Mary Hall: Time to help Russia understand

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Published: 01-11-2024 4:32 PM

Modified: 01-11-2024 6:45 PM

The Jan. 4 edition of the Gazette includes the column “Why we must not let Ukraine fail.” A response can be, “Why we must permit Russia to fail” — that is to say, we must establish conditions in which the Kremlin can safely admit that giving up their not-so-special aggression against Ukraine is their best path forward toward realizing their hopes and dreams for their own country.

One can ask, how might that be possible, given that Ukraine must now, almost certainly, gain membership in NATO as well as in the European Union? An answer must be, I believe, with concurrent actions Russia can take that will help repair the deep rift that has opened between Russians and their near neighbors and close cousins in Ukraine.

Those Russians who are paying attention have pointed to the grave injuries Ukraine has suffered through the ongoing war. There is terrible damage to infrastructure, housing and the environment. Human casualties include not only the many deaths and physical injuries, but damage to people’s minds that can never fully heal.

It is a great tribute to Ukraine that, in view of the extreme harm, its people are still standing. Only, we must know that Western commitments to help Ukraine fully recover when hostilities end will not ever be sufficient. It will be imperative that Russians pitch in, with a will and with their whole hearts.

We can demand this from Russians, as they know it is in their own interests to make amends. As Serhii Plokhy has shown in his book, “The Gates of Europe,” Russia needs Ukraine. It is, I consider, our duty to show Russia they will only meet their need for relationship when they quit fighting and move swiftly to help repair the harm they have done.

Traditions of brutalism within Russia are centuries old, and the Kremlin has never disavowed them. Traditions of seeking to control outcomes abroad through clandestine means also have a long history in Russia. We should support Russians in letting go of what will not serve their needs going forward, while bringing forward strengths they do have.

Mary Hall

South Hadley

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