Letter to the editor: Russo-Ukrainian crisis requires nuance


Photo taken by Rich Whitney

Members of the Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois protest the U.S. involvement in the Russia and Ukraine conflict Feb. 5, 2022 in Carbondale, Ill.

While reading the February 9, 2022, print edition, I was interested to see coverage of a local demonstration by the Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois against U.S. involvement in the Russo-Ukrainian crisis.

While I have had the pleasure of joining the PCSI for protests in the past and thank them for their advocacy for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, I worry that the coverage of their demonstration lacks important nuance.

Firstly, while I share the desire to see a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, I feel that those quoted misrepresent the situation in regard to who is the aggressor. Those quoted in the story request that the reader consider how NATO is, quote, “gobbling up more former Eastern Bloc countries into their alliances.” I believe this is a dangerous misrepresentation, as the expansion of NATO into former Eastern-Bloc countries has been done at the request of those countries and primarily so due to perceived or real threats of Russian aggression.


Ukraine has formally requested to join NATO of its own volition and has been denied largely due to concerns of a Russian reaction. This is not sufficient evidence of U.S. aggression and instead provides credence to the legitimate concerns of eastern European states towards Russian expansion.

Secondly, those quoted express the belief that “The United States is slowly involving themselves in a dispute that does not concern it.” This represents a severe exclusion of information, most notably being the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, in which Ukraine (among others) agreed to return Soviet era nuclear weapons to Russia under assurances from Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States that its territorial integrity and political independence would be maintained.

Any potential Russian invasion would mark a violation of the treaty and a failure of the United States to attempt to uphold it would severely degrade international trust in America to fulfill its promises.

While I share the Peace Coalition’s concerns about past abuses in American foreign policy and believe war should be avoided whenever possible, it is fundamentally unfair in my eyes to imply that the United States is unjustly involving itself in the conflict on behalf of Ukraine. There should be legitimate discourse as to the degree to which the U.S. should involve itself, but it should be done with nuance and correct acknowledgement of who is the clear aggressor. Doing otherwise gives credence to an authoritarian state which has little respect for the sovereignty of its neighbors, and risks enabling future conflict.

Isaac Ludington