Zelenskyy’s Courage, Patriotism, Resilience Rallies International Support

by Elpidio Estioko

Unlike other international leaders who go on exile when their country is under siege, president Volodymyr Zelenskyy refused to leave Ukraine.

He stayed to fight side by side with his wife and the rest of his countrymen in defending their country from Russia’s invasion.

This is a rare show of courage and patriotism on the part of Zelenskyy which generated global support and internal display of his military units and its countrymen who organized the citizens army.

Except for China and India, the rest of the world are supporting Ukraine in any way they can to be able to stop the war from military aid to supporting economic sanctions. Many countries including neutral non-aligned Sweden have started to send military aid.

According to Ukraine’s health ministry, the conflict has killed more than 350 civilians since the beginning of Russia’s invasion. The UN’s refugee agency also believes at least 368,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, mostly to Poland.

United States President Joe Biden instructed the State Department to release up to an additional $350 million worth of weapons from US stocks to Ukraine, contained in a memorandum to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Over the past year, the US has committed more than $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.

In January, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the United Kingdom had “taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light anti-armor defensive weapon systems.”

“In light of the increasingly threatening behavior from Russia and in line with our previous support, the UK will shortly be providing a further package of military support to Ukraine,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament.

“This will include lethal aid in the form of defensive weapons and non-lethal aid.”

For France, which has already sent help, is dispatching more military equipment as well as fuel. Paris said it has acted on earlier Ukrainian requests for defensive anti-aircraft and digital weapons.

The Netherlands will supply air defense rockets and anti-tank systems to Ukraine, the Dutch government said in letters to parliament.

The Dutch government agreed to a Ukrainian request to rapidly ship 200 Stinger air defense rockets and 50 “Panzerfaust 3” anti-tank weapons with 400 rockets, the letters said. It is also jointly considering sending a Patriot air defense system alongside Germany to a NATO battle group in Slovakia.

Germany will supply Ukraine with 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles from Bundeswehr stocks for defense against Russia. It is a major shift from Berlin’s longstanding policy of banning weapon exports to a conflict zone.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine marks a turning point. It is our duty to do our best to support Ukraine in defending itself against Putin’s invading army,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said.

For Canada, Ottawa is sending lethal military weaponry to Ukraine and loaning Kyiv half a billion Canadian dollars (US$394 million) to help it defend itself.

As to Sweden, Stockholm is also breaking its historic neutral stance to send 5,000 anti-tank rockets to Ukraine as well as field rations and body armor.

It is the first time Sweden has sent weapons to a country in armed conflict since the Soviet Union invaded neighboring Finland in 1939.

Belgium says it will supply Ukraine with 3,000 more automatic rifles and 200 anti-tank weapons, as well as 3,800 tons of fuel.

Portugal is giving Ukraine night-vision goggles, bulletproof vests, helmets, grenades, ammunition and automatic G3 rifles.

Greece, which has a large diaspora community in Ukraine – 10 of whom have been killed – is sending “defense equipment” as well as humanitarian aid.

Romania – which shares a border with Ukraine – is offering to treat wounded people from the crisis zones in its 11 military hospitals as well as sending fuel, bulletproof vests, helmets and other “military material” worth $3.3 million.

The Spanish government has promised to send 20 tons of aid to Ukraine, mostly medical and defensive equipment such as bulletproof vests.

The Czech Republic, Prague said they are sending Ukraine 4,000 mortars as well as an arsenal of 30,000 pistols, 7,000 assault rifles, 3,000 machine guns, many sniper rifles and a million bullets. The Czechs had already promised Kyiv 4,000 mortars worth $1.6 million which have yet to be delivered.

Here in the US, Hawaii’s congressional delegation consider Russia’s unprovoked attack of Ukraine is a threat to all democracies and they said they supported strong sanctions against Russia.

“This is totally unwarranted,” said US Senator Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. “He’s waging war on another country and acting like it’s his country. We all need to stand up to this tyrant.”

For US Representative Ed Case, D-Hawaii, he said that Russia has ongoing territorial disputes with countries with other allies, like Japan.

“What’s to prevent Russia if we allow this to stand firm doing the same thing anywhere else in the world, including our backyard?” he asked.US Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said he supports Biden’s new economic sanctions on Russia.

“Russia’s unprovoked attack against Ukraine’s national sovereignty and independence is the greatest breach of peace in Europe since World War II and a threat to democracies around the world. It cannot stand,” he said, in a statement.

Congressman Kai Kahele, on the other hand, tweeted that the US must hold Putin accountable. “We must hold Putin accountable for the unjustified violation of Ukrainian sovereignty,” he tweeted.

The impacts of the attack on Ukraine can be felt all the way to Hawaii. Honolulu-resident Valeriya Kamphaus told KITV4 that she feels helpless watching what’s happening to her home country of Ukraine.

“Some of [my family] are safe, very scared though, other ones I haven’t heard from in the last 24 hours,” Kamphaus told KITV4. “I am not sure it is safe to contact them considering where exactly they are located.”

The fighting continues but Ukraine’s military and its citizens army are determined to defend their country even when it will cost their lives. There is overwhelming support for Ukraine from the international community which may deter the continuation of the war initiated by Russia.

ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author: estiokoelpidio@gmail.com.

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