Sunday, February 15, 2015


Dear President Obama,
     The "glimmer of hope" to stop the fighting in Ukraine is gone.  How could it work, when the only answer is Putin's withdrawing his troops and weapons?

Putin's proxies won't stop; they are afterall well armed, and beyond the law. They aim not only to gain more territory, but to keep Ukraine destabilized. There is no way to win militarily, no sense in sending arms to Kiev. Keep raising the cost to Russia with sanctions, but no weapons when weapons won't work.

The situation requires a new approach, a paradigm shift.  Here, respectfully, is another way: Whatever the proxies destroy with their Russian weapons, in areas they are now entrenched, they get to keep.  Not autonomy, but independence. These special places are not just "occupied," they are decimated. It would take billions to rebuild them, billions which Ukraine doesn't have.  

Jud's sunflower,
I know this part of Ukraine pretty well, having served there as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years. I know the people, places, culture. I travelled from Starobelsk by car, bus, train, plane (no longer possible). Crimea was a favorite. I loved Mariupol and Berdyansk, swam in the Sea of Azov, spent lots of time in Lugansk, visited PCVs in towns and villages now destroyed.  Most of my Ukrainian friends have fled, especially those at universities, NGOs, libraries, local government and cultural institutions. A huge brain drain. Their families are torn asunder, people who housed, fed me, shared traditions, made a stranger feel at home.

Should the rest of Ukraine have to pay for the total destruction Russian proxies have inflicted? Not possible. Should they support occupied Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts when Ukraine will have no control over how they are governed?  

Let Russia and their proxies (who know only how to fight, nothing about governance) have them. Yes, Ukraine will be smaller but hopefully one day, like Georgia, more prosperous. Will Poroshenko consider this, hard as it is (it pains me at this distance), focus on Ukraine's economy, and seek the help of the rest of the world in a new plan?

If  Ukraine pulls out of current war zones, granting not autonomy but independence, then there is no need to rewrite its Constitution on orders from Putin (galling); no need for fake elections; no need to spend billions on what are now wastelands. I've been told most Ukrainians do NOT want their taxes or their nation's resources, under such economic stress, to go to terrorists who are outside of the law. Sad, but true.

The only thing to "negotiate," then, is securing Ukraine's new borders.  Not offensive weapons (they will only prolong the violence and killing), but defensive support and international monitors.  A new way: the ruins to Russia, defense of the new borders, continued economic support.

Thank you. Respectully yours.

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