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.



Kaepernick Needs To Learn What Real Courage Is

Since becoming a nation, the United States has suffered well in excess of one million combat deaths.  The number of maimed and injured, physically and emotionally, is many times over.  The same numbers of families have dealt with the loss of a bread winner, loved one and community leader.   Nearly all of these patriots were killed or injured defending the American ... (click for more)

Who Does Chattanooga Belong To, Anyway? - And Response

Last week I read two opinions that were based on good premises, but still contained irritating statements.  Under the title Downtown Needs Cleaned Up (August 24, 2016) was the argument, "Why invite tourists to come visit Chattanooga when our streets are a stinking bio-hazard?"  And a second to the motion, "Make downtown look good for the tourists."  Another ... (click for more)

Main Perpetrator In Ooltewah High Rape Case Ruled Guilty Of Aggravated Rape; 2 Others Guilty Of Aggravated Assault

The main perpetrator in the Ooltewah High School basketball team rape case was found guilty on Tuesday following Juvenile Court proceedings in Sevier County. A judge found two other team members guilty of aggravated assault. Those two held down freshmen teammates, while the main perpetrator inserted a pool cue into the rectal area over their clothes. The cut penetrated ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Short Term Vacation Rental Operators Praise System; Freeman Says Council Has To Get Some Rogue Operators Under Control

A host of Chattanooga residents who make extra income and meet new friends by renting out their homes told City Council members on Tuesday that short term vacation rentals are part of the new way of living. Commission Chairman Moses Freeman said those who came to the public hearing do it right, but he said a new ordinance is necessary because some who are not responsible "cause ... (click for more)

Taylor Luthringer, Jonathan Boyd Win Prep Cross Country Races

High school cross country runners didn’t get a break from the weather at Camp Jordan Tuesday afternoon. It was the first day of competition in the Chattanooga Cross Country League and even though the usual 5K distance was shortened to just two miles because of the heat and humidity, the effort was there as was plenty of sweat as 213 varsity runners representing 17 teams stepped ... (click for more)

Ooltewah Gets Past Improved McMinn, 3-0, In District 5-3A Volleyball

(Story will be updated) McMinn County may not be the patsy it has been in past years on the volleyball court. Ooltewah’s Lady Owls, who have won a combined 26 regular season and District 5-3A tournament titles, 10 region tourney crowns and appeared in earned nine state berths with two second-place finishes, learned the Lady Cherokees have made significant improvement ... (click for more)