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Houlahan Leads Bipartisan Congressional Delegation to Arctic to Discuss European Security

From a press release

Wednesday, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks) returned from a 6-day congressional delegation to Finland and Norway where she and other members of Congress met with European security officials. The bipartisan meetings occurred amidst Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which was a central focus of the discussions. During the trip, which Houlahan organized, the group met with U.S. Marines stationed in Norway.

“As President Biden prepares to sign the annual defense bill into law and welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to our nation’s capital, the congressional delegation happened at a pivotal moment for U.S. national security,” said Houlahan. “I’m a proud and active member of the House Armed Services Committee, and I owe it to our service members, their families, and the American people to better understand the very real global threats we face and how best to confront those threats. I organized this bipartisan trip to fulfill that responsibility. Traveling to Finland, whose accession to NATO is currently pending, and Norway was a remarkable opportunity to hear directly from our allies who have a front row seat to Putin’s aggression. I will take all that I’ve learned and return to Congress to share my experiences with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”

Houlahan added: “When our allies are fighting for democracy, we are, too. I’ve been a vocal supporter of aid to Ukraine, and, as a veteran, I know that our support should not be split along political lines. I was glad to again have the partnership of Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), whom I previously traveled to Ukraine with just weeks before Russia’s invasion.”

In addition to Green, the Republican co-lead for the trip, Houlahan was joined by colleagues Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), House Armed Services Committee staff, and official representatives from the U.S. Department of Defense.

“The Arctic region is critical to countering Russian and Chinese aggression, which is why it’s imperative that we continue to work together with our allies to ensure peace and prosperity in the region,” said Green. “Our bipartisan House Armed Services Committee delegation to Finland and Norway participated in key meetings with government officials and our partners in the Arctic Council. It was also imperative for us to hear from those on the ground firsthand the impacts—both short and long term—of the U.S. Coast Guard’s lack of adequate icebreakers. I’m grateful for my committee colleagues, including Rep. Houlahan, for their continued commitment to stymie malign influence and strengthen the US-Finland-Norway relations.”

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Former Ukrainian Prisoner Speaks in Montgomery County

Andriy Putilov is lucky to be alive.

Putilov, a Ukrainian politician, survived hardship and loss since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After enduring 70 days of torture and abuse as a Russian political prisoner, he brought his story to the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Jenkintown recently.

Speaking to an audience with many fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, the former governor and member of Ukraine’s parliament detailed his April 9 capture and detainment for 70 days in a small, earthen cell. He had successfully moved his family out of the violence that engulfed the Kherson province in Eastern Ukraine. Still, he was captured when he returned to the family home after days of hiding in various safe apartments.

“They beat us with sticks,” Putilov said of his captors through translator Nadia Gordynksy. “Those people who watched us, they were like very elaborate Gestapo forces.”

Putilov claimed the Russians view Ukrainians as “subhumans” and marveled at their cruelty. He also claimed the invaders attempted to create and use biological weapons against the Ukrainians. Reports from the invasion, now in its eighth month, have cataloged numerous war crimes and other despicable acts.

“They hate us on a molecular level,” Putilov said of the Russians.

During his capture, Putilov underwent some profound changes. Despite serving in the national parliament, he was used to speaking a blend of Russian and Ukrainian, more familiar to Eastern Ukraine, as he did during the speech Saturday. Since the invasion, he has made an effort to improve his fluency in Ukrainian.

He also had a spiritual awakening. Eastern Ukraine is more multi-faith and less religious than the country’s western region. Putilov said he prayed for the first time on his knees while imprisoned, praying as much as 10 times a day. He credits his “faith in God” for helping him get through his captivity.

The Russians offered Putilov a position in the occupying government, based on his experience in administration, using what he described as KGB tactics to persuade him. He refused, saying he would prefer to die than aid his captors. After what Putilov called a “show trial” for actions against occupied areas of Ukraine and terrorism charges, he was finally freed as part of a prisoner exchange.

After his release, Putilov traveled to the United States, where he has family, and asked the state government for assistance. He met with Gov. Tom Wolf (D) to discuss an “agreement of friendship” and creating a sister-state relationship with Kherson. As of March, Pennsylvania has 122,000 residents of Ukrainian descent, the second highest in the U.S.

Toward the end of the talk, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks/Montgomery) stopped by. The Ukraine and Ukrainian American Caucus co-chair acknowledged that “war fatigue” has set in as the invasion has gone on. The ranking member of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee that covers Europe admitted war fatigue is slowing further aid to the resistance.

“[The invasion] goes from the front page to the back page of the news,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s the problem. We’re trying to keep it front and center, also to educate my colleagues and the people of America why it is so important to support the people of Ukraine and protect freedom against dictatorship.”

Cultural Center president Eugene A. Luciw also discussed the importance of backing the Ukrainians. Before the invasion, the country enjoyed progress toward more technology. Many residents who left Ukraine to live in Europe are now moving back.

“[Putilov gave us] a revitalized view of our mission,” Luciw said afterward. “It is not only to sustain, which is extremely important, the approximately 12 to 13 million displaced Ukrainians in Europe and even here in the United States, but sustain them in a way that creates the steps that Ukraine will win the war and ultimately restore itself so the people have hope and prayer that they can return to their homes and live a very fruitful life.”

The Ukrainian Cultural Center has helped refugees coming to the area since the invasion started in February. Those services have been offered in addition to their regular actions in the community, from dinners to operating a credit union. Members have also sent clothing, medical items, and other supplies to embattled Ukraine.

RAPOZA: Biden’s Policy: Ukraine First. China Second. America Last.

The Biden administration is doing what every administration pre-Trump has done: Get enamored and entangled in matters of foreign intrigue preferred by the intelligence community and defense contractors. While leaving the country to the whims of the market, a market that increasingly follows the whims of Washington. We’ve gone from America First to America Last.

Ukraine first!

The U.S. government has easily found over $42 billion and counting to send to war torn, bankrupt Ukraine. Both parties agreed to this in what basically amounted to an overnight session of Congress. The decision was made in a matter of days.

By comparison, the $50 billion we are supposed to give to the U.S. semiconductor industry in tax breaks and other incentives to manufacture chips here instead of Asia languishes in Congress. It is part of the Bipartisan Innovation Act (BIA), which will take a back seat to more funding and more votes on throwing money into Ukraine. This thing is lost.

Global Foundries, Intel, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing have all put plans to boost their semiconductor manufacturing here on hold because the CHIPS for America Act, part of the House and Senate’s so-called “China competition bill” (officially the BIA) is going nowhere fast, Nikkei Asia reported on July 5.

The war in Ukraine has caused commodity prices to rise. The market is speculating on shortages caused by shipping delays. Commodity traders from New York to Hong Kong are all pushing those prices higher based on assessed geopolitical risks.

China second!

Biden thinks rolling back tariffs on China will help. His team is actively in talks with the Chinese about which Trump-era tariffs to lower. They believe if they reduce tariffs on China imports, stubborn inflation will come down.

Apparently, the experts that are in charge now believe we import oil and gas from China, along with steaks and milk. Please don’t bother telling them, they’ll ignore you. They’re smarter than you.

They’ll also ignored the Peterson Institute for International Economics, no fan of the China tariffs. One would think the Biden administration would listen to them at least. Peterson economists wrote in a report dated June 3 that “the direct effect of removing tariffs on imports from China could lower consumer price index inflation by 0.26 percentage points —only marginally reducing inflation.”

That “marginally reducing inflation” assumes housing, food, and gasoline prices fall. If they rise, there goes your 0.26 percent win.

America last!

Because of these policies, a whopping 88 percent of Americans polled by Monmouth University say the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction.

Some 42 percent say they are struggling to remain where they are financially.

It’s fine, we can afford to send our oil and gas to the rich Europeans and a few billion to the Ukrainians, one of the most corrupt countries in the world, based on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. (It’s ranked lower than Russia.) I am certain the Ukrainians will be good stewards of our gifts.  They want even more, by the way, so how about making that $65 billion?

Polls also show American voters are fine with China tariffs. The White House, and its cheerleaders at Bloomberg which has been advocating for a return to the status quo with China since Biden beat Trump, aren’t interested.

In April, a poll by the Coalition for a Prosperous America, conducted by Morning Consult, showed that 73 percent of American voters supported tough trade policies with China to protect U.S. industries and American workers. Biden then ignored them and removed tariffs on Southeast Asian solar producers, mostly all of them Chinese multinationals who have relocated there to avoid tariffs.

A high 71 percent of voters support tariffs on China. And 61 percent of them said increased imports have caused the U.S. to become dependent on China for goods that are critical to the U.S. economy and U.S. national security.

In May, a separate poll by Morning Consult said that Democrats supported tariffs on China in line with Republican voters. Democrat support was increasing. Biden’s support is waning. Who are this man’s voters again?

Morning Consult said, “Democrats now find themselves aligned with the plurality of Republicans who prefer to keep the tariffs in place, even if doing so means prices will stay high.”

There is a chance “only some” tariffs will be removed. But it is the trend that is the problem. It is chipping away at what U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai has repeatedly called our biggest leverage on China.

If China was smart, it would keep its retaliatory tariffs on the U.S. At this point, what is Washington going to do about it? In a policy of Ukraine first, China second, and the U.S. last, the answer should be obvious to Beijing–it will do absolutely nothing.

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POTAPOVA: Letter From Ukraine as War Continues

Dear Friends,

A lot has changed from the last time we talked. What putin* planned to accomplish in less than a week turned into four months of an atrocious war with almost 1 million Ukrainians losing their homes, over 7 million refugees fleeing the country, and almost 3,000 missile strikes on different regions of Ukraine—what russians claimed to be attacks on military facilities, now turned into the blunt and vicious bombings of civilians, with hundreds of innocent people burned and killed, 344 of those – children.

Four months and counting.

They don’t give up on the idea of capturing the south of Ukraine and controlling both Azov and the Black Sea, and if all goes well, they move further. Meaning they want to capture the whole of Ukraine. At the same time, they spread the Ukraine fatigue rhetoric in Europe, lie about attacking “only military objects,” threaten with global hunger, call foreign politicians names, and leave all their dead on the battlefield. When it seems like they’ve reached the bottom, we see them reaching and breaking new limits again and again.

You asked what actions the U.S. could take to help. I will name a few not only for America but for the whole world.

Number one – boycott. You mentioned russian vodka. Well, their vodka is the easiest product the world can boycott. Oil and gas, other commodities, food, cars, arts, and literature – I could continue the list, but I guess you’ve got the idea. Boycotting literally everything of russian origin speeds up their complete isolation and turns the aggressor into a pariah. Governments across the world should accelerate action to make large businesses leave russia and impose stricter trade limitations (if not bans).

By the way, Belarus joined the club long ago and deserves serious response and sanctions too.

Number two – #ArmUkraineNow. We deeply appreciate the collective response of the West to the russian aggression in Ukraine. What we need now is the West holding the line. Continue standing with Ukraine and helping us resist. Ukraine fatigue is a sinister media narrative, especially considering the russian threats to Poland and the Baltics, which could unleash World War III. Weapons and financial aid that Ukraine already received or expects to receive have been unprecedented. However, we continue losing thousands of our men and women every day while the decisions in the cabinets are being made. Whenever possible, faster decision-making should be considered – it literally saves lives.

Number three – help us punish the killers for the thousands of their war crimes. I mean the international levers of influence enabling Ukraine to claim and recover damages done to our infrastructure, housing stock, people, and cultural heritage. Recently, Canada has become the first country to adopt legislation that allows seizing Russian assets and transferring them to Ukraine. Large global economies should do the same. We know it can take decades to make russia liable for its crimes, just as it was with the fascists in the Nuremberg process or with the genocide architects in the former Yugoslavia. To elaborate the mechanism for the liability of russia, the world has to start now.

Number four – russians came to exterminate us, to break our backbone. Please help us make the russian state liable for the thousands of forcible deportations for the way they treat Ukrainian captives. What they do is deliberate extermination. All our people must be returned home. Take five minutes to read the interview with Yuliya Payevska; a Ukrainian paramedic recently saved from russian captivity. Isn’t that genocide?

They came to break the backbones not only of the Ukrainian people but even of our pets. Yesterday I read the news about a dog named Lys (Fox in English) found in Kyiv region in a trash pit. Although alive, he had a vertebrae fracture, russian soldiers also broke his feet and then mined him. What kind of a creature is capable of that hatred? Would you sit to negotiate peace and then shake hands over the agreement with barbarians?

And number five –donate. Did you hear about Ukrainians donating around $ 20 million to buy Bayraktars (unmanned aerial vehicles) in 3 days? Be like us, stand with us, and help us prevail.


*EDITOR’S NOTE: putin and russia are not capitalized to show her disdain for the aggressors.


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LOMBORG: How to Alleviate the Looming Global Hunger Crisis

global food crisis is looming, so policymakers everywhere need to think hard about how to make food cheaper and more plentiful. That requires making a commitment to producing more fertilizer and better seeds, maximizing the potential offered by genetic modification, and abandoning the rich world’s obsession with organics.

Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine is making less food available because the two nations have been responsible for more than a quarter of global wheat exports and big quantities of barley, corn and vegetable oil. On top of punishing climate policies and the world emerging from the pandemic, prices of fertilizer, energy and transport are soaring, and food prices have climbed 61 percent over the last two years.

The war has exposed some harsh truths. One is that Europe — which portrays itself as a green energy trailblazer — is highly reliant on Russian gas, especially when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. The war has reaffirmed the basic reality that fossil fuels remain crucial for the vast majority of global needs. And the emerging food crisis now reveals another harsh truth: organic farming cannot feed the world and could even worsen future crises.

Long simply a fashionable trend for the world’s 1 percent, environmentalists have increasingly peddled the beguiling idea that organic farming can solve hunger. The European Union is actively pushing for a tripling of organic farming on the continent by 2030, while a majority of Germans actually think organic farming can help feed the world.

However, research conclusively shows that organic farming produces much less food than conventional farming per acre. Moreover, organic farming requires farmers to rotate soil out of production for pasture, fallow or cover crops, reducing its effectiveness. In total, organic approaches produce between a quarter and half less food than conventional, scientific-driven agriculture.

This not only makes organic food more expensive, but it means that organic farmers would need much more land to feed the same number of people as today — possibly almost twice the area. Given that agriculture currently uses 40 percent of Earth’s ice-free land, switching to organics would mean destroying large swathes of nature for less effective production.

The catastrophe unfolding in Sri Lanka provides a sobering lesson. The government last year enforced a full transition to organic farming, appointing organics gurus as agricultural advisers, including some who claimed dubious links between agricultural chemicals and health problems. Despite extravagant claims that organic methods could produce comparable yields to conventional farming, within months the policy produced nothing but misery, with some food prices quintupling.

Sri Lanka had been self-sufficient in rice production for decades, but tragically has now been forced to import $450 million worth of rice. Tea, the nation’s primary export crop and source of foreign exchange, was devastated, with economic losses estimated at $425 million. Before the country spiraled downward toward brutal violence and political resignations, the government was forced to offer $200 million in compensation to farmers and come up with $149 million in subsidies.

Sri Lanka’s organic experiment failed fundamentally because of one simple fact: it does not have enough land to replace synthetic nitrogen fertilizer with animal manure. To shift to organics and keep production, it would need five to seven times more manure than its total manure today.

Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, mostly made with natural gas, are a modern miracle, crucial for feeding the world. Largely thanks to this fertilizer, agricultural outputs were tripled in the last half-century, as the human population doubled. Artificial fertilizer and modern farming inputs are the reason the number of people working on farms has been slashed in every rich country, freeing people for other productive occupations.

In fact, one dirty secret of organic farming is that, in rich countries, the vast majority of existing organic crops depend on imported nitrogen laundered from animal manure, which ultimately comes from fossil fuel fertilizers used on conventional farms.

Without those inputs, if a country — or the world — were to go entirely organic, nitrogen scarcity quickly becomes disastrous, just like we saw in Sri Lanka. That is why research shows going organic globally can only feed about half the current world population. Organic farming will lead to more expensive, scarcer food for fewer people, while gobbling up more nature.

To sustainably feed the world and withstand future global shocks, we need to produce food better and cheaper. History shows that the best way to achieve that is by improving seeds, including by using genetic modification, along with expanding fertilizer, pesticides and irrigation. This will allow us to produce more food, curb prices, alleviate hunger and save nature.

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Putin Bans Brian Fitzpatrick From Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin is known to have a long list of enemies. So long, it reaches all the way to Bucks County, Pa.

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) is on Putin’s list of people banished from Russia’s borders, along with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

The list is both lengthy and impressive. It features people from many walks of life: Politicians, business executives — even acclaimed actor Morgan Freeman made the list of 963 people who are now banned from entering Russia.

Perhaps the most unexpected name is Fitzpatrick’s brother Mike. A former congressman himself, Mike passed away in 2020 after a battle with cancer. Both Brian Fitzpatrick and his brother were outspoken supporters of Ukraine.

“The current landscape in Russia is one that is ruled by a murderous war criminal who denies its citizens basic human and civil rights, imprisons peaceful protesters, and indoctrinates its citizens with state-controlled propaganda,” Fitzpatrick told the Delaware Valley Journal.

Despite massive sanctions from the U.S., the E.U., and the West, Putin has continued waging war against Ukraine, an assault that has now lasted more than 100 days. His army is facing accusations of war crimes in its attempts to secure some of Ukraine’s cities. Buildings have been bombed, entire towns have been leveled and promises of safe passage have been violated. Children and the elderly have been among the civilian casualties. Fitzpatrick has been supportive of the measures that Biden has taken so far in its attempts to cripple the Russian economy, but argues America should do more.

“As long as Vladimir Putin is leading Russia, the entire world should boycott them and not contribute a single dime to their economy,” said Fitzpatrick.

While Putin is not making many friends in the U.S., a study conducted by Statista last month found 80 percent approved of Putin’s leadership. However, many critics have suspicions as to how accurate polls taken inside a state such as Russia can be.

Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick continues his fight against Russia and its treatment of Ukraine.

“I encourage everyone on Putin’s ‘ban list’ to join me in visiting Ukraine to meet a real leader like Volodymyr Zelenskyy, someone who shares our values and defends freedom and democracy in Ukraine and across the globe,” said Fitzpatrick.


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SADLER: Ukraine War, Day 100: Raising the Cost for Russia’s Naval Blockade Can Avert a Prolonged War

As the ground war in Ukraine’s Donbas region likely bogs down into a contest of prolonged attrition, access to the Black Sea will be key to which belligerent outlasts the other. Before the invasion, over 70 percent of Ukraine’s exports left via its ports. So eventually lifting Russia’s blockade will be critical to securing its economic future and sovereignty.

In recent days, Russia completed its conquest of Mariupol, sweeping clear Ukraine’s access to the Sea of Azov. That leaves Odessa as the last major Ukrainian port with access to the Black Sea, but its sea approaches are blocked by Russia’s navy. Since the invasion began, the city has been the target of sustained missile attacks, and while the threat of invasion is lesser now, it is not zero.

Meanwhile, an avoidable global food crisis has been brewing for months as critical exports of grains and fertilizers have been cut off. Together, Russia and Ukraine supply 30 percent of the world’s wheat, 60 percent of its sunflower oil, and 20 percent of its corn via the Black Sea. The potential for famine in poorer nations reliant on these exports is spurring new urgency to end the war.

While the potential for a food crisis was predictable and noted months before, it has only recently gained serious attention. In the past week, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pursued a deal to open grain shipments from the Black Sea. However, Russia has other options for getting its exports to market and has not been in any hurry to relent in its blockade—yet.

Barring some diplomatic agreement to allow shipping to resume from Odessa in order to end Russia’s naval blockade, the cost for Russia to sustain it must be raised. Already Ukraine’s navy has demonstrated its ability to sink Russian naval vessels, most notably with the use of Neptune land-based anti-ship cruise missiles to sink the Moskva, Russia’s Black Sea flagship. That success has led to calls for supplying Ukraine with similar modern Western weapons.

To that end, allies United Kingdom and Denmark have signaled they have or will deliver the Harpoon anti-ship missile to Ukraine. While such weapons help to raise the cost for Russia, they don’t remove the threat. Russian submarines are increasingly launching cruise missile attacks and can easily shift to attacking shipping in the Black Sea without being threatened by these missiles. Something else is needed for this sort of threat.

Should attacking Russia’s surface warships not raise the costs high enough, neutralizing its Black Sea submarines might be required. Given Russia’s primary control of the airspace and the fact that Ukraine does not have a capable anti-submarine force, this will be a tall order.

That said, the time may be right to dust off past recommendations to modify the Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC) for shore launch with extended ranges. The missile’s current range is too short making its utility in that role limited but familiar to numerous allied nations that operate them. Such an idea is not new; in a November 2020 article, the commandant of the Marine Corps argued for a similar capability in a war with China. For Ukraine it could be viable in the long term, assuming adequate targeting and weapon range.

While there is a valid sense of urgency in ending the war and averting a food crisis, it must not be done on Russia’s terms. But even if the war ended tomorrow, until sea mines are removed, shipping in the north Black Sea will not resume.

Here allies with minesweepers and access to the Black Sea—like Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, and even Germany via the Danube River—can play an important role in supporting Ukraine. While hostilities are ongoing, having those countries engaged in minesweeping is high risk; more prudent is to provide such capabilities for Ukraine to use in its waters as Black Sea nations clear and patrol their own.

In the meantime, nations should look at ways to alleviate the loss of Ukrainian and Russian grains and fertilizer and pursue diplomatic solutions to allow Ukrainian shipping of food, while at the same time helping Ukraine raise the cost of Russia’s blockade.

As long as Russia can damage Ukraine’s economy by preventing its ability to export many of its agricultural products, Kyiv will face challenges. Raising the costs for Russia is one way to bring the blockade and the war to an earlier end.

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KING: The Threat of Nuclear War and the License It Has Given Putin

History isn’t short of people to blame. You could say of the present world crisis that it was former president Barack Obama’s fault for not getting tougher with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Syria. You could blame former president Donald Trump for giving Putin a sense of entitlement and for undermining NATO, seeing it as a financial play. You could blame former German chancellor Angela Merkel for encouraging Russian gas imports, shutting out the nuclear energy option.

You could, of course, blame President Biden for explicitly telling Putin, and the world, what the United States wouldn’t do if he invaded Ukraine. And you could blame Biden and NATO for dribbling vital military aid to Ukraine over the first devastating months of the Russian invasion.

If you want to continue, you could blame the world’s military strategists for believing that Russia, after the fall of communism, had changed. You could, perhaps, blame NATO itself, for expanding its reach to the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

Putin is unequivocally the one to blame. He is the one who wants to remake Russia in the image of the imperial tsars. It is a flawed scheme but a real one.

As the world grapples with the reality of Putin, the past informs but it doesn’t instruct. If NATO were to engage Russia with conventional forces, it would triumph. That is one lesson of Ukraine. Russian military forces are woefully inefficient, even incompetent.

Would it were that simple.

The beast in the room, the feared monster, the threat that hangs over the whole world is nuclear war. It is the clear-and-present danger. It shapes our handling of Russia and will shape our response to China, if and when it invades Taiwan.

Nuclear war avoidance is again dominating the world in ways we had nearly forgotten. Will Russia — a caged, fierce bear — resort to nuclear, and how much nuclear to what effect against which targets?

The United States and the Soviet Union reached a modus vivendi: mutual assured destruction (MAD), which kept the peace even as nuclear armaments proliferated and stockpiles grew exponentially. Is that still the option? Is MAD — so long after the collapse of the Soviet Union — still the underlying realpolitik, the restraining factor between nuclear powers?

Does that mean that anyone with nuclear weapons can wage conventional warfare in the belief that they won’t face NATO or any other serious restraining military action because they can unleash terrifying global destruction?

Or is there, as some believe, the prospect of limited nuclear engagement, using area tactical nuclear weapons? This has never been tested. There hasn’t been a limited nuclear ground war. Could it be contained? Should it be contemplated outside the deeper reaches of the defense establishment?

But it is what keeps the leaders of Europe, the United States and Canada awake nights. If you favor limited nuclear war, just look to the effects of a nuclear disaster, Chernobyl, and start multiplying.

It is the unthinkable scenario that must be thought about. It is the reality that holds back NATO and makes the West a spectator to the carnage in Ukraine.

Russia isn’t a rich country. It has a large, poorly trained and equipped military. But it bristles with nuclear weapons aimed at North American and European cities. Its ability to threaten us with nuclear horror changes the balance between nations: an indelible change to future foreign policy.

In the short term, when contemplating the return of MAD in international relations, the question is: How mad — as in insane — is Putin, and how ready is Biden?

The pieces on the world chess board have moved and they won’t be moved back. The intelligentsia has yet to grasp the extent to which Ukraine has changed the world — and made it a more dangerous place. They need to catch up fast.

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Despite War Worries, Hundreds Show Ukrainian Pride

Hundreds attended the two-day Easter bazaar at the Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center (UECC) in Abington last weekend.

And many came with heavy hearts and worries about the war in Ukraine.

Stories of horrors perpetrated by the Russian invaders dominate the news. For those with family members and friends still in Ukraine, the worry about their safety is nearly unbearable.

Andriy Kulynin stirring kulish or millet porridge.

“I’m from Ukraine, so for me, it’s a disaster,” said Nadya Shakirova of Montgomery Township, who was at the bazaar with her children. “It’s unbelievably sad. There are no words to describe how painful it is.”

She came from Lviv in western Ukraine in 1999 and still has cousins there.

Lauren Hulayew brought her 2-year-old daughter, Kira, who clutched a Ukrainian flag, to the bazaar on Saturday.

“We’re Ukrainian,” said Hulayew, a Huntingdon Valley resident. “I think it’s horrible. We’ve endured a lot. It’s so sad to see (what’s happening). I can’t even imagine.”

Vendors at the bazaar sold Ukrainian flags, T-shirts, and other clothing emblazed with Ukrainian mottos, like “Free Ukraine,” along with the traditional embroidered clothing Ukraine is known for. There was art, including the pysanky, decorated Ukrainian Easter eggs.

And Ukrainian delicacies were served including borscht, pierogis, kielbasa, and potato pancakes, along with tables full of desserts. Everywhere, one could hear conversations in Ukrainian.

Christine Shwed said the Ukrainian National Women’s League has raised nearly $1 million for medical equipment for Ukrainians. She was manning a booth to sell books of Ukrainian fairy tales for the cause.

“We had to do something,” she said. “We couldn’t just stand by.”

Vera Bej, the former principal at the Saturday school at the UECC, said, “Everybody is doing something.”

Bej, who came to the U.S. as a child, said she still remembers what it was like under communism and the Soviet Union.

“I watched the old Soviet Union crumble and fall,” said Bej, a Shippensburg resident. As for the Russian invasion, she said, “I am shocked and astounded.”

Many people have been dropping off donations at the UECC, helping to box items to send to Ukraine, and for the 4 million refugees who have fled to neighboring countries. “People who don’t have a drop of Ukrainian blood” are helping, said Bej.

Larisa Kril, of North Wales, came to the U.S. when she was 30. The war actually began in 2014, “when Russia came and occupied Crimea,” she said. But Russians have been killing Ukrainians for 300 years, she noted.

Her son, Christopher Kril, 27, was also at the bazaar.

Christopher Kril and Larisa Kril

Christopher, who lives in Philadelphia and works at a credit union, said he would go to Ukraine every summer to visit his late grandmother, who lived in a small town in the western part of the country.

“It’s unbelievable, devastating, inhumane,” he said. “To imagine the streets that I walked in being blown up, dead bodies. That’s just really hard to imagine. I don’t know when I’ll be able to go back. So much beautiful architecture, so many years of history, lost. I hope the West and the U.S. help to rebuild Ukraine without Big Brother Russia.”

Bej said, “I feel guilty when I pray for my own family. I feel I shouldn’t ask for anything for them with what’s happening there.”

Thomas Stephanson, 16, of Swarthmore, spoke to the Delaware Valley Journal about Ukraine’s long history with neighboring Russia.

“It’s hard to tell Putin’s motives,” said the Strath Haven High School student. “It’s impossible to say what he will do with what’s happening now (with Ukrainian forces fighting and winning back some territory). It’s brutal.”


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POTAPOVA: A Letter From Ukraine

Dear Friend:

I’m sorry for the delay with the answer, just couldn’t collect myself and my thoughts after seeing the atrocious footage and death tolls from Bucha and other towns outside Kyiv that have been liberated by Ukrainian forces. The whole country is utterly shocked. We all are mourning the killed civilians up there and praying for the people in Mariupol and Donbas where they have heavy battles right now.

Despite the pain, I want to use every opportunity to talk to a foreign audience about the war crimes the russians (yes, that is correct, since the war started we here write the names of the aggressor country and its president in lowercase letters) commit on our land. I will try to share my thoughts on what it’s like to be in a country that is at war. For security reasons I don’t go into much detail when it comes to locations.

The picture that I’m attaching to this email was made by my daughter three months before the war. That day we saw a theatre show, ate some street food, and enjoyed the sun in the center of Kyiv. That day Kyiv was a peaceful place, probably the best one on Earth, I love this city so much. And I believe peace will be restored to it soon.

So, let’s do it. Sorry if the text comes unstructured, it is more of a free writing thing.

My name is Tanya, I’m 38, happily married, mother of two. Currently, I’m the communications lead in one of the top law firms in Ukraine. I live in Kyiv but a few days after russia invaded we made a decision to flee to a safer region. It has remained relatively safe up until now and I hope it will stay safe.

On Feb. 24 we woke up from a phone call. It was 7 a.m. The babysitter of our younger son called to ask whether she should come that day. I said yes and she asked, “Are you sure? Have you heard the news?” I immediately went online and the first headline was saying: “putin started a war.” Of course, there was fear then. There is fear now but it goes with an overwhelming feeling of the people’s unity, rage, and determination.

We have air sirens every day and especially at night. That is why we spend the nights in a shelter. It seems we took other things for luxury before, our new luxury is to have food and water, electricity and internet, to take a shower, go for a walk, play with kids. At least it is a luxury for now because every new day might change everything.

I was lucky not to experience shelling, rocket attacks, not to lose loved ones, to remain alive. But I know people who lost their homes because of bombs, their loved ones died in the shelling or were shot during evacuation.

Mariupol, Bucha, Irpin, Gostomel, Borodyanka, Kharkiv, Sumy – it’s heartbreaking to think of people there. Handcuffed, tortured, raped, burnt, starved, strangled, humiliated, blocked, deprived of their homes, killed by the obedient herd to satisfy the monstrous reincarnation of Stalin and Hitler in one.

What the russian troops have been doing are war crimes. And war criminals who gave and executed orders, crafted and promoted the propagandistic agenda for decades, and then publicly denied the atrocities done by their army, should and will be punished. This is why Ukraine will fight no matter how much time and effort it takes.

You know, I think Ukraine reinvents itself right now. We literally see the country shaking off the rudiments of the Soviet past–pro-russian political parties and propagandistic media, the language issue (many people I know who spoke russian before the war started using Ukrainian in their everyday life). It’s great to see a dignified and resilient nation in the making. The nation that undoubtedly will prevail.

Every single person I know contributes to the victory by helping the army, refugees, neighbors, animals, anyone in trouble. I stayed in Ukraine and decided to spend as much time with my kids as I can. Having an incredibly supportive employer, I continue working remotely, and this was another commitment – to get myself together and continue doing my job because a stable economy helps Ukraine to get closer to victory. I use every chance to spread the truth about the war across the world. And I donate: to the Ukrainian armed forces, to the widows of the killed, to refugee centers, to free Ukrainian media.

Growing up, making friends, falling in love, giving birth to kids, living, working, and traveling in Ukraine was fantastic before the russians came to try and take it all away. Since 1991, our country has been paving its way to the EU and NATO. We struggled with reforms. We voted in democratic elections. We fought for the right to choose our own path. It’s not that we haven’t made mistakes. We did, but who doesn’t when trying to emerge out of a communist past as a democracy?

Obviously, Ukraine became a pain in the ass for russia – no dictatorship likes free-minded neighboring countries. We didn’t obey and give up as they planned. We fight for our freedom and shield the freedom of Europe. The cost is tremendously high though: devastated land in place of beautiful modern towns and cities, mass graves in the backyards of residential areas, kids becoming orphans, and infrastructure being destroyed. War crimes and genocide–this is what it is, and there can be no redemption.

When the war ends with our victory and russia gets stuck in the deadlock of the sanctions, military and economic losses, international isolation, and the eventual fall of putin and his regime, Ukraine will need financial, humanitarian, diplomatic help from the international community, just as it needs it now. Along with that, the world would need to deal with the aftermath of the war and do its homework. It should include efforts to redesign the international security framework and face the challenges of the global food crisis caused by the war. Basically, when the war ends helping Ukraine to come back to normal life will mean helping the world.

My Bosniak friend, Riada, a journalist who often writes about genocide in her country in the ‘90s, keeps supporting me during this time. The other day she sent me an open letter from a Sarajevo siege survivor to Ukrainians published on BBC. The letter was about the message on her 30-year-old teeshirt that sustained the woman during 1425 days of the siege. Modified for us, the message was “Ukraine will be, everything else will pass.” This is what we here think now.

Oh, and you asked whether I have pets. Well, our older daughter asked for a dog many times. My husband and I always thought two kids are enough to keep ourselves busy and our apartment a mess. Now we’ve had a deal that we would get a dog after the war is over – we want to see our apartment the happiest mess ever. Today it’s 40 days since we left it.

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