Guest commentary: Joe Kent echoes Russian propaganda


My name is Mikhail. I’m a believer, an American citizen, life-long conservative, husband and father, and I was born in Ukraine. For the last eight years I’ve regularly traveled to the front lines of eastern Ukraine and served as a volunteer and a chaplain. In this war, I’ve lost three family members, and only in the last nine months I’ve lost seven friends. Three of them were chaplains. On my last trip, I stood at their graves and for a moment understood what it means to lay down one’s life for another. I’ve experienced war on a personal level, from the bullet-filled trenches and to the field hospitals where men breathed their last. Those images will never leave me. To the American people, on behalf of the Ukrainian troops, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude for your monumental aid. May God bless America abundantly for its kind heart. America has always been a beacon of light in the darkest of times. Living here is truly a privilege.

Russia for the last 18 months of its full invasion has been waging a genocidal war against the people of Ukraine. They carpet bomb cities; they use phosphorus to burn out cities along with daily ballistic missile strikes on critical infrastructure, hospitals, schools, food storage facilities, churches and apartment buildings full of people. Most of these attacks occur at night and hundreds of miles from the front lines. As of Aug. 25, at least 494 religious buildings, 218 hospitals and 331 schools have been destroyed by the Russians. Thousands of Ukrainian children from occupied cities have been deported into Russia. Some have been given Russian passports and have been “adopted” by their new parents in a foreign land. Many Ukrainian women have been raped by the Russian military, and to be a Protestant Christian in the occupied areas can be a death sentence. 

Local congressional candidate Joe Kent stated in his recent interview with Reflector contributor Julie McDonald that it was the West that pushed Russia into invading Ukraine with its “aggressive NATO” stance. This is a copy-and-paste lie from Joe Kent that’s straight out of a Russian propaganda news channel. Russia invaded Ukraine to rebuild the Soviet empire and to destroy democratic Ukraine as a nation. Putin himself called “Ukraine a mistake” and his intentions were to correct the “historical wrong.” Russian propaganda chiefs daily call for the destruction of Ukraine, its people, language and culture. The “blame NATO” excuse is used by the Russians mainly for the Western audience, and Joe Kent fell for it. Finland, which borders Russia, recently became a NATO member, and we don’t see Russia invading Finland. If Ukraine was a member of NATO, this invasion would have never happened. In the interview, Joe Kent said that “we’ve had this aggressive posture toward Russia.” No Joe, America has not been aggressive toward Russia, and let’s not blame America for the actions of modern-day Hitlers. Joe Kent calls for Ukraine and Russia to sit at the “negotiating” table. In other words, for Ukraine to negotiate with war criminals that slaughter women and children at night with cruise missiles? Putin is a war criminal who is now wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. War criminals must pay for their crimes and not be rewarded with the ability to “negotiate” their demands from their victim or the international community. Did we negotiate with Bin Laden after 9/11? In Ukraine, there has been a 9/11 every day for the last 18 months. Negotiations with war criminals only boost the thirst for more killing and give legitimacy to the aggressor. Do we really want to live in a world where modern-day Hitlers can be allowed to redraw borders by force and then negotiate a deal for themselves? Both the Russians and Joe Kent want negotiations and a ceasefire. That way they can solidify their land grabs, buy time to rebuild their weakened military and try again in a few years. Joe Kent in the past has called Putin a “reasonable thug with reasonable demands in Ukraine.” No, Joe. Putin is not a “reasonable thug.” He is a demonic war criminal. It appears Joe is perfectly fine with tyrants redrawing international borders by force. Joe’s foreign policy views are dangerous and will only set a bad precedent for the future. 

Ronald Reagan stood up to the Soviets and won. Joe Kent wants to make a deal with them. We need true conservatism in American politics and not right wing populism. People of Ukraine are showing the world what it means to fight for their own nation and freedom. Let’s not abandon them. I wish Joe Kent the best in his personal life, and I again thank him for his service to our nation. Thank you for your time everyone. 

Mikhail Pavenko