Jeff GillilandStaff columnist


While I have been encouraged by the Ukranian effort to fight for their land and democracy during the ongoing Russian invasion, I am a bit confused about exactly where the United States stands on the whole mess.

Because while I understand there is much about such things I will never know or fully comprehend, and that right now, at least, the United States cannot jump into a military confrontation with Russia that would likely result in a third world war, it sure seems like our country could be doing more.

Financial sanctions, sending additional military personnel to allies neighboring Ukraine, and providing arms support are all fine and good. But why, in the name of all things that puzzle me, are we still importing more than 600,000 barrels of oil each and every day from Russia, when our current administration has shut down a pipeline that could provide us 800,000 barrels of each and every day — of our own oil?

It makes no sense to me, and apparently I’m not alone.

At a press conference this week, Ohio Senator Rob Portman said: “We should do absolutely everything we can do to help tighten the noose on the Putin economy. And it is absurd that we’re bringing in over 600,000 barrels of oil a day from Russia at a time when we shut down Keystone, 800,000 barrels a day and stifle our own production here. To me, that’s kind of a no-brainer. It’s totally unsustainable, what the current policy is. We’ve got to go well beyond that. We’ve got to ensure that we are also doing everything we can to flood the zone in terms of providing the Ukrainians the weapons they need to protect themselves.”

It is unfathomable to me how someone like Russian President Vladimir Putin can order the attack on and murder of Ukraine and its people. It makes me wonder how far he might go, and what his motives really are.

Whatever they are, I hope we can all agree that they are wrong. Because as I responded to a post on Facebook this week about why Ukraine matters, “It matters because it’s residents are human beings. And it is against all humanity’s rules to assault and murder.”

The thing is, humanity’s rules obviously mean nothing to Putin. He has been breaking the rules for years, but this time he has topped anything he has done before. It seems to me that his ego knows no bounds, that he is determined to re-establish the former USSR, that he wants to leave some type of legacy behind, and that he may very likely be more than a bit unhinged.

I know they have always been around, but I still find it hard to understand the kind of person that orders the killing of innocent civilians and children, regardless of the circumstances, let alone ones that were once his countrymen.

As late news anchorman Walter Cronkite once put it: “War itself is, of course, a form of madness. It’s hardly a civilized pursuit. It’s amazing how we spend so much time inventing devices to kill each other, and so little time is spent on how to achieve peace.”

It seems obvious that like many before him, Putin is just evil.

Thank goodness, most of the world is not. And most of the civilized world has condemned what Putin is doing.

The will of the Ukrainian people to fight back against overwhelming odds is encouraging. In many ways, I think, they are giving the citizens of our country a lesson it what it means to love your country. World-class athletes, government leaders, and even common men and women are grabbing guns and stand ready to fight to the death for the land they love. They are heroes in every sense of the word.

The rest of the world is rooting for them. There have been demonstrations across the globe, even in Russia, with people decrying Putin’s actions. That is good.

So if you want to know where I stand, it is with the people of Ukraine, and their battle against what appears to be insurmountable odds.

Once upon a time, there was a very young country that stood up against the tyranny of its motherland, and what was supposed to be the world’s most mighty military force at the time. Few gave it a chance, but those little colonies stood up and won their independence when no one else thought it was possible.

How glorious would it be to see that happen again?

Stealing words from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: “Glory to our defenders, men and women. Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes.”

Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at [email protected] ot 937-402-2522.

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