Commentary: What would Ronald Reagan do?


On March 22, Islamic terrorists attacked a theater in Moscow, killing 143 people. A branch of ISIS quickly claimed responsibility and posted a video of the attack to support their claim. Russia President Vladimir Putin quickly blamed the “West and Kiev’s Nazi regime for the attack.” Sergey Karnaukhov, a Russian State propagandist, said, “Ukraine is a proxy force of American and British intelligence services. Does anyone have any doubt as to who did this attack?”

Now let’s read District 3 congressional candidate Joe Kent’s response when he was asked to comment on the Moscow theater attack on Real America, on the One America far-right news network. “If the Ukrainians were using CIA or MI6 (British Intelligence) money to which they have a lot of access to, and they were tasked with conducting sabotage behind Russia’s lines. I mean, this is too easy. You can get access to these jihadis because they’re looking for work from the highest bidder. So it does kind of make sense,” Kent said.

So how do we get here? Why is a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress repeating Russian state propaganda talking points? Kent openly suggested that the CIA and Ukraine may be responsible for killing 143 people in that terrorist attack on a Moscow theater, again echoing Russian propaganda without any evidence. Shameful and irresponsible. On April 14, we had U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, post on X that she “won’t fund the Ukrainian Nazis,” once again echoing Putin’s entire reason for invading Ukraine.

Remember, it was to denazify the nation of Ukraine, which elected a fully Jewish president who, by the way, lost family members in the Holocaust. What a foolish thing to say for a sitting congresswoman from the state of Georgia.

Needless to say, the Russian state media hails her as a hero. The Russian state media has also used Kent’s foreign policy views as a prop to bolster their call for ending aid to Ukraine. Just think about that. I surely do not want American politicians to be hailed as heroes or used as props on Kremlin-owned propaganda networks because their views align. When Greene said that the “Ukrainians are killing Christians,” that’s just one more example of Russian propaganda that, sadly, even Tucker Carlson took and ran with along with his “biolabs in Ukraine” lies. The facts speak opposite to their claims. I personally had three family members killed by Putin’s thugs; two of my uncle’s sons were tortured and executed for being the sons of a Protestant pastor, and his third son was killed on the front while serving as a chaplain just last year. JD Vance, a U.S. senator, has also echoed Russian lies about Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s cabinet using “Western aid to buy yachts” That also turned out to be a lie started by the Russians and picked up by a sitting GOP senator. Michael McCaul, who is a longtime Texas GOP congressman and a Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, also sees this Russian propaganda trend and was blunt about it by saying, “I think Russian propaganda has made its way into the United States, unfortunately, and it’s infected a good chunk of my party’s base.” How did the party of President Ronald Reagan allow this virus of anti-American and pro-Russian rhetoric to find a home in its party? Above all, this is a concern of our national security. Russian propaganda should have no place in our nation’s top halls and offices.

Now here is some truth. Right at this moment, the people of Ukraine are heroically defending their homes from a modern-day Hitler who is committing genocide in Ukraine. Kent, in the past, has called Putin a “reasonable thug with reasonable demands.” No, Putin is not reasonable, nor are his demands, and he is not a thug. He is a war criminal who demands that Ukrainians give up their land, freedom and identity. Now, over 630 religious buildings have been heavily damaged and many destroyed by the Russian military, and at least 48 pastors have been killed by the Russians in the past two-plus years of this full-scale invasion. Currently, in the occupied regions of Ukraine, Protestant evangelicals are forbidden to freely worship, and almost all of the evangelical church buildings have been taken away by the Russian military. The Russian government views evangelicals as American spies. As well, hundreds of schools, apartments and hospitals have been leveled by the Russian missile strikes. The majority of Russian strikes occur deep into Ukrainian cities at night. Cowardly and inhumane. Lately, the Russians are using a double-tap method; it’s a method they used heavily in Syria. First, a strike is carried out on a building. Then, when the first responders arrive, they strike again for the second time — pure terror designed to keep help away from the wounded and to kill first responders. On April 4, that double-tap method took the lives of four rescue workers in Kharkiv after they arrived at a hit apartment building only to be killed minute’s later with a second cruise missile.

The great Ronald Reagan spent much of his political career standing up to and tearing down the evil Soviet Union. He succeeded, thank God. In huge part thanks to Reagan, today millions of people in Eastern Europe can live and worship freely. Today, Vladimir Putin wants to rebuild that evil empire in a Hitler-like fashion by slaughtering the nation of Ukraine into submission. Instead of standing with the brave people of Ukraine like Reagan would have, Joe Kent has become a mouthpiece for Putin’s propaganda and his demands. On his appearance on the Nunn Show, Kent called for halting military aid to Ukraine, forcing Ukraine to a negotiating table with Russia and freezing the war. Also, Kent wants the U.S. to promise Russia that Ukraine would never join NATO. Putin’s Christmas wish list, signed Joe Kent.

This is exactly what the Russians want, so they can rebuild their depleted military, correct their mistakes and strike again in a few years. Back in 1994, the Ukrainians gave up their nukes on a promise of security assurances from Russia, the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Those three nations agreed to respect and not violate Ukraine’s borders in return for Ukraine giving up its nukes. Russia did not keep that promise in 2014 with the invasion of Crimea and East Ukraine, nor in 2022 when it fully invaded Ukraine. Today, the Ukrainians are not asking for our soldiers; they are only asking for weapons to protect their children and their cities from daily slaughter. Let’s not abandon them, and let’s continue to stand with them. I think it is safe to say that if instead of Reagan we had Greene or Kent in the Oval Office, then the Soviet Union would have never collapsed and millions of people would have never tasted freedom. In Reagan’s 1985 State of the Union address, he declared these words, “We must stand by our democratic allies, and we must not break faith with those who are risking their lives to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth.” So, what would Ronald Reagan do? I believe he would stand with the brave people of Ukraine, with the people who are defending their homes and their loved ones from a brutal Russian invasion.

Just recently, the United States passed a military aid package bill to help Ukraine and Israel defend themselves. A significant portion of this military package, like other aid packages before, will pay to replenish our weapons stockpiles, and it will also create jobs here stateside to produce combat vehicles and artillery shells, for example, amongst other weapons systems.

Over the last few weeks, my phone has received dozens of calls and texts from Ukrainian pastors and combat chaplains with whom I have served on the front lines many times, asking me to pass on a deep thank you to the American people for their aid and prayers. The Bible tells us that “a brother is born for a difficult time.” Right now, the people of Ukraine are in the midst of a hellish fight for their nation’s survival. America and other nations that have stood with Ukraine are now more than brothers. They are God-sent angels in a time of desperate need. To every American reading this, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart on behalf of over 40 million Ukrainian people. Thank you for not abandoning those who are fighting so hard to save their nation. Let’s help them win this war and put an end to Putin’s aspirations to conquer a neighboring country. I also want to express my gratitude to our own Congresswoman Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and House Speaker Mike Johnson for recognizing the current situation and contributing significantly to the passing of this military aid legislation. They and other lawmakers who voted yes on the military aid bill helped to save a nation from being overrun by the Russian onslaught. God will not forget when we help others. I believe that when America leads, the world is a safer place. Our nation, like never before, needs healing, unity and politicians who can work across the aisle on various issues. Our nation does not need the isolationist conspiracy theories of the far right nor the socialist Utopia of the far left. They are both destructive to our republic.

Nearly 25 years total is what my great-grandfather and my grandfather spent combined in concentration camps for their convictions and faith. My father was born in a labor camp in the Soviet Union. I was born in Ukraine, and today I am an American citizen who has traveled to the front lines of Ukraine as a volunteer chaplain for the last nine years to assist my people in their fight for freedom from a modern-day Hitler. I write this piece because I truly love America, and I do not want to see pro-Putin rhetoric win this November. There is no other way to put this. May God bless America, and may God save Ukraine.


Mikhail Pavenko is a Vancouver resident who has written about Ukraine in the past.