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Ukraine Crisis FAQs

Learn more about the crisis in Ukraine and why we're advocating for peace.
The outlines of a peace agreement already exist. They include:

● A comprehensive ceasefire.
● Withdrawal of Russian forces.
● A Ukrainian commitment to international neutrality.
● An agreement or referendum on the future of the Donbas region, whose
civil war since 2014 led to the Russian invasion.

The U.S. can support peace by:

● Agreeing to lift sanctions if Russia keeps its side of a peace agreement.
● Committing humanitarian assistance to Ukraine instead of more weapons.
● Ruling out further escalation of the war, such as a “no fly zone.”
● Agreeing to end NATO expansion and committing to renewed diplomacy
with Russia.

A new report from Just World Educational goes into much great detail.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a collective military alliance formed in 1949 by the United States, Canada and several Western European nations to thwart the expansion of the Soviet Union. 

In 1955– to counter NATO, the Soviet Union formed the Warsaw Pact, a political and military alliance between the Soviet Union and several Eastern European nations. 

In 1990– in talks leading to the reunification of East and West Germany, Secretary of State James Baker assured Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand “one inch eastward.” 

But by 1991, there were 15 countries in NATO and under the Clinton administration, NATO continued to expand eastward and now numbers 30 countries.

In 1994– following the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact disbanded. NATO should have disbanded as well, but instead, it continued to expand.

In 1995– NATO continued its expansionist aspirations when it sent 60,000 troops to Yugoslavia, under the pretext of preventing violence in the Balkan region. 

In 1999– NATO’s involvement in Yugoslavia culminated in an 78 day bombing campaign. The bombings were justified as humanitarian intervention, but in reality worsened repression of ethnic minorities in the Yugoslav region that it was meant to protect. 

This military operation displaced over a million people, destroyed the environment by targeting chemical plants and oil refineries, and caused over 2,000 civilian deaths. 

NATO was criticized by human rights organizations for its use of cluster bombs in populated areas, lack of adequate warnings for civilians, and unusually broad categorization of non-military facilities and infrastructure as acceptable targets.

The bombing campaign was technically illegal– the UN never gave approval for the operation and it was found to be in violation of international law– yet no investigation was ever opened.

Russian President Putin has stated repeatedly for two decades that this expansion threatens the national security of the Russian Federation. Two NATO members, Latvia and Estonia, border Russia, while other NATO members, such as Poland, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Lithuania, are close neighbors.

In fact, the current CIA director William J. Burns spoke about Russian security concerns in 2008.

He explained that during his time as the U.S. ambassador to Russia he had spoken to Russians from all different political backgrounds and found that NATO expansion was a common security concern that no Russian president could allow to go unaddressed.

The members are the original 12 founding members: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States.

As well as Greece, Spain, Turkey, Montenegro, and North Macedonia.

And the former Warsaw Pact countries: Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Albania, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Romania, Poland and Slovakia.

Yes, the threat is real and a recent U.S. poll shows that almost 70% of Americans are concerned that the Ukraine war could lead to nuclear war. Russia has put its nuclear weapons on “high alert.” Three European countries– France, Germany and the United Kingdom– possess their own nuclear weapons, and five other NATO members– Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey– house U.S. nuclear weapons.

We’ve come within minutes of accidental nuclear apocalypse many times. U.S. Presidents who, like Vladimir Putin, have made specific public or secret nuclear threats to other nations include Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Bush I, Clinton, and Trump. Meanwhile Obama, Trump, and others have said, “All options are on the table.” Russia and the U.S. have 90% of the world’s nukes, missiles pre-armed, and first-use policies.

Nuclear winter does not respect political boundaries. The entire world should not only be terrified about the possibility of a nuclear confrontation, but should be demanding that the nuclear countries rid themselves of these weapons, as is now international law according to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Environmentalists should care about this war, and all wars, because war swallows the funding and attention needed to protect the Earth. Militaries and wars are huge contributors to the destruction of the climate and Earth. They block cooperation between governments. They create suffering through disruption of current fuel sources. They justify increased fossil fuel production – releasing reserves, shipping fuels to Europe.

They distract attention for scientists’ reports on the existential threat to the planet. This war in Ukraine risks nuclear and climate disaster. Ending it is the only sensible path.

The United States, Britain, and the EU, with the support of other countries, are imposing sweeping sanctions on Russia.
These sanctions blockade Russian exports, cut Russia’s financial institutions off from global financial systems, and encourage multinational corporations to stop doing business in Russia.

Proponents of sanctions claim that they are a less violent way of exerting pressure on a country’s government. However, studies show that sanctions are rarely effective in achieving their desired results.

In reality, sanctions….

  • Rarely successfully impact a government’s decisions.
  • Hurt working people before anyone else.
  • Heighten the negative outcomes of war rather than preventing them.
  • Have a huge human cost, often causing more deaths than armed conflict does itself, through lack of access to food, resources, and medicine.

In the context of Russia and Ukraine, sanctions are…

  • Exacerbating the ongoing global economic crisis.
  • Raising prices of affected commodities and causing disruptions in important sectors of the economy, like the market for grain and wheat. 
  • Spelling out potential disaster for millions of people across the world, since many countries depend heavily on Ukrainian and Russian wheat and import most of their grain.
  • Contributing to increased destruction of the environment, as corporations search for alternatives to products affected by the sanctions and war. Many of these alternatives are much more environmentally harmful than the products produced in Ukraine and Russia.

In February 2014, the U.S. and NATO encouraged and supported the overthrow of the elected, but allegedly corrupt, Russia-leaning government of Ukraine.

In February 2014, fascist militias joined with ordinary Ukrainian citizens in a violent overthrow of their central government in Kyiv.

In May 2014, fascist mobs killed many ethnic Russians in other parts of Ukraine.

In response, ethnic Russians began a separatist rebellion, especially in eastern provinces where there is a majority of ethnic Russians.

The Ukrainian military has allowed fascist militias such as the neo-Nazi Azov battalion to join them in ongoing operations against the rebellion.

This does not mean that Ukrainian President Zelensky heads a fascist government. In a 2019 election, the Azov battalion got only 2 percent of the vote, much less than other right-wing political parties have received in elections in other European countries.

By asserting that the Ukrainian President Zelensky heads a fascist government that must be destroyed, Russian officials sound like former U.S. officials such as Secretary of State Colin Powell, who perpetrated the lie that the Iraqi government had weapons of mass destruction and therefore must be destroyed.

In March 2014, 83 percent of the voters in Crimea turned out to vote and 97 percent voted for integration into the Russian Federation and out of Ukraine. The vast majority are ethnic Russians.

The Russian Federation's annexation of Crimea has been condemned by most of the international community, which has applied strong sanctions against Russia and special sanctions against Crimea that destroyed its international tourism industry.

The Donbas region in southeast Ukraine is made up of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. Donbas has a large population of ethnic Russians, and Russian is the primary language spoken by both Ukrainians and Russians living there.

After the Ukrainian government was overthrown in 2014, pro-Russian separatists declared independence from Ukraine, setting off a civil war between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian military and paramilitary forces.

Over 14,000 people have been killed in the conflict since 2014.

In 2016 NATO engaged in an increasing number of military war games conducted on the Russian border including a very large war maneuver with the ominous name of "Anaconda," the large snake that kills by wrapping around suffocating its prey, an analogy not lost on the Russian government.

New US/NATO bases were constructed in Poland and missile batteries were located in Romania.
President Putin continued to warn the US and NATO that Ukraine being annexed into the NATO sphere would be a threat to the national security of the Russian Federation.

In late 2021 with the U.S. and NATO again stated the "door was never closed to [Ukraine’s] entry into NATO" whereupon the Russian Federation responded with a build-up of 125,000 military forces around Ukraine.

President Putin and long-standing Russian Federation Foreign Minister Lavrov kept telling the world that this was a large-scale training exercise, similar to military exercises that NATO and the US had conducted along its borders.

In addition to the US’s military activities, the US has been pouring billions of dollars into political projects in Ukraine.
In 2015, US Congress passed a spending bill that gave hundreds of millions of dollars in economic and military support to Ukraine, and modified the bill specifically to allow funding to flow into the Azov Battalion.

In 2018, Congress technically restricted money from flowing into the Azov Battalion, but observers on the ground say that there is no mechanism to actually ensure that the funds do not end up there.

Since 2015, the CIA has been training Ukrainian forces to act as “insurgent leaders.”

US Assistant Secretary of State and US Ambassador to Ukraine were caught choosing which Ukrainian official they believed should head a new government in a leaked phone call.

When the Ukrainian parliament removed its president, Viktor Yanukovych, he was replaced by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the same politician that US officials had agreed should be in charge.

Prior to the coup, Yanukovych had begun taking steps to integrate Ukraine into the Western economy, making it more attractive to foreign investors. However, in 2013 he reversed his decision and ended talks with the EU. Yanukovych then pivoted back to economic negotiations with Russia.

After the Maidan coup in 2014, the new government led by Yatsenyuk quickly restarted the EU deal and received a large monetary commitment from the IMF.

All anti-war activists should support Russians protesting the war. These protesters are facing severe repression for standing up for anti-war values and support from the international community goes a long way in showing these activists that they are not alone.

The anti-war movement in Russia exists independently of US/NATO interests. In fact, many Russians protesting the war are concerned about NATO expansion, but they understand that security concerns are never an excuse for war. Anti-war activists around the world should follow their lead by taking to the streets in protest of the war, demanding Putin end his attacks on Ukraine, and that the US and NATO countries do not intervene in the conflict, but instead pursue a peaceful resolution which takes Ukrainian and Russian security concerns seriously.

They can resign. The author, former diplomat Ann Wright, resigned in the wake of the U.S. invasion of Iraq because she thought the decisions being made by elected politicians were not in the best interests of the U.S, or the people of Iraq, or the world.

For those Russian diplomats, a decision to resign from the Russian diplomatic corps would result in much more severe consequences and most certainly would be much more dangerous than what Ann Wright faced in her resignation in opposition to the U.S. war on Iraq.

And, if they resign, their voices of conscience, their voices of dissent, will probably be the most important legacy of their lives.

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  • Tom Laney
    commented 2023-02-01 09:24:12 -0500

    To The Editor:
    In October 1962, at age 19, I slept next to the planes with the Paratroopers of the famed 82nd Airborne Division. We were waiting to jump into Havana in what would have been WWIII, if not for President Kennedy.
    Russia had placed missiles in Cuba. Kennedy had mobilized our military to remove those missiles while he was in daily contact with the Russians, negotiating a way to Peace.
    I am 80 now. Still grateful for president Kennedy’s love for our troops; grateful that he loved us enough to resolve the rush to WWIII by agreeing to remove U.S. missiles aimed at Russia from Turkey if the Russians took their missiles out of Cuba. Which they did.
    I voted for President Biden, thinking he might have graduated from his warmongering past to discover a bit of JFK’s heroism for peace. How wrong I was!
    Russia, like the United States has a human right to be free from NATO (U.S.) missiles. Most foreign affairs experts agreed. Most foreign affairs experts predicted for decades that if NATO expanded to threaten Russia, we’d be in WWIII. Biden understood that. But Biden does not care. Biden is surrounded by warmongers and fascists from the project for A New American Century, who deliberately led us into this war.
    Now the bright spot is Zelensky’s peace offer to insure Ukrainians and Russians that Ukraine will no longer threaten Russia. The U.S. needs to promote this peace.
    But on Saturday, Biden’s Secretary of State Tony Blinken, was in Israel trying to drum up more arms from the Israelis and our friends in Saudi Arabia (the folks who did 9/11 and bomb Yemen every day) for the war fighters in Ukraine.
    There are many reporters now writing and saying that Biden, Victoria Nuland, and PNAC do not want peace. Biden says his sanctions will damage us all. Biden says we must accept decades more war.
    I wonder…..who are these people? They attack us at home by cutting our wages, pensions and close plants. They ship our jobs to slaves in this constant domestic war on workers. And then, they take the domestic war on workers abroad with bullets, bombs and lies. This is their foreign policy.
    I wonder….who are these people? Most of them seem to have never had a real job. Most couldn’t care less for working stiffs and our troops. Most of them are somehow the multi-millionaire Elite who are too proud to fight. And thus, the humble do the fighting. We do not need decades of more war. We need a new Peace Movement. We need a new Solidarity Movement. We need Good Jobs for All. We need a raise. We need to get along so our kids can live happy lives in happy communities.
    God bless Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy!
    – Tom Laney, Mercedes, TX
  • Tom Laney
    followed this page 2023-02-01 09:24:06 -0500
  • Rachel Beckert
    commented 2022-12-21 13:50:57 -0500
    Thank you to the prior commentators for recognizing the harmful ignorance of Codepink regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Unfortunately, Codepink squandered its credibility when it dominated the organization of protests in the U.S. against the invasion by obscuring facts for Americans seeking info.

    Truly, very unfortunate.

    I’ll assume Codepink is an unwitting tool of Russia, rather than a knowing agent, but the harm is the same.

    Ukrainians are dying for their freedom, literally. Russians are dying to steal Ukrainian land and be the ruler of the Ukrainian people. Since Feb 24, 2022, as the official Russian narrative justifying the invasion slips all over, the truth has become black and white. Please stop talking about shades of gray where none exist. Children are dying because Russia has mouthpieces like Codepink.

    The Russian state is very, very deep. Follow the lines, be aware. Take responsibility for the consequences of your content.
  • Rachel Beckert
    commented 2022-12-21 13:50:54 -0500
    Thank you to the prior commentators for recognizing the harmful ignorance of Codepink regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Unfortunately, Codepink squandered its credibility when it dominated the organization of protests in the U.S. against the invasion by obscuring facts for Americans seeking info.

    Truly, very unfortunate.

    I’ll assume Codepink is an unwitting tool of Russia, rather than a knowing agent, but the harm is the same.

    Ukrainians are dying for their freedom, literally. Russians are dying to steal Ukrainian land and be the ruler of the Ukrainian people. Since Feb 24, 2022, as the official Russian narrative justifying the invasion slips all over, the truth has become black and white. Please stop talking about shades of gray where none exist. Children are dying because Russia has mouthpieces like Codepink.

    The Russian state is very, very deep. Follow the lines, be aware. Take responsibility for the consequences of your content.
  • Stephen Powell
    commented 2022-12-20 14:55:51 -0500
    Greetings. Peace is good. Organizations like Code Pink are essential to Democracy to hold sovereigns accountable. Some leaders see the use of violence because they view peaceful actions as a sign of weakness and violence as strength. However, it is essential for a peace movement to embrace truth. William Buckley once said it is better to be right and lose than be wrong and win. When a movement depends on falsehoods be it intentional or sloppy/lazy research it loses its impartiality. Ukrainians who believe they are fighting for their cultural survival will doubt the impartiality of said organizations. It distresses me that this site parrots the same talking points of the most virulent MAGA Republicans. That alone should give pause. If your ally is the devil, something is amiss. If one believes that they do speak the truth they need to elaborate. I will point out flaws in the current argument.

    There is the argument that the former Soviet Union was made a promise in 1991 regarding the future of NATO expansion. Many public figures said things. However, sovereigns make agreements via formal treaties. A treaty has weight. A verbal promise in 1991 carries no weight for a politician today who was in high school in 1991. Perhaps, the former Soviet Union pushed for it. But its not there. That means no promise was made. I live in Michigan. The governor wanted to shut down a pipeline that was regulated via a sovereign treaty with Canada. Her foray failed because the treaty is the law of the land, not a verbal promise 50 years ago. To declare a speculative discussion/promise that may or may not have happened sans any legalize boilerplate in treaty is reckless at best and a Putin talking point at worse.

    Most of the new members of NATO were former subjects of either the Soviet Union, the Russian Empire or both. NATO is a varied body that requires all members to agree. NATO has shown reasonable restraint. They rebuked Bush Jr when he made a case for Ukraine and Georgia joining. NATO spending on defense especially by the original European members has dropped to between 1 and 1.5% of GDP. This is not the actions of a threatening neighbor. There is no mention of the multidecade attempt by Merkel of Germany to economically integrate Russia into the European sphere.

    As an aside there is no mention of Libya. If there was a failure of NATO that did impact Putin, it was the ill advised attempt at regime change in Libya. Is it because Obama gets a free pass? If there was any singular event that irked Putin, it was the concept that external sovereigns could dictate regime change because of the conduct of the target sovereign’s internal policy. Libya is a far stronger case against NATO conduct than Bosnia where Clinton was shamed by the footage of tens of thousands of Muslim Bosnians by ethnic Serbs. Rwanda was still fresh and Clinton feared the optics of doing nothing.

    Back to Obama, the official policy of the United States leading up to 2014 was a Pacific reset. I refer to Obama ridiculing candidate Romney in the 2012 presidential debates for his antiquated belief that Russia was a threat. There is no evidence that Ukraine was on the Obama radar. The events surprised everyone. More has been alleged from a single Victoria Nuland phone call than even the allegations regarding Hunter Biden. The US response was weak, confused, and fractured. The Obama administration had no coherent plan or agenda for Ukraine. To imply that the Obama administration had plans for Ukraine when they were fully committed to an Asia pivot is ridiculous.

    A comment on sanctions. Sanctions are well known to not sway the decisions of leaders. Sanctions are useful for two things. One is to convey a public disapproval of another sovereign’s conduct. The other is to reduce the capacity of another country to make war. Obama imposed sanctions in 2014 that did the former. The current sanctions are there to reduce Russia’s capabilities to sustain their war industry. Sanctions rarely induce policy change. They did work on Iran prior to the nuclear weapons deal. So never say never.

    My last comment is Russians in Ukraine. Millions of ethnic Russians live in Ukraine. Most of them voted to separate from the Soviet Union in 1991. Furthermore, most of them chose to fight for Ukraine in 2014. Ethnic Russian populated cities like Kharkiv and Odesa fought for Ukraine. Ethnic Russians fought and died side by side with members of the Azov Battalion in Maripol. What does that say about Fascism in Ukraine? All countries including the United States have this problem. Yet in the end, Ukrainians regardless of ethnic origin or political affiliation united against an external threat. To imply that the origin of this conflict is an ethnic issue is disingenuous to Ukrainians who have been struggling for their autonomy and self rule for hundreds of years.

    This last issue is what I find most distressing. Peace is about uniting people and finding common ground. Ethnic Russians and Ukrainians in Ukraine have in fits and starts. It promotes the lie of Putin that he is the only protector of ethnic Russians and that Russians and Ukrainians cannot live side by side. I am horrified that in the name of peace, it must be done by dividing people. If this site is serious about pacifism, they need to take a hard look at themselves and revaluate their agenda. Peace is only peace if it is a just peace.
  • Andriy Pereklita
    commented 2022-12-07 22:52:07 -0500
    As Ms. Hall correctly points out, Ukraine was and remains a neutral country, having voluntarily given up it’s nuclear arsenal of some 2,500 warheads, and all of the delivery vehicles (rockets, ICBM’s, cruise missiles and planes) on which those weapons were mounted. The Budapest agreement has since been broken four times. The first was Putin’s direct meddling in the Ukrainian Presidential election of 2004, where not only did Putin travel to Ukraine to publicly stump for Yanukovych, but he financed the Yanukovych campaign, and poisoned the opposing candidate, Victor Yushchenko. The second was the military invasion and annexation of Crimea in February of 2014. The third followed not a month later, when colonel Igor Girkin (aka Strelkov) and companies of Russian Specnaz GRU troops began a so-called rebellion in Donetsk and Luhansk by taking over government buildings and declaring separatist republics. Interesting that about a month ago Sergei Prygozhin finally let the cat out of the bag when he publicly declared why the mercenary force the Wagner Group was formed in early 2014, at the beginning of the invasion of the Southern parts of Ukraine. The mission was to undermine the government of Ukraine, and to conduct a covert war against Ukraine. The fourth began on February 24th 2022, with an all-out invasion. In other words, Russia has attempted to eliminate Ukraine as an independent state for almost 20 years.
  • Marg Hall
    commented 2022-12-03 13:52:23 -0500
    Why no mention of the Budapest agreement in 1994 where Ukraine unilaterally disarmed of its nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees from Russia,UK and US? It was a written recognition by Russia of Ukrainian borders including Crimea and a promise to respect Ukrainian sovereignty. We have a moral obligation to defend Ukraine.
  • Dennis Morgan
    commented 2022-12-02 17:01:31 -0500
    The first victim in a war is the truth. Expose the lies that the war is based upon and you can go a long way to stopping the war. The lynchpin of the West’s “invasion” narrative is based on a 3 in 1 lie that the conflict started last February and was an “unprovoked invasion.” I don’t buy the West’s “invasion” narrative. I saw early on that this was the kernel of a lie being used to justify war in Ukraine, a war that did not begin on February 24 but in 2014 when the mostly ethnic Russians of the Donbass did not accept the illegal, foreign led coup and so decided to break away; consequently, they were attacked by Ukrainian nationalists for eight long years. Then, in the week leading up to Russia’s direct intervention, the attacks dramatically escalated, with some 6,000 violations of the Minsk Accord, as reported by the OSCE. Moreover, subsequently, new evidence emerged that the NATO-trained, neo-Nazi infested Ukrainian military was planning a massive assault on the Donbass and Crimea; Russia’s direct intervention nipped this plan in the bud. An “invasion” implies occupation, just as when the US “invaded” Iraq in 2003. The US and its allies in the corporate-state media call it an “invasion” because they are projecting what the US would do in this situation; however, although it could have, Russia did not follow their script because it regards Ukrainians as its brothers, with a shared history and culture. In fact, Russia waited eight years before intervening directly to defend the Russian-speaking people in the Donbass.

    Essentially, as Dan Kovalik argues in “Why Russia’s intervention is legal under international law” (, the government in Kiev, and “… especially its Neo-Nazi battalions, carried out attacks against these peoples with the intention of destroying, at least in part, the ethnic Russians precisely because of their ethnicity”; hence, the intervention to defend the people of the Donbass from a Nazi led ethnic cleansing campaign was not a violation of international law. In fact, since the territory in question had broken away from Ukraine for eight years, one can argue that the Donbass no longer belonged to Ukraine; thus, the military intervention cannot rightly be called an “invasion” of Ukrainian territory.
  • Rachel Beckert
    commented 2022-11-26 21:01:45 -0500
    WARNING: The above FAQs include inaccuracies. For example, the statement about Crimea: “In March 2014, 83 percent of the voters in Crimea turned out to vote and 97 percent voted for integration into the Russian Federation and out of Ukraine. The vast majority are ethnic Russians.” There is no statement that the referendum was a sham.

    This year’s sham referendum in Kherson pulled back the veil for the whole world to witness up close what is actually happening with a Russian “popular” vote. Please, Codepink, pull your head out of the sand. You are an unwitting mouthpiece for Russian (at least I hope it’s not intentional). It is immoral for Codepink to be promoting false narratives which are literally causing the deaths of children at this very moment.
  • F J Handley
    commented 2022-11-11 22:33:45 -0500
    Thanks for a terrific overview. It’s ironic that Progressive Democrats have voted lockstep for more weapons in this escalating war. Thanks to Cope Pink for pushing 30 Democrats in Congress to sign a letter supporting direct negotiations with Russia. Alas, the very next day, the Democratic Party leadership forced them to withdraw the letter. Ironic that the likes of right wing Republican Kevin McCarthy are the ones questioning war funding. He’s suggested that if he becomes House Speaker, he will stop rubber stamping appropriations for weapons. (Strange bedfellows.)
  • Brian Earley
    commented 2022-10-14 16:46:32 -0400
    Total Nuclear War or Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons as a deterence is Russia’s, China’s and all other Countries as well as reduction in military Industrial spending. Giving our economy to solves the problems of world wide poverty. It would mean a total elongation of the peers that now control western Governments, European Union, USA and the Private Bankers Cabal controlling our Financial world.