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Seattle Times: Op-Ed: NATO must continue to stand with Ukraine

In October, representatives from NATO member countries, including the United States, gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the 69th annual session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. The primary focus of this year’s session was NATO allies’ and partners’ unwavering support for Ukraine.

As a member of the Assembly’s Defence and Security Committee, I presented my second report on Ukraine’s ongoing fight for freedom and the international response to Putin’s illegal war. The report outlines the evolution of the war, NATO’s support for Ukraine and the impact the war is having on Ukraine, the region and the world.

The report also outlines six recommendations to reaffirm and strengthen NATO’s commitment to Ukraine as Putin’s war of aggression grinds through its second year. Those recommendations are:

● NATO countries must sustain and boost military and financial support for Ukraine to enable Ukraine to defend itself from aggression and recapture territory seized by Russian forces;

● NATO countries must support the continuity of deterrence and defense missions; for example, by investing in critical weapons stockpiles;

● NATO countries must tighten sanctions on Putin and his enablers to greatly limit the Kremlin’s ability to prosecute its illegal war;

● NATO countries must throw their political and diplomatic weight behind Ukraine and rally the world to support the young democracy;

● NATO countries must look ahead and plan for Ukraine’s reconstruction to enable Ukraine to consolidate its significant democratic gains;

● NATO countries must consider the global context of Putin’s war.

Putin’s war has changed accelerated competition between the United States and China. Putin’s war has also revealed a global division between democracies and revisionist states looking to upend the rules-based international order. These dynamics will have a profound impact on the future of the world’s political organization and on American security.

The NATO alliance was founded on democratic values after World War II. Nearly 75 years after its founding, NATO countries must again defend the rules-based order, an order that has greatly benefited the United States.

NATO allies and partners have learned that Ukraine’s victory will be neither quick nor easy. Defending democracy, self-determination and sovereignty is no small task. But NATO countries, including the United States, cannot allow authoritarian actors like Putin to violate these principles with impunity.

That is why Congress must soon pass legislation that fully funds the president’s request for security and humanitarian aid in support of Ukraine. And that is why Congress and our NATO allies must stand by our values and reaffirm that we will support Ukraine as long as it takes for the young democracy to control its own borders, select its own leaders and determine its own future.

U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (D-Everett) represents Washington’s Second Congressional District, which includes Everett and parts of Snohomish County, as well as all of Skagit, Whatcom, Island and San Juan counties. Larsen serves as a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, an organization made up of delegates from all 31 NATO member countries with a mission to engage parliamentarians in transatlantic security issues.