One of the most significant problems within the Ukrainian diaspora worldwide, and especially in the US where it matters most, is the lack of political sophistication among organizational members. Intentions are mostly good, but they are rarely informed and aimed so as not to interfere with one's personal life no matter how banal. Internationally, the Ukraine issue has become tangential or marginal, which suggests that it is not a priority. The bottom line is that there is no war strategy.

There are numerous examples for this characterization. A case in point is recognizing that the war in Ukraine is 10 years old and the full-scale atrocities are two years old. Many organizations have spent time and resources organizing events for this occasion. These events have taken a myriad of forms: demonstrations, vigils, conferences and – frankly – I have no idea how to characterize events organized by the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York City. Essentially it was announced almost as an Institute touring exercise.


There was an interesting event which I attended at the Cooper Union Great Hall, historically the site of a speech by President Abraham Lincoln. It had possibilities for strategic success, meaning helping Ukraine because of the venue, sponsorship by relatively important partners including universities, at least one recognizable speaker and the very acute problems facing Ukraine today.

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The main speaker was Oleksandra Matviichuk, president of the Center for Civil Liberties and a recent Ukrainian Nobel laureate. Her virtual presentation was eloquent, informative, moving, and emotional.  She made a significant observation, albeit erroneous, that in recent history (the last one hundred years) the only case of punishment against an aggressor was through the Nuremberg Tribunal. She suggested the need for a similar tribunal to punish Russia for its war crimes today.

What she failed to mention was the need for victory to enable any existing tribunal to act and implement decisions or verdicts. She did mention support but failed to call specifically for ammunition for Ukraine to achieve that victory. That should have been the focus of her presentation.


There were other speakers and a roundtable discussion which mostly bemoaned how much the Ukrainians have suffered during the war. The moderator did not focus on the strategic immediate needs of Ukraine. Towards the end, she did raise the issue of very little time remaining and the discussants then merely touched upon this important and very complex topic of jurisdiction, criminal intent and evidence involving the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

This was an opportunity to help Ukraine in the war. It turned into an academic discussion. Perhaps worse, it gave many in the audience a satisfaction that by attending they had done their part in somehow assisting Ukraine's war effort.

Such events could have an important role in garnering support for Ukraine, particularly in the US, which after all is the strongest military and economic power in the world, but has, and continues to experience, problems with its identity as a foundational NATO member and the leading democracy in the world today to the point that the future of NATO is questioned.


Europeans are considering an alternative European defense structure, relying less and less upon US military capability. The focus has to be on strategic and tangible assistance which is absolutely crucial today.

It should be stressed that Europe's contribution to NATO is increasing annually and about two thirds of NATO members are fulfilling their two percent GDP budgetary commitment. It should also be recognized that only once in its history has Article 5 of the NATO charter been invoked and that was to benefit the US. These facts are anathema to most of the primitives within the Republican party.

Ukraine needs to win the war. That must be the focus. It needs soldiers and ammunition.  Lamentations, condemnations, even international Court rulings are all important, but right now Ukraine needs shells, Patriots, Abrams. HIMARS, F-16s. Without victory there will be no punishment for war crimes or genocide. Worse, there may not be a democratic Ukraine in the center of Europe.

That should be the paramount strategic concern for the entire democratic world.

The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.

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