LTE: More informed and balanced views on Russia/Ukraine
November 18, 2022
To the editors,
I see the college is hosting a series of lectures on Russia-Ukraine, the first of which was already held (virtually) on October 27 when Ukrainian scholar Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed delivered “Russia’s War On Ukraine: Culture, Memory, Politics.”
I missed the lecture, so I can’t be sure how much the Orient’s coverage omitted, but I was troubled by Shpylova-Saeed’s neglect of historical context. She is quoted as saying, “There was very little understanding of what Ukraine was back in 2014,” but I doubt that she is unaware of the CIA’s involvement in a coup that year overthrowing Ukraine’s elected government. That event is well-documented, including the involvement of the U.S., and led directly to the civil war in which tens of thousands died prior to 2022. One may disagree with Russia’s entry into the conflict or argue about its motivations, but to ignore the context entirely while focusing on the “big man theory” that “bad Putin” is responsible for all of the death and suffering in Ukraine is silly.
Noting that two more lectures are planned in this series, dare I hope that more informed and balanced views will be shared on November 17 and December 1, perhaps by people who have read the RAND Corporation’s report from 2019, “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia: Assessing the Impact of Cost-Imposing Options.”
Ironically, Senior Lecturer in Russian Reed Johnson was quoted as saying of the lecture series, “[we] feel very strongly about the importance of talking and teaching about these events so there’s a better understanding of that context, how we got here.”
May it be so.
Lisa Savage ’77
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