Annexation of Crimea shows Putin wants to rebuild U.S.S.R.

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To the Editor:

The assessments by Anton Skerbic (“Ukraine unrest part of U.S. and EU plan to loot banks and corporations”, March 27) and Bob Ewashen (“International Monetary Fund is taking economic control of Ukraine”) appear one-dimensional, neglecting the role of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia had guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine as part of the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, but Mr. Putin has now occupied and annexed Crimea, and has positioned an army of 40,000 men on Ukraine’s eastern border; these actions are Mr. Putin “taking control of Ukraine” by military force. Mr. Putin appears to wish to rebuild the U.S.S.R., with satellites, behind a new iron curtain.

Mr. Ewashen also believes that the citizens of Ukraine “will pay a heavy price through economic deprivation” for trying to better integrate with Europe. This contrasts with the reality that most citizens of most of the former East Bloc countries that have integrated with the west are now much better off since the collapse of the U.S.S.R. Perhaps Anton and Bob are too young to remember “Ich bin ein Berliner” or the Berlin wall? Where there has been a clear demarcation line between an American side and a communist-totalitarian side (South Korea and North Korea, West Germany and East Germany, Florida and Cuba), people chose, often at risk to their lives, to get to the American side. For all its faults, and it has many, America is a far better ally and a far better model than Mr. Putin.

The reference to neo-Nazi activists does nothing to further rational discussion. There are probably neo-Nazis in every country, even little old Norway and big young Canada. In the Second World War, many Ukrainians welcomed and even joined the German army, mistakenly believing them to be liberators. Were all those Ukrainians Nazis? Hardly. After Stalin’s Holodomor, it was absolutely natural that many Ukrainians would join any force to fight Stalin. For those with a strong stomach, I recommend Execution by Hunger by Miron Dolot. And other Ukrainians, recognizing Lebensraum, fought with the Russians against the Germans. And others fought simply for Ukrainian independence. Complex. Messy. Today, the use of the term neo-Nazi marginalizes all those Ukrainians who simply do not want totalitarian domination.

What do most Ukrainians want? What we already have. A normal life. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. Freedom to challenge and remove corruption. Economic freedom. And no fear of a return to a knock on the door in the middle of the night.

And innocent citizens have paid the price. Bohdan Solchanyk was killed by one of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s snipers. Bohdan was a dangerous man: a historian, a Christian, a lecturer at the Ukrainian Catholic University. Knowledge and integrity are very dangerous to the likes of Yanukovych and Putin, murdered on the Maidan.

Peter Bulkowski

Calgary