By: Cody Campbell, Columnist
Views expressed in this column are the author’s own.
The immediate curiosity from the average American concerning the current state of Ukraine and Russia being forefront in national news probably incites the question, “Well, what do we have to do with Ukraine? Why should we help them?”
The answer cannot only be found in the present and the future, but in the past.
America was founded upon the sheer determination to begin and remain a sovereign nation, apart from her mother country of England. The revolutionary soldiers and the founding fathers fought for a degree of freedom and liberty not generally known to the world at their time.
In doing so, they set a precedent that should a country not only declare it’s freedom, but also its sovereignty, as the public agrees, it is entitled to such freedoms. Further, they set their foot in the door with the aid of France, setting the precedent that if a country does such things, other liberty driven countries are obliged to assist in disputes that may arise between the mother nation and the newly formed nation.
In present day aspects, our obligations to Ukraine are not high on an economic basis, yet we as a nation do have some financial utility in the sustained independence of Ukraine. In 2019, the U.S. imported over $1.3 billion in products from Ukraine, including steel and food. A future benefit to the U.S. in aiding Ukraine is again the notion that America shall fight on behalf of nations that are subjected to tyranny of disputed mother nations and that America shall always fight for freedom.
Over the past year, tensions between the sovereign country of Ukraine and Russia have escalated and in the past few weeks, have risen to the highest levels seen in years. It is clear that Russia wishes to annex Ukraine, bringing it back under their control.
Many people are curious as to why Russia might want to re-establish dominance over a long declared independent nation, pointing to the idea that Russia, more specifically Russian President Vladimir Putin, wishes to reinstate a system of territories that conform to Soviet beliefs and ideologies.
When the USSR was in the process of disbandment, Ukraine (amongst other nations) indeed chose to become upon their own, a notion that was not keenly taken to by old fashioned political leaders who still harbored respect for the falling USSR.
Thus begins the stalemate between a country that decided it might choose its fate solely and a failing party headed by a largely still nationalist country. The USSR was officially disbanded in 1991 after leader Mikhail Gorbachev penned and announced his resignation, a long-perpetuated hope instilled in the western world by American President Ronald Reagan, spearheaded by the call to action that he “tear down [the Berlin] wall”.
Russia still wishes to maintain a level of influence over former Soviet countries, which is the reason for the rising tensions between Russia, Ukraine, and the western world. Russia put forward a list of demands that must be agreed to by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in order to reduce tensions over Ukraine.
These demands are largely to provide “legal guarantees” of Russia’s security, including the absolute denial of Ukraine to join NATO and removal of American troops from surrounding areas, amongst others.
These demands raise the question, “What countries are infringing upon Russia’s security?” Russia has amassed troops on the Ukrainian border prior to any other country doing the same upon the Russian border, leading to the clear fact that Russia is infringing upon another country’s security, not the other way around as so claimed by the Kremlin.
Though NATO troops being stationed within Europe is more common than uncommon, Moscow demands that they be removed from any country that was admitted to NATO after 1997.
NATO has plainly stated that these demands are nonstarters and that they will not be met. Further, President Joe Biden threatened economic sanctions amongst Russia if “minor incursions” into Ukraine were committed. Economic sanctions are very often the first step any country can take towards another hostile country, rather than move immediately to militaristic force.
On Feb. 2, President Biden announced that about 3,000 troops would be sent to Germany, Poland, and other NATO countries. The Pentagon, in a written statement, said that the reasons for the deployment of troops is to “deter aggression and enhance our defensive capabilities in the frontline allied states during this period of elevated risk.”
America is not the only country to deploy troops in preparation of any conflicts that may arise in the coming weeks. Other European countries are on standby, with Romania being home to a NATO missile defense system.
If Russia is to proceed in their (presumed) course to invade and attempt an annexation of Ukraine, the United States and NATO should be obliged to come to their aid to fend off the attacking forces, once again asserting that sovereignty as a nation is a cause worth fighting for.