Saturday, June 3, 2017

Senator Booker Commits to Helping Ukraine Repel Russian Invaders
After avoiding for four years since coming to the Senate expressing his point of view on Ukraine and Russia, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has finally taken to heart the issues that have led to the latest war in Europe.
Earlier, on behalf of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and the Ukrainian National Information Service, I spoke with Booker’s staffers, Steven Fernandez and Emma Corrado, about his indecision, the vital importance of supporting Ukraine, and the disappointment his hesitation is causing Ukrainian American voters. They didn’t reject my opinions. On the other hand, they sought to convince me that the Senator prefers to gather as much information on the issues as he can before making any statement. They sounded genuinely supportive.
At the same time, they didn’t reveal that plans were under way for Booker to travel on a fact-finding journey to Poland and Ukraine in order to assess firsthand what is the situation on the ground. That trip in final days of May became an epiphany for the junior senator from New Jersey.
Though he’s a latecomer to growing team of advocates for Ukraine, Booker’s maiden policy declarations on US-Ukraine relations and Russian aggression have shown him to be as ardent in his pro-Ukraine beliefs as are veteran champions on Capitol Hill.
“I am going to do everything I can as a Senator to keep the urgency alive. We must stand with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters to repel Russian aggression,” Booker pledged during a call-in news conference from his Newark office yesterday afternoon.
In Poland and Ukraine, Booker met with government officials and frontline soldiers and witnessed their dedication to defending Ukraine from Russian aggression. He learned of the former captive nations’ efforts to defend themselves from Russian threats. He heard Eastern European leaders appeal for US support for its allies in the region in what he called a global battle against Russian assaults on democracy. He discovered that Russia is threatening peace and security around the world. And he got it about the important role that the United States and NATO can play in making the world better.
“This Senator will be fixed in the fight against Russian hybrid activities,” he said. “That’s the fight and it can’t become a forgotten war. It must in the forefront.”
The New Jersey lawmaker explained that based on what he observed the war in Ukraine cannot be considered local. Using words that other US officials have used in describing America’s support for Ukraine, Booker said several times that the war is everyone’s mutual, righteous cause.
“Everyone in the region knows that if Russia is successful in undermining Ukraine and changing its western focus, which the heroes of Maidan fought and died for, if we don’t make sure that the Ukrainian people prevail in their quest for democracy and freedom, and we lose there, then it’s going to directly impact on our ability to preserve western democracy,” he said.
“The fight is not just a Ukrainian fight. It’s an American fight. It’s a European fight. It’s a fight for Western democracy.”
Years ago, during the days of the evil soviet empire, President Reagan, at a White House conference with Ukrainian Americans, also assured the attendees that Ukraine’s fight for freedom and independence is America’s fight and we shall prevail.
Booker said the former captive nations such as Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are on the frontline of defending the world. Specifically, Booker said Poland’s role in helping the US preserve security in Europe is critical. “Poland is a critical link to our overall efforts in Eastern Europe. Our alliance with Poland is essential to contain Russian aggression and its hybrid war,” he said.
Beyond recognizing the criminal nature of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the three-year war, Booker has taken to heart the need to implement assertive policies that would save democracy. He understands that Russia’s undeclared war against Ukraine is an attempt to undermine the country’s society and democratic institutions, and to subvert democracy in Europe and the world.
Using as an example Moscow’s dirty tricks during the 2016 President Elections, Booker said the United States is also in danger. He called for the congressional investigations into Russia’s broad crimes against America to be convened as soon as possible, noting that European allies expressed concern to him that Washington isn’t treating seriously Russian threats.
Booker elaborated that Russia’s hybrid war in Ukraine, coupled with its propaganda campaigns and intrusions into the internal affairs of sovereign democracies “drive the point home that this is a larger, concerted effort by Russia to undermine democratic institutions in Western democracies.”
Booker said in these dangerous times the US cannot shirk is global responsibilities. Criticizing President Trump for not providing strong support to US allies in Europe and NATO, he called the White House’s foreign policy and budget “disastrous.” He believes that a strong US foreign policy will help create peace in troubled areas and make America great.
“We are essential players on the global stage. It’s not just about fighting problems for other nations but preventing those problems from becoming crises for us,” Booker observed.
Booker supports providing Ukraine with arms to defend itself from Russian aggression, but he admitted that more is required.
“There’s a lot of work to do. We have to stay focused on this fight,” he exhorted Americans.
As a combatant of a larger battle, Booker said America must respond with strength, which is the only trait that Russian President Putin understands.
“If we do not respond, we will encourage Russia to do more. That’s why I’ll be fighting to strengthen and increase sanctions on Russia. Russia has violated international norms and laws, violated the sovereignty of independent countries. These actions must be condemned by all,” he said.

Booker’s views and conclusions may not be original, but the fresh passion with which he expressed them may hopefully inspire Washington to abandon the White House’s misguided policy on Russia and Ukraine.