Roman Pilipey/AFP/Getty Images
A Ukrainian serviceman drives an armoured personnel carrier towards the town of Chasiv Yar, in the Donetsk region, on March 30.

Editor’s Note: In this appeal to Congress, more than 35 artists, activists, scholars and others call for funding for Ukraine. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the signatories. Read more CNN Opinion.

CNN  — 

Together we call upon Congress to do the right thing.

Ukrainians are fighting for their existence. On territory that Russia occupies, it tortures Ukrainian citizens, kidnaps Ukrainian children and murders Ukrainian leaders. On territory Russia can reach with its weapons, it strikes civilians and rescue workers. Russian missiles, drones and bombs destroy churches and monuments to the Holocaust. Russian occupation threatens Ukraine’s Muslims, the Crimean Tatars.

Russian leaders say openly that their goal is the destruction of the Ukrainian state and the elimination of Ukrainians as a people. Russian propagandists threaten genocide almost every day. Right now, Russia is using missiles and glide bombs to destroy the ancient and beautiful city of Kharkiv, once home to 1.5 million people, just as Russia destroyed Mariupol, Aleppo and Grozny.

Ukrainians are also fighting for our safety and for everyone’s freedom. By resisting Russian dictatorship, they show that democracy can defend itself. By defending their borders, they are protecting the international order and holding off chaos. By fighting Russia alone, they protect Europe. By showing how hard offensive operations are, Ukrainians make a Chinese war in the Pacific less likely. By fighting a conventional war against a nuclear power, they are making nuclear proliferation and nuclear war less likely.

Stringer/AFP/Getty Images
A woman stands among the rubble in her apartment hit by shelling in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, on April 2.

The Ukrainian armed forces are defending basic American interests. They are doing things that Americans cannot do for themselves. By absorbing the entire Russian attack, they are making other wars in Europe impossible. They deter China without in any way provoking Beijing. By showing that a nuclear power can be resisted, they teach other countries that they need not build nuclear weapons. For two years, Ukrainians have protected us as well as their own people.

Most Americans understand this, and want to help Ukraine. And most elected representatives do, too.

But we are letting the Ukrainians down. It has been more than 470 days since Congress passed legislation to support Ukraine. That is most of the time since Russia invaded in February 2022. During the period of our inaction, Russia has reconstituted its army. It is preparing a new offensive, testing Ukraine across the front and illegally using CS gas to drive Ukrainian soldiers from their trenches.

If Russia breaks through, this will be our fault. And then we will understand what we have lost. Everything that Ukraine is doing for us can be reversed. If Ukraine is defeated, we will find ourselves in a far more dangerous world. It will be a world where we can expect war in Europe and war in Asia. A world in which Russia can cut off the food to the Near East and Africa that Ukraine now supplies. A world without rules and a world full of nuclear weapons.

And then it will be too late to do the thing that, right, now, is easy: help an ally that is in the fight of its life by passing legislation in Congress. Spend about a nickel of the defense department dollar, about a penny on the overall budget dollar, most of which, in any event, stays in the United States.

We should not let our allies down. Around the world, everyone looking on believes that Ukraine is an easy choice for us. It is a democracy, and we claim to support democracies. Its soldiers are doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Ukraine is fighting by itself, and not asking for American troops. What America must do to support Ukraine is minimal. If we cannot keep to our commitments to Ukraine, no one will believe that we will support any of our allies in the future. That will lessen us, and create a world of war.

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And Ukrainians are impressive allies. They are fighting well across a very long front. They have cleared the Black Sea of the Russian navy, allowing Ukrainian agriculture to feed the Near East and Africa. They have developed and deployed their own weapons. They are doing everything humanly possible, and taking painful human losses every single day. But they need things that only we can provide to keep up the fight.

Ukrainians are giving us a chance. A chance for Americans to do the right thing, for them, for us, for decency, for humanity. Ukraine can protect itself and bring stability around the world. If we allow Ukraine to lose, though, we are inviting catastrophe for them, and catastrophe for ourselves.

Congress returned to session this week. Time is short and new dangers can arrive very quickly. Together we call upon Congress to do the right thing – right now. Support Ukraine.


J.J. Abrams, filmmaker

José Andrés, chef and activist

Gabrielle Carteris, actor and trade union leader

Mona Charen, journalist

Misha Collins, actor

Rosario Dawson, actor

Felicia Day, actor and writer

Doug Fears, former homeland security adviser

Jonathan Safran Foer, novelist

Francis Fukuyama, political scientist

Mark Hamill, actor

Gale Anne Hurd, producer

Dara Khosrowshahi, entrepreneur

William Kristol, writer

Eric Edelman, diplomat

Imagine Dragons, band

Scott Kelly, astronaut

Daniel Lubetzky, entrepreneur

Michael McFaul, political scientist

Kate McKinnon, actor

Alyssa Milano, actor

Viggo Mortensen, actor

Patton Oswalt, comedian and actor

Phillips O’Brien, military historian

Brad Paisley, musician

Sean Penn, actor

Serhii Plokhii, historian

Ivanna Sakhno, actor

Eric Schmidt, philanthropist

Liev Schreiber, actor

Timothy Snyder, historian

Terrell Jermaine Starr, journalist

Barbra Streisand, singer and actor

Hilary Swank, actor

Peter Wehner, writer and activist

Katheryn Winnick, actor