A group of hundreds of economics professors signed on to an open letter to Columbia University Professor Jeffery Sachs, arguing the Ivy League economist has pushed Russian propaganda in his writings about the war in Ukraine.
“Your interventions present a distorted picture of the origins and intentions of the Russian invasion, mix facts and subjective interpretations, and propagate the Kremlin’s narratives,” reads the letter to Sachs, which was authored by a group of over 300 economists and published by University of California-Berkeley Professor Yuriy Gorodnichenko.
“There is no justification for the Russian war of aggression. A clear moral compass, respect of international law, and a firm understanding of Ukraine’s history should be the defining principles for any discussions towards a just peace.”
The group of professors takes issues with several points in Sachs’ public writings on the war in Ukraine, accusing the economist of denying the agency of Ukraine, arguing NATO provoked Russia, denying Ukraine’s sovereignty, advocating for Russia’s peace proposals and misrepresenting Ukraine as a divided country.
Ukrainian soldiers celebrate at a check point in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
The group took issue with many of the writings on Sachs personal website, including an article entitled “What Ukraine Needs to Learn from Afghanistan,” where Sachs argued that Ukraine should agree to non-NATO status, to allow the Russian Navy use of the Crimean Peninsula and for a political partition of the Donbas region.
“While your suggestion is perfectly aligned with that of Russian propagandists, it leaves unanswered the key question from the Ukrainian perspective: Based on what evidence do you trust a serial warmonger, who has stated on multiple occasions that Ukraine does not exist, to be satisfied with Crimea and Donbas and not try to occupy the entire country?” the letter asks.
“We urge you to reevaluate your stance on thinking that Russia is interested in good-faith peace talks,” the letter continues.
Russian President Vladimir Putin . ((Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP))
The group also took issue with Sachs comparing political divisions in Ukraine to the situation in Afghanistan in the same op-ed, in which Sachs argued “Ukraine is deeply divided ethnically and politically between Russia-hating nationalists in western Ukraine and ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.”
“This statement echoes a Russian political technology first applied during 2004 presidential elections and still used by Russians to justify the ‘denazification’ of Ukraine today. We encourage you to take a look at the actual empirical facts and history,” the letter responds, noting that in 1991 “all regions of Ukraine voted for independence. Including Crimea.”
Speaking to the Columbia Spectator about the letter, which was released last month, Columbia University Professor Wojciech Kopczuk said he signed on to the letter after being offended that such a “prominent” economists would publicly toe the Kremlin line.
Soldiers walk amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
“Having an extremely prominent member of the economics profession frequently and publicly speak about the conflict in ways that ignore Ukrainian agency, repeat Russian propaganda, misinform, and directly engage with sanctioned Russian propagandists … offends me enough to warrant speaking out on it,” Kopczuk said.
Sachs did not immediately reply to a Fox News request for comment on the letter.