I believe Paul Josephson has gaps in his expertise about Russia and Ukraine (article, “Colby professor criticizes slow US response to Crimea crisis,” March 18).

He says nothing about the neo-Nazi thugs who allegedly joined the January protests, throwing Molotov cocktails and paving stones at the police. Nor did he mention that an armed mob drove a democratically elected president from office.

Josephson asserts correctly that “Russian culture and history have set the stage for the current conflict,” yet he ignores the fact that the Crimea was long a part of Russia and most of Crimea’s people consider themselves to be Russian. As with the Balkans, old animosities from World War II still surface: Russians in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea reject the rule of “nationalists” from Western Ukraine who they view as descendants of Nazi collaborators.

Josephson joins the knee-jerk call for sanctions. To accomplish what? Russia cannot leave the Crimea, site of its only warm-water port. Truly painful sanctions will bring Russian retaliation. Suppose its newest air-defense systems show up in Iran? What happens to Europe’s economy if Russia ends deliveries of oil and natural gas?

Charles Krauthammer (commentary, “How to stop Putin,” March 15), shilling for American natural gas producers, urges immediate authorization for two dozen liquid natural gas export terminals to pressure Russia. Our energy companies don’t care about Ukraine; they want to sell our natural gas to Asia, where it brings several times the U.S. price.

“Shale gas reviving US manufacturing” (commentary, March 15) points out that “abundant, cheap natural gas” is the key to reviving American manufacturing. If Congress allows major exports of our natural gas, what happens to our economy?

Now that much of Kennebec County is invested in using natural gas, what happens to those “projected” savings if natural gas prices increase by three or four times?

John R. MerrillAugusta