Latest Trip to Russia: During a Challenging Time

By Sharon Tennison, Center for Citizen Initiatives

Hi Friends,

trip map
(Click map to see larger version)

Within the week we leave for Russia during an extremely dangerous time. Some 31,000 armed NATO troops have stationed themselves in the Baltic countries and are doing unprecedented “war maneuvers” in preparation for a supposed Russian takeover of these three tiny states. Gigantic warships have been moved into position around Russia’s periphery, enormous amounts of military hardware stand ready for use. (BTW, there is not a shred of evidence that Russia has any intention to take a centimeter of the Baltic countries’ space.)

To understand the seriousness of it all, listen to the June 8 podcast of The John Batchelor Show’s interview with Professor Steve Cohen, America’s undisputed historian and expert on all aspects of US-USSR/Russia relations.

Cohen and other U.S. experts in the field are deeply alarmed that this NATO show of force could be the prelude to World War III, by accident or by intention.

VV Putin has made it clear that Russia will never start a war, that Russia’s military is purely defensive; but if missiles or boots land on Russian soil, Russia will “respond nuclear.” This week he stated that if there is any war-making on Russian territory, the countries which have allowed NATO missile installations on their territories will be in the “crosshairs,” thus alerting these countries they will be the first to be destroyed. Further, Putin warned NATO that Russia’s targets will include North America.

To my knowledge, none of this is being covered in American mainstream news, not on TV or in print media. By contrast, the news outlets of the rest of the world and across Russia are covering the threatening comments of our generals and the Pentagon on a daily basis. Hence we Americans are among the most poorly-informed people regarding these dangerous events.

The world has never been closer to WWIII than this month. 

Yet Americans aren’t aware of this fact.

With the Cuban missile crisis, Americans understood the horrendous possibility.

With the 1980s scare, American citizens reacted quickly and Washington took note.


Regarding the June trip, who would want to go to Russia during this time?

It’s interesting that an extremely courageous group of individuals have shown up for this very trip—by far the most intrepid group of travelers with whom CCI has worked to date. Several have left careers in CIA intelligence, the diplomatic corps and military positions to speak their “issues of conscience” about our national direction and recent wars. One, Ray McGovern, was the CIA daily briefer on Russia to the Oval Office for several US Presidents for over two decades. He and the other current travelers didn’t shrink into anonymity after leaving their posts, but rather have taken on “Speaking Truth to Power.” So this trip is quite a lineup of insightful and morally-driven Americans.

First we go to Moscow, then to Crimea (visiting Simferopol, Yalta and Sevastopol), next to Krasnodar and last to St. Petersburg. I’ve set up meetings with officials, journalists, TV & print media, Rotarians, entrepreneurs of all sorts in each city, a young, “good” regional oligarch in Krasnodar, NGO leaders, youth groups and a variety of cultural/historical sites in each city. We won’t sleep much, which is typical of CCI trips.

We plan to engage Russians to reduce stereotypes and build exchanges between ourselves and our cities, hoping to quickly rebuild human bridges at all levels. It worked in the 1980s, it can work again today––if we have enough time. In addition, we have other plans to speed the process upon return.

We want to take you along with us on this trip! As frequently as possible, we’ll be posting real-time updates, including narrative, photos, and video clips, to our website: We’ll also be sending emails to our email list, although less frequently than the website updates.


Dear CCI friends and supporters from across the country, use your creative minds to inform as many Americans as possible that we MUST not buy into the myths that Russia is an evil nation that must be subdued or destroyed. This is sheer “make-believe” coming from those in high places with archaic modes of thinking and those who are benefiting financially one way or another from creating an enemy again. Most haven’t set foot in Russia for years, if ever.

As you know, I am in and out of multiple regions of Russia several times a year. I know Russia’s history, its foibles, its efforts to join today’s fast-paced world just 25 years after rejecting Communism. Of course it is not where America or Europe is today; how could it be? But I can tell you that I’m amazed the Russians have come as far and as fast as they have. And I see nothing diabolical about today’s Russia or its leadership. It grieves me to see the foul and unjust criticisms that are leveled at all things Russian by Americans who never go there to see for themselves––and the money being made by authors who are armchair pontificators coming up with all manner of unproven theories about Russia.

Much of America, including your friends, neighbors and business colleagues have bought into the continual media bombardment against Russia on TV and print media––while our survival depends on recognizing that Russia has become a fairly sophisticated country near equal to our own with which we could cooperate and co-exist on this small planet.

What can you and I do to shift this mentality–even with some of our close associates? Start the “buzz.” Question the headlines with your compatriots, ask what they think. We MUST find the courage to educate, to question and to enlighten those around us––how else will change come about?  It won’t come from the top, this is for sure.

In the past we believed the earlier propaganda that took us to wars. In the Vietnam War, 58,000 young American lives were snuffed out and 4,000,000 Vietnamese left dead due to of one U.S. “false flag” operation that was carried out to justify the U.S. going into that war.  In 2003 most Americans believed Bush II about WMD’s in Iraq and supported going to war leveling that country. There were no WMD’s found there, but now millions of lives have been taken, further millions have been displaced, and we face the terrifying blowback that has evolved into ISIL, Al NUSRA and other terrorist offshoots born of that war.


U.S. mainstream media always follow what the White House and Pentagon report. If we let the media lead us into a war with Russia, we risk the extinction of ourselves, our families and civilization on our planet.

Please consider forwarding this email to your family, friends and colleagues.

More to follow from our travel.  Follow us at

Sharon Tennison
President and Founder, Center for Citizen Initiatives


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