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Hey, why should America fund Ukraine’s defense against the Russian Invasion?

As I look toward Ukraine - the land my grandfather immigrated from - I see a potential AMERICA in the making. While Ukraine has shown it is more than capable of fighting Putin’s invasion, its people need the continued support of the U.S. to continue that fight. As Texans who value freedom, independence and honor, we cannot turn our backs on our Ukrainian allies now.

While I was born in Fort Worth, my mom was born in the Pittsburgh area, home to many of the different ethnicities that now make up Ukraine. While my mom didn’t know much about where her parents were from (there was no internet and immigrants sometimes wanted their children to learn about America instead), my sleuthing sister Pam discovered our grandfather was from Ispas in present-day Ukraine (Thanks Ancestry.com). We found relatives we didn’t know we had who left present day Ukraine for the promise of freedom here in America. They showed us Ukraine is home to an independent, innovative and determined people. That certainly described our mom. I was planning a trip to Ukraine to show our kids where their ancestors came from, but for now, that’s on hold.

As a natural born Texan, I feel not only a familial link to the Ukrainians, but a natural kinship to the country that stood up to a heavily armed superpower and said, “come and take it.”

In February 2022, it seemed Ukraine was in denial when the U.S. publicly released intelligence that Russia was about to invade Ukraine. But when Russia sent its tanks and helicopters to capture Kiev, Ukrainians rose as one people, determined to remain free from Putin’s totalitarianism. With Javelin and Stinger missiles (made right here in Texas), the Ukrainian people courageously stopped Putin’s aggression in its tracks. They destroyed Russian tanks and armored vehicles in a turkey shoot and denied Russia air superiority in the Ukraine skies.

Ukraine has courageously demonstrated they have the mettle to effectively thwart Putin’s aggression, but they would not be able to do it without our weapons.

Turning back the Russian invasion will take time. Russia has over 400,000 troops in Ukraine. In support of its strategy of attrition, Russia is willing to sacrifice its soldiers to wear down the Ukraine forces. By providing F-16s, tanks and other weapon systems, Ukraine will gain tactical and strategic superiority that will change the dynamics on the battlefield. But it will take time for Ukraine pilots and soldiers to master these weapons systems. We must give them that life-saving time. Do we really want to turn our back on the Ukrainians’ courage?  

And if we do, we are also turning our backs on our own assurances to Ukraine. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine had the third largest stock of nuclear weapons in the world. In exchange for Ukraine giving up those nukes, the United States gave security assurances to the country. Then-President Bill Clinton signed the Budapest Memorandum in 1994, promising that the U.S. powers would stand by Ukrainians in the face of an “act of aggression.”

Even more important than a presidential promise, we as a people have a duty to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom and democracy. Democracies around the world are providing support to Ukraine and we must not shirk our own responsibility. Just as the French funded our fledgling nation’s fight to achieve freedom and democracy, we should nurture and protect democracy around the globe. Indeed, China has watched our support for Ukraine and appears to be rethinking its plans regarding Taiwan.

Ukraine funding also has bipartisan support, from Republican House Foreign Affairs Chair Mike McCaul to progressive Senator Bernie Sanders, and those serious about national security do not want to abandon Ukraine.

However, there are those who are now second guessing continued funding for Ukraine. Some on the right like Hannity say that money could be better spent at home. Didn’t these same folks oppose the infrastructure spending program advanced by the Biden administration? Exactly what else do these talking heads think this money should be spent on here at home? And most of the funding for Ukraine will be spent at home paying American workers to manufacture the weapon systems to be used by Ukraine against Russia.

We must continue down the path we’ve already begun and support Ukraine against Putin’s delusional invasion. We said we would, and we should honor that promise. In supporting Ukraine, we support the democracies of the world and the future by sending a clear message to other world powers: Don’t mess with free democracies.

Jason is a Fort Worth attorney whose ancestors are from present day Ukraine. Jason is a member of the Progress Texas Board of Directors has also been active in Democratic campaigns since 1984 and has twice been elected a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.