Photo depicting a "Love Ukraine" concept with hands in a heart form painted the Ukrainian flag colors of blue and yellow.

OPINION | American Values on the Line in Ukraine

by David Tagliani and Irene Danysh

American values of freedom and dignity for all are exactly what Ukrainians are fighting for — as well as for their very survival. Both will be lost, and the world order forever changed, without Americans’ essential support to put a complete stop to Putin’s unprovoked murderous aggression. 

We are Burien and Seattle residents who worked for years in Ukraine and Russia, so when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine one year ago on February 24, 2022, it didn’t take long to decide where we wanted to be. 

Now, in wartime, one of us transports food and medication to civilians near the front lines and brings people back to safety. The other is following the lead of Ukrainians working on the big picture. Our motto: If the young generation is willing to die for Ukraine, they can learn to govern a strong, democratic Ukraine. 

We feel so privileged to be here, and we asked some friends and acquaintances what they would like to tell you, for you to understand what your support means to them.

Christina and Pavlo grabbed their son Sasha (not their real names) and fled on the first day of the full-scale invasion. They had held on for years just one mile from the “frozen” frontline, but as active community members and patriots, they would now be first on the list for imprisonment and torture. It’s impossible to imagine suddenly ripping yourself away from everything you’ve ever known and loved. Christina asks you to imagine the simple things — like birdsong she will never again hear from her bedroom window, the familiar sounds that had greeted her mother and grandmother each morning through that same window over the course of 75 years.  

Vitalii has been actively defending his homeland since 2015. He’s currently injured and healing at a hospital in Dnipro. He is well enough to come into town, limping slightly on his way, and we talk for a couple of hours over tea. Vitalii wants you to know there is no way to fight this war without U.S. military support. As it is, he says, the army is catastrophically short of battle-ready men. 

Some locals don’t wait to be asked to send you messages.  Ivan, manager of a guest house in a small town, calls out in goodbye: “And tell your fellow Americans thank you! Without them, we’d probably be fighting here using our shovels.”

Ukraine did not ask for this war. They did nothing to provoke Russia and did everything they could to avoid conflict short of handing over their country to Putin. It’s hard to imagine “good” and “evil” more strongly contrasted — not good vs. bad people, but humane values vs. inhumanity.

Ukraine is on the front line to save the freedom, autonomy, and democracy Americans know is critical to our way of life. These values are really what a jealous dictator is attacking. So, we’re asking you, if not this fight, then which fight?

This is the path Putin’s regime has chosen. We must send an unambiguous message now — that might does not make right.

We’re asking for your help in the names of Christina, Pavlo, Sasha, Vitalii, Ivan, and the millions of brave Ukrainians on the front lines of this fight for our shared values. Please write or call your congressional representatives — not just at this moment, but in spring, summer, and fall, urging continued strong support for Ukraine. And please keep donating generously. We see your supportive messages and pictures of the Ukrainian flag on social media — please keep it going.  

“Thank you” cannot begin to express what your unflinching support will mean for our Ukrainian friends and ultimately, for us all.

The South Seattle Emerald is committed to holding space for a variety of viewpoints within our community, with the understanding that differing perspectives do not negate mutual respect amongst community members.

The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the contributors on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the Emerald or official policies of the Emerald.

📸 Featured Image: Photo via Dobra Kobra/

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