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Ukraine war exposes weaknesses in Russia and the West

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks after giving a Ukrainian national flag to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Vice President Kamala Harris during his address the U.S. Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. on December 21, 2022.(Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks after giving a Ukrainian national flag to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Vice President Kamala Harris during his address the U.S. Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. on December 21, 2022.(Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images) | Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

My frustration continues to mount with the growing chorus on the left and the right who are questioning America’s and NATO’s commitment to defending Ukraine in its gallant effort to defend their freedom against the Russians’ attempt to eliminate Ukraine as an independent nation and culture and to completely absorb the Ukrainian people into Russia.

As I have observed the political pundits’ question whether the commitment to Ukraine is in America’s national interest, my frustration has increased exponentially. Frankly, I am incredulous that any American with sense enough to come inside when it rains would even question America’s and the West’s commitment to the Ukrainian people in their valiant defense of their freedom.

Just over a year ago, on Feb. 23, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine with the expectation that the Russians would overwhelm the Ukrainians within a week. It turned out that the Ukrainians were far more determined to defend their freedom than anyone, except perhaps the Ukrainians themselves, had anticipated. It also turned out that the Russian Army was a hollow shell of what it was believed to be (clearly this is not the Red Army that defeated the Germans in World War II).

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Stories abound of extraordinary Ukrainian courage. One Ukrainian fighter pilot, Andril, after flying 19 hours straight of combat sorties, was too exhausted to continue and was spoon-fed stew by his commanding officer in order to revive him. Ordinary citizens flocked to volunteer and the freedom-loving people of the world were both moved and inspired by the collective courage of the Ukrainian people. 

The success of the Ukrainians in fending off the Russian invasion to date has been about equal parts American and Western military aid, Ukrainian fortitude, and Russian ineptitude. Without sophisticated American military hardware being utilized in very significant numbers, things would be going much worse for the Ukrainians. In fact, America and Western-supplied weaponry has been given to the Ukrainians at an unsustainable pace.

“Currently, America can make about 180,000 155 mm shells a year, while Europe … produced about 300,000 last year. All total, that amounts to barely three months’ consumption for Ukraine” (“Keeping the guns blazing,” The Economist, Feb. 25” – March 3, 2023).

The Ukraine war has exposed the fact that America and her allies have significantly inadequate production of armaments and ammunition ordinances they would need in wartime.

The Russians’ goal is to obliterate Ukraine as a national entity and completely erase Ukrainian culture. That means literally erasing a nation of 43 million people from the map of the world.

The U.N. estimates that the Ukrainian population was 43 million at the beginning of the war. Now, a year later, there are approximately 12 million Ukrainians who have been displaced by the war (of that 12 million, 5 million have fled to other countries and 7 million are displaced within Ukraine’s borders).

Vladimir Putin has unintentionally provided the Western American-led alliance with a tremendous opportunity. This unprovoked and brutal attack on Ukraine has unified a fraying NATO alliance. The Western European countries (Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium, etc.) have been reawakened to the danger Russia presents. The Eastern European Countries (Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, etc.) did not have to be awakened. They already knew the hostile and omnivorous nature of the Russian Bear.

The invasion has also served to unite and increase Ukrainian patriotism. While the Crimea and the Donbas region have significant numbers of Russian-speaking citizens, Russia’s behavior in this war has disimbued them (if they needed to be disimbued) of the benefits of being part of Mother Russia.

All freedom-loving people around the world need to understand what is at stake in Ukraine. Russia is an oligarchy in decline and such totalitarian states are always more dangerous when they are threatened with decline. If Russia is successful in facing down the West in Ukraine, they will move on to their next target, probably the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia).

And, the Ukrainians are fighting America’s and the European’s war. For approximately 5% of the American’s budget for defense, the Ukraine has stymied the Russian Empire. That is 5% of the defense budget, not the entire federal budget (about one-sixth of federal spending goes to national defense). Five percent of one-sixth of the federal budget is a small price to pay for helping the Ukrainians make the world a safer place.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine should awaken freedom-loving people around the world to the enormity of what is at stake in Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Russia’s invasion has revealed to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear that the greatest threat to freedom around the world comes from two fascist empires (Russia and Communist China) who are seeking to upend the world order and replace it with Russian and Chinese hegemony. 

The British weekly, the Economist, perhaps put what is at stake most succinctly:

“A Russian victory in Ukraine would frog-march the world down a bleak path where might is right and frontiers are drawn by violence. It may hasten, the next, even worse, confrontation in Europe. And it would deepen a widespread sense that Western power, and the universal values it sustains, are in steep decline.”

America and the West have spent the second half of the 20th century and the first third of the 21st century expending enormous resources to win the Cold War. Now we have the chance to continue and expand the enormous benefits for mankind by having won the Cold War by helping the Ukrainians thwart a fascist Russian attempt to expand its empire and the beneficial impact that will have on a fascist China casting its hungry eyes on expanding its hegemony in Asia and the world at large.

If we help the Ukrainians win, we destroy the myth that America and the Western democracies are in terminal decline.

The alternative is Ukrainian defeat which would signal catastrophe for every freedom-loving person in the world.

Dr. Richard Land, BA (Princeton, magna cum laude); D.Phil. (Oxford); Th.M (New Orleans Seminary). Dr. Land served as President of Southern Evangelical Seminary from July 2013 until July 2021. Upon his retirement, he was honored as President Emeritus and he continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor of Theology & Ethics. Dr. Land previously served as President of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (1988-2013) where he was also honored as President Emeritus upon his retirement. Dr. Land has also served as an Executive Editor and columnist for The Christian Post since 2011.

Dr. Land explores many timely and critical topics in his daily radio feature, “Bringing Every Thought Captive,” and in his weekly column for CP.

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