As I drive past the Ukrainian flags at the corner of Las Positas and State, I wish the war was over and that the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had never provoked the horror that threatens to destabilize the world.
While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine cannot be justified — not the bombings of civilian corridors, not the decimation of villages nor the annexation of land — the invasion can be understood as a reaction to the expansion of a hostile alliance — NATO — to Russia’s neck and U.S. weaponization of Ukraine as an armed camp on the border of the most nuclear-stockpiled nation in the world.
As I reflect back on Santa Barbara’s Support for Ukraine rally last March, I think of the beautiful Ukrainian dancers, dressed in blue and gold, holding hands, circling round on our courthouse lawn, and I wish Ukraine had not sided with the West in 2014 when the U.S. backed the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected president. I wish Ukraine had never enshrined in its constitution a vow to join NATO but had instead fiercely maintained a commitment to remain neutral in the U.S.-Russia rivalry.
As I speak to the Ukrainian church-goer in front of Congressmember Carbaja’s office, I wish the United States would support an immediate ceasefire and a negotiated peace. I tell the Ukrainian I am there, along with a dozen others, to urge Carbajal to vote against billions more in weapons because endless shipments of ammunition, drones and missiles serve as a disincentive to diplomacy.
There is no military solution.
Every Ukrainian battlefield victory triggers Russian retaliation.
He shakes his head. I nod mine.
And so it goes in Santa Barbara, home to students from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, and weapons manufacturers — Raytheon, Northrop Grumman — making a killing off of killing in Ukraine.
Marcy Winograd helps coordinate the Peace in Ukraine Coalition (www.peaceinUkraine.org) to mobilize support for a diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine.