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The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


Continued support for Ukraine urgent in face of Navalny death

Andrew Staser
Russian apologists wish to paint Russia as a utopia, but the reality is that the Russian government is a bastion of corruption, one that is happily sending thousands to their death for profit.

In the arctic circle, isolated from the world, Alexei Navalny died in prison according to the Russian government reports. Navalny was the most infamous critic of President Vladimir Putin due to his exposure of the rampant corruption of the oligarchs, which led directly to his assassination. Now, unable to continue his campaign against the regime, the onus is upon the world to continue waging this fight against Putin’s authoritarian regime.

Navalny was genuinely popular across Russia: he was able to unify a politically diverse coalition on a crusade against corruption. With the help of social media, his organizations collected footage of lavish estates owned by corrupt officials within the Russian government. Putin, at the center of this all, was clearly threatened by the undermining of his dictatorship.

Because of this journalism, Navalny was poisoned in 2020 by the Kremlin and was rushed to a hospital in Germany to seek treatment. After surviving this, he returned to Russia to continue his barrage, where he was arrested and sentenced for speaking out against the government- a fate that befalls many Russian critics before their quick death.

For example, Anna Politikovskaya was a journalist found dead in her apartment after her reporting on the war crimes Russia committed against Chechen rebels. Boris Nemtsov was a liberal politician who condemned the annexation of Crimea and was shot outside the Kremlin. Sergi Magnitsky, a lawyer who uncovered a $230 million fraud committed by Russian officials, was wrongfully arrested before being denied healthcare in prison for pancreatitis, which resulted in his torturous death.

Assuredly, there are dozens more who have been killed, and now Navalny joins this long list of dissidents who imagined a better Russia. These deaths cannot be the end of this fight though; instead, these deaths demonstrate the pressing need for supporting Ukraine, strengthening NATO and diplomatically isolating Russia.

Just days before Navalny’s death, the Senate passed additional aid for Ukraine to defend itself against the Russian invasion. Unfortunately, political posturing about the 2024 election has driven opposition to this legislation, but it’s time to stop playing political games and unite to stop Russia. Politicians, fearful of breaking ranks with their party’s platform, should look to people like Navalny to find even a sliver of courage to do what they know to be just.

Americans have always had a degree of division between parties, but never before have we allowed that division to kneecap our opposition to authoritarianism.

The support of Ukraine is now essential to limiting Russian influence. Even before the 2022 invasion, Russia had reduced Chechnya to rubble, seized South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia, annexed Crimea, funded rebels in the Donbas, propped-up the dictatorship of Belarus, raised tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan and used their resources to interfere in American and European elections. Many of these actions were accepted out of fear of Russia, which emboldened them to invade Ukraine, demonstrating the disaster that appeasement has wrought.

Since the war, Russia has attempted to overthrow the government of Moldova, utilized cyberattacks against Montenegro, created a refugee crisis in Poland and bought weapons from Iran and North Korea. In Ukraine itself, Putin has forced millions to flee across Europe, slaughtered tens of thousands of Russian and Ukrainian people and abducted thousands of Ukrainian children, which the International Court of Justice issued arrest warrants for against Putin, citing this as a war crime.

In culmination, Russia presents itself as an unmanageable monster that seeks to absorb former Soviet states and obliterate its enemies from the world. But with just $75 billion, or about .0032% of America’s GDP in 2021, the United States has effectively grinded the world’s “second best” military to a halt. Russia’s military has fallen into what is their largest blunder since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The Russian people deserve better representation than Putin and his cronies-they deserve a robust, free democracy with a free press and freedoms of speech and assembly. Navalyn was determined to make that happen. Russian apologists wish to paint Russia as a utopia, but the reality is that the Russian government is a bastion of corruption, one that is happily sending thousands to their death for profit.

Because of this, NATO must expand and seek to bridge alliances across the world. The 32 nations of the alliance must remain committed to defending each other and supporting blossoming democracies worldwide. Likewise, the EU and NATO both must support governments in Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan, former Soviet republics that are acutely aware of the expansionist empire on their doorstep willing to meddle in their own affairs.

Russia, time and time again, proves that they cannot be trusted. Putin is all too familiar with crushing political opposition, stealing territory from nations and creating chaos in Europe. As support for Ukraine wanes, one must remember the horrors that Russia will unleash within Ukraine and against America’s allies upon victory.

For relatively little spending, Western governments have contained the Russian beast, destabilized their economy and diplomatically isolated it to a few deplorable nations like North Korea, Myanmar and Syria. The long term effects of sanctions and isolation are likely to trigger instability among the Russian public. And the unending corruption only makes public discontent grow each day.

The case against Russia is crystal clear only because its government has proven itself to be a horrific monster, and thus the United States must remain committed to defending the world from its corrosive evil. Only with this aid can Ukraine wage the direct fight for democracy and freedom in Europe and around the world.

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