By Sarah Ashton-Cirillo
A Ukrainian resistance fighter texted me. “February is the coldest month in Ukraine.” She said the locals knew it as being “furious.” By the end of it, having sat and slept in an icy trench for weeks, a few hundred meters from the enemy invaders, I knew her assessment, and that of other Ukrainians had been correct.
Now, as March began and winter officially ended, so did the ability of the Russian terrorists to use the cold, frigid conditions as a weapon of terror against the citizenry of Ukraine. Day after day, as October rolled into Christmas and eventually the new year, Vladimir Putin’s efforts to destroy critical infrastructure to deprive the Ukrainians of heat, and break their spirit, continued. Ultimately, this plan of attack has, as all his others, failed.
While winter was a time of difficult trials for the populous, the resilience, endurance, and solidarity of the nation were on display. Thanks to the humanitarian assistance of allied nations and volunteer organizations, along with indomitable spirit, Ukraine refused to bow to the state-sponsored terrorism unleashed against them by Russia.
In addition to the start of spring and the renewed hope that comes with it, March 1 is also the anniversary of Ukraine’s application for EU membership. Remaining unbowed despite more than a year of fighting back against Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine has proven itself to be Europe’s leader in defending the continent's ideals and sovereign territory against the tyranny and fascism unleashed against it in February of 2022. Beginning on the Maidan in 2014 and continuing today, no other nation has suffered greater sacrifices for the flag of a united Europe than the Ukrainians. The people of Ukraine are literally dying in order to hold back Russian expansion onto European soil.
The circumstances of Europe’s largest ground war in more than eighty years have led to an undeniable fact: Support for Ukraine has coalesced the EU in a way never witnessed before. This unity has breathed new life into the European ideal. With the dawning of this season, Europe must begin negotiations with Ukraine on EU membership.
Another fact that has emerged as the darkness has given way to the coming light, is that although Russia’s winter terror plot was rebuffed, they have not abandoned their sky-based terrorism. Although most of their missiles and drones can be neutralized, the ones that do make it through Ukraine’s air defense systems lead to senseless civilian deaths and untold suffering. Full protection can only come from Ukrainian military partners helping to upgrade the nation’s aviation defenses and remove the block on Ukraine’s air force in receiving modern jets.
If the United States began by offering the F-16, along with the necessary pilot training, a coalition of nations would form to provide dual-purpose fighters allowing Ukraine to inflict a transformative defeat on the Russian army. Furthermore, the delivery of modern aircraft would cause the war to end sooner, saving US and European taxpayers substantial sums of money while sparing both Ukrainian lives and those of the enemy.
Now entering these months of joyful blossoming, if the proper steps are taken, they will also mark the start of Ukraine’s march toward total victory and its official enshrinement as a leader among nations of the free world.