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Define ‘proxy war’

A flat in the building damaged by shelling at the scene of the heaviest battles with Russian troops in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, March 15.Roman Chop/Associated Press

The simple truth about Putin’s war of terror — not ‘proxy war’ — in Ukraine

Stephen Kinzer’s description of the Russia-Ukraine war as a “proxy war” is akin to arguing that US military aid to Britain from 1939 to 1941 as the United Kingdom fought against Hitler was support for a “proxy war” (“The incalculable moral cost of proxy wars,” Ideas, March 12). Ukraine chose to split from Russia more than 30 years ago when the Soviet Union collapsed. If the West wanted a “proxy war” with Russia, Western leaders would not have gone to such great lengths more than a year ago to try to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine.

Putin started the war assuming Ukraine’s leaders would flee in fear and Ukraine would capitulate within days. Ukraine chose to fight rather than surrender for obvious reasons: What do Putin and Russia have to offer? Certainly not a better life. And who would want to live under the Putin dictatorship? The Eastern European countries understand this well having been traumatized under successive Russian dictators. No, this is not a “proxy war,” rather it is Putin’s war of terror. It is surprising that Kinzer does not understand this simple truth.

Bill Hahn



Providing military aid to Ukraine shuts the door to peace

Stephen Kinzer’s column makes us think twice about the war in Ukraine. The daily bombardments of Ukrainians by Russian forces have brought constant destruction of infrastructure and many civilian deaths. The mutual escalation may well lead to a long war, along with the threat of nuclear disaster.

War creates crime zones. In this case, prisoners on both sides have reportedly been tortured and killed. Russians have kidnapped many Ukrainian children and sent them to Russia, supposedly to be adopted.

The war between Russia and Ukraine, two of the significant global wheat producers, has a consequential impact on world hunger, the cost of energy and food, and the drastic increase in immigration worldwide.


As long as the United States and NATO provide military aid to Ukraine and thus fuel the war, the door to peace remains shut. Diplomacy is the only solution. Although it is easier said than done, direct negotiations between President Biden and President Vladimir Putin will make peace possible. The US sanctions, despite many countries’ refusal to isolate Russia, put Putin under pressure. Two promises — lifting sanctions and keeping Ukraine out of NATO — could lead to peace.

Massoudeh Edmond


‘Proxy war’? Ukraine is facing an unprovoked assault by a foreign power.

In comparing the war in Ukraine to conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Angola, Afghanistan, and Nicaragua — essentially echoing the Kremlin’s propaganda — Stephen Kinzer misses critical differences that invalidate his analysis and conclusions.

While the other conflicts were essentially internal struggles, Ukraine is facing an unprovoked assault by a foreign power determined to expand its empire in violation of established international norms and agreements. Ukrainians are fighting primarily to preserve their existence as an independent sovereign state, ethnic group, and culture and not to weaken Russia on behalf of the United States, as Kinzer claims.

From the Holocaust to the Holodomor, as well as the atrocities witnessed recently in Bucha, Irpin, and other areas subject to Russian occupation (mass executions, torture, rapes, looting of personal property and museums, cultural treasures, destruction of Ukrainian libraries, mass deportations to Russia, mass kidnappings of children for fascist indoctrination, etc.), Ukrainians know that ethnic cleansing awaits the entire country if they stop resisting the invasion.

Putin has been very clear that he feels entitled to restore the post-World War II Russian Soviet empire by military means. If he is not stopped in Ukraine, the cost will be a much more widespread and deadlier war.


Thomas Worobec

Waterville Valley, N.H.

It’s a war war

Stephen Kinzer’s characterization of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a proxy war being waged by the West is disingenuous. He states that “Western leaders are pouring weaponry into Ukraine mainly because Ukraine is wounding Russia.” This is clearly false. Had roles been reversed with Ukraine invading Russia (and committing widespread war crimes and other human rights abuses), there would be no Western support for Ukraine. The West is standing up for sovereignty, human rights, and democracy.

Mark Hooker