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American Military Assistance:  Is Ukraine “waiting for Godot”?

American Military Assistance:  Is Ukraine “waiting for Godot”?

On September 18, 2014, the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, will address a joint session of the United States Congress. No doubt he will strongly applaud the latest round of sanctions that were imposed on Russia by the United States and the European Union on September 12, 2014 in response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.  But he will also likely repeat his prior requests for immediate military aid from the United States and its Western partners so that Ukraine can defend itself from further Russian aggression.  It will not be a request for “boots on the ground” but for military weapons and supplies for Ukraine’s armed forces.  The US and the West have made it crystal clear that their military participation in Ukraine’s defense is not an option despite the fact that in 1994, Ukraine voluntarily surrendered its entire nuclear arsenal – the 3rd largest in the world – in return for guarantees in the Budapest Memorandum [pledged by Russia, the US and the UK] of Ukraine’s economic and political sovereignty and the integrity of its borders.

Most of the civilized countries of the world have condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine as an affront to international rule of law and as a violation of the numerous international treaties and agreements that require civilized countries to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.  These linchpin agreements – such as the UN Charter and the Helsinki Accords – maintained peace and stability on the Eurasian continent for over 70 years. Regrettably, it is now patently obvious that Russia’s actions clearly evidence that it will not abide by any promises that it has made or will make in any future treaty or other international agreement.

Numerous concerned voices in the American political, academic and mass media arena have urgently called for America and the EU to give immediate military aid to Ukraine.  All of these voices recognize that despite the increased economic sanctions, the Kremlin obstinately continues its military buildup within Ukraine and continues to violate the cease-fire agreement reached in Minsk earlier this month. It now arrogantly and openly continues its military actions against defensive Ukrainian forces inside the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, in spite of the stronger economic sanctions imposed on September 12 by the US and EU. Currently, additional convoys of “humanitarian” trucks openly unload lethal weapons inside Ukrainian territory and Russian military forces in and outside of Ukrainian borders are bombarding Ukrainian defensive military positions within Ukraine.  So much for Russia and its surrogate pro-Russian terrorists abiding by a cease-fire agreement!  Putin has doubled down on his bellicose pronouncements and has vehemently restated his resolve to return Russia to the previous borders of the former USSR and even to expand the Kremlin’s hegemony over the eastern parts of the European Union.  He has now publicly declared the United States, NATO, and the European Union to be enemies of Russia and announced an escalated buildup of his military arsenal.  Putin has also made not so veiled threats of using his nuclear military capabilities in his quest.  Needless to say, the conquest of Ukraine is the Kremlin’s first necessary step in achieving its imperialistic goals.

The United States [together with the UK], as a signatory to the Budapest Memorandum, has a joint and several obligation to Ukraine to protect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.  Had Ukraine not willingly relinquished its nuclear weapons in 1994, the present balance of power between Ukraine and Russia would have been substantially different and would have most likely deterred Russia’s illegal invasion and “annexation” of Crimea and the blatant invasion of Eastern Ukraine .  Since Ukraine kept its part of the bargain under the Budapest Memorandum, it is now time for the United States to make good on its word to guarantee Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

It is obvious that the present economic sanctions in and of themselves are woefully deficient and will not stop Russia’s unlawful aggression against Ukraine.  Had Ukraine received American and Western military aid earlier in a timely fashion, Ukraine would have been in a better military posture to repel the pro-Russian terrorists and seal its border from further Russian incursion.  Prior to September 5, 2014, Ukrainian military forces were in a strategic position to defeat the pro-Russian terrorists in Ukraine. On that day, NATO leaders were debating what sanctions to impose upon Russia.  In response to the verbal threats of NATO leaders – which the Kremlin perceived as a shallow non-consequential scolding – that same day Moscow ordered its troops into Ukraine with superior weaponry and fire power to substantially push back the Ukrainian military from its gains painfully attained with the life and blood of many a brave Ukrainian soldier.

The question is: will Ukraine need to wait endlessly and hopelessly for American and EU military aid to arrive in the same exhausting and fruitless manner as the two characters in Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play “Waiting for Godot” who wait incessantly in fervent hope for a person named Godot to appear but who never arrives?

The United States Congress has before it two bills: H.R. 5241 “Crimea Annexation Non-recognition Act” which prohibits the United States to recognize the de jure or de factoannexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. H.R.5190, the Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014,provides military assistance to Ukraine and to designate Ukraine as a Major non-NATO Ally (MNNA).  The Ukrainian American Bar Association strongly urges the United States Congress to expeditiously pass – on a fast-track basis – this legislation so as to signal to the world that the United States abides by its word in international agreements that it signs and will help Ukraine defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty as the quid pro quofor surrendering its nuclear arsenal.  Failure to do so in a timely and expeditious manner  will only reaffirm Vladimir Putin’s strongly held belief that the United States is only a paper tiger – all words and no teeth.

If the United States does not keep its word regarding sovereignty and security guarantees relating to nuclear non-proliferation agreements, why should any other country such as Iran, Pakistan, India, Israel or North Korea have any faith in America’s representations or promises in future nuclear disarmament negotiations and accords.  Any tardiness or inaction by the United States Congress in rendering timely military aid to Ukraine will also condemn Ukraine to an endless and hopeless waiting for American assistance  — as the characters in “Waiting for Godot”–  only to have its sovereign territory painfully eroded  by Russian aggression, with extensive casualties to its population, with millions of people displaced, and many a young Ukrainian soldier killed by a stronger and brutal aggressor nation whose only goal is imperial territorial expansion.  If Ukraine falls, then the horrific conflagration of war will spill over into the eastern part of the European Union and will necessitate American “boots on the ground”.  All this may be avoided if the United States Congress acts now and fulfills its obligation and duty to give timely military assistance to Ukraine.

[hr]For further information, please contact
Myroslaw Smorodsky, Esq.
Communications Director of the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA)
Tel: 201-507-4500; Email; [email protected]; Website;

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