Wednesday, February 1, 2023


The war in Ukraine has fully revealed the barbaric nature of Vladimir Putin’s regime and its danger to the world, having committed numerous crimes, including killing and disabling hundreds of thousands of people.

Unless Mr. Putin is stopped, he will be in a position to invade other European countries. Russia threatens everyone, including the United States, with nuclear strikes. The time for persuasions and negotiations is long gone. Sanctions alone cannot stop Mr. Putin. The only way to stop Russia is to completely defeat its army in Ukraine. Fortunately, there is a force that can do this — the Ukrainian army.

The Ukrainian army has already proven that it cannot only repel the attacks of the Russian army but can win decisive victories over it. Most Western military experts believe that with the necessary support from our side, Ukraine can win. Our support is critical to Ukraine’s victory because we can provide the Ukrainian people with humanitarian aid and the superior weaponry they need. While this will afford costs to the West, not stopping Russia now could mean paying a much higher price later, not only in money but with our soldiers.

While this is self-evident, there are politicians and pundits who call for the reduction, postponement and even termination of U.S. aid to Ukraine. These opponents of helping Ukraine argue it is not worthy of our support. However, most of their accusations against Ukraine of corruption, backwardness, lack of democracy and civil liberties are greatly exaggerated and, in some instances, false.

Those allegations are a mere distraction since what is most important is that freedom prevails. To achieve such a victory, it is critical for America to have a strong and reliable ally ready to take on the brunt and losses in this war. Ukraine has already proven to be such an ally.

It also does not matter how morally superior Ukraine is to Russia. What is important for us is that Ukraine is our ally, and Mr. Putin’s Russia is our enemy. Mr. Putin proved it with his words and his actions. Russian leaders openly state that they oppose NATO and the United States. Russian actions towards America have long been openly hostile. They include attempts to undermine our democratic election system, cyberattacks against our institutions and infrastructures, support for the Iranian regime, Bashar al-Assad’s power in Syria, the Taliban, Cuba, and Venezuela.

For many years, Mr. Putin has tried to destroy the peaceful coexistence and cooperation of independent equal states that make up the free world so he can replace it with a system dominated by opposing powers, which Russia leading the pack.

So, as they say, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. Russia is our enemy, and its war in Ukraine is directed against us. This is a classic proxy war in which Russia sees Ukraine as an American surrogate and its land as an extension of NATO territory, which Russia wants to cut off from it.

Our history during World War II, when we chose Stalin’s communist Soviet Union as our ally against Nazi Germany, explains some of this. By our standards, Stalin’s Soviet Union was no better than Hitler’s Germany, perhaps even worse. After all, the Soviet Union, as a former ally of Nazi Germany, helped instigate the war that helped Germany capture part of Europe.

But once Germany turned against Russia, we had got a common enemy, which made us allies. And this alliance helped us defeat Nazism. America and Great Britain paid a high price for this victory, but it would have cost much more if they had not utilized the Soviet Union as their ally.

The analogy between the two wars does not imply any similarity between modern Ukraine and Stalin’s Russia. Ukraine is not Stalin’s USSR. This fact only illuminates the fact that in Ukraine, we have a much better ally than the Soviet Union ever could have been. It is a stunning twist of irony that for the sake of our victory over Nazism, we overlooked Stalin’s crimes but have hyper-focused on Ukraine’s comparatively small problems as we continue our struggle against totalitarianism.

To be sure, Mr. Putin’s Russia can be compared to Adolph Hitler’s Germany because it again fell into totalitarianism, a hybrid type that combines the far-right elements seen in Nazism with the Soviet version of communism. Today’s Russia is a full-fledged member of the global totalitarian alliance, including our main enemies: Cuba, China, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea and Venezuela. Therefore, a Ukrainian victory against Mr. Putin’s Russia will be an American victory against totalitarianism, and a Ukrainian defeat would be a defeat for the U.S. and the entire free world. The last thing the West needs is to lose another war.

We should not be concerned about whether the Ukrainians, in their own minds, are fighting not against ideological totalitarianism or just for their independence from Russia. During World War II, Soviet soldiers fought against the Germans, not Nazism, and became one of the major forces that toppled the Third Reich. Similarly, a Ukrainian victory will be a drastic weakening of world totalitarianism and the strengthening of democracy in this world.

Therefore, America, other NATO countries, and other democracies must do everything necessary for this victory and provide Ukraine with maximum support. The more we help and the sooner it is delivered, the more certain it is we will emerge victorious with less loss of life and destruction. A quicker victory will mean less suffering in Ukraine and fewer opportunities for Mr. Putin to escalate this conflict and spread it to other territories. This victory will also reduce the likelihood of China attacking Taiwan or Iran attacking Israel.

• Yuri Yarim-Agaev is a scientist and human rights activist, and a former visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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