Texas Congressman Calls on Trump to Arm Ukraine Against Russia
As he meets with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko this week at the onset of the United Nations General Assembly, President Donald Trump should offer to provide lethal aid to the Ukrainian government in response to repeated Russian aggression.
With this shift in strategy, President Trump has the opportunity to accomplish three important foreign policy goals:
1. Demonstrate to our allies that the U.S. has their backs
2. Signal to the Russians that their adventurism in Eastern Europe is over, and
3. Begin the long-term process of proving to North Korea that the U.S. honors its security assurances.
In 2014, the Russians invaded an area called the Donbas Region in Eastern Ukraine. That same year, they also illegally seized the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. Despite Russian disinformation campaigns that characterize their own activity as a Ukrainian separatist movement, the Russian invasion is a clear violation of the territorial integrity of a sovereign nation.
Repeatedly, the previous administration under President Barack Obama gave credence to the disinformation by echoing the term "Russian-backed separatists," instead of identifying the perpetrators as Russian nationalists. Adding fuel to the fire, the administration also refused to provide lethal support to our Ukrainian ally despite bipartisan agreement for such in both the House of Representatives and Senate.
Russia has two primary goals: to restore the geographical integrity of the U.S.S.R. and destabilize Western democracies.
Right now, Ukraine is fighting for the free world. What happens to Ukraine will be an indication of what happens in broader Eastern Europe. Russia currently does not perceive NATO threats as a deterrent. Russian aggression in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova are the results of experiencing no consequences from NATO or the U.S. When it comes to electronic warfare, the Russian military is perfecting its tactics, techniques and procedures and exporting them to other conflict regions around the world. Russia's disregard for NATO is further evidenced by Russia's recent decision to sell weapons to Turkey, an actual NATO member. No country would sell weapons to an entity considered a threat.
While Ukraine itself is not a member of NATO, it is on the front-line of the Russian asymmetrical war to re-establish its sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. Arming Ukraine would demonstrate President Trump's ability to be tough on rogue nations and his commitment to thwarting Russian aggression.
But that's not all. It tells our allies to trust us and our enemies to fear us.
For example, it would serve as tangible evidence as to why North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un should rethink the acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Kim Jung Un has observed that when world leaders have given up their nuclear weapons, it has led to regime change. Since his No. 1 goal is to stay in power, he believes that creating a functioning nuclear weapons arsenal is the best way to do so. Ukraine is oftentimes cited as an example of this truism.
In 1994, Ukraine, as well as Belarus and Kazakhstan, signed the Budapest Memorandum agreeing to transfer their nuclear weapons to Russia in return for "security assurances" from the U.S., Russia and United Kingdom. Those assurances included respecting the independence, sovereignty and existing borders of Ukraine while refraining from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine. Those assurances weren't adhered to.
In other words, Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons and Russia invaded.
Although Vladimir Putin failed to honor his end of the deal, the United States has an opportunity to reaffirm ours. In doing so, it could be used as an example of good faith to Kim Jung Un that the U.S. respects the independence and sovereignty of nations that give up their nuclear weapons.
The Department of State, Department of Defense and a growing bipartisan group in Congress recommend arming our friends in Ukraine. I hope President Trump listens.