VOICES: Bundles for Britain – Aid for Ukraine

In September of 1940, the German Luftwaffe began bombing Britain in what was soon known as the Blitz. Though thousands of miles away, the people of Springfield responded to the needs of the British. In December of 1940, Bundles for Britain opened a location in the Springfield Arcade. Over the course of the next year, they regularly shipped clothing and supplies to Britain, along with arranging several fundraisers in Clark County.

Today, another nation is desperate to resist an aggressor bent on conquering their population and overturning their democratic way of life – Ukraine. Just this week, Russia sent a barrage of eight ballistic missiles at Kyiv, soon after Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared on television sipping champagne to celebrate declining interest in the West for supporting Ukraine. Ukraine, he said, had “no future.”

A year ago, Putin suggested that the American public had Attention Deficit Disorder; implying that if Russia could only maintain their war long enough, Americans would lose interest and support for Ukraine would falter. Just this week, in his annual question period, Putin said that support for Ukraine in the West is waning and Russia would prevail. Putin is no prognosticator, but he does know American politics. The halls of Congress are divided. Aid for Ukraine has been tied to dealing with the issue of migration across our southern border. The war in Gaza has diverted attention, both in Congress and elsewhere, from the largest land war in Europe since World War II. But none of that changes that the war in Ukraine is still ongoing.

On February 24, 2022, the Russian army invaded Ukraine in an attempt to oust the democratically elected government and absorb the country into Russia. Expecting an easy conquest, Russian troops marched directly on Kyiv, but became bogged down and the Ukrainian army and many, many volunteers, stopped that attack and pushed the Russians back. An inflow of aid from the United States and Europe has helped the Ukrainians resist the continuing Russian offensives since that time. A recent intelligence report to Congress noted that the Ukrainians have done immense damage to the Russian military. Russia has lost 315,000 of the 360,000 soldiers they had in the army in February 2022, forcing them to mobilize new recruits and release prisoners to enlist in the military. Similarly, the report notes that Russia has lost 2,200 of their 3,500 active tanks, forcing them to take fifty-year old tanks out of storage. These numbers demonstrate the enormous impact that Ukraine is making to defend their country and their democracy.

And yet, despite those numbers and persevering against a much larger and more powerful opponent for the last twenty-two months, Ukraine might still fall to Russia. Despite other conflicts, despite other problems, we need to care about Ukraine and send them our support, just as we did with Bundles of Britain eighty-three years ago. We supported a democracy under attack then, and we need to do the same now. That is part of what we do as Americans. To learn more about the war and what you can do to help those who are suffering right now, look at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute’s “What You Can Do” page - https://war.huri.harvard.edu/what-you-can-do/ - it includes volunteer opportunities, places for donations, and reliable information about what is going on in Ukraine. By taking action in these ways we can help to protect a fledgling democracy from being overrun.

Christian Raffensperger is Chair of History and a professor at Wittenberg University.

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