It’s been nearly one year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and while the conflict no longer dominates front-page headlines on a daily basis, Ambassador William Taylor wants to ensure that Americans don’t forget what’s at stake.
“The outcome of this war is important for the United States and important for the people of Colorado,” said Taylor, who now works for the U.S. Institute of Peace. “I hope that an understanding of the war’s significance will lead to a continuation of the broad support that exists right now for Ukraine on a bipartisan basis across the country.”
Taylor served as the ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009 and as the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv in 2019. He’ll share his insights about the country during a keynote presentation at the Colorado State University International Symposium on Feb. 28.
It’s part of Taylor’s effort to bring the significance of the conflict more than 9,000 miles away from the U.S. closer to home.
“If Russia wins, if Russia is able to take over Ukraine, then it will be in a position to continue its expansion – threatening our NATO allies in Europe,” Taylor said. “And if our NATO allies are invaded, then the U.S. is invaded in one real sense, so this matters to us in a real way.”
Taylor said he truly believes that Ukraine can win the war, but that it can’t do so without the assistance of the United States, which has already provided an unprecedented $27.5 billion in aid.
He said he hopes to use his platform to help Americans understand why it’s important for this support for Ukraine to continue.
“The average person needs to keep discussing this issue with their families, friends and neighbors and classmates, and to realize that we all understand and continue to believe that this is a historic opportunity to make ourselves and the world more secure,” Taylor said.
‘We were horrified in 2022’
When Taylor served in Ukraine from 2006 to 2009, he said he had “no inkling whatsoever” that Russia would invade a sovereign country.
“In 2014, when Russians did exactly that – they invaded Ukraine, they invaded Crimea and Donbas – that was a shock to everyone, certainly to me,” he said. “But we were shocked in 2014, we were horrified in 2022.”
One thing Taylor wants to emphasize is that Ukraine has every right to exist, contrary to the assertions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has said that the country has always been a part of Russia.
“That’s wrong – Ukraine has been a nation longer than Russia has been a nation, and Ukraine is a proud people that wants to maintain their country, their identity,” Taylor said. “Over the past year, I think Ukranians have done a lot to counter those misperceptions. They’ve won on the battlefield against Russia, and with all the focus on Ukraine in these last 12 months, we’ve heard people talk about Ukrainian history and language and culture more than ever before.”
As the war continues, Taylor said he hopes these same discussions continue, and that he can do his part to help people at CSU and beyond understand why this war has historical implications.
“It’s important for our children and our grandchildren to grow up in a world where big nations don’t invade smaller nations,” he said.
How to attend U.S. Ambassador William Taylor’s International Symposium keynote
Where: Lory Student Center Ballroom D
When: Feb. 28 from 4-5 p.m.
Digital option: col.st/ZUbgY
For a full list of free CSU International Symposium events visit: col.st/cCsLs.