The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

Bonus Episode: Unpacking the Ukrainian Situation with Paly History Teachers

Brennen Ho and Jeffrey Tu | March 7, 2022

Find all the episodes of TONE here.


Ho: Welcome back, Paly. It’s Brennen Ho

Tu: and Jeffrey Tu.

Ho: And today we’re taking a deeper dive into the Ukrainian situation by talking to a few Paly history teachers and seeing what their opinions are.

Tu: So first, let’s take a recap and figure out what exactly is going on in Ukraine right now.

Ho: To start, Kyiv and Kharkiv, which are two major Ukrainian cities, are both being bombed by the Russian military currently.

Tu: NATO is also debating whether or not to set up a no-fly zone right now over Ukraine. And the US specifically is warning that it might lead to a full-fledged war in Europe. Paly US history teacher Adam Yonkers has a little bit more to explain the situation.

Yonkers: One of the questions is around a no-fly zone, and a lot of people are saying we should set up a no-fly zone around Ukrainian airspace. But, I think it will escalate things because you have supply chains that you have to feed people with, flights coming in and out of Ukraine, and then any Russian jet would then be potentially shot down if they violate the no-fly zone.

Ho: Russia is getting more aggressive to achieve their goals, but the question remains, what will Russia do over the next couple of days? Well, Yonker says he thinks that Russia is going to be pushing harder to take over the capital city, though Ukrainians are fighting back.

Yonkers: I think what they’ll do is they’ll take over the city government, they’ll fly the Russian flag, they’ll remove the Ukrainian flag. They’ll say, ‘Hey, we’re now in control of the capital city. You guys should give up.’ But I think that’s going to be a hard sell because from what I’m seeing from the Ukrainian people is that they have no intent of giving up.

Tu: More broadly, how does this conflict really affect us back in America? Yonkers also explained that US democracy is under attack by Russians.

Yonkers: I think we’re already under threat through the erosion of our democracy, people questioning elections and the results. Disinformation. I think all of those — we are under threat right now.

Ho: But could this attack on Ukraine be part of a broader movement of authoritarian states? Could it lead to a further shrinking of global democracy?

Tu: Well, Yonker said that the current Ukrainian invasion is really a test from authoritarian nations on Western States.

Yonkers: Crimea he got away with. Is he going to be allowed to get away with Ukraine? And it’s a test for autocrats around the world. Everybody’s watching. See, is this a test of the west like democracy versus authoritarian?

Tu: With the current invasion of Ukraine, how is Putin’s military strategy faring?

Ho: AP US history teacher John Bungarden said that Putin’s strategy of siege warfare was a dangerous one and could bear heavy consequences on Ukrainians.

Bungarden: One of the advantages of doing siege warfare — there’s two of them. Surround the city and just starve it is number one — you don’t have to move as much so the strain on the logistics train will be reduced. And two, which may be more salient, it’s hard to imagine a more destructive, ugly form of warfare than urban fighting. It is. I mean, you kill more men, attackers, defend women, just people. More people get killed, both the attackers and defenders, and you largely will rubble much of the city in taking it. So siege creates a different story dynamic. The downside of the Russians of siege is it takes time.

Tu: He also added that Putin’s use of tube artillery is really dangerous for Ukrainians because they’re so inaccurate while being very destructive.

Bungarden: You shoot Rockets in the middle of the city. A rocket is kind of accurate. It’s ballistic, so you can aim it, put on a certain deflection, and I assume there’s some sort of a charge back there, like you do for tube artillery. So you know roughly how it’s going to land, but roughly it’s got a big circle. It’s called circular probable, which is like if you do all those things right, it’ll land kind of plus or minus 100 meters or 200 meters or whatever. That’s the nature. Tube artillery are the same, though the numbers are different. If I’m just shooting, I know that round is going to land here if I don’t have eyes on it, I’m not hitting this. I’m definitely not hitting what I’m shooting at or I’m not shooting anything other than the middle of the city because people and things are there and I will break things and I will hurt/kill people. And that’s what they’re doing.

Ho: Outside of direct welfare, there’s also economic pain that’s being felt by both sides.

Tu: The value of the Ruble crashed this week. And on the West’s side, the price of energy has gone up.

Bungarden: The negative effects of Russia just don’t stay there. Let’s just take energy as the easiest example. So people, reduce, to reduce at most, they’re not going to cut off because Russian energy is too important in Western Europe. But you reduce, that’s some pain on Russia, but that’s pain on everybody else, too, because the price of energy is going to go up.

Tu: So, Brennen, after learning all this from Paly teachers, what are your thoughts on the issue?

Ho: So I think that it’s a pretty complicated issue. There’s a lot of stuff to unpack, and some of the reporting is a bit inconsistent. So we’re not fully sure what’s going on there. But I think it’s pretty clear that Russia intends to fully invade Ukraine. And that is something that I find really scary because that’s never been seen, at least in my lifetime. It hasn’t happened since World War II, where a country is taking over another country fully. And I’m pretty scared, and I’m pretty anxious to see how it’s going to turn out and how that actually impact me and my family going forward.

Tu: Definitely, especially since Putin is such an irrational actor. It’s really hard to tell what his decision-making process is right now, and it really could threaten the use of nuclear weapons and lead to a nuclear war between the West and Putin. That could be a really scary outcome for everyone. It could be endangering for life on the planet.

Ho: Yeah, it’s a really scary thought. The fact that nukes are involved, it just puts a whole another element to this conflict where life could end right now. Say something goes wrong in Russia, nukes could be fired right now and no one would know until it’s too late.

Tu: Yeah, and honestly, I’ve been thinking about it a little bit. If a nuclear war did start someday, we might get an Amber Alert or it might be on the PA system while we’re in school and we might have, like, ten minutes left to live. Well, we thank Mr. Bungarden and Mr. Yonkers for taking the time to do interviews with us and we hope that the situation eventually turns out.

Ho: As always, the latest information about the Ukrainian situation and other Paly news can always be found on our website at

Tu: This has been the Voice TONE.

Ho: Thanks for listening.