Letters to the Editor: Don’t escalate in Ukraine against nuclear-armed Russia

black and white photo of a building scorched
The city center in Bakhmut, in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, is seen damaged by Russian shelling on Feb. 12.
(Libkos / Associated Press)

To the editor: The Times’ editorial board appears to endorse a call for the countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to provide F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. What could go wrong with that?

Victory might be secured this year, according to optimistic Stanford professor Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia. The editorial board cautions that Russia could “overreact” to Ukraine having F-16s (could they conduct flyovers of Moscow and St. Petersburg?). Although so far, we are assured, “Putin has not moved to use nuclear weapons.”

But let’s say for the sake of argument that he eventually does. Do any territorial claims on either side warrant the risk of nuclear annihilation? Ukraine does not need fighter jets, but rather peace negotiations initiated and enforced by the U.S.


Leigh Clark, Granada Hills


To the editor: McFaul, quoted in the editorial, is right. Russian President Vladimir Putin will continue to escalate at any cost.

He may continue losing at the front while demolishing Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure. The longer this lasts, the more destruction there is. It is impossible to predict whether he will eventually use nuclear weapons as a last resort.

By prolonging the war, we are only delaying the time, not the nature of his last resort. Unless we are willing to allow Putin to blackmail the world to achieve his nefarious goals, we should seek victory in Ukraine as soon as possible and hope that the last resort is not mutual destruction.

Michael Telerant, Los Angeles


To the editor: The editorial mentions calls to “provide even more military assistance to Ukraine” and the possibility that the U.S. might change its policy to support Ukraine’s demand that Russia surrender Crimea.


Somehow, the words “mission creep” come to mind.

Your editorial does not express disapproval of these possibilities, suggesting that you would not be opposed to such steps. This is troubling.

Russia is a nuclear superpower that views Ukraine much as we viewed Cuba during the 1962 missile crisis. The Russian leadership also has a deep sense of grievance, knowing that we broke the verbal commitment made by then-U.S. Secretary of State James Baker to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that NATO would not expand “one inch to the east.”

It is little wonder that Putin wants a written agreement regarding not including Ukraine in NATO.

Negotiations for a peaceful settlement should proceed with more urgency. Better to negotiate now than later, when an aggrieved Russian leadership, upset by strategic and humiliating military reversals and the possibility of losing Crimea, is closer to using nuclear weapons.

Rick Tuttle, Culver City