February 28, 2022

Staff Writer

GREENFIELD – Protests have spread around the world as the Russian military lays siege to Ukraine, and now, residents from the Pioneer Valley have joined the call for peace with standouts in Greenfield and Northampton Saturday.

Calling for both sides to lay down their arms, a group organized by the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice gathered on the Greenfield Common to echo the pleas for peace seen around the world.

“This is my feeble attempt to say, ‘This is crazy, inhuman and brutal,’” said Charlemont resident Sherrill Hogen. “We need to rise above the mentality that violence is the answer; the answer is compassion, tolerance and non-violence.”

Joined by about a dozen other people, Hogen said the Russian invasion, the largest European ground war since World War II, will take countless civilian lives and cut short the lives of so many young soldiers on both sides. And worse still, she added, Russian President Vladimir P u t i n’s veiled nuclear threat last Thursday – in which he said any country that intervenes will face consequences “never seen” — now brings the fate of the world into the balance.

“Now we have nuclear weapons in play,” Hogen said. “At this point, the U.S. and Russia need to talk and both acknowledge that nuclear weapons are off the table.”

Those at the standout, like Greenfield resident Patricia Greene, said Russia’s invasion is based on the West’s expansion of NATO toward Russia’s border and it’s understandable why Putin might lash out when NATO members consistently have missiles “aimed at Moscow” — although, Greene said none of these circumstances could ever justify the war being carried out.

“What happened when they installed missiles in Cuba?” Greene said, referencing the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. “I’d like to see us stay out of this. … The most important thing is Ukraine stay out of NATO.”

When asked what should happen if Ukraine and its citizens would like to join NATO, she said that is their choice, but NATO’s continuing advance toward Russia may only provoke Putin further.

In a local tie to the conflict, Greene said Greenfield used to be a sister city of Poltava, Ukraine and had a foreign exchange student program in place for several years.

Pat Hynes, who sits on the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice’s board of directors, agreed with Greene’s assessmentand said the West had broken a promise made in the 1980s to avoid expanding NATO toward Russia’s borders.

“Russia has broken international law,” Hynes said, “but it’s not done in a vacuum.”

Hynes is hopeful countries around the world, including the U.S., can help broker peace negotiations and to “ensure they last” before more blood is shed.

“The biggest winner in this is the military industrial complex,” Hynes said. “This crisis has distracted the world from the pandemic and climate crisis.”

Greenfield resident Suzanne Carlson said wars never benefit the people fighting in them and that countries need to “start talking” before the violence claims more lives.

“Nobody wins in a war, and yet we keep multiplying our weapons,” Carlson said. “We need to get real. It’s human life — everybody is affected by this.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081.

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