Why the US Should Give Weapons to Ukraine

My mother turned on the news and suddenly saw the village of Svetlichne where she grew up. Svetlichne is a tiny Ukrainian-speaking hamlet in the Lugansk area that is located right in the middle of the war zone. The village has been changing hands as the Russian troops advance and then are beaten back by the Ukrainian army.

The images from Svetlichne were devastating. The cemetery where my grandparents are buried has been leveled with the ground. My mother saw the faces of her classmates, her neighbors, people she grew up with. An 87-year-old woman was crying and telling Ukrainian soldiers, “Please don’t leave us. These people [the invaders] don’t understand us, they don’t even speak our language. I survived the war [she means WWII], and this is worse. These guys are worse than the Nazis.”

The Ukrainian army manages to hold on to these areas because of the heroic efforts of the volunteers who are arming, feeding, and clothing the soldiers. The people fighting on Putin’s side are the lowest of the low: neo-Nazis, drug addicts, criminals, freaks. They loot, murder, rape, rob, torture, and destroy. They have no goal other than destroying as much as they can. 

In the winter of 2013, after 22 years of post-Soviet corruption and stagnation, Ukrainians finally decided to get rid of the oligarchy, defeat corruption, and start constructing a fairer, more hopeful society. But the moment they started doing that, Russians – who have not made such a decision for themselves – invaded and started destroying Ukraine. The Russians did not invade because of anything the US did or anything the NATO did. They are not reacting to any actions of the West. They are reacting to what is happening inside of Russia. Their lives are hopeless and purposeless, and they have found a purpose to their existence in war.

Putin’s regime was losing legitimacy in the eyes of a growing number of Russians all throughout 2011 and 2012. The egregiously falsified elections of those years had finally made the people of Russia protest against the oligarchy that has been ruling and robbing them since 1991 (actually, from much earlier than that because their rulers are the same people that were in power before the collapse of the USSR). Dictators often use war to ratchet up patriotism and create the impression that their rule is legitimate. This is, for instance, what the Argentinean junta was trying to achieve with the Falklands War.

Putin’s strategy worked. His approval ratings within Russia have soared. The war in Ukraine is extremely useful to him politically. He will drag out the hostilities, attacking more and more peaceful cities in Ukraine for as long as he can. The only hope right now is to shorten this “as long as he can.” The better Ukraine manages to resist the invasion, the greater is the probability that the people of Russia will wake up from their stupor and start asking why they need to keep dying in Ukraine to keep Putin and his fellow oligarchs in caviar, yachts, and palaces. 

Many people in the US fear that sending weapons to Ukraine will anger Putin and make things even worse. This belief is based on a profound ignorance of the very nature of Putin’s regime. Nothing that Putin does is a reaction to anything done or said in the West. He is trying to achieve his own internal goals. He will or will not invade a NATO country, he will or will not use weapons of mass destruction, he will or will not send troops to take Kiev or invade Estonia based on the internal needs of his regime. The fear of causing an intensification of the conflict with Russia is misplaced since it’s not in the West’s power to control what Putin does. All that can be done is to make the war so costly to the people of Russia that they will start questioning their blind adoration of their leader. 

If no weapons come to Ukrainians, the war will drag out, probably for years and years. The fairly low-intensity (from the Russians’ point of view) war in Ukraine allows Putin to get rid of the most lumpenized parts of the population. He is happy to have a place where he can send all of the junkies, neo-Nazis, “angry young men,” and criminals to die while advancing his interests. 

The people of Russia already are convinced (because Putin has been telling them so) that there are Americans soldiers fighting against Russians in Ukraine. For Russians, the NATO troops are already actively involved in the war. Not sending weapons to Ukraine will not convince Russians that there are no Americans fighting in Debaltsevo today. That boat has sailed a long, long time ago. The argument of, “So what, we should now go to war with Russia?” is impotent because, from the Russians’ point of view, that war has been going on since last spring.

And it’s a war that we – the people who detest oligarchy, dictatorship, corruption, jingoism, and stupid anti-Western rantings – can win. Or rather, Ukrainians can win it for us, for themselves, for the whole world, if only we give them a tiny bit of help and the smallest sign that they have not been abandoned by the entire world. Even a tiniest gesture of good will from the civilized world will help Ukrainians feel that they are not alone in the fight against barbarity.

P.S. I’ve never asked for re-posts but now I am. Please re-post and get people to read this. Even if you disagree (on the basis of your profound knowledge of Ukraine and Russia, I am sure), you must still consider it important for competing viewpoints to circulate, right?

23 thoughts on “Why the US Should Give Weapons to Ukraine

  1. Here’s a response to your reposted post, on Facebook:

    Ambrose Musiyiwa Given what happened (and is happening) in Libya, Syria and the regions the two countries are in, my concern is that flooding Ukraine with weapons will destabilize Eastern Europe and lead to an increase in violent crime and arms-related violence in Eastern Europe and beyond.
    Like · Reply · 10 mins · Edited

    Like

    1. Ukraine is already flooded with weapons that Russians ship in in enormous quantities. That boat has also sailed.

      I’m extremely grateful for the repost and your unwavering support!

      Like

      1. Here is some more of the responses..

        Ambrose Musiyiwa Given what happened (and is happening) in Libya, Syria and the regions the two countries are in, my concern is that flooding Ukraine with weapons will destabilize Eastern Europe and lead to an increase in violent crime and arms-related violence in Eastern Europe and beyond.
        Like · Reply · 22 mins · Edited

        Jennifer Frances Armstrong Ok. Let me repost that to the original site and see what answer I get
        Like · Reply · 11 mins

        Ambrose Musiyiwa The re-post also reminds me how, in Libya, we saw English speakers who claimed to be Libyan, we saw how they took to the media and pleaded for arms. Several months later we saw the same people crop up in Syria, claiming to be Syrian and, again, pleading with the world for arms to be sent to Syria.
        Like · Reply · 1 min

        Jennifer Frances Armstrong The person who wrote the original article came from Ukraine and maintains links to it. Probably her information and judgement are correct

        Like

        1. I can’t venture any opinions on Syria because I’m not informed. I have no idea what happened and can’t provide any feedback.

          But it’s great how your Facebook immediately comes alive while mine just ignores me, as usual. 🙂

          Like

            1. I have a Nigerian, two Argentineans (the good kind), a Colombian, a Venezuelan, a Mexican, people from Spain – but to no avail. Maybe I should start cultivating Zimbabwean acquaintances. 🙂 Even though Putin and Mugabe are best buddies.

              Like

              1. Here are a couple more comments:

                Ambrose Musiyiwa About coming from there: that’s what the English-Libyan-Syrians also said.
                Like · Reply · 6 mins

                Bob Whitten Not helping Ukraine is to leave that nation to the mercy of Russia and I think we all know where that will lead.
                Unlike · Reply · 1 · 5 mins

                Like

              2. “About coming from there: that’s what the English-Libyan-Syrians also said.”

                • Right, let’s now not listen to anybody say anything about anything because a few English-Libyan-Syrians said something about something else. Makes tons of sense. 🙂

                “Not helping Ukraine is to leave that nation to the mercy of Russia and I think we all know where that will lead.”

                • Exactly.

                Like

      2. To be more precise – Ukraine is full of weapons that are at least 20 years old. It had enormous storage facilities where good ole SU kept weapons for mass mobilization in the case of WWIII. Both sides have such facilities on the territories under their control. I’ve seen photographs of the fields full of hundreds of tanks… Also both sides have some significant industrial capacities. Imagine Ohio, or Pennsylvania, or South-Western Ontario… You surely can find ways to repair tanks somewhere there… But in general the more sophisticated those 20-year old weapons were, the more likely they got defunct by now. High-tech Soviet weapons were not known for great reliability, unlike the AK assault rifles…
        The problem with Russia is that Russia supplies more modern weapons – more modern tanks, guided and unguided missiles, electronic warfare equipment, etc. And the people who actually have training and experience with those more modern weapons, who can use them more effectively than some brainwashed miners. So it is getting a bit like a mini Gulf War. Or would be a Gulf war if Russia did not attempt to preserve some degree of plausible deniability.

        Like

  2. Here’s some more:

    James Michael Knauff Excellent writing !
    Like · Reply · 16 mins

    Black Technocrat Russia is a deadly bear not to be trifled with in the manner the Iraqis and Libyans were pummeled. That place has proven to be the graveyard of many imperial ambitions.
    Like · Reply · 13 mins

    Ambrose Musiyiwa It’s also interesting that, in the 1850s, the region was the site of possibly the first World War and that the reasons for that war are very similar to those behind the current conflict. In the 1850s it was European and Russian expansionism. In the 2010s NATO expansionism has been added to the mix.

    Like

    1. “In the 2010s NATO expansionism has been added to the mix.”

      • NATO expansionism has nothing to do with the subject but OK. 🙂

      “Black Technocrat Russia is a deadly bear not to be trifled with in the manner the Iraqis and Libyans were pummeled.”

      • They are an aging, half-blind, toothless bear. 🙂

      Like

    1. All the time. This is why I have placed very severe limits on the news and articles from Ukraine that I take in. I usually do about 5-6 Putinoid newscasts per every Ukrainian one. And I read about 3-4 Russian articles per every Ukrainian one.

      Thank you for the question.

      Like

  3. The Americans should provide “Molotov Meccano Sets” to Ukraine in order to help the Russians with their rebuilding …

    You know, the kind of Meccano set that says “THIS SIDE TOWARD ENEMY”. 🙂

    As with the Finns who gave the Russians some strong drink to go with their “Molotov Bread Baskets”, it should now be the Americans who assist Ukraine with Russia’s rebuilding in a similar fashion.

    As for Monsieur Poutine, I simply have this to suggest in the vein of JFK:

    ASK NOT WHAT OUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU
    ASK HOW OUR COUNTRY CAN DO IT WORSE TO YOU

    🙂

    [wonders if they’ll call Monsieur Poutine “Stumpy Vlad” if he gets a leg blown off by one of those Molotov Meccano Sets …]

    Like

  4. Thank you for this post. I think “Dictators often use war to ratchet up patriotism and create the impression that their rule is legitimate” is an insightful point, and I only fear it will affect Putin’s (or some other Russian leader’s) incentives in the future as well as the past.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.