Thank you to Stephen Kinzer for “What’s the harm in visiting Russia?” (Ideas, July 18). In the mid- to late-1980s, a number of Soviet cities and US cities formed sister city relationships and sent delegations back and forth. As a Cambridge city councilor, I proposed joining the movement and in 1986 was part of Cambridge’s delegation to Yerevan, capital of Armenia, then part of the Soviet Union. The Cold War was on its way to concluding — and Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan close to reaching an accord over nuclear weapons — and the world population was on its way to vastly greater security.
The United States and Russia remain the world’s nuclear superpowers, though. Mutual communication will always be requisite to understanding, cooperation, and security. As Kinzer observes, “When people are kept ignorant of each other, they are easy prey for official narratives that reinforce prejudice.”
Armenia is separate now from Russia, but the Cambridge-Yerevan relationship survives.
David A. Wylie