The Ukrainian Favor

by Bob Schwartz

Ukrainian Contingent Ends Iraq Mission

Commander of the Ukrainian contingent in Diwaniya presents a certificate and gift to
a member of the Qadisiya Province Iraqi Police, during an end of mission ceremony
at Camp Echo, Dec. 9, 2008.

“Are you asking as a friend or calling in a chit? A friend would not ask me to do this.”
“A friend just won’t hold it against you if you don’t.”
Adapted from Suits, USA Network

In 2008, Ukrainian troops officially left the U.S.-instigated Iraq War. Since 2003, 5,000 Ukrainian troops had served there (the third largest contingent in the multinational force) and 18 soldiers had died. No service or sacrifice can be minimized, even if these numbers pale in comparison to the American investment. Ukraine answered the call with honor and valor, as it had in other international conflicts, presumably because there are principles at stake, including the principle that modern internationalism means a commitment to mutual trust and support.

At the ceremony marking the end of the Ukrainian mission, Maj. Gen. Michael Ferriter, deputy commanding general for operations, Multi-National Corps-Iraq, said:

We know that violence is at its lowest level in five years, and the Iraqi Security Forces, partnering with Coalition forces, will take the lead in defending their country. And soon, the Iraqi people will vote in the future of their country in the provincial elections. These changes were not brought about naturally, but were instead brought about by the dedication and the hard work of the men and women from the nations such as yours. You helped create the Iraqi Security Force and instilled in them a solid foundation of skills essential to the future security and prosperity of Iraq.

To Iraq’s benefit, and through Ukraine’s efforts, you have helped ensure a higher quality of life for the people of Iraq. Ukraine forces made contributions that enabled all Coalition partners to be successful here, but it has not been without cost. A precious 18 Ukrainian Soldiers have died here.

Ukraine is asking for help from anyone to hold their country together. Under the circumstances, that is going to be difficult and may not be possible.

Are they asking as a friend or calling in a chit? If we don’t provide adequate or effective help, will they hold it against us? Should they?