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Maureen Ramsey retired from the U.S. Army after 32 years of active, Army Reserve and civil service stationed stateside as well as in Germany, Japan, Korea and Afghanistan. She is a Gold Star Wife and a Blue Star mom. She lives in Lubec.
In our “safe” haven some four thousand miles away, we have become complicit in the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of innocent men, women and children in Ukraine. War is happening across the seas to the “other.” Despite our voiced support for all democratic nations and for the Ukrainian people, we expect the Ukrainians to repel the Russian invaders alone.
We decline to commit U.S. troops because we don’t want to get involved in another faraway war. We refuse to assist with a no-fly zone over Ukraine because we fear it will start a world war. We decline to send in NATO troops for the same reason. We vote to provide weapons and weapon systems, then we “pray” and “hope” they help.
We watch the news and may even cry at the sight of the destruction; of families being torn apart as mothers, young children, and babies flee their homes leaving behind fathers, brothers and sons to fight against a bully. Then, we turn the channel on our TVs, click an app on our laptops to watch the latest movie or get up to go about our business. The war is “there,” not here. After all, what happens in Ukraine stays in Ukraine. It doesn’t directly affect us. In our role of by-stander, we have abdicated our leadership role in the world.
But the invasion of Ukraine does affect us. Ukrainians are not the “other.” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reminds us of our shared identity – “we” are all members of the same human race. “We” all have dreams and the desire to live in peace. “We” live in democracies where the power comes from the people.
Our shared values include: Life; liberty with the freedoms to believe what you want, choose your friends, think and express those opinions publicly; gathering in groups and working in any lawful job or business.
Our values embrace the pursuit of happiness, the common good, and the truth. We strive for the realization of justice, equality, and diversity; and assert the right to self-determination and a love of country. These are values we purport to hold dear. The current Russian aggression is not just an attack on Ukraine but also on all democracies worldwide and on those values.
Since the end of the Cold War, Ukraine has played by the rules and practiced democratic values. In 1991, the Ukrainian people voted for their independence. In 1994, Ukraine agreed to get rid of its nuclear weapons and to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
In exchange for giving up its nuclear weapons, Ukraine received commitments in the Budapest Memorandum of Security Assurances signed by Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Ukraine. Among other items, Russia reaffirmed its commitment to Ukraine to respect its independence and sovereignty and the existing borders, and reconfirmed Russia’s obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.
In 1997, the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation established the principle of strategic partnership, recognizing the inviolability of existing borders, and respecting territorial integrity and mutual commitment not to use its territory to harm the security of each other.
With its annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia failed to live up to any of these commitments. The world of nations enacted some sanctions, but in hindsight, Russia doesn’t seem to have learned much.
Now once again, with its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has underscored that it cannot be trusted. Ukraine has remained steadfast about remaining a non-nuclear weapons nation. However, some current and former Ukrainian officials have suggested that if Ukraine’s security guarantees are not met, it may reconsider its status as a non-nuclear state.
Countries across the planet are once again applying sanctions to Russia. Sure, world nations may also provide weapons and funds to Ukraine, but just like in 2014, Ukraine will be on its own doing the fighting for the rest of the world. Just like a guy getting mugged on a public street in the middle of the day in front of by-standers who do nothing. Who will step up? What happened to U.S. leadership? If you want to discover ways you can help, check out Welcome.us – Ukraine.