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  • Writer's pictureThe Paladins

Fragments from a War Diary, Part #214

The following diary entry is not written by me, but by an unknown Ukrainian friend who wrote to me out of the blue this morning and had the following to say. I cannot convey her sentiments better than in the words she used in writing to me.

I'm sorry, I was very tired yesterday and also sad about the circumstances in the US Senate. … I wanted to thank you for the work you are doing for Ukraine. I read your diaries. I want you to know that conscious Ukrainians (perhaps not 100% of them, but there are marginals in every society) - we are incredibly grateful to Britain for its help in the war against Russia. If it weren't for Boris Johnson's support in the first days of the war, perhaps we wouldn't be talking to you today. Ukraine has a difficult historical fate - because of such a neighbouring state. Our whole history is one sadness. There is probably not a single generation of Ukrainians who didn’t suffer from the imperial state of Russia.

The beginning of the 20th century - the expansion of the Bolshevik revolution on Ukrainian lands and Lenin's policy of destroying everything Ukrainian at the root, Stalin's repressions of the 1930s, then the Holodomor of 1932-33 and of the post-war period of 45-46, then the Brezhnev era. My parents are children of the Second World War. But these were not the tragic memories from my parents' childhood - and how the Soviet Union "liberated" Western Ukraine in 1939. How many members of my family were destroyed here and sent to camps in Siberia! Only because we are Ukrainians. I don't know if you can imagine how tragic the history of Ukraine is. In each of these wars, Ukraine loses the best, the smartest, the most honest, the most conscientious people. We have to survive another war... We cannot do it alone, without the help of the West Countries and America.

Thank you again!

The news from Washington, DC is indeed bleak. All of us who care sat up late last night, waiting for the outcome of the Senate vote to approve additional funding to enable Ukraine to continue resisting the Russian invasion. We hung on US President Joe Biden’s words:

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everyone. I’d like to speak to you today about an urgent responsibility that Congress has to uphold the national security needs of the United States and, quite frankly, of our partners as well.

This cannot wait. Congress needs to pass supplemental funding for Ukraine before they break for the holiday recess. It’s as simple as that.

Frankly, I think it’s stunning that we’ve gotten to this point in the first place. While Congress — the Republicans in Congress is — are willing to give Putin the greatest gift he could hope for and abandon our global leadership not just to Ukraine, but beyond that.

We’ve all seen the brutality that Putin has inflicted on Ukraine: invading another country; trying to subjugate his neighbors to his iron rule; committing atrocities — atrocities against Ukrainian civilians; trying to plunge them into the cold and darkness of winter by bombing their electrical grid so they don’t have any heat during the winter, ki- — or electricity, for that matter; kidnapping thousands of Ukrain- — thousands of Ukrainian children from their parents and families and keeping them in Russia.

Russian forces are committing war crimes. It’s as simple as that. It’s stunning.

Who is prepared to walk away from holding Putin accountable for this behavior? Who among us is really prepared to do that?

You know, for the better part of two years, the brave people of Ukraine have denied Russia a victory on the battlefield. They’ve defeated Vladimir Putin’s ambition to dominate Ukraine.

And the people of the United States can and should take pride — they should take pride that we’ve enabled Ukraine’s success thanks to the steady supply of weapons and ammunition we’ve provided them together with our partners and our allies.

I just did a meeting with the G7, which was one of the issues we discussed — all of the European leaders. We are prepared to stay with us — stay with Ukraine, and our European friends are as well.

Who in the United States are prepared to walk away from that? I tell you, I’m not prepared to walk away, and I don’t think the American people are either.

If Putin takes Ukraine, he won’t stop there. It’s important to see the long run here. He’s going to keep going. He’s made that pretty clear. If Putin attacks a NATO Ally — if he keeps going and then he attacks a NATO Ally — well, we’ve committed as a NATO member that we’d defend every inch of NATO territory. Then we’ll have something that we don’t seek and that we don’t have today: American troops fighting Russian troops — American troops fighting Russian troops if he moves into other parts of NATO.

Make no mistake: Today’s vote is going to be long remembered. And history is going to judge harshly those who turn their back on freedom’s cause.

We can’t let Putin win. I’ll say it again: We can’t let Putin win. It’s in our overwhelming national interest and international interest of all our friends.

Any disruption in our ability to supply Ukraine clearly strengthens Putin’s position. We’ve run out of money to be able to do that, in terms of authorization.

Extreme Republicans are playing chicken with our national security, holding Ukraine’s funding hostage to their extreme partisan border policies.

Let me be clear: We need real solutions. I support real solutions at the border.

I put forward a comprehensive plan the first day I came into office. I’ve made it clear that we need Congress to make changes to fix what is a broken immigration system, because we know — we all know it’s broken.

And I’m willing to do significantly more. But in terms of changes to policy and to provide resources that we need at the border, I’m willing to d- — change policy as well.

I’ve asked for billions of dollars for more border agents, more immigration judges, more asylum officers.

Republicans have to decide if they want a political issue or if they want a solution at the border. Do they really want a solution? It cannot be sustained as it is now.

We need a real solution.

And my team has been engaged in negotiations with Semate [sic] — with Senate Democrats and Republicans on border security.

Democrats — Democrats have put forward a bipartisan compromise on the table. Leader Schumer and Senate Democrats also have offered to let Republicans propose amendments to that border proposal, but Republicans rejected it. They said, “No, we — we don’t want you even to introduce your proposal, because then we’re not going to…” — and even though the Democrats say, “You can amend it any way you want,” “No, no. We don’t want to do that.”

This has to be a negotiation.

Republicans think they can get everything they want without any bipartisan compromise. That’s not the answer. That’s not the answer. And now they’re willing to literally kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield and damage our national security in the process.

Look, I know we have our divisions at home. Let’s get past them. This is critical.

Petty, partisan, angry politics can’t get in the way of our responsibilities as a leading nation in the world.

And, literally, the entire world is watching. The entire world is watching: What will the United States do?

And think, if we don’t support Ukraine, what’s the rest of the world going to do? What’s Japan going to do, which is supporting Ukraine now? What’s going to happen in terms of the G7? What’s going to happen in terms of our NATO Allies? What are they going to do?

If we walk away now, it’ll only embolden other would-be aggressors, so, I’m calling on Congress to do something and do the right thing: to stand with the people of Ukraine, stand against the tyranny of Putin, stand for freedom — literally, stand for freedom.

Let’s get this done. We’re the reason Putin has not totally overrun Ukraine and moved beyond that.

And you all have heard me talk about it before. If, in fact, we walk away, how many of our European friends are going to continue to fund? And at what rates are they going continue to fund it?

This is too serious. And like I said, I am willing to make significant compromises on the border. We need to fix the broken border system. It is broken. And thus far, I’ve gotten no response.

So, I just — there’s going to be a vote a little bit later today. We’ll know where we go from there. But I wanted to make this comment before the vote. And I’m sure I’ll be talking with you after the vote.

Thank you very much for listening. Appreciate it.

Unfortunately the President’s words fell on deaf ears in the US Senate, that split directly on party lines, Republicans voting against the funding bill and Democrats voting in favour. This was not a vote undertaken on the conscience of individual Senators, but as part of a negotiation. It is not that the greater majority of Senators are against continued funding for Ukraine; it is that they want to block funding as a tactical manoeuvre to obtain greater funding for securing the southern border of the United States with Mexico. This is not fatal to the issue of US funding for Ukraine, as a large proportion of the Republican Party are determined to support Ukraine against Russian aggression and they are also determined to support Israel and Taiwan which the funding battle also incorporates. There are sufficient Ukrainian-American, Jewish-American and Chinese-American constituencies in US politics to ensure that it would be electoral suicide for the Republicans to block this funding bill indefinitely.

Nevertheless the uncertainty throws Ukrainians into a sense of chaos and anxiety about whether the West really supports them: hence how much I appreciated the kind words of my unknown friend when I read them this morning. I cannot emphasise how much the whole of Ukraine and indeed all of free Europe relies, now more than ever, upon United States support for this monumental struggle against tyranny. As in the twentieth century’s two world wars, the New World must unite with the Old to defeat totalitarianism, dictatorship, military aggression, genocide and slaughter. The International Criminal Court has indicted Vladimir Putin for crimes against humanity, for forcibly deporting Ukrainian children and others in the orders of hundreds of thousands from occupied Donbas to remote parts of Russia. This is a war crime on par with the horrors of Nazism and Stalinism in the 1930’s and 1940’s. It is hell, it is monstrous, it is evil beyond evil, and once again the free world must unite to stop it in its tracks.


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