In the predawn hours of February 24, I awoke to the shock of Europe at war. Russian military forces invaded the sovereign nation of Ukraine, ending 70-plus years of relative peace on the European continent. I find myself asking: where does responsibility for the war in Ukraine lie?
When I consider the word responsibility, I recall Richard Pimentel’s definition. To summarize his point, responsibility is made up of two words – response and ability. Responsibility asks of us: given our abilities, what is our response to those abilities?
The Onus of Responsibility
In Ukraine’s rapidly evolving geopolitical conflict with Russia, the actors involved each embrace a distinct perspective of responsibility. Putin justifies his view of responsibility to pursue “the function of peace keeping” throughout Ukraine. For Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, his responsibility lies in staying to defend Ukraine, while pleading for support from the international community. The West and its allies limit their current responsibility to sanctions and calls for support, while maintaining self-imposed distances from the war.
So, who bears responsibility for the war in Ukraine? The answer: in unequal measure, the West and its allies, along with Putin, have provoked war in Ukraine. The West’s provocation of Putin’s regime for decades, coupled with Putin’s military ventures into Georgia in 2008 and Crimea in 2014, with limited consequences, has led to the current war in Ukraine. And now Ukraine shoulders the responsibility of defending its sovereignty as the world watches.
The Consequences of War
The war in Ukraine is not isolated to the eastern flank of the European continent. The long-held view of Ukraine’s untenable position as a buffer state between the rest of Europe and Russia must be addressed. The war, and its outcome, pose multiple precedents for the global community.
As the world awaits the outcome of Putin’s invasion into Ukraine, the global community must prepare for an impending geopolitical power shift. If Ukraine successfully defends its sovereignty, the case for NATO and EU expansion strengthens, dealing a blow to Putin’s influence. If Ukraine loses to Putin’s forces, the validity of NATO and the EU weakens, and Ukraine’s future (and other countries) will likely linger at Putin’s will.
For these reasons, and others, Ukraine must win its fight against its aggressors. In this David-versus-Goliath battle, the spectators currently on the sidelines (read: the West and its allies) need to shift their support to Ukraine through action, not only words. Action doesn’t necessarily equate to direct military support, but can include logistical and medical assistance. As a concerned citizen, you can take action to bolster Ukraine’s logistical and medical support and financial assistance in its war efforts.
War is Not a New Problem
I’m reminded of Charlie Chaplin’s speech in The Great Dictator and one of its impactful lines: “The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish…”
I find Chaplin’s words embody the spirit of war in Ukraine. Military members and citizens throughout Ukraine are sacrificing their lives in defense of that liberty and their collective sovereignty. Their sacrifice must be shared by the EU and NATO member states. If Europe seeks its own collective sovereignty, it too must defend Ukraine. Ukraine is Europe. Any loss of sovereignty affects the whole of Europe.
Dale Wimbrow’s poem The Man in the Mirror encapsulates my strata of thought about Ukraine’s struggle against Putin. At the end of the day, I have a responsibility to choose a side, and pass the judgment of the man in the glass, myself. And I choose the side of sovereignty and freedom for Ukraine.
As the Editor-in-Chief of the NYC Daily Post, my responsibilities extend beyond my credentials. I have a responsibility to empower the perspectives of others, in seeking truth, and advocating for dialog and the ensuing action it spurs. As a former soldier, and more importantly, a fellow human being, I empathize with Ukraine in its struggle to maintain the sovereignty and freedom of its people. Without hesitation, I support Ukraine and its efforts. I hope you will also.
Mr. Zelenskiy, and citizens of Ukraine, I stand with you.