It’s a terrible sight. Watching the news, I saw buildings I visited bombed into rubble, streets I walked on turned into combat zones, the beautiful city of Kiev threatened with foreign conquest.

I had high hopes for Ukraine. And I still do.

In 2015, a group of citizens, pastors, professors, members of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament), and others wanted constitutional reform. Looking east, they saw that Russia had nothing they wanted, nor did Muslim Turkey across the Black Sea. Looking west, they were also skeptical of the democratic socialism of the European Union. So they turned to America, and I was asked to lecture on constitutionalism.

During my two visits I lectured for law schools, committees of the Rada, churches, and civic groups. At their request I even drafted a proposed constitution, based on the principles of America’s Founding Fathers, but adapted to Ukraine’s special circumstances. Among other things, I changed “positive rights,” like government-guaranteed employment and medical care, to open rights, like the right to seek employment and medical care. I also suggested that Crimea and Donetsk, with their overwhelmingly Russian population and strong pro-Russian sympathies, be constituted as semi-autonomous oblasts (states), thinking these regions would then be less likely to be a thorn in Ukraine’s side.

During my visits, one factor impressed me above all others: The Ukrainians will fight to the death rather than submit to Russian domination.

Two years earlier, the Maidan Revolution erupted against the pro-Russian government of President Yanukovych. Fired upon by pro-Russian police, the protesters took up bricks and stones from the street to fight back (Ukraine had no Second Amendment guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms). Pro-Russian police killed 108 protesters; Maidan Square has a special shrine to each of them, frequently adorned with crosses and other Christian symbols. Along with these, I gazed with admiration upon the statute of Rurik, the Viking who sailed down the Dneiper River and established Kiev, and Vladimir, who brought Christianity to Ukraine and Russia. On the streets, anti-Russian sentiment was rampant; vendors even sold bathroom tissue with Putin’s photo on each sheet. These are proud and determined people, I thought. Russia may overwhelm them militarily, but they will never subjugate or dominate them.

During my 2015 visit, skirmishes between Ukrainian and Russian forces were already taking place, many involving unofficial Ukrainian militia. The following year the conflict escalated, especially in Crimea and other eastern oblasts bordering Russia. Ukraine geared up for defense, and the movement for constitution reform was placed on hold.

Putin began a massive buildup of 190,000 soldiers along Russia’s Ukrainian border in October and November of 2021, and in February 2022 he began his “special military operation.” Within minutes of Putin’s announcement, explosions rocked major cities across Ukraine, and air raid sirens sounded in Kiev where I had walked peacefully seven years before. Full-scale warfare had begun!

On the other side of the globe, America’s mainstream media talking heads predicted that Ukraine would collapse within days. “You don’t know them,” I said, shaking my head. “They will fight to the death.”

“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,” Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 9:11. Now that they are supplied with arms, Ukrainians, young and old, have rallied to their country’s defense. But how long can they continue holding out?

American conservatives are divided on whether we should aid Ukraine. Before you make up your mind (or even if it is already made up), let me offer three considerations:

1. Putin probably is not a Communist, but he is an autocrat, an enemy of human rights, and an aggressor who wants to expand Russia’s power and influence beyond its current borders. Whether he sees himself as a second Stalin or, more likely, a second Peter the Great, the events before World War II should have taught us that when we appease aggressors, they grow more aggressive.

2. The lessons of Vietnam and Iraq should have taught us that the “gradual escalation” strategy did not work; it just enabled the North Vietnamese to escalate as well. The “shock and awe” strategy in the Gulf worked much better.

3. The world recognizes that nations that do not keep their commitments are not trustworthy. But some will ask, do we have a commitment to Ukraine? The former Soviet Union kept a large portion of its nuclear warheads in Ukraine, and when the USSR imploded in 1989, Ukraine had more nukes than any other nation except the United States and Russia. In the years that followed, the United States pressured Ukraine to give up its nukes, with the firm commitment that America would come to Ukraine’s defense if Ukraine were ever attacked. I’d say that’s a commitment at least as binding as the NATO agreements.

Colonel Eidsmoe is Professor of Constitutional Law for the Oak Brook College of Law ( and Senior Counsel for the Foundation for Moral Law ( He can be reached for speaking engagements at

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