What happens in Ukraine should matter to all of us

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the largest military action in Europe since World War II. Though Kyiv is almost 6,000 miles from Oregon, what is happening there is a concern for what may come next.

Pundits try to understand what Vladimir Putin’s goal is. He is concerned about NATO encroaching on Russia’s border. It is all about security for Putin. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s it was the hope that Russia would join the international community. It has, but is insecure about the West’s intentions.

The Russian leader put his nuclear forces on high alert, which set many teeth on edge. Some called for military strikes against the 40-mile long military convoy that entered Ukraine. Though the invasion of Ukraine is unjustified and unprovoked, hitting the invading forces can come to no good end.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a former actor and comedian, has demonstrated his leadership in the face of overwhelming odds. He has stayed in his capital and rallied the citizens of his country to resist the invasion. So far, the people have heeded the call to arms, frustrating Putin’s plans. Zelenskyy could have taken refuge in some allied country, or flew off to some peaceful location to lead his country from behind. He takes his position as president seriously. Events shape a man’s character and his character is exactly what his people need. He is my front runner for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. 

The invasion of Ukraine is more than an abstract event happening far from American shores. It is a living illustration of what leaders will do to achieve their goals. A large majority of Americans agree Russia’s invasion is unjustified and a big bipartisan majority support economic sanctions to punish that country for its actions.

The U.S. and its allies have to hit Russia where it will hurt most, its economy. There are risks with that strategy—how will Russia respond? Much of Europe gets energy from that country, especially natural gas. Economic sanctions need to target those that support Putin’s geopolitical misadventures, especially the oligarchs that help keep the Russian president in power. 

We can’t forget the human element of invasion. Almost a million Ukrainian refugees have fled, many heading to Poland. People’s daily lives are shattered by rockets striking their homes. Russia has started targeting civilian neighborhood. Though the number of civilian casualties is relatively low, we should send more than thoughts and prayers. 

Ukraine needs military hardware. European Union countries are sending arms as should America. The best outcome would be to frustrate Putin’s plans to the point that he pulls back and heads to negotiations with Zelenskyy.

If Putin is not stopped in Ukraine, who knows where his attention may turn next.  

(Lyndon Zaitz is editor and publisher of the Keizertimes.)