Monday, March 21, 2022


A Berlin Airlift for Ukraine

Ira Straus

Chair of the Center for War/Peace Studies

Former Fulbright professor of international relations in Moscow


Putin is fast pushing in Ukraine to the level of genocidal killings that he sponsored in Syria a decade ago. He is imposing a neo-totalitarianism on Russia at the same time.

We need to rescue the civilians of Ukraine with a Berlin-style airlift.

The airlift could be under UN auspices. Russia would be given full notice. It almost certainly would not shoot UN planes down.

But if it did shoot some down, it would provide cause for the UN to suspend Russia from the global organization. And that would have severe consequences for Russia. The Security Council could start passing binding resolutions that all countries would be obligated to carry out against Russia. Or a resolution authorizing armed escorts to protect the airlift planes and get them through to the starving people.


What to airlift? Food, fresh water and filters, and fuel.

Where to airlift to? Mariupol, urgently. Kharkiv and Kiev, next, also urgently. Odesa and other besieged cities, third.


Putin has dumped his most vicious bombing on the ethnically Russian cities that he supposed would love him most, Mariupol and Kharkiv. Like a primitive false god, he would rather destroy his people than let them live without him.

There are thousands dead already. The numbers are growing geometrically. 20,000 deaths are estimated in Mariupol alone to date, 4000 of them carefully recorded.

Putin's troops bombed a great city’s food warehouses three times in a single day. These were repeated, pinpoint strikes, not accidents. It is not just siege warfare. It is starvation warfare.

Mass starvation is setting in.

This is the moment to prove we mean it when we say “never again”.