“Fighting Escalates in Eastern Ukraine, Signaling the End to Another Cease-Fire.”
“Russia seems to be preparing to invade Ukraine but it’s not clear whether Putin will go through with it.”
Those were two major headlines splashed across U.S. newspapers this week. It’s easy to skip past them – after all, Russia is 5,010 miles from South Dakota. So why do these headlines matter? First, Russia is not our friend. Putin is a power-hungry egomaniac – and his attempts to influence American politics is unacceptable.
Ukraine, a country that teeters between the East and the West, encapsulates the tale of being stuck in the middle of opposing ideological, cultural worlds. Since the turn of the 20th century, the Ukrainian government has sided with the Western world, becoming steadily more like Europe after centuries of being influenced and governed by the Soviet Union. Putin has set his sights on Russia’s neighbor to the southwest, looking to gain back control of the land its ancestors once claimed and undermine Ukraine’s growing Europeanization.
For nearly a month, Russia has been deploying more than 150,000 troops to the border of Ukraine, escalating tension and causing destabilization within the region. There’s one reason for this escalation: power.
While Russian aggression towards Ukraine is nothing new, we haven’t seen this scale of escalation since 2014 when Russian forces were successful in their annexation of Crimea – a clear violation of international sovereignty that remains status quo today.
Russia is too powerful, and any expansion of territory will not be good for the world. Any war with Ukraine threatens access to the Black Sea, threatening freedom of navigation. We can’t risk the spread of Russia’s malign influence on the world.
These threats are legitimate and national security issues aren’t limited to Russia. During a briefing this week, I learned of China’s continued violations of Taiwan airspace, North Korea’s continued research into ballistic missile development, and Iran’s increased uranium enrichment. America must stay vigilant, and while we cannot engage in every international conflict, one thing should be clear to President Putin: America is watching.