Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine ended 72 years of peace in Western Europe and is a reminder of the long and painful struggle by Central and Eastern Europe to take charge of their future and break free from Soviet domination.
Rep. Jim Costa
Hon. Radek Sikorski
Putin’s assault on Ukraine is an assault on democracy that should concern every American and European citizen.
This war is no surprise — it has been bubbling away behind the scenes for years. For decades, the Kremlin has tested the alliances built by democratic countries, their transatlantic bond, commitment to promote and protect freedom, and determination to create economic opportunities in a free society. Putin does not want to see democratic neighbors along Russia’s borders thrive and prosper.
The incredible bravery of the Ukrainian people and their government should inspire us all to come to Ukraine’s support. In recent weeks we have seen actions by NATO, the European Union, the international community, and citizens around the world opposing the Kremlin’s aggression. In a bloody, horrific sequence of war crime after war crime, Russian forces continue to target civilians and residential areas, including hospitals, orphanages, and schools.
The European Union and its member states, the United States, and some of Ukraine’s neighbors have begun to offer humanitarian aid, and more is necessary. Ordinary people in countries across Europe and beyond have opened their hearts and homes to Putin’s victims.
It is imperative that American and European leaders continue to take a unified approach in combatting Putin’s aggression against a sovereign nation. Congress has passed an emergency Ukraine funding package that will provide $13.6 billion to counter Putin’s efforts and support the Ukrainian people. The bill provides $1.4 billion in humanitarian aid for Ukrainian refugees, and $650 million to support American allies, including Poland, who are on the front lines of this assault.
President Biden has also announced an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine, to include Stinger anti-aircraft systems, Javelin missiles, anti-armor weapons, and AT-4 anti-armor systems. The European Union has, in turn, provided €500 million in humanitarian support and €100 million in supplies to support Ukraine. The EU has also activated the Temporary Protection Directive to immediately provide Ukrainian refugees security, EU welfare support, and access to the job market.
Putin Must Be Designated a War Criminal
As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Chair of the European Parliament’s U.S. Delegation, respectively, we stand firmly behind U.S. and EU efforts to move in lockstep on sanctioning President Putin, Sergey Lavrov, and the Russian institutions that continue to facilitate this brutal war. We echo President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call to both the European Parliament and the U.S. States Congress to continue imposing ever-more crippling sanctions. Furthermore, we believe that we must take legislative action to designate President Putin as a war criminal for the atrocities he has committed.
As co-chairs of the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue, we are working to coordinate additional efforts between Congress and the European Parliament to support Ukraine and to help Ukraine defend itself against the Kremlin’s aggression. We also need to start considering joint Transatlantic efforts for reconstruction in Ukraine and longer-term support to its people.
We welcome the NATO strategy to protect its member countries from the Kremlin’s aggression and provide military support to Ukraine. Not since 9/11, has NATO spoken so strongly with one voice. The capacity of the EU and its member states to react rapidly and mobilize adequate security and defense resources in synergy with NATO is proof that enhanced European Defense capabilities are going to play an important role in preserving security on the European continent.
History Will Judge Our Actions
As previous generations have stood up to protect our freedoms in times of international crisis, we must do the same. Americans and Europeans may be weary of war and the consequences of the war in Ukraine on their daily lives. But let us be clear: threats to the freedom of our friends and allies chip away at freedom in all democracies. Putin continues to threaten cyberattacks which, if successful, could leave us without electricity, access to gasoline and oil, and threaten our fundamental privacies.
History will judge whether the liberal democratic order will have been able to stand up and protect the rights and values that make us the beacon of light for people yearning to be free around the world.
About the Authors
Jim Costa of Fresno represents California’s 16th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Agriculture Committee, and the House Committee on Natural Resources.
The Hon. Radek Sikorski is a member of the European Parliament for Poland, sitting on Committees for Foreign Affairs, the Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence, and the Security and Defense Subcommittee. He is the chairman of the Delegation for relations with the United States and a member of the Delegation to the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly. He was Poland’s Minister of Defense (2005-2007), Foreign Minister (2007-2014), and Speaker of Parliament.
Rep. Costa and MEP Radek Sikorski are co-chairs of the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue, an interparliamentary group between the U.S. House and European Parliament.