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Ukraine and Vietnam: Nothing is More Precious Than Independence and Liberty
By Mike Woloshin
I have witnessed too many "unnecessary wars of choice/wars of aggression." I oppose direct US intervention in Ukraine but support providing weapons to the Ukrainian Army and Territorial Defense Forces to defend the territorial integrity, political independence of Ukraine, and its right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries, free from threats and acts of force. While the geopolitics of Vietnam and Ukraine differ, the genesis of both wars lies in diplomatic duplicity. The US reneged on its pledge to respect the 1954 Geneva Agreements, providing for 1956 elections for a reunified Vietnam. Putin reneged on the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, negotiated by his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, agreeing to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity in exchange for Ukraine relinquishing its nuclear arsenal. Just as the Soviet Bloc and China provided MiG-17s, MiG-21's and SAM-2s to Vietnamese liberation forces, the US and NATO nations provided the Ukrainian Army with Javelin anti-armor missiles, switchblade drones, HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Missile Systems), and satellite intelligence. If Ukraine falls or concedes to Russian aggression, the Russian Federation will be emboldened to extend its aggression westward to its former colonies, some of which are NATO members, potentially leading to World War III.
At first, no one expected Ukrainians to resist Putin's blitzkrieg, but when President Zelinskyy declined a US offer for a ride out of Kyiv, he replied, "I don't need a ride; I need ammunition." Ukrainian liberation forces made excellent use of the few weapons provided by the US, to disrupt Russian logistics, detonate ammo dumps and strike behind the lines in occupied Crimea. Recently, Ukrainian forces liberated a large area of territory around Kharkiv. No one expected Ukraine to expertly execute an offensive as they did. Likewise, no one expected Ho Chi Minh to haul artillery pieces over the mountains to lay siege to Dien Bien Phu, or extract a political victory, despite enormous losses, as he did during the Tet Offensive. The outcome of such wars is determined far more by morale, than material. People are far more motivated to defend the homeland than they are to engage in wars of aggression. Both Vietnamese and Ukrainians prevailed against far better armed and equipped opponents. Russian troops folded and fled, leaving ammo and serviceable equipment behind, just like the puppet ARVN during the 1972 and 1973 Spring Offenses. The associated deaths, costs, and sanctions led Russian media figures to question the war and call for Putin to resign or be put on trial for treason. The Russian retreat has exposed war crimes in the murder of 440 civilians in Izium. Like My Lai and Bucha, such crimes are not an aberration, but SOP.
The tenacity and determination of Ukrainians to defend their country reflect that of the Vietnamese. The following statements of Ho Chi Minh illustrate that tenacity and determination:
"Our resistance will be long and painful, but whatever the sacrifices, however long the struggle, we shall fight until the end, until Vietnam is fully independent and reunified."
"You will kill ten of us; we will kill one of you, but in the end you will tire of it."
"Nothing is more precious than independence and liberty."
August 24, 2022, was Ukrainian Independence Day, it also marked the resistance to six months of Russian aggression.
Slava Ukraini—Glory to Ukraine!
Mike Woloshin, AMH-2, USN, ATKRON 86, onbd USS Coral Sea (CVA-43), Vietnam (Yankee Station) 1969-1970. Mike is the grandson of Ukrainian immigrants, a retired Assistant Cook County Public Defender, and active in VVAW since joining in 1971.