ukrainian soldier is roughly 43 years old, and many soldiers have already served two years at the front with few, if any, opportunities to stop fighting. After two years of conflict, there are some villages with almost no men left. The Ukrainian military has resorted to coercing men into service, and women have staged protests to demand the return of their husbands and fathers after long years of service at the front. This newspaper reported one instance in which the Ukrainian military attempted to conscript a man with a diagnosed mental disability.

Many in Washington seem to think that hundreds of thousands of young Ukrainians have gone to war with a song in their heart and are happy to label any thought to the contrary Russian propaganda. But major newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic are reporting that the situation on the ground in Ukraine is grim.

These basic mathematical realities were true, but contestable, at the outset of the war. They were obvious and incontestable a year ago, when American leadership worked closely with Mr. Zelensky to undertake a disastrous counteroffensive. The bad news is that accepting brute reality would have been most useful last spring, before the Ukrainians launched that extremely costly and unsuccessful military campaign. The good news is that even now, a defensive strategy can work. Digging in with old-fashioned ditches, cement and land mines are what enabled Russia to weather Ukraine's 2023 counteroffensive. Our allies in Europe could better support such a strategy, as well. While some European countries have provided considerable resources, the burden of military support has thus far fallen heaviest on the United States.

By committing to a defensive strategy, Ukraine can preserve its precious military manpower, stop the bleeding and provide time for negotiations to commence. But this would require both the American and Ukrainian leadership to accept that Mr. Zelensky's stated goal for the war โ€” a return to 1991 boundaries โ€” is fantastical.

The White House has said time and again that it can't negotiate with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. This is absurd. The Biden administration has no viable plan for the Ukrainians to win this war. The sooner Americans confront this truth, the sooner we can fix this mess and broker for peace.