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SALT LAKE CITY – When Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, the White House sent a delegation to Ukraine to assure our ally of U.S. support. A Utah man organized and attended that vice presidential delegation. Now, he's very worried about the Ukrainian people as the Russian invasion intensifies.
"It was simply to reassure our allies that we were going to continue to be their allies," said Ron Fox, a former White House advance planner.
He served that role for six presidents and went to Ukraine in 2008 as part of a delegation with then-Vice President Dick Cheney. As an advance planner for the White House, he took care of critical details in advance of the arrival of the president or vice president.
"They are a friendly, good, hard-working people who had broken away from communist rule," Fox said, describing the Ukrainian people.
The Ukrainians want their country to thrive and prosper, free from oppression, just as well as their neighbors in Western Europe. Fox did the advance planning for that delegation and was in Ukraine for 2 1/2 weeks.
"We were there to assure them that if an attack did come against their country, as it had just happened in Georgia just a few weeks before, that we would be there for them," he said.
Now, nearly 14 years later, he said what we're seeing from Russian President Vladimir Putin is right out of Adolf Hitler's playbook prior to World War II: invading a neighboring country under the guise of repatriating its people.
"The people of Ukraine are in serious trouble," he said. "Their whole way of life is changing. Their whole safety factor, whether or not they can survive the physical attacks. Then will come the uncertainty of, do they have jobs? It's not like anything that we can remember."
He said it's a terrifying day for the people of Ukraine as they try to live their lives.
"Their biggest danger is just to stay out of harm's way because they're firing real bullets, and sending real rockets and real tanks," Fox said.
Food, medicine, and other critical supplies may quickly be unavailable as supplies are inevitably cut off by the invasion.
"Things are going to stop. People are going to be rallying around their families, and attempting to protect their loved ones, and their extended families throughout their country because he is now attacking Ukraine from all sides."
Fox is watching developments closely, very concerned about the aggressive invasion.