Letter to the Editor: A condensed history of Ukraine, and why the US needs to support it

Reader Butch Reynolds says America’s enemies are watching to see what we do.

On December 5, 1994, leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation met in Budapest, Hungary, to pledge security assurances to Ukraine in connection with its accession to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a non-nuclear-weapons state. The signing of the so-called Budapest Memorandum resulted in Ukraine’s agreement to relinquish the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal, which the country inherited from the collapsed Soviet Union, and transfer all nuclear warheads to Russia for dismantlement. The signatories of the memorandum pledged to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and inviolability of its borders, and to refrain from the use or threat of military force. Russia breached these commitments with its annexation of Crimea in 2014, its subsequent aggression in eastern Ukraine beginning 2014, and its current escalation of its attempt to take over the entire country by force since 2022.

Ukrainians are fighting for their freedom and self-determination as an independent sovereign democracy against an unprovoked Russian aggression. They are greatly outnumbered and currently outgunned. When war started, everyone thought it would be over in a few days and President Zelensky was offered safe travel out of the country. His reply was “We need ammunition not a ride out of here”. We did provide material support and the Ukrainians held out and even won back some of their territory. But while the rest of NATO and the European Union has been providing all the aid they can, a small number of our politicians are sitting on our aid package while Ukrainian soldiers are being outgunned, killed and wounded, civilian population murdered, and infrastructure destroyed.

The whole world is watching how America meets her international commitments and pledges of security support. If there is a Russian victory there will be serious consequences for America’s European and Asian allies, as well as the USA itself. As Mitch McConnell has stated, what happens to Ukraine has “a direct and vital bearing on America’s National Security and vital interests”. We don’t want to return to the 1930”s world view and isolationism that almost prevented the Lend Lease program from supporting Great Britain’s fight for survival during WWII. Our current national defense budget is about 3% of our GDP and less than 4% of that is being proposed for Ukraine military aid. We should be able to afford that and rebuild our military industrial base at the same time. European aid to Ukraine is currently about double that of the US to date.

Ukrainians have shown they have the willpower, grit, and ability to win if provided the “ammunition” and material support they require. China and other adversaries are watching closely to see if we will abandon our friends and allies in Europe, then perhaps we will not live up to our stated commitments elsewhere (e.g.Taiwan). The consequences of failure to deliver now will fall on our children and grandchildren. Don’t let that happen!

Butch Reynolds

Bonney Lake