Friday marks a terrible anniversary. On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine.
The horrors of this unjustifiable act are well-chronicled. It has been a desperate 12 months for Ukraine, and while its allies and friends in the West have supplied it with the munitions and other materials it needs to combat the invaders, the agony is genuine.
But as disastrous as the war has been for Ukraine, it has been even worse for Russia.
Moscow’s vaunted military might have been exposed as a fraud, simultaneously incompetent, corrupt and undisciplined. Vladimir Putin’s aggressive pursuit of his imperial vision — he dreams of reestablishing the defunct Soviet Union — has revitalized the NATO alliance, shattered his army, severed his nation’s most important trade ties and prompted the best of the younger generation to flee.
Putin — and, for that matter, most of the West — anticipated a quick decapitation of the Ukrainian government, after which he expected to dictate terms to other former Soviet states.
Ukraine, heroically, had other ideas. As President Joe Biden said this week in a surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv still stands. Ukraine, fighting the good fight for democracy, endures.
This week the Biden administration — which had earlier declared Russia guilty of war crimes — formally accused it of crimes against humanity. Accurate as that accusation is, it is legally meaningless unless and until members of Putin’s regime find themselves on trial in the International Criminal Court, and there is little realistic prospect of that.
But the designation matters morally, as a reminder of why Ukraine deserves our help. To the degree that Putin has a strategy, it relies on the notion that the U.S. and NATO will weary of assisting Ukraine. And there are indeed voices in Congress — voices generally allied with Putin admirer Donald Trump — questioning the usefulness of that aid.
We crave an end to the war. But more important is that it end with the right outcome, with Ukraine intact and independent and Russia defanged. One year of the war has not been enough to secure that outcome. As long as the Ukrainians are steadfast, we must be also.