Price on Politics: Why should you care about what’s happening in Ukraine?

Megan+Fisher

Megan Fisher

Price Wilborn, Commentary writer

If you’ve been watching the news recently (or not living under a rock), you’ll know that Russia has invaded Ukraine.

“Ukraine is so far away,” you might me saying. “Why should we care?”

There’s more reasons than you can count.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will have effects that are unknown at this time. The amount of refugees fleeing into other nations is unknown. How members of NATO will react is unknown. On top of all that, Putin’s next moves are unpredictable.

A full-fledged ground assault by Russia into Europe has fractured the peace that was worked so hard for following World War II. Organizations like the European Union, NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the United Nations were formed in the wake of WWII.

Each of these organizations have condemned the Russian aggression. Ukraine gained its independence after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. For thirty years nations around the world–including Russia–have recognized the sovereignty of the nation.

Leaders around the world have used strong language to show their opposition to the Russian attack and to show their support for the Ukrainian people.

In his State of the Union Address on March 1, US President Joe Biden called the attacks “premeditated and unprovoked,” saying that the United States would give “more than $1 Billion in direct assistance to Ukraine.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the attacks “barbaric and indiscriminate.” 

Historically-neutral Switzerland has even adopted sanctions put in place by the EU.

Still, though, why should you care?

The conflict will undeniably affect you.

First, Russia provides large portions of the world’s oil supply. Cutting Russia’s supply of oil to the rest of the world will raise gas prices, whether the United States gets its oil from Russia directly or not.

This raises the price of oil per barrel. This means that prices at the pump could get as high as $4 a gallon.

President Biden stated in his State of the Union that “the United States has worked with 30 other countries to release 60 million barrels of oil from reserves around the world.” Half of these barrels will be coming from the United States’ Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Many other areas of life could be affected, as well.

Supply chains could be affected, as well. Russia is a leading exporter in things like wheat and palladium, which is used in the production of many key car parts.

In other words, things from food to gas to vehicles could become harder or more expensive for you to get.

More than these impacts, however, the United States has found itself in a position to protect freedom and democracy around the world.

The North Atlantic Treaty, the founding document of NATO, states in Article five that “the parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.”

It goes on to state that signing nations “will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”

President Biden said in the State of the Union that American troops “are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine, but to defend our NATO allies–in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west.”

While Ukraine is not a member of NATO, it borders many nations that are. The intent of the organization was to prevent Russian aggression into Europe. Many believe that it is possible that Putin continues pushing westward into NATO territory. If this were to happen, the United States has a written obligation to protect NATO member states.

The most important reason Americans should care about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, however, is the fact that the individual freedoms and government of the Ukrainian people is being trampled on.

Putin stated in his video speech announcing military operations in Ukraine that “Russia cannot feel safe, develop, and exist while facing a permanent threat from the territory of today’s Ukraine.”

He went on to state that Russia “will seek to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.”

The fact is that this is simply not the case. There is no evidence to show that there are Nazis in Ukraine. There have been no attacks by Ukraine on Russia or its people.

Putin fears NATO being on Russia’s borders. Taking steps to ensure that this does not happen is only making NATO work harder to repel Russian forces.

According to CNN, more than 2,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed. Homes have been destroyed. Lives and livelihoods ruined. Many more will be relocated to a new country.

It will not be easy for the Ukrainian people for a long time to come. As the leading nation of the free world, the United States must do all it can to help Ukraine and its people while preventing an all-out war unlike anything the world has ever seen.

Yes, the conflict in Ukraine is 5,000 miles away. Despite this, yes, you should care.

Commentary writer Price Wilborn can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @pricewilborn.