Why Ukraine matters

There is one fundamental reason why the United States and the rest of the democratic world should support Ukraine in its current fight with Putin’s Russia: Ukraine is a real, but struggling, liberal democracy. People are free in Ukraine in a way they are not in Russia: they can protest, criticize, mobilize, and vote. In 2017 they voted for a complete outsider to be president, and turned over a majority of their parliament. On two occasions, during the Orange Revolution in 2004 and the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, Ukrainian civil society came into the streets in massive numbers to protest corrupt and unrepresentative governments…

Ukraine today is the frontline state in the global geopolitical struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. Europeans who value liberal democracy for themselves need to understand that they cannot be bystanders in this conflict. Putin has ambitions well beyond Ukraine; he has made clear in recent weeks that he would like to reverse the gains to European democracy since 1991 and create a Russian sphere of influence throughout the territory of the former Warsaw Pact. Beyond Europe, the Chinese are watching how the West responds in this crisis very closely, as they calculate their prospects for reincorporating Taiwan. This is why the defense of Ukraine should be of urgent importance to anyone who cares about global democracy.