On February 24, 2022, the world we live in changed forever. The Russian military launched an unprovoked and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine, claiming countless innocent lives and displacing millions of people.
Vladimir Putin’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty has seen an arbitrary and reckless use of force against the Ukrainian people. However, this war is more than a mere land-grab for Putin. The war in Ukraine is fundamentally a showdown between liberty and tyranny.
In these uncertain times we are reminded that freedom is not self-evident or guaranteed. No one knows this better than the Ukrainian people. Ukraine’s ongoing fight is the latest chapter in its long struggle for freedom.
Generations of brave individuals have laid down their lives in Ukraine’s resistance against past aggressors such as Nazi Germany and the former Soviet Union, among others. Indeed, the story of Ukraine can be succinctly described as an endless struggle for self-determination. It was not so far in the recent past that this struggle had seemingly reached its conclusion.
In 2014, the Revolution of Dignity saw the Russian-backed administration of Viktor Yanukovych replaced with a western-aligned transitional democracy. At this moment, Ukraine spoke loud and clear: “we choose liberty”. To the world, Ukraine became a free and independent nation. To Moscow, it became an unruly client state. As a result, Putin annexed Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine under the guise of engineered separatist movements. Confronted with this violation of its sovereignty, Ukraine resisted.
Almost a decade has passed since this initial invasion. During that time, Russia poisoned dissidents, interfered in democratic elections, functionally absorbed Belarus, amassed troops on its Western border, and finally launched an all-out assault to pull Ukraine back under Moscow’s thumb. These events did not occur in secret. Quite the contrary, they occurred out in the open for the whole world to see. The free world sat idle while Ukraine fell once again under siege.
When presented with a choice between holding on to its hard-fought freedom or succumbing to the forces of tyranny, Ukraine’s valiant resistance speaks volumes. As Russian missiles continue to rain down on civilian targets and non-combatant casualties mount, the world is confronted with this very same choice. In a thousand years, scholars will gaze backward to 2022 and analyze the events happening around at this very moment. What will they see?
Will they interpret today’s events as the day the free world rallied together in the final hour to help save Ukraine from the clutches of tyranny? Or will they dismiss this period as just another footnote in the gradual decline of liberty?
Will future generations hold the values of liberty near and dear to their hearts, inspired by the sacrifices and resolve of today? Or will they scowl with pessimism at another lost ideal from a bygone era?
History will judge us. And I pray it will look upon us fondly.
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This piece was first published on the Students For Liberty website.
Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole, nor reflects the official policy or position of the Department of Defense (DoD), or the U.S. Government.