As the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine arrived in February, members of Parliament (MPs) from Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine met under the shadow of the Alps in a show of regional solidarity. This exchange, co-facilitated by the House Democracy Partnership (HDP) and the George C. Marshall Center (GCMC), engaged MPs in discussions about the changed security environment in Europe, legislative security oversight during war, and effective crisis communications. Russia’s invasion has halted many alternative conversations about security in Eastern Europe and the Eurasian Caucasus, which prompted the MPs to share with HDP how the precarious security environment felt all too familiar.
The first session began with a few simple sentences from one of the delegates: “In 2008 Russia invaded the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions in Georgia. In 2014, Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and eventually the Donbas region in Ukraine. In 2022, after months of Russian troops amassed at the Ukrainian border, Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.” For the remainder of the session, every single MP in the room laid their thoughts out in very simple terms: if Russia conquers Ukraine, my people will be next.
The ensuing heaviness in the room led many of the MPs in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to share their next admission; that the only hope for safety is NATO or European Union membership for their country. Members of Parliament from vastly different regions sounded off one-by-one, affirming the sentiment that membership into these exclusive clubs would not just save their state, but save their people.
One question posed to our U.S. delegates asked if the overarching cost is cheaper to include Ukraine in NATO rather than fight a war every five to 10 years. As U.S. aid to Ukraine currently tops out at $113 billion, it is a question worth raising. The session ended with the resounding thought: can you put a price on security in Europe?
As the forum progressed, the messaging was constant; a plea for Western powers to continue assistance in Ukraine, whether it be financial, strategic, or militarily. Ukraine wants to fight and desperately wants to survive, but the people’s will and resolve is not enough. As the country stands on the front line of democracy, they need robust support.
As Ronald Reagan stated in his inauguration speech when he became Governor of California, “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance, it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”
This war is a direct attack on freedom and democracy and while Ukraine is currently carrying the burden for many, they cannot do it alone. While Americans can remain proud of the massive support given thus far, let us remember that continued support to Ukraine is a small price to pay for a more democratic and freer world.Top