Ukraine: Putin’s Assault On Freedom And Sovereignty

Dec 10th, 2022 | By | Category: Featured Issues, Politics & Current Events

The mission of Issues in Perspective is to provide thoughtful, historical and biblically-centered perspectives on current ethical and cultural issues.

Among some conservatives, as well as some Progressives in the political culture of America, there is a growing dissent about supporting Ukraine after Putin’s invasion of that nation:  Perhaps it is not worth it.  Perhaps we should be spending this money at home, not so far away.  Perhaps, because of the history of czarist Russia, Ukraine should be part of Russia.  Perhaps, if the US and the West had just promised that Ukraine would not be a part of NATO, Putin would have stopped his harassment and dismemberment of Ukraine, which he began a few years ago in his annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine.  Perhaps, because Ukraine has a history of political and financial corruption, there is no justification for the West supporting Ukraine’s war against Russia.  In my opinion such thinking is short-sighted, dangerous and baseless.  The war in Ukraine is a war to stop Vladimir Putin’s assault on freedom and sovereignty.

First of all, persuasively, Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal argues that “The West, led by Ronald Reagan and other significant national and religious leaders, won the Cold War.  No one seethed more at the Soviet Union’s defeat than Russia’s current leader, Vladimir Putin, serving then as a KGB agent in East Germany.  In February, Mr. Putin started his cold war against the Western victors with a tank invasion.  Instead of the Fulda Gap, Mr. Putin sent a tank army to capture the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.  No one should delude oneself, however, hard some try, into thinking that Mr. Putin’s intentions were merely to re-annex Ukraine and go home to live in peace with the world. After conquering Ukraine, Mr. Putin would have established a military presence on Ukraine’s western borders.  H would have begun political, economic and military pressure against countries on NATO’s eastern flank—Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary.  His goal over the long term would be de facto reabsorption.  Similar pressure would be applied to the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, plus Sweden and Finland, whose quick decisions to join NATO demonstrates that these countries understood immediately the broader implications of the Putin invasion.”

It is also important to remember that Russia, China and Iran are now in an informal alliance to defeat the US, its western allies and its democratic values.  “Ukraine is now their central battlefield.  Mr. Putin is bombarding Ukraine’s infrastructure and civilians with Iranian made drones and ballistic missiles.  Xi Jinping has committed China to a ‘no limits’ partnership with Russia.”  Much more is at stake in the outcome in Ukraine than the fate of Ukraine itself.

Second, Putin’s army is undeniably committing war crimes, similar to those of Hitler’s armies before and during World War II.  He must be held accountable for these atrocities.  What he is doing in Ukraine is comparable to what he did in Aleppo, Syria to keep Bashar al-Assad in power.  Putin engaged in deliberate, indiscriminate and massive slaughter of civilians. This is the approach, with the assistance of Iranian drones, that Putin is adopting in Ukraine.  Several of the Ukrainian cities are partially without water.  The energy infrastructure of Ukraine is being relentlessly struck by these Iranian drones.  Bret Stephens of the New York Times accurately captures the strategy:  “Putin’s armies might be falling back in the field.  But if he can freeze, starve and terrorize Ukraine’s people by going after their water supplies and energy infrastructure—while waiting for winter to blunt Ukraine’s advance—he might still be able to force Kyiv to accept some sort of armistice, leaving him in possession of most of his conquests.”   Further, “If Tehran can get away with being an accessory to mass murder in Ukraine, it will never have any reason to fear the United States for any of its malign behavior.”

Moreover, columnist George F. Will writes:  “After reading a Post report from Bucha, where Russian occupiers beheaded a man, then ‘burned his head and left it out for all to see.’ After reading the Associated Press report on the 10 torture sites its reporters visited in Izyum after this Ukrainian city was liberated from Russian occupation. (‘They beat him, over and over: Legs, arms, a hammer to the knees, all accompanied by furious diatribes against Ukraine.’) After reading the Wall Street Journal report from Izyum. (‘Most of the 436 bodies had signs of violent death including gunshot wounds, broken limbs, bound hands and amputated genitalia.’) After reading the Journal’s report from the city of Vovchansk. (‘They were beaten, their heads slammed between the door and the door frame.’) After reading in the New York Times snippets of phone calls, intercepted by Ukrainian agencies, from Russian soldiers to friends and family in Russia. (‘They gave us the order to kill everyone we see . . . I’ve already become a murderer.’) And after reading Putin’s speech on the ‘outright Satanism’ of ‘the West,” this is the question:  Is Russia’s endemic cruelty (and the related, rabble-like looting by Russian soldiers, stealing everything portable, from screwdrivers to televisions) germane to U.S. policy regarding Ukraine? The answer:  Putin has correctly cast this as a civilizational conflict. Were he visiting violence and corruption only on Russians, the West would have neither prudential reason nor practical means to restrain him. The history of the previous century, however, teaches the pertinence of a nation’s internal dynamics to its external behavior. Putin’s Russia has a metabolic urge to export its pathologies, becoming the collectivist alternative to open societies of rights-bearing individuals fulfilled through private rather than nationalist aspirations. If this export is not defeated — if the West chooses, in the name of ‘realism,’ to let it metastasize, which it may — the West will wither from self-loathing, and will deserve to.”


Finally, it is most instructive to read of the November liberation of Kherson, another major milestone in Ukraine’s counteroffensive to reclaim territory lost since the February 24 invasion by Putin of their homeland.  This vindicates the aid Ukraine has received from the West and demonstrates the price Russia is paying for Putin’s folly.  A major port city, Kherson is the only regional capital Putin captured.  He has now lost it.  Putin claimed that Ukrainians in eastern Ukraine would welcome with excitement Russian troops.  They did not!  As Ukrainian troops rolled into Ukraine, residents cheered, waved Ukrainian flags and played the national anthem.  The Russians were butchers, not liberators—and the citizens of Kherson manifested that truth.


The moral clarity of the Ukrainian war is crystal clear.  The West is fighting a barbaric monster in the person of Vladimir Putin.  This Perspective has provided the evidence for this pronouncement.  Conservatives who support him and Progressives who want to force Ukraine to negotiate with Putin, have no sense of history and lack the moral high ground to make such a claim.  As Stephen Kotkin of the Hoover Institution argues, “Putin has settled the argument on the wisdom of NATO expansion, galvanizing even Finland and Sweden.  He has cratered Russian influence in its own region, not just in a now profoundly Western Ukraine, but even in Armenia, a neighbor matched only Belarus in its loyalty to Russia.”  Putin’s autocracy is bankrupt in so many ways.  May God in His infinite justice and righteousness defeat him and bring him down for his hubris and defiance.

See Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal (3 November 2022); Bret Stephens in the New York Times (4 November 2022); George F. Will, “Why the West must stop Putin’s drive to export Russia’s cruel pathologies” in the Washington Post (7 October 2022); Stephen Kotkin in the Wall Street Journal (5-6 November 2022); and Wall Street Journal editorial (4 November 2022).  Christopher Caldwell’s most unhelpful essay in Imprimis of September 2002 represents the deceptive misfortune some conservatives evidence concerning the genuine issues involved in the Ukraine war.

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