Home / News / Ukraine’s local supporters are calling for aid to the war-torn country. ‘Save democracy.’ – Chicago Tribune

Ukraine’s local supporters are calling for aid to the war-torn country. ‘Save democracy.’ – Chicago Tribune


Halyna Fedus prays the rosary every day for her native Ukraine, asking God to prevent a Russian takeover and protect the family and friends she left behind when she immigrated to Chicago nearly three decades ago.

He believes Ukraine will resist, but he needs U.S. help to preserve his country’s fragile independence and global security and order that have been at risk ever since. Invasion of Russia on February 24, 2022.

“I also pray for the USA. This is the biggest support for Ukraine,” he said at Shokolad Pasta and Cafe, the Ukrainian Village neighborhood restaurant he opened about 15 years ago.

Fedus added that Ukraine could not have survived this long “without assistance” against Moscow’s military might; “Everyone knows this.”

“I don’t know how they will survive there,” he added. “They really need this money.”

As the war approaches its two-year anniversary later this month, Ukraine supporters in the Chicago area are calling on American leaders to continue sending aid to the war-torn country.

After months of heated debate, the Senate on Tuesday passed a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The measure passed overwhelmingly despite opposition from a small group of Republicans who condemned the package’s $60 billion in funding for Ukraine and argued that the United States should focus on border security before distributing more funds abroad.

But the foreign aid package faces serious resistance HouseThat includes House Speaker Mike Johnson, who criticized the measure for its lack of border security provisions and called the bill “silent on the most pressing issue facing our country” in a statement Monday.

President Joe Biden He said the bill “must be passed” because it “provides Ukraine with emergency funding to continue defending itself against Putin’s treacherous, treacherous attack.”

Fedus, on the other hand, fears for his two brothers, who live with their families in the western Ukrainian city of Ternopil, as well as for many other relatives and friends in his hometown. He couldn’t sleep for the first few days after the Russian invasion, which sparked Europe’s largest land war since World War II.

“That stress never goes away,” he said.

When Fedus arrived at his cafe the next day, he was surprised to find it full of customers who wanted to show their solidarity with Ukraine.

A sign reading “Stand with Ukraine” hangs in the cafe’s front window, facing passersby and Chicago Avenue traffic. Inside the cafe, customers can find numerous exhibits related to fundraising events to help Ukraine, as well as a menu of Ukrainian borscht, many desserts, and an array of varenyky, Ukrainian pierogis.

Yellow and blue Ukrainian flags fly in front of homes, businesses and churches in the surrounding neighborhoods. Fedus said he is proud of the increased support for Ukraine from both the Chicago area and the country in the midst of the war.

The 63-year-old grew up when Ukraine was under the rule of the Soviet Union and recalled the joy and feeling of newfound freedom after his country declared independence in August 1991.

He believes that Ukrainians will not give up this hard-won sovereignty.

“Freedom,” he said. “This is freedom. When you can speak in your own language. Just to be independent. Culture. Food. Everything. Just to be free.”

Obligation, personal interest

Alberto Coll, a law professor at DePaul University and an expert on international law and US foreign relations, said Ukraine was actually fighting against Russia on behalf of the whole world.

“From the US perspective, in a sense, we are not doing Ukraine any favors. “They are, in a sense, fighting for all of us,” said Coll, who served as principal deputy secretary of defense during the George H.W. Bush administration. “And the Ukrainians who gave their lives are actually giving their lives not only for Ukraine, but for all of us. Because it means they are helping to deter Russia and making clear that military conquests will not yield results.”

He added that allowing Russia to prevail in Ukraine would mean Moscow would be in a position to threaten other American allies in Europe, particularly the highly vulnerable Eastern European and Baltic states.

Coll suggested that members of Congress who favored cutting aid to Ukraine go there and experience the war.

“Frankly, I am disgusted by the members of Congress who voted against aid to Ukraine,” he said. “I think they should be ashamed of themselves and I think they should be sent there to spend a month in Ukraine… They need to talk to Ukrainians and see what war is like. “I think they will come back very changed and realize that helping them was not only the right thing, but also the logical and wise thing to do.”

DePaul history professor Tom Mockaitis said the war “became a war of attrition.”

“This is more like a World War I stalemate than a World War II war of maneuver. What this means is that victory – or survival – is given to whoever can outlast the other,” says Mockaitis, author of “Conventional and Unconventional Warfare: A History of Conflict in the Modern World.”

“This situation puts Ukraine at a disadvantage,” he said.

“Russia is bigger. It has a larger population. It has more resources. “He managed to keep his economy afloat,” he said.

Mockaitis added that Ukraine “faces a serious problem.”

“Reduction of manpower and shortage of ammunition, especially artillery shells, are limiting their ability to conduct operations,” he said. “Still, Russia is unlikely to make major progress.”

Jordan Gans-Morse, an associate professor of political science at Northwestern University and faculty director of the Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies Program, said Putin, meanwhile, has “held his ground” and has indicated he will not back down or negotiate.

“He believes that he can wait for the West, and perhaps not without reason,” he said. “And the West, because most of these countries are democratic, will eventually waver and there will be a change in leadership and public opinion. “He doesn’t even think it’s going to take that long.”

‘It makes us safer’

Gans-Morse said it is now in the United States’ interest to help Ukraine.

What is often misunderstood is that the vast majority of these funds are not sent directly to Ukraine; Instead, most of the money goes to the US defense industry to buy munitions or weapons for Ukraine or to replace weapons sent to Ukraine from the American arsenal.

“Normally politicians, including Republicans, beg for these types of funds to be distributed to their districts — ultimately creating local jobs,” Gans-Morse said. “So this is not a matter of choosing between helping Ukraine and doing something to help the Americans. “The bulk of our military assistance actually provides both.”

He said aid to Ukraine was “a no-brainer” in the United States’ own security interests.

“We’re doing something with relatively little cost from our perspective that makes us much safer, and Europe much safer, compared to what would happen if Ukraine lost,” he said. “That, in my opinion, is the fundamental message that Americans don’t understand clearly enough.”

Many Americans still favor providing aid to Ukraine, but support appears to be waning as the war drags on.

A Pew Research Center questionnaire According to the report published in December, 29 percent of Americans said the United States provided the right amount of aid to Ukraine, while 18 percent said the money was not enough and 31 percent criticized the funds for being too much. [comment=”cq” ]

Support was much higher at the start of the war: Roughly 32% of Americans thought the aid to Ukraine was adequate, and only 7% said it was too much money; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in Europe during World War II. 42% of respondents support the U.S. giving more, according to a Pew poll released in March 2022, shortly after it launched the largest land war since World War II. [comment=”cq” ]

Many Illinois lawmakers, including U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, have advocated for continued aid to Ukraine.

Durbin applauded the Senate’s passage of the foreign aid package, stating that it “sends an important message to the Ukrainian people fighting for their freedom: We will not walk away from your war.”

“I now call on the House to act quickly to get on the right side of the war in Ukraine and the right side of history,” Durbin said Tuesday. said. “Do not bow to former President Trump’s whims; implement this bipartisan measure without delay.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, co-chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Ukraine Caucus, was the only Democrat running. voted against An emergency funding plan in September that averted a federal shutdown, citing the measure’s failure to help Ukraine.

“Letting Putin win in Ukraine is not an option,” Quigley said. sent recently on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter. “We must help Ukraine save democracy and the future of the free world as we know it.”

Associated Press contributed.


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