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The world will never be the same

February 24 will go down in history as the day the world changed. With Russia’s massive invasion, any lingering doubt about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s utter contempt for humanity, including his pathological obsession with Ukraine, has been completely erased. What we have seen take place since in Ukraine has almost a surreal quality, but the horror of this war is all too real – nothing could be more real. We are in a game-changing moment. Days seem like weeks and weeks seem like years.

The war criminal Putin’s military forces have already inflicted tremendous human suffering in this totally unprovoked war of choice. The deaths of innocent civilians, including children, mean nothing to Putin and his war machine. This pariah has declared war not only on Ukraine, but on the values and principles that govern the rules-based international order.  He has declared war on the entire free, civilized world.

What we also are witnessing, on all media and information platforms, are countless examples of the fierce courage, determination, will, resilience and creativity of the Ukrainian military and – of utmost importance – the ordinary people who resist the invader and defend their land.  They have rightly earned the respect and admiration of the entire world. Their actions are deeply humbling.

Today, as never before in history, the world understands Ukraine, but, much more importantly, the world stands in solidarity with Ukraine. The countless examples and expressions of support – rallies, prayer services, contributions of money and time, even symbolic gestures such as the displays of the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag that have been seen all around the United States and the world – could already fill many volumes. “We are all Ukrainian” is a refrain that echoes seemingly everywhere.

We have seen unprecedented and swift action from the Biden administration across all fronts. Congress’ traditional strong bipartisan support of Ukraine has only grown in recent weeks.  The speedy adoption of the massive $13.6 billion Ukraine-related military, humanitarian and economic aid package is but the latest example of that.

We have seen remarkable unity of purpose from our allies and partners – including key allies such as Germany, where there has been a rapid turnaround from its previously somewhat accommodationist stance toward Russia. We are witnessing sanctions on Russia of the kind never seen before, the provision of weapons now flowing into Ukraine and other essential security, humanitarian and economic assistance.  Putin failed miserably in his plan to divide the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU).  And Ukraine’s neighbors, especially Poland, are welcoming millions of Ukrainians in what has become the largest flow of refugees since World War II (Indeed, many of you reading this have been thinking of your own experiences during that time, or that of your parents and grandparents who were part of this wave).

We also need to salute those brave Russians calling upon Putin to end the war, thousands of whom have been arrested and face severe repercussions for taking to the streets or engaging in other forms of protest. It’s just too bad that all too many of their compatriots remain brainwashed by the Kremlin’s propaganda machine.

Sadly, despite the efforts by governments and peoples around the world, the tragedy in Ukraine continues to unfold before our eyes.  The cold, hard reality is that the worst is probably yet to come.  We will witness further human depravity on the part of the aggressors, and senseless, needless human suffering on the part of the innocents.

Although it is normal to feel helpless, we must not succumb to despair.  We help Ukraine best by keeping our wits about us, as difficult as it is for us emotionally.  In the weeks and months to come, we must continue to draw inspiration from the incredible strength, resilience and valor of the Ukrainian people, led by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who for good reason, has become a global hero and icon of his country.

We must maintain our efforts to help in whatever way we can, even in seemingly small ways.  I have long been a big believer in the concept that every little bit helps.  Yes, let us continue to pray for and rally for Ukraine.  Let us continue to contribute, with money or with time, to the many humanitarian organizations – including some Ukrainian-American volunteer groups that are working tirelessly to help alleviate human suffering.  Let us ourselves stay as informed as possible, not only about developments on the ground, but also about how our own government is responding – this may seem trite, but it matters.  Let us keep pushing those companies still doing business in Russia to stop.  And let us continue to urge the administration, Congress and the private sector to do more, recognizing that much has already been done.

As we engage in advocacy efforts, it is important to acknowledge the remarkable steps that the administration and Congress have taken in recent weeks and months, while advocating for more action. To cite just one example, I was one of 27 national security and foreign policy former officials and other professionals who recently signed an open letter that acknowledged the wide array of severe sanctions and substantial increases in lethal military assistance, but urged the imposition of a limited, humanitarian no-fly zone. There was pushback on this idea from the White House, the Pentagon and others in the foreign policy community. They argue that a no-fly zone – even a limited one – could lead to an all-out war between NATO and Russia, and, they assert, from a military perspective, there is high-risk and low-benefit to implementing a no-fly zone, especially as most of the attacks in Ukraine have been launched from the ground.

The letter also called for additional military support for Ukrainian self-defense, including aircraft. Security aid of all kinds will continue to increase and it will include more anti-armor and anti-aircraft hardware. In the last two weeks alone, the administration has authorized more than $1 billion in military security funding.  It’s important to note as well that much of what is being done is not being shared publicly, for very understandable reasons.

Even among many of the open letter’s signatories and many others in the foreign policy community who believe we should be taking more resolute measures, there is still an appreciation that U.S. President Joe Biden and other leaders are faced with an extremely difficult, fluid and unpredictable situation. A great deal of dexterity and wisdom is required, as decisions taken will have immense implications and far-reaching consequences.

Now is not the time for partisan attacks and finger pointing – from either side. As we discuss and debate what further actions to take to assist Ukraine, let’s keep our eye on the ball and focus our efforts on fighting the real enemy – Vladimir Putin and those Russians infected with the imperial bacillus. We must not become enemies ourselves.

There will be difficult, challenging, awful days ahead, but we must keep doing whatever we have in our power to do – doing anything constructive beats doing nothing. The Ukrainian people, who so courageously defend their own land, who stand on the front lines defending democracy, freedom and the civilized world, deserve no less.  This is nothing less than a war between freedom and tyranny, between truth and lies, between good and evil and, in the end, good will triumph over evil.

Source: The Ukrainian Weekly