18 Comments

Been hoping for this!!! Thank you so much for supporting Ukraine and freedom, and fighting for our future. I can’t wait for the event tonight and will be spending my day getting my thoughts together. Even just the exercise of being invited and having time to formulate a question is empowering- Thank you so much for showing us how to be free people! I can’t wait for this event and the daytime one looks great too.

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Mar 4, 2022·edited Mar 4, 2022

I watched a recent YouTube video where you talked about Ukraine buys America or the West time. For every day that Ukraine fights Russia it possibly adds weeks or years on to buying America time. Can you expand on that? Buy time from what? To a response in Ukraine, or something else?

I was interpreting it as America decline and road to authoritarianism.

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Russia sank the Estonian ship "HELT" - shouldn't that be enough for NATO member nations to deploy troops? They fired on a nuclear power plant! I know the U.S./Allies are trying to avoid WWIII, but Russia will not stop with Ukraine - Georgia, Moldova, will be next and sanctions don't seem to have any effect on Putin. Will the U.S./Allies just continue to allow Putin to kill innocent people? What would it take for them to finally engage militarily and put an end to this?

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Do folks at the border need more help? Would they welcome volunteers? Or is sending money better? Or both? Have donated to Razom, and am sharing on social media.

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How can we create an no fly zone without formally involving Nato and the prospect of MAD? Could this be an opportunity to create a humanitarian enforcement mechanism with teeth?

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Thanks for all you do

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Is there anything that Putin won’t tolerate? Meaning: will he double down on his murderous actions just as Hitler did toward the end of his power? Or, is there anything that will make him relent?

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Mar 4, 2022·edited Mar 4, 2022

Why you think why Russia did not attack Ukraine with Trump in office? Trump seems to be in Putin's camp, and I believe, would be supple to Russian aggression.

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founding

Dear Professor Snyder,

I’m not a geopolitical scientist. And this is a long set of questions/thoughts.

I see Putin’s invasion and destruction of Ukraine to reconstitute the former Soviet Union and its satellites. I fear we are being cautious to avoid a war that will be inevitable as long as Putin is in power. Putin’s calling financial sanctions an act of war. He is already threatening nuclear war.

Is the West’s policy of deterrence historically viable? Or are we delaying World War Three? I’m sorry. It was terrible to ask a historian to predict the future. Yet Putin is making it seem that there are very few avenues out of this horrid slaughter.

I see Ukraine as the sacrificial lamb for the West, which the West thinks will buy it time to reason/counter Putin. It is flawed thinking because Obama did economic sanctions against Russia when it invaded/stole the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Here we are. Eight years later, Putin fully invades Ukraine.

Obama viewed Ukraine as a Russian interest, not an American one. And Ukraine, being a non-NATO country, Obama/NATO/EU considered Ukraine vulnerable to Russian military domination no matter what the West did. Then add in Trump, who wanted to withhold US weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian-backed rebels.

I have many questions.

If Putin has to threaten a nuclear response to any aggression, what’s to stop him in Ukraine? Wouldn’t he go into Georgia, Moldova? Armenia?

Next, if Putin dips a toe into Poland and NATO fights back in a land war to protect its NATO member, what will it do when Putin threatens NATO with a nuclear response?

Putin’s shown us his “trump” card, and it is threatening democratic nations with death by MAD.

Currently, by the West’s response, democracy is indefensible under the threat of nuclear attack. I love and want to preserve democracy, but if I’m a greedy, power-mad dictator and watch these events unfold, I see that democracy is weak and easily steamrolled. Under dictatorship, people in other nations see that no one will save them should they revolt (Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, Hungary) and now Ukraine. When faced with a revolutionary situation in Eastern Europe, the USA always chooses to withhold troops. For all the democracy-bluster, the economics of the USA demand that the body politic recognizes Eastern Europe as a sphere of Russian interest. That’s what I see. Capitalism sets the price of “democracy” and “freedom,” and it’s a high price and unattainable by some countries because it gets in the way of corporations making money.

Where is the red line in the sand for democracy?

Putin’s fascist mythmaking against Ukraine and imperialistic warmongering appeals to a certain brand of budding autocrat in the West. Putin’s sympathizers, namely the ones with large followings in this country, are ruining the foundations of democracy here and abroad.

How has Western capitalism made the people of Eastern Europe vassals to the USSR and now the Russian Federation/Putin? How will Western capitalism weaken democracy abroad? What happens when Trump gets re-elected because the Republicans will cheat their way to victory, and Trump decides he needs Russian troops on the ground in the US to liberate the Republicans in the Blue states from the tyranny of. . . pick an adjective. . . Nazis. . . liberal elites. . . left-liberal commies?

How can the West undo its earlier political blunders with Putin and reset the chessboard? Is it possible? If yes, how?

I watch in horror as domestic actors praise Putin one week and shift to decrying his actions the next. They blame this conflict on Biden. They spun all their actions as patriotic when Trump withheld military funding and lethal aid to Ukraine, as any sane person can remember from the First Impeachment hearings. The new whispers of Burisma and the Bidens are giving me chills for the fraught election cycles to come.

How can you contextualize this with history? What actions can we take today and in the future? How can countries battle dezinformatsiya in the fog of war? What should the current United States government do to battle this information war when we can’t combat domestic disinformation?

And in the meanwhile, I’m praying for Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and worrying about my relatives in Slovenia because the West did not intervene as ethnic conflict gripped Bosnia. More than 100,000 people died during the 1992-95 war, mass murder on a scale not seen in Europe since WWII. Sectarian violence roils the area right now. I worry about a spill-over to Slovenia. Bosnia Serb leader Milorad Dodik wants to pull out of state-level institutions, including a multi-ethnic national army, which smacks secession. Bosnia Serb police held an “anti-terrorist drill just outside the capital of Sarajevo, using armored vehicles, helicopter, little green men-types in camo uniforms with assault rifles. The distance from Slovenia to Sarajevo is about 340 miles driving.

How do we know Russian provocateurs are not destabilizing Bosnia and the Balkans, specifically so Putin can invade in the name of “de-Nazifying” Bosnia and the Balkans for the Bosnians Baltic peoples?

The only way that currently free nations of the former Soviet Bloc and now the Russian Federation can free themselves from Putin’s potential future invasion and preserve their national independence and freedom is by their means, at least that’s what history has taught me so far.

Thank you.

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The Winter On Fire documentary about Maidan (currently on Netflix) left me with chills that I still haven't shaken two days later.

Are there other films/speeches/etc that similarly capture the spirit of the Ukrainian people and that might foster connection with those who aren't moved to engage by their current Western media diet, so to speak?

P.S. If you haven't watched Winter on Fire, I can't recommend it strongly enough. You can easily share it on social media from within the Netflix app, too.

https://www.netflix.com/title/80031666

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Will Moldova be invaded next?

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Mar 4, 2022·edited Mar 4, 2022

What's your take on President Biden's State of the Union Address with regards to Ukraine?

How can we change the American media narrative about how this is pushing up gas prices and refocus the narrative on Ukraine? The gas price narrative makes me mad. Sure prices are going up, but with good cause.

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How do you assess the threat to the Baltic countries--Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania--with Putin's stated desire to return Russia to the borders of the Soviet Union and his statement to Pres. Macron that he will see the invasion through to its end? Are the Baltic countries next on his agenda, even though they are currently NATO members?

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Glory to Ukraine and you who breathe truth.

I have no answers and too many disorganized questions. Please forgive the grossly naive questions that follow.

I don't understand why giving Javelins and Stingers is okay but not fighters. Can't NATO give Ukraine's pilots fighter MiGs repainted with Ukrainian flags? Maybe erase the serial numbers?

How can Putin effectively coerce his widely spread security apparatus and military to carry out his terror/genocide/war crimes? Can this be degraded? What are the weakest points and the strongest leverage at those points?

This conflict seems asymmetric in ways. For example Putin seems willing to continue to lie, threaten, punish, and destroy without bound to get his way.

What is the natural counter to this, grassroots bravery spread past Ukraine's borders? Or do we need to try to win fighting fairly but lose?

Putin's opponents seem to have lots of money - orders of magnitude more than Putin. Can Russian troops be bribed to abandon their posts or switch sides? Given their low morale, does every Russian soldier have a price? For example offer each of the 200,000 Russian troops 100,000 dollars and amnesty to defect. This would cost 20 billion if they all accept, which sounds like a bargain to prevent a world war or the destruction that doing nothing would cause.

Can't we grassroots buy his army's individuals by dropping redeemable coupons printed on QR coded offers dropped on their tank columns? Offered by the Ukrainian government and underwritten by investment grade Western backers? If a Russian soldier makes $500/month, that's $90,000 lifetime earnings assuming a long life. So this bribe would be twice that. Maybe offer void if they kill anyone would give them pause. Have opposing troops ever been bought?

Do you think Putin's partly driven by jealousy to destroy societies doing better than his, willing to tear down more the more he loses, and does history contain that motive?

Thanks for reading all these naive words.

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Mar 4, 2022·edited Mar 4, 2022

Based on the sanctions and similar actions taken so far, how do you assess their potential effectiveness to deter Putin? Also, do you see any historical parallels to Stalin in Putin's disregard for lives of civilians, even those living where Russian is the predominate language?

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Could we review why NATO was started....AND...how is the genocide we are currently witnessing any different?

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