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Ukrainian democracy is under threat — why every American should care

The world is watching Moscow, and what we see is Vladimir Putin moving more than one hundred thousand troops to the Ukrainian border to surround Ukraine on all sides. He is simultaneously conducting disinformation campaigns and orchestrating other subversive aggressions towards the people of Ukraine. This is not normal in the 21st century, but it is not unfamiliar to us — we both served in uniform during the Cold War. 

In many ways we have seen this before, but rarely at this scale and global threat level.

As military veterans and now members of both the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, we are acutely aware of the importance of defending our national interests and protecting the democratic values we hold so dearly. 


We both entered the Congress in the same year: 2019. Since that time, our nation has endured a lot. Combatting the pandemic, keeping our schools open, supporting small businesses, fixing supply chains, addressing inflation, and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure are all top of mind.

But even in the midst of everything we are dealing with at home right now, we write today with joint resolve, from a Republican and a Democrat, with a simple message: Ukraine matters. 

This past week, we joined a bipartisan group of our colleagues on a congressional delegation (CODEL) to Belgium and Ukraine. In Brussels, we met with our transatlantic partners to reaffirm and further strengthen our commitments to NATO and our European allies. We found a unified and resolved Europe. It was our time in Kyiv, however, that has united us across party lines to lift up the voices of the Ukrainian people.

Over hundreds of years, many Eastern European countries have been invaded and oppressed by various despotic and authoritarian powers. Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. Most Americans will never step foot in these countries. But for more than a century, we have joined with our European allies to combat the global threat of fascism, supporting these countries, and creating one of the most important peace-keeping alliances in human history.

Today, we watch as that progress is threatened. If there’s one thing we have learned in recent history, it is that just because something is happening an ocean away does not mean that it will not impact us. We know this because of recent painful lessons on pandemics, supply chains and global financial markets. 

So let us say it again, united, Democrat and Republican: What happens in Ukraine matters.

Only President Putin knows his plans. If it’s a full-scale invasion, the destruction could be unlike anything we’ve experienced since World War II. We cannot let his actions go unanswered. If we do, we risk the lives and livelihoods of our allies across the globe. 

And you can bet that President Xi Jinping in China is watching our resolve as well.

To our communities in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and all Americans who are uncertain about our role in the defense of the Ukrainian people, we say this: we must do all that we can, short of putting American boots on the ground in Ukraine, to help them fight for their freedom. Like Americans, Ukrainians are strong-willed and dedicated to the ideals of liberty and democratic rule — we cannot leave them behind.

It’s during difficult times like these that we must band together, and band together we have. President Putin’s actions have united NATO, the European Union, and the U.S. Congress. Putin has managed to single handedly accomplish what has been so elusive to grasp for us as Americans recently: unity.


In the last century, twice we were able to pull Europe back from the brink of fascism. Arguably, twice we engaged too late and a greater price was paid than perhaps could have been. Now is the time for us to be united against tyranny and to support our allies and Ukraine to preserve and protect democracy around the world. The cost of acting now is far less than the cost the Free World will face if Putin succeeds.

Putin is counting on us to think of the Ukrainian people as “Far away people about which we know nothing,” as Neville Chamberlain once notoriously said. Putin is counting on us believing that his naked aggression will go unchecked and unnoticed.

But he’s wrong. We know what’s at stake.

Chrissy Houlahan represents the 6th District of Pennsylvania. She earned her engineering degree from Stanford with an ROTC scholarship that launched her service in the U.S. Air Force. After graduating from Stanford, Chrissy spent three years on Air Force active duty at Hanscom Air Force Base working on air and space defense technologies. She left active duty in 1991 and served in the Air Force Reserves before separating from the service in 2004 as a captain. Mark Green is a physician and combat veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. He interviewed Saddam Hussein for six hours on the night of his capture. He serves on the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.