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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 19, 2024

Op-ed: Defending Ukraine and combating Russian aggression

It has been over two years since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Despite the gloomy outlook of an imminent Ukrainian defeat back in February 2022, Ukraine has withstood the Russian onslaught and defended its nation and people. However, the war rages on. Russian troops march across the more than 620-mile-long frontline, attempting to subjugate more of Ukraine to destitution and darkness. The West, led by the United States, has been hesitant to give Ukraine much of the heavy weaponry needed to repel the invasion. But, they have recently begun to send more sophisticated weaponry, such as tanks, artillery, missiles and now fighter jets. However, this aid has begun to dry up as another aid package was blocked by House Republicans. As the U.S. fails to uphold its status as the leader of the free world and the arsenal of democracy by ignoring Ukraine in this time of need, European nations have helped fill the void. The  Czech-led initiative to provide Ukraine with more artillery ammunition highlights this initiative. So does French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent statements, which do not rule out the possibility of deploying French troops d to Ukraine in the future.

The drums of war are beating loudly due to Russian aggression, and European nations are realizing that this is only the beginning of Russia’s imperialist ambitions. Ukraine is merely the first part of Russia’s plans to expand its borders. According to an analysis of Russian statements and military intelligence, Russia seeks to capture not only the remaining territories of the four illegally annexed oblasts — Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson — but also to turn Ukraine into a demilitarized and economically unviable rump state. Meanwhile, they continue to threaten European nations. For instance, Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian president and current deputy chairman of the security council of Russia, claimed Latvia does not exist, and Russian talk shows casually discuss launching missiles at Western European cities, such as Berlin. Russia’s recent military restructuring and expansion indicate it seeks to conquer more territory outside of Ukraine, with Western intelligence suggesting they will attack NATO’s eastern flank within the next decade.

It is without a doubt that Russia will continue its quest to conquer Ukraine and subjugate the nation and its people to destitution and darkness. Their next target would likely be NATO members themselves, with probable targets being the Baltic states and Poland. However, this could be prevented as long as the U.S. and the rest of the West stand with Ukraine until victory and not just for "as long as it takes” or “as long as we can.” This means the House of Representatives must pass the foreign aid bill, which includes $60.06 billion in aid for Ukraine. The U.S. must also continue to provide Ukraine with more advanced weaponry including, but not limited to, infantry fighting vehicles such as the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Abrams tanks, Army Tactical Missile System missiles and air defense systems, such as the Patriot missile system. Russia seeks to wait out the West, but as long as we remain united in our commitment to ensuring a Ukrainian victory, then Russia will lose.

Ukraine has been able to use Western equipment and technology in a variety of ways to defend itself and advance on the battlefield. Prime examples of this were seen in the Kharkiv and Kherson offensives in fall 2022, where Ukrainian forces used American equipment, such as HIMARS and other rocket artillery systems, to overwhelm Russian forces and cut off supply lines. Ukraine has also used the American Patriot air defense system to great effect; it has protected the capital city, Kyiv, from virtually all missile attacks including hypersonic missiles, such as the Kinzhal. The Patriot has also been used to provide air defense on the front lines, shooting down Russian jets and warplanes at an alarming rate, with at least 11 planes being shot down at the end of February. These are only a couple of examples of the immense positive impact Western aid has on Ukraine’s war effort. Continuously providing more aid will allow Ukraine to keep up its defense and allow the country to eventually go on the offensive again.

If we allow Ukraine to fall, it would only be a matter of time before American and NATO troops die, as Russian hordes storm into the Baltics and attack our NATO allies. We are at a pivotal moment in history. We must stand with Ukraine, a democracy that seeks to integrate itself into the European Union and NATO as it seeks to rid itself of the Russian yolk. If Russia is allowed to win then it would only be a matter of time before American and NATO troops will die defending our NATO allies from a future Russian invasion. Would American leaders rather be remembered as a Neville Chamberlain, who abandoned our democratic allies, or as a Winston Churchill, who stood up to evil with defiance? Would we rather be remembered as those who allowed millions of Ukrainians to be killed and the survivors subjugated to evil and tyranny, or as those who ensured that Ukraine defeated the Russians and liberated their land and people? This is a simple choice between freedom and tyranny, democracy and fascism, light and darkness. It is one which should not require much debate.

We either stand with Ukraine until victory and the liberation of all their lands and people or allow Russia to continue its campaign of death and destruction until Ukraine is forced to capitulate and be either completely absorbed by Russia or turned into an insignificant rump state. The choice is not a difficult one, and I would hope that American leadership realizes that history will remember America’s actions.

May God bless the brave Ukrainian men and women who are defending the free world from Russian evil. Keep them in your hearts and remember that they are fighting for everything we stand for: freedom, democracy, and liberty. May the armies of light rid the temporarily occupied territories from the darkness of the Russians. May one day all of Ukraine and all Ukrainians be free from Russian tyranny. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes!