1-Unrest in Ukraine Threatens World Peace
USA Europe Russia Ukraine
BSSB.BE politico.com 02.02.2015
Even as chaos in the Middle East and terrorist attacks in France have refocused our attention on the danger posed by radical Islam, we must not forget the uncertainty and violence that continue to plague Ukraine, threatening the peace of the world.
The recent shelling of Mariupol, which killed dozens of civilians, and the Russian-backed separatist offensive throughout southeastern Ukraine is yet another reminder that this conflict will not solve itself and will continue to get worse until the United States and its allies get serious about stopping it.
At the end of last year, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, authorizing $350 million in lethal and nonlethal military assistance to Ukraine and expanding the president’s authority to impose sanctions on Russian energy and defense firms. This new law presents an opportunity to bolster our nation’s response to an important conflict with significant ramifications for the U.S.
Some argue that events in Ukraine, thousands of miles from our border, are none of our concern. I have a different view. Our interest in the Ukrainian conflict reflects both the values Americans hold dear as well as the significant strategic consequences of inaction.
When the Soviet Union fell and the people of Central and Eastern Europe took back the liberty that had been stolen from them decades before, the U.S. made a solemn promise: Embrace democracy, freedom, transparency and the rule of law — and we will embrace you.
This past year, the world watched the Ukrainian people brave Russian threats, intimidation and aggression and choose a new future for their nation, one dedicated to those principles. I saw this commitment firsthand in May 2014 when I had the honor of leading a congressional delegation, with my colleague from Maryland, Sen. Ben Cardin, to monitor the Ukrainian presidential elections.
But this struggle is about more than Ukraine’s right to self-determination, and failing to support the Ukrainians will have real consequences for other U.S. national security priorities. When Ukraine emerged as an independent nation after the Cold War, it inherited the world’s third-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons.
As a newly independent state looking to ensure its sovereignty and territorial integrity, Ukraine could have relied on its nuclear arsenal to ward off would-be aggressors. Instead, Ukraine sought — and received — assurances from the international community that its borders would be respected if it gave up its nuclear weapons. In 1994, the U.S., United Kingdom and Russia signed the Budapest Memorandum, in which all sides pledged to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, refrain from using military force or economic pressure to limit Ukrainian sovereignty and provide assistance to Ukraine if it became the victim of aggression from another nation.
Obviously, Russia has broken its part of that agreement. Now the question is whether we will break ours. And if we do break our word, we should consider the devastating impact on American counterproliferation efforts around the world. How could any nation we seek to prevent from developing nuclear weapons ever trust U.S. security assurances if they see in the carnage and destruction in Ukraine the deadly folly of trading nuclear weapons for American guarantees?
Republican Rob Portman is the junior senator from Ohio.