The Sentinel’s Dec. 24 op-ed “How Important is Humoring Putin on Ukraine?” was as uninformed as it was dangerous. Making the issue about Vladimir Putin is a distraction from the critical policy of NATO expansion to Russian borders.
Vladimir Putin enjoys greater popularity in Russia than does Joe Biden in the United States; Putin’s behavior is consistent with any other Russian leader — some of whom would take a harder line. Given U.S. foreign policy since 2016, it is laughable that Trump would be considered in Putin’s pocket. His administration provocatively expanded arms sales to Ukraine and sold Patriot missiles to Russia’s neighbor Poland. Continuing the Bush era withdrawal from nuclear arms control agreements, the Trump administration withdrew from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019; some Putin puppet.
Following the USSR collapse, NATO, originally crafted as a defense alliance, continued eastward expansion, a violation of an agreement made between USSR President Gorbachev and U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, and others. Currently proposals are to add memberships to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. NATO also began illegal interventions and regime changes worldwide.
Russia has drawn the line on NATO expansion to Ukraine, a divided state which identifies ethnically and linguistically with Russia in the east and neo-Nazi sympathizers in the west. After orchestrating the 2014 Ukrainian coup, the U.S. continues to support Ukrainian anti-Russian belligerency through weapons sales and advisers. “We have nowhere left to retreat,” Putin lamented to his generals, when recently speaking of NATO expansion in Europe. Ukraine’s President Zelensky originally ran for election on improving ties with Russia, but U.S. and Ukrainian political hawks are more in control than Zelensky.
In early December, Russia gave the U.S. and NATO a list of its demands and will likely act on these if they are ignored. Resource-rich Russia holds a decisive military advantage over Ukraine and has built, through trade with China and India, resiliency immunity from the economic sanctions applied since the Obama administration.
The time for “humoring Putin.” as your op-ed arrogantly opines. has passed. The current Cold War, unlike its predecessor, has no Warsaw Pact buffer; arms control treaties and diplomatic representation have been eliminated or weakened; evidence free Russiagate exacerbates problems; the Russia-China partnership is much more powerful than the Warsaw Pact; and there are no peace advocates in Congress or the media. Fundamental NATO and U.S. behavior change and not “humoring” toward Russia is long overdue.
SARAH G. WILTON