Most of us currently enrolled as undergraduates at Illinois State have only ever known Russia as “Russia” and not as the Soviet Union. We were born after the decades-long Cold War and never felt the Red Scare, or the seemingly imminent danger of a nuclear holocaust. All of that was supposed to be over when the Soviet Union fell and became Russia.
Back in March, when Russia annexed Crimea and essentially set the stage for the conflict in the Ukraine, I wrote how strict sanctions needed to be placed on Russia so that the country knew that the rest of the world would not tolerate their actions. I drew a parallel to Hitler’s invasion of Rhineland and how failure for the rest of the world to act then led to the rise of Nazism.
Following the annexation of Crimea, strict sanctions were indeed placed, succeeding in damaging Russia’s economy and plummeting the value of the Ruble. Russia responded by banning all food imports, has continued to escalate their offensive in the Ukraine, all while Putin continues to see his popularity with his people reach incredible heights.
It may be time to accept the possibility that, despite all of President Putin’s denials, Russia is indeed invading the Ukraine. No one knows how this will end. But with 20,000 Russian troops lined at the Ukraine’s border and sanctions continuing to fail to deter Russia, it’s time to reevaluate the exact course the rest of the world must take.
For the United States, it’s a complicated situation made worse with the ongoing attempts to ward off ISIS in Iraq. Aiding one country in repelling an invasion is hard enough; aiding another at the same time is even harder to fathom — especially when the country that is invading is Russia.
“I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations,” President Putin told the world. “This is a reality, not just words.”
To be clear, direct military involvement is out of the question. There can be no airstrikes, as it is becoming clearer that such a strike would not just be on Pro-Russian rebels, but Russian troops themselves, possibly provoking Russia into action against the West. However, sanctions alone may not be enough either.
The United States needs to reexamine giving the Ukraine the means to better defend themselves. Not in the form of guns, but the technology to be able to defend their cities from Russian invasion. Doing so could very well make a war on the Ukraine increasingly undesirable for Putin and Russia, given the risk of increased losses.
“Sending guns and bullets is not necessary — Ukraine has enough. What Kiev needs is radar jamming and detection equipment to protect its planes from Russia’s anti-aircraft systems … as well as purely defensive weapons such as anti-tank missiles and some intelligence sharing by the West, including satellite data,” Leon Aron, Director of Russian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in an article to CNN.
Such an approach may not be desirable and it’s easy to see many Americans opposed to being involved at all with the current conflict. Then again, prior to Pearl Harbor there were those Americans who were opposed to being involved in Hitler’s war on Europe, failing to see how it affected them.
Putin has goals that have yet to be met, thus his continued invasion on the Ukraine despite international condemnation and sanctions. Does he want to take over the entire country? Possibly. If so, where does it end? For those like Putin, the Cold War never ended, and the United States and the rest of the international community need to realize this.
Nick Ulferts is a senior English education major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding his column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.