June 15: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

–submitted by Ellsworth Brown

UW Professor Yoshiko Herrera’s subject was one that grips us all:  Ukraine, Russia and a war of punishment and increasing brutality.  Superimposed on the United States, Ukraine ranges from New York City to beyond Chicago.  There are three focal questions:  who, how, or why did it begin; how might it end; and what can we do about it?

Succinctly, Professor Herrera provided answers:  Putin is responsible for the war, stoking Russian citizens’ fears—of NATO for example—as motivation and enforcing it with highly controlled information and brutal internal suppression of opposition.  Similar confrontations in Chechnya, Georgia, Crimea, and Syria drew little attention, and an isolated Putin perceived a weak NATO and a divided United States would be little concerned about Ukraine.  His miscalculation was massive.

Herrera forecast that “Putin will continue until someone forces him to stop.”  A united Ukrainian defense will probably prevail, though at great cost, and then join NATO—it is a country large enough to avoid a takeover, and Russia’s historic tactics have been to punish and destroy, not conquer.  Meanwhile, sanctions have begun to work within a context that will damage Russia and remove trust of it for decades.

And what can we do?  We can talk to friends and acquaintances, support local protests on behalf of Ukraine, make donations to humanitarian aid for Ukraine, and write to our senators and representatives.

We all hope . . . .

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAgiZ3n_dKQ&t=161s

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