Why Ukraine Matters

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - by U.S. Senator Bob Corker

When visiting recently with Tennesseans across eight counties, I received several questions about the crisis in Ukraine and why it matters to the United States. With so many problems here at home, I understand why many Tennesseans wonder why Russia’s aggression is a threat to our country’s interests, and why the U.S. should get involved in a territory more than 5,700 miles away. 

These are valid questions and ones that I have been examining since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military unlawfully invaded Crimea, a territory of its sovereign neighbor – Ukraine.

As ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I have been highly involved in crafting legislation that the president signed into law last week to provide aid to Ukraine and impose costs on the Putin regime. I’m proud of the bill because it makes it clear to our allies and Russia that our country will stand together with the people of Ukraine and work toward a resolution to this crisis. 

The U.S. must show strong leadership and defend Ukraine’s independence. If not, and if the U.S. and its allies allow Putin’s actions to go without serious consequences, what will deter him from further aggression? To ignore the Putin regime’s blatant antagonism would be to ignore the important lessons in history and 70 years of U.S. policy in Europe.

Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has played a central role in helping rebuild a Europe that is whole, free and at peace. These efforts culminated in the collapse of the Berlin Wall, which signaled the end of the Soviet Union. The defeat of communism generated stronger and more prosperous U.S. allies that became open to American business and willing to defend our mutual security in future conflicts. In 1994, the U.S. was involved in an agreement in which Ukraine gave up one of the world’s largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons in exchange for commitments from the U.S., Great Britain and Russia to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.” 

Putin’s takeover of Crimea is in direct violation of this accord, the consequences of which are far reaching. This event puts other important agreements to stop the spread of nuclear weapons at risk. Additionally, Russia’s forcible seizure of sovereign territory causes bordering nations to question Putin’s next potential target. It was only six years ago when Russia invaded Georgia, providing an ominous prior precedent.

We also have important economic interests at stake. If left unchallenged, Russia’s actions threaten the economic stability of the region, which in turn can affect our trading partners and worldwide markets. Despite possessing just 4.5 percent of the global population, the U.S. generates 22 percent of the world’s economic activity. The largest destination for U.S. goods outside North America is Europe, which is on the doorstep of the Russians. In addition, foreign-owned companies like Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Nissan North America in Smyrna, Bridgestone in Nashville, Hankook Tire in Clarksville, and Electrolux in Memphis provide long-term, transformative investments in our communities that can only occur by the U.S. playing a leading role in maintaining a free, prosperous and peaceful international economic order.  

To help address some of these challenges, the bill I coauthored mandates tough sanctions against individuals and entities involved in undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and it authorizes the president to impose sanctions for corruption inside Russia. These measures will serve as a tool to help isolate Russian officials whose support is essential for Putin’s ability to retain power. 

The legislation also provides aid to strengthen democracy and enhance security efforts in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Furthermore, it allows Ukraine to obtain loans to support its economy. A more stable, secure Ukraine will be better able to complete the political and economic steps necessary to set the country on a path to greater independence and prosperity.  

By passing this legislation and signing it into law, the United States government is sending a unified message of support to the Ukrainian people and a clear signal to Russia that its actions won’t go unpunished. We also must remain resolute and the Obama administration must demonstrate a willingness to ratchet up the pressure on the Russian economy if Putin continues on his current path.

Timidity can have no place in our foreign policy and would only invite further aggression down the road. The crisis in Ukraine is a defining moment for the defense of freedom, for the sovereignty of nations, and frankly, for the credibility of the United States. The U.S. must assert leadership and work with our allies toward a peaceful solution.



Easter Sunday Is Victory Day For Christians

Easter Sunday is a Christian's day of celebration.  We will not be denied our day of victory for the sake of political correctness.  We may be suppressed and labeled as fanatical and offensive, and we may be denied our freedom to openly express our faith but one thing we cannot be denied; the reality of an empty tomb.     He lives!   While others ... (click for more)

City’s Zoning Reform: Fresh Water But Dirty Pipe

It’s taken decades for city government’s outdated zoning scheme to be thrown out, but the day has come. Planners and zoning rule overseers seek to pour a fresh current of design energy into city districts, an energy that will force new structures into a brighter sort of design, a more human-scale and relational concept that is intended to make the city more walkable, more personal, ... (click for more)

Tennessee Broadband Expansion Bill Sought By EPB Put On Hold For Now

Advocates for broadband expansion in Tennessee, including Chattanooga's EPB, announced Tuesday that efforts to extend community-based fiber optic networks are being placed on hold for now "because there is not enough support among state lawmakers to change a state regulation that prevents the expansion of municipal fiber optic systems." EPB earlier won a ruling from the Federal ... (click for more)

Haslam Adds K-12 Funds In Budget Amendment

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on Tuesday unveiled additions to the FY 2015-2016 budget that will be considered by the General Assembly in the coming weeks, including added funding for K-12. The governor last week met with school superintendents from the largest systems in the state over the issue of state funding for K-12. The next day, the Hamilton County Schools joined ... (click for more)

'Canes Edge Mustangs On Cox's Game-Winner In 7th

  Maybe it was just East Hamilton’s turn to win a tight game. After dropping 5-4 and 2-1 decisions to District 5-AAA rivals Bradley Central and McMinn County, respectively, the Hurricanes weren’t about to lose their third straight one-run decision in league play on Tuesday. So, Kyle Cox and Matt Milita, two of the team’s five seniors, decided to do something about ... (click for more)

Central Scores Early, Hangs On To Beat Red Bank, 7-6

Central baseball coach Glen Carter could finally breathe a sigh of relief. His Purple Pounders had bolted to a 7-0 lead in the first three innings of Monday's 6-AA skirmish with the Red Bank Lions and things were looking pretty good for those guys in purple. But it all came down to Red Bank's final at-bat.  The Lions sent eight hitters to the plate and scored ... (click for more)