Any American confused about why such aid is crucial for America's security should watch it, too.
The film is directed by Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press video journalist Mstyslav Chernov; he and an AP colleague were the last two Western journalists left in Mariupol after Russia invaded that port city in February 2022. They barely escaped after 20 days of filming Russia's pulverization of the city, including direct bomb hits on hospitals.
As Americans fixate on video of Hamas' butchery of more than 1,000 Israeli civilians and horrific scenes of Gazans dying from Israeli reprisals, it is easy to forget about Ukraine. But this harrowing film makes clear why Russian President Vladimir Putin is far more threatening to global security than Hamas.
Directly responsible for slaughtering tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians in Mariupol through indiscriminate bombing, Putin has no scruples about mass murder. He is waiting for Donald Trump's MAGA followers in Congress to abandon Kyiv, along with America's global leadership role.
The Party of Putin wing of the GOP plays right into his hands when members insist that money for Israel and the southern border trump helping Ukraine. All are important. But "20 Days in Mariupol" shows why helping Kyiv defeat Putin is more vital than either to U.S. security — and that of its allies.
Chernov made the incredibly courageous choice to stay in Mariupol even though his work was known to the Russians, who probably would have killed him if he had been caught. "What we didn't expect was that we would be the only ones reporting, so we were exposed," he told me.
What he filmed was critical to understanding Russia's intentions for Ukraine, which were to destroy it as a sovereign nation. Keep in mind that Putin's utter destruction of an entire city — and the continued targeting of civilians — was not preceded by any Ukrainian attack. Russia launched an unprovoked war to gobble up a neighboring country.
If the U.S. allows Putin to succeed in Ukraine, it will encourage him to expand his dreams of rebuilding the Russian empire, undermining other European countries, including members of NATO. Down that road lie further wars.
Chernov's gripping footage dispels current Kremlin propaganda about how Mariupol welcomed the Russians. He documents how Moscow deliberately bombed hospital after hospital (just as it did during the Syrian civil war to help its client Bashar al-Assad survive).
One desperate Ukrainian doctor, having failed to save a 4-year-old child, looks directly into the camera and says, "Show this bastard [Putin] the eyes of this child and all these doctors are crying." He then uses an expletive to describe those killing civilians.
In other words, show the work of a cold-blooded Putin who will not hesitate to take global advantage of U.S. weakness and MAGA extremists.
Chernov took the famous video of a very pregnant wounded woman being urgently wheeled across the courtyard from the maternity wing of a Mariupol hospital, a scene that Moscow still insists was played by crisis actors. Chernov and AP reporters followed up on her case and found that she subsequently died from a shattered pelvis. Her baby didn't survive, either. Without the video, there would be no concrete way to dispute Russian lies.
The AP journalists finally had to escape. They did so the day before Russia bombed the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater, full of women and children seeking safety. "There were no pictures, no witnesses," Chernov told me regretfully, as Moscow still claims Ukrainians destroyed the theater. "This gives you an idea of how important journalists are on the ground."
The siege of Mariupol lasted for months after the AP team left the city.
"Every day was just like these videos," Chernov told me, as Russia continued to destroy towns and villages. Only 40 minutes of his footage was published by the AP, despite "hundreds of thousands of war crimes in Mariupol," he said.
"I knew how important the story was. The world moves on, and the only way to preserve that scale is to do more," Chernov said. "I hope the film gains attention for what has already happened and what is happening now."
Which brings us back to Putin's "useful idiots" in the U.S. Congress. Are they so blind that they cannot see the link between Putin's Mideast machinations and his savagery in Ukraine?
The Russian leader is receiving Iranian drones to use against Ukraine, and in exchange reportedly helping Tehran with nuclear technology. Moscow has long welcomed Hamas leaders and backed its propaganda in an effort to internationally isolate the U.S.
Israel can fight Hamas without more immediate military assistance, and the mess at the U.S. southern border can only be addressed with bipartisan cooperation. But Ukraine's last chance to regain the offensive against Putin is now.
Congress must not cave to a global terrorist who threatens America far more than Hamas does. Watch "20 Days in Mariupol" and you will see why.
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• 9/22/23: Russia's kidnapping of Ukrainian children under the spotlight at United Nations
• 9/22/23: Biden should resolve the blockage of visas for Iraqis and Afghans who helped our troops
• 9/11/23: Even on vacation, there's no escaping Putin's murderous intentions
• 08/18/23: With new weapons slow to arrive from NATO allies, Ukraine surprises Putin with sea drones
• 08/09/23: Lessons from a military funeral in Ukraine
• 07/28/23: As Russian missiles again rain down on Odesa, Putin sneers at the UN and NATO allies
• 07/24/23: Putin is playing a game of food blackmail. The West can't let him win
• 07/19/23: Can Ukraine win the war against Russia? I'm traveling there to find out
• 07/17/23: From hell to Harvard: One Ukrainian's escape and how you can help fulfill her dreams
• 07/11/23: At the NATO summit in Vilnius: Will Biden seize or squander the chance to end Putin's war on Ukraine?
• 04/21/23: The Pentagon documents leak will embolden Putin as he tries to outlast Ukraine
• 03/22/23: The Russian attack on a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone underlines why we must help Ukraine win
• 03/15/23: Will the White House have the courage to propel a Ukrainian victory this year?
• 02/21/23: On the first anniversary of Putin's invasion, Ukraine fights on for its independence and for the security of the West
• 02/17/23: A former Pakistani leader's death, and his wise peace plan that failed
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• 01/24/23: As Russia murders civilians in Dnipro, why won't NATO send weapons that could end the war?
• 12/28/22: What Zelensky worried about when he addressed a cheering Congress
• 12/13/22: The US-China conflict to watch is the Chip War --- which centers on Taiwan
• 09/14/22: Ukraine scores sudden breakthrough that should energize Western support
• 09/09/22: Queen Elizabeth's death deprives Britain and the world of a rock of stability
• 09/08/22: After Gorbachev's death, Putin wants the world to know he is the 'anti-Gorbi'
• 08/26/22: 6 months after Russia's war vs. Ukraine began, the West still won't give Kiev the weapons to win
• 08/15/22: Ukraine's civilian volunteers work to give aid and rebuild, even as Russia continues to bomb them
• 08/08/22: A trip near the front lines finds Ukrainian troops ready for a battle that could decide the war
• 06/13/22: The critical battles for Ukraine and for America are being fought right here, right now
• 05/02/22: Save Odesa to save the world from hunger and high food prices
• 05/02/22: Bloodless Ukrainian War, not utopian fantasy says one-time largest foreign investor in Russia
• 04/11/22: The only way to end Putin's war crimes
• 03/28/22: Don't let Putin's nuclear and chemical threats stop us from giving Ukraine what it needs
• 03/24/22: An elegy for Mariupol, where I walked six weeks ago. Now razed by Russian bombs
• 03/18/22: Zelensky's brilliant speech should impel Biden and Congress to protect Ukrainian skies
• 03/11/22: Mariupol's bombed maternity hospital exemplifies why NATO should protect Ukraine's skies
• 03/10/22: No 'no-fly zone'? Then NATO must find another way to protect Ukraine's skies
• 03/07/22: The third World War has already started in Ukraine. Europe and the US should wake up
• 03/04/22:Putin must be stopped from turning Kiev into Aleppo
• 03/02/22:Why is Belarus helping Russia invade Ukraine? An explainer on the latest in the conflict
• 02/25/22: What the UN should finally do about Russia
• 02/24/22: Why Putin's Ukraine aggression will change the world --- an explainer on how we got here
• 02/10/22: Ukrainian civilians train for war with cardboard guns: 'We are scared but we are ready
• 01/13/22:Putin wants to reestablish the Russian empire. Can NATO stop him without war?
• 12/10/21: Can Biden and NATO prevent Putin from invading Ukraine? Summit puts it to the test
• 12/02/21: Boris Johnson stirs up new Irish Troubles for his own personal political gains
• 11/22/21: Xi Jinping thinks America is on the rocks. Is he correct?
• 08/18/21: President Biden, get our Afghan allies on evacuation planes
• 08/18/21:The horror of Afghan women abandoned by Biden's troop pullout
• 08/09/21:China is pushing a big COVID-19 lie that makes a new pandemic harder to prevent
• 05/27/21: Punish Belarus leader for Ryanair hijacking before air piracy becomes dictators' new tool
• 04/14/21: Can Beethoven temper the political tensions between US and China?
• 06/01/20: US must stand with Hong Kong against Beijing's efforts to crush its freedoms
• 05/20/20: COVID-19 offers a chance to halt Iran's hostage diplomacy
• 05/21/14: Newscycle spurs visit to country my family fled
• 04/21/14: Blind to Putin's strategy?
• 12/24/13: Obama's Syrian indifference has led to more death and destruction. Meet some real heroes
• 12/13/13: Where liberals have come to love the military
• 12/09/13: The China strategy
• 11/05/13: Return to Iraq is worth a close look
• 10/01/13: Obama's call to Iran: Who was really on the line?
• 09/11/13: How Obama got Syria so wrong
• 07/24/13: It's time for Obama to tell Putin 'nyet'
• 05/15/13: What Russia gave Kerry on Syria --- very little