America must stand up to Putin's aggression and support Ukraine

Remember Ukraine?

It has been over three years since Russia illegally annexed Crimea. Yet the international community has barely lifted a finger to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty over Russian-occupied territory in Crimea and the Donbas.

Instead, we have seen half-hearted gestures and “tough talk” with very little to back it up. While America has imposed strong sanctions on Russia, our European allies have failed to match our resolve.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has kept thousands of his troops in eastern Ukraine, sustaining a deadly war of attrition that has hobbled Ukraine’s government, economy and society.

We can and must do more.

Currently, Putin is advocating for a United Nations “peacekeeping” mission in the Donbas, the area of eastern Ukraine occupied by Russian troops and Kremlin-backed separatist forces. Putin says the mission will protect European monitors sent to observe the conflict, but the truth is more sinister.

Ukrainians now look to the United States as their only hope for a successful future of peace and prosperity.

Putin is trying to use the creation of the peacekeeping mission to force de facto recognition of the separatist quasi-states in eastern Ukraine. To set up the peacekeeping mission, Putin wants the Ukrainian government and U.N. forces to engage directly with separatist leaders, even though Moscow calls the shots. It’s a transparent attempt to secure increased diplomatic recognition for Russian-armed, Kremlin-controlled militias. Ukraine has rejected the idea out of hand.

America must speak up louder in opposition to Putin’s twisted attempt to use U.N. peacekeepers to achieve his own strategic interests. We’ve heard from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about how critical it is that we give our full support to Ukraine. 

I worked with Hillary Clinton and her team when she came to Yalta to attend Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist Victor Pinchuk’s European Strategy Conference in 2013 to deliver this exact message just a few months before Putin illegally annexed Crimea.

Ukrainians now look to the United States as their only hope for a successful future of peace and prosperity.

In working for Pinchuk, I gained a first-hand understanding of how important America is to Ukrainians when it comes to beating back Russia, promoting democracy and advancing Western values.

Ukrainians have earned our support. They show their thankfulness for ongoing American efforts in surprising ways.

For example, Victor Pinchuk’s son, Roma – along with Ukrainian executives Fadi Hraibi and Daniel Valk – have come to America’s aid in areas of Houston hit hard by Hurricane Harvey.

The three Ukranians are heading the Interpipe Harvey Cleanup mission in conjunction with the relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. They’re working in low-income areas of Houston devastated by Harvey to clear trees from homes and yards, put tarps on roofs and remove mud from homes. Their focus is helping Houstonians who don’t have natural disaster insurance and the elderly.

We are lucky to have allies and friends like this.

Roma Pinchuk’s work in Houston is an example of Ukraine making the effort to secure a true partnership with America – an effort Ukrainians have been making for decades. Their work sends a loud message that Ukrainians are committed to our success and are partners in a relationship that must be reciprocal.

America faces a world where fewer and fewer countries share our values and where democracy is under attack all over the globe. Ukraine is a rare bright spot. Government leaders, businesspeople, activists and voters all enthusiastically support integrating their country and society with the West, right in Putin's back yard.

America ought to reciprocate the good will of the Ukrainian people and the generosity of individuals like Pinchuk by strongly supporting Ukraine in its ongoing fight against Putin's neo-Soviet imperialism, as well as assisting its transition to democratic governance and a free economy.

When it comes to standing up to Putin at the U.N. it costs America nothing to deploy our veto power on behalf of Ukraine. But to Ukrainians, it means everything.

Jessica Tarlov currently serves as a contributor for FOX News Channel (FNC), offering political analysis and insight across FNC and FOX Business Network’s (FBN) daytime and primetime programming. She joined the network in 2017.