Recently, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Poland and travel to the Ukraine border where we witnessed the heartbreaking sight of women and children fleeing their homeland to escape the brutality of the Russian invasion.

We traveled to Krakovets, Ukraine, just inside the border, with Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian charity working to alleviate the extraordinary suffering caused by Russia’s indefensible aggression.

Seeing the desperation on the faces of the Ukrainian people was truly heartbreaking. We spoke with women separated from their husbands and sons who had stayed behind to fight for freedom. We listened to families who escaped their homes in the dead of night. We met young children who were scared, confused, and visibly traumatized.

In times of great tragedy, the American people have always been motivated to take action. But we must ensure that our actions are designed not only to restore peace, but to help the Ukrainian people defend their freedom.

The best way to encourage peace is with a multifaceted approach that isolates Russia economically, supports the Ukrainian military, and cares for the Ukrainian civilians who have seen their neighborhoods transform into a war zone.

First, America should continue to increase sanctions to inflict maximum financial pain on Russia’s Vladimir Putin, his oligarchs, and every government official supporting this invasion. This includes sanctioning all Russian financial institutions and all Russian oil exports worldwide. Putin must stop, or Putin must pay.

Second, America should give the Ukrainian military the ability to defend itself from Russia’s invasion. America and freedom-loving nations must continue to provide military equipment to the courageous Ukrainian soldiers fighting for their freedom at this very hour. The United States should immediately ship more anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons systems, and President Joe Biden should also stop blocking Poland’s transfer of Soviet-era fighter planes to Ukraine. We must give the Ukrainian military the tools to take the fight to Russian forces in the air and on the ground.

Finally, we cannot overlook the critical importance of providing humanitarian aid to the nearly 40 million civilians who remain in Ukraine. As the conflict drags out, the need for food, water, medicine, and the basic essentials of life will only increase.

In 1948, the Soviet Union attempted to blockade Western powers from entering Ally-occupied sections of Berlin, Germany. More than 2 million innocent human beings were immediately cut off from the outside world and placed at the mercy of an evil empire.

In response, the Allies launched the Berlin Airlift, the most daring aerial resupply ever attempted in history. Over the next 15 months, the United States and the United Kingdom flew nearly 300,000 flights to supply the people of Berlin with urgently needed grain, meat, vegetables, milk, and coal for heating and power.

The Berlin Airlift was both risky and extremely controversial—American commanders were unsure how the Soviets would respond, or if the Allies could even pull off a logistical feat of such extraordinary magnitude. But with boldness, daring, and exquisite planning, every challenge was overcome.

Importantly, the Soviets recognized that cargo aircraft could not be considered a military threat—and they wisely chose not to oppose the airlift. In the face of the unbreakable resolve displayed by America and her allies, the Soviets had no choice but to capitulate and end their blockade. Thousands of innocent lives were saved from a horrible fate, and America achieved a crucial victory in the early days of the Cold War.

Now, America has the opportunity to once again alleviate untold human suffering and save countless lives with a 21st century Berlin Airlift for the courageous people of Ukraine. As a humanitarian mission, Russia could not claim it was a provocation or a military threat—and it would undoubtedly demonstrate to Putin that the world stands strongly united behind the Ukrainian people.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is just the latest tragic reminder of an undeniable truth: Peace comes through strength, but weakness arouses evil.

It’s no coincidence that Russia annexed Crimea the last time Biden was in the White House, or that it waited until this year to invade Ukraine. In the 21 century, Russia has consistently sought to redraw national boundaries by force—except during the four years of the Trump-Pence administration. The reason for that is simple: We rebuilt our military, destroyed the ISIS caliphate, killed the world’s most-wanted terrorist, and made clear that aggression against America and her allies would never be tolerated. 

Putin only understands strength—so strength we must show, as one nation, united in purpose, doing all we can to support the good people of Ukraine in their fight for freedom.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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