KYIV – The quiet period between the declaration of war in September 1939 and the Nazi blitz on Belgium and France in May 1940 is often called “The Phony War.” Since Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, and began massing troops and armored columns on our eastern border, we in Ukraine have been living through a “phony peace.”
There is nothing phony, however, about the efforts we Ukrainians are now making to defend our country and our democracy. Our young men and women are volunteering for military service like never before. Our government has negotiated a standby loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund that will give us some of the tools that we need to get our financial and economic house in order. That agreement will also impose real economic pain, but Ukrainians are willing to pay the price in order to preserve our independence.
After a time of neglect, a time when we – like the rest of Europe – believed that the continent’s borders would never again be changed by force, we are also increasing our defense spending, despite our economy’s precarious state. There will be no more surrendering of sovereign Ukrainian territory. Not an inch.
Most important, despite the Russian army massed against us, we are embarking on an election campaign. Next month, Ukraine’s citizens will freely choose a new president – the best rebuke possible to Russian propaganda about our supposed failure to uphold democracy.