The Kansas-Ukraine connection

To some Kansans, Ukraine is a faraway, unknown place. Somewhere in Europe, over by Russia. But other people in Kansas know about Ukraine in much more detail because they have traveled to Europe for the express purpose of supporting it and other European countries.

A few months after Russia seized the part of Ukraine called Crimea in 2014, the US began a military initiative to stand by our NATO allies in Europe who are threatened by Russia’s increasing aggression. Atlantic Resolve, the land-based operation led by the Department of Defense, is part of the initiative and it has sent US military units to Europe continually since 2014, for nine-month deployments.

Soldiers from Kansas’ Fort Riley have deployed to serve in Atlantic Resolve in 2017, 2018 and 2019, sending over 3,000 soldiers each year. Supervised from headquarters in Poznan, Poland, these units build readiness and also strengthen our bonds with allies through training operations.

The thousands of soldiers from our own Fort Riley probably know a lot about the threat that Russia poses to Ukraine and our other allies in Europe. Those soldiers are our state’s enduring connection to Ukraine. They defend that country, and other countries, because that’s what allies do.

We are there for them; they are there for us. That’s the Kansas-Ukraine connection.

Elizabeth Stevens, Topeka