(For another point of view, see: Point: U.S. Must Stop Putin.)

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, we must remember that too much is at stake to walk away.

Autocrats and those with autocratic tendencies are having a global moment. While it may seem to some that a relatively small piece of the overall puzzle is at play in this conflict, the domino effect of allowing Vladimir Putin’s bullying to win in Ukraine would have a profoundly worldwide effect.

There is, of course, Ukraine itself. It is unacceptable in the 21st century to allow one nation to engage in a hostile takeover of another sovereign country. Ukrainian civilians and fighters alike are dying needlessly daily.

Allowing Putin to win only continues to embolden an already largely unchecked autocrat. Having just been sworn in for a fifth term as Russian president, Putin is tightening his grip at home. Russia’s “president for life” continues to drag the Russian people into an illiberal sinkhole. Validating his aims in Ukraine by walking away is not an option.

Eastern Europe is already on constant alert for these potential threats. The United States has long been committed to peace and security in Europe. Ceding more ground to Putin raises and expands the danger level even more, eroding trust in the United States.

With Putin continuing to rattle his nuclear saber, any more encroachment upon Europe and the borders of NATO member states could put us all on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe.

Putin’s allies, sympathizers and sycophants are also threats to a peaceful world order. Allowing Russia to win in Ukraine could, and likely would, also bolster these autocrats. China, Iran and North Korea are already threats that do not need more encouragement.

We are already at an uneasy time with Iran in the Middle East, China and Taiwan, and the ever-present unpredictability in North Korea. Fueling those flames by walking away from Ukraine could be a global disaster.

Another threat we must not overlook is the one right here. An autocrat in the making, Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican candidate for president. His enablers in Congress and MAGA-aligned media continue to degrade, delay and dismiss U.S. efforts in Ukraine.

If these domestic skeptics, who are already supporting the erosion of democracy here, had their say in Ukraine, we would leave Ukraine and our allies in Europe to fend for themselves. This is not and cannot be the U.S. position.

Our national stability and prosperity depend on preserving democracy at home and abroad. Both are in great peril, and the war’s outcome in Ukraine is critical to how our future will turn out.

Will we allow anti-democratic forces to prey on apathy, political expediency and division in their efforts to gain power? Or will we stay true to our principles and our best interests by protecting democracy through continuing aid and support in Ukraine?

The answer should be simple. Too much is a stake, and the United States must stay the course in Ukraine.

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