Letters to the Editor: Now is exactly the wrong time to push Ukraine into peace talks

President Biden embraces Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky outside the White House on Dec. 21.
President Biden embraces Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky outside the White House on Dec. 21.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: No, this is precisely not the time for peace talks, unless it is Ukraine that wants them. (“Is it time to wind down the war in Ukraine and start peace talks?” Opinion, Dec. 29)

Journalist Anne Applebaum, author of the 2020 book “Twilight of Democracy,” has said Russia won’t withdraw until it’s clear that Ukraine is winning. There is some groundwork being put in place for this, but Ukraine still needs the West’s wholehearted support so that it can make clear to Russia the costs of continued aggression.

It’s hard to watch the brutal loss of life and destruction in Ukraine. However, encouraging President Volodymyr Zelensky to participate in any peace talks that undermine his country’s territorial sovereignty would amount to appeasement of Russia and encouragement of future aggression.


It would furthermore signal to China and North Korea that the West isn’t willing to back international law or pursue justice for the victims of aggression.

Kathleen Trinity, Acton, Calif.


To the editor: I favor Ukraine negotiating with Russia, but only on these preconditions:

  • Russia returns its illegally “annexed” territories to Ukraine.
  • Russia agrees to compensate Ukraine for the destruction its war has caused. This could bankrupt Russia but deservedly so.
  • Russia turns over President Vladimir Putin, a war criminal, to Ukraine.
  • Since Russia has shown itself to be imperialistic, it must dismantle all but a few of its nuclear weapons, leaving just enough to discourage China from its imperialism.

Stephen B. Gray, Santa Monica


To the editor: Columnist Nicholas Goldberg asks, “Will Russia negotiate seriously, and can it be trusted to keep its word?”

The answer is clear: No.

After Vietnam, a popular refrain was that the U.S. lost because “we were fighting with one hand tied behind our back.” Which now describes Ukraine.


Goldberg should add another question to his list: Would Ukraine be more effective in ousting Russia if it fought on equal terms? That is, if Ukraine had long-range missiles to damage Russia’s infrastructure, as Russia has done to Ukraine?

We are inching to that point but cannot pull the trigger. It’s unsettling that our powerful nation holds back in the face of Putin’s threats.

Tim Clark, Los Angeles


To the editor: Every war ends in peace talks. What I don’t see in Goldberg’s piece or most other opinions on the conflict is an explanation of why the U.S. supports some people’s right to separate from a country (such as the Kosovo Albanians’ separation from Serbia with the help of the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization), while people in Luhansk, Donetsk or Crimea cannot do the same.

What are the rules that allow some groups to separate but not others?

Branko Piliser, San Diego


To the editor: I agree with Goldberg that the war in Ukraine will not be won by force.

Putin did not invade Ukraine to demilitarize or de-Nazify it. He was not worried about NATO or Russia’s security. These were just simple pretexts for a land grab of fertile farmland and strategic sea ports.

His fantasy is that Ukraine belongs to Russia, and he wants to make Russia great again by going back to the good old days of the Soviet Union.

If Putin really cared about the disaffected Russians living in Ukraine, he could tell them to return to the motherland. He could pay for their relocation and provide jobs and security. This would prevent the loss of life, making the world a safer place.

Anastacio Vigil, Santa Monica