Ukraine, March 6, 2022

Scrolling through news of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine — a sovereign country striving for democracy — has pushed me to exhaustion. I need to find resources for thinking wisely about this horrendous situation. I need to let that search help to steer my emotions, nourish my daily experience, provide me with steps I can take and ideas I can share. As an ordinary person who cares about democracy . . . .

Listening to the 1A on March 3, I was moved and influenced by an interview Jenn White did with Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon St. Julian-Varnon knows Ukraine deeply from living and studying there and from her current doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She studies the history of race and Blackness in Russia and Germany. At this moment, she has assembled resources to help refugees, focusing on intersections of race, ethnicity, and disability status among people who are seeking help across the countries most immediately active in helping. She is also fighting disinformation and interpreting the situation in Ukraine, including the fate of foreign students from India and the Middle East who are trapped in Sumy.

Then I listened to Ezra Klein’s interview with Fareed Zakaria The interview refocused my thinking about the war. Zakaria urges people to think beyond binaries of East and West, of democracy and authoritarianism, and to consider what options are possible for international leadership that do not lead to nuclear war. He convinced me that the US and Europe need to work actively with China and with other supporters of Russia like Venezuela.

Thinking of both these discussions, I am brought back to thoughts of Iran, where it could be possible to link a renewal of the treaty on nuclear weaponry to discussions with Russia, holding out the fragile prospect of a way for Putin to de-escalate. It turns out that oil in Iran could have a bearing on the outcomes of the invasion. I am beginning to think that Putin needs a way out, short of utterly destroying Ukraine, which he now seems bent on doing.

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