St. John Paul II and the Future of Ukraine

With Divine Providence, nothing is left to chance.

On the Sunday of Divine Mercy, the Universal Church recognized what God had already ordained—solemnly declaring Pope John Paul II a saint. Almost twenty-four years earlier, this nascent saint made it possible for my future wife and I to meet in the Eternal City. It was to be—as they say—a marriage made in heaven.

Because our particular Church had been all but destroyed and forced underground by the Russians, Ukrainian Greek Catholics from around the world were invited to Rome in 1988 to celebrate the millennium of the Christianization of the Ukrainian proto-state, Kyivan-Rus.

At that point, the longest and bloodiest tragedy of the twentieth century—the formally atheistic Soviet Union—was, mercifully, in its death throes … due in no small part to the angelic courage and prayerful efforts of Pope John Paul II. This great man knew all too well the ravages Poland had suffered under the inhuman ideology of communism, in particular as propped up by the cowardice of Russian nationalism.

The Soviet regime would not dare permit Ukrainian Catholics to celebrate the baptism of their nation in their own homeland. The Russian Orthodox Church had usurped Ukrainian history, claiming that it was the primary heir of Eastern Christianity brought to Ukraine—never mind there is no record of Moscow existing until almost 150 years after the Christianization of Ukraine in 988 A.D. This is akin to the British colony known as the U.S. claiming itself rightful heir to the seventh-century Christianization of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that would eventually become England.

Marx characterized the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Russian Empire a “prison house of nations,” and indeed until near the end of the twentieth century, few knew of the captive nations constituting the Soviet Union. Even fewer knew that Russians accounted for only 51 percent of a Soviet population comprising over 110 non-Russian nationalities and ethnic groups. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Ukraine emerged independent—but not free of Russian control—as a country slightly bigger than France with a population of over 52 million (its population today is barely 45.5 million), a shattered economy, rampant Soviet-style corruption, the legacy and contamination of Chornobyl, and a people psychologically and morally exhausted.

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishop Borys Gudziak recently compared Ukraine’s situation with that of the women held hostage by Ariel Castro for over a decade—incredibly unbeknownst to neighbors who saw Castro himself on a daily basis.

Yes, even nations are raped.

JPII Breaks Down WallFew knew and even fewer cared. And, those who did know invariably interpreted events through realist power dynamics. Even the Vatican under Paul VI engaged in the so-called “pragmatism” of ostpolitik—ostensibly to improve the condition of Christians in general and Catholics in particular behind the Iron Curtain. Sadly, Ukrainian Catholics did not fare well in the political machinations of others.

Few knew and even fewer cared … until John Paul II raised his voice with his earth-shattering exhortation “Be not afraid!” This was something of which the Soviets—who ruled through intimidation and fear—were deathly afraid. Encyclicals like Veritatis splendor and Fides et ratio did more to coax people out of the shadowlands of the caves of relativism and fear than any political efforts—the latter largely focused neither on a proper anthropological understanding of mankind nor of mankind’s place in God’s salvific plan.

Our young family was graced by an already frail John Paul when he visited Ukraine in June 2001. In the western Ukrainian city of L’viv, the Holy Father blessed the cornerstone of the Ukrainian Catholic University, for which Fr. Gudziak was then Rector. We witnessed communists and Russian Orthodox marching hand-in-hand on the streets of the capital, Kyiv, protesting the Pontiff’s visit—spouting some of the most hateful language imaginable. Many times we visited the holiest place of Eastern Orthodoxy—the Monastery of the Caves in Kyiv, currently under the control of the Moscow Patriarchate—where one could readily obtain anti-semitic, anti-Catholic, and anti-Ukrainian tracts. And, in the early morning of April 2, 2005, I had just returned from an end-of-winter climb of Ukraine’s tallest mountain, Hoverla, to learn that the man who brought my wife and I together in Rome was at death’s door. My lasting impression of that day was the tectonic power of the witness of John Paul II’s salvific suffering. II Corinthians 12:9 indeed!

This winter, Ukraine emerged from its revolution of dignity—bloodied, but with hopes of a Ukrainian Spring just around the corner. Yet, as weak and exhausted as her people are from years of struggles against corruption and authoritarianism, Ukraine now faces the external threat of a resurgent Putin—a man deathly afraid that the scent of freedom ordered to the true, the good, and the beautiful might “infect” his own people.

Future Prospects for an Independent Ukraine
Yet, where—really—is the West? Ukraine wants nothing to do with Munich’s “urban naked zones.” It does not appreciate Europe’s evisceration of its Christian legacy from the Preamble to the European Constitution. Many in Ukraine correctly wonder how homosexuality can be viewed by the West as a “right” or “valid lifestyle,” while most perceive the transvestite winner of this past week’s EuroVision competition a sick joke. Ukrainian citizens are puzzled over seemingly ineffectual “warnings” and “sanctions” against certain Russian authorities … all while Russian military jets repeatedly violate Ukrainian airspace, Russian-trained separatists take school children and OSCE observers hostage and torture innocent coal miners, Russian troops have massed on Ukraine’s eastern border, and Russian military personnel already operate on its territory. Moreover, international agreements are hardly worth the paper upon which they are printed—given the West’s failure to live up to its obligations to support the territorial integrity of Ukraine, while, according to one observer, “Putin has laid waste to a host of international agreements. It’s not that he rejects the need for them; he just wants others to recognize that the Kremlin has the right to its own interpretation of international agreements and principles.” And, we now know the numbers: the so-called Crimean referendum was fraudulent, with few participating, and those who did were “protected” by machines guns.

The modus operandi of Putin’s “diplomacy” is, first, to gain domestic support by manipulating Russian public opinion through oppressive control of the media and saturating the news with Soviet-era propaganda. The victim of Russian territorial piracy—Ukraine—is faulted, while orders are issued to Russian special forces operating on Ukrainian territory and Russian separatists are directed to take over government facilities. Then, Putin keeps complacent and risk-averse Western powers guessing—countries overly dependent upon Russian fossil fuels, especially conflicted Germany: he masterfully employs doubt to magnify threats and conceal weaknesses to gain the initiative. Putin’s proximate goal is not so much to invade eastern Ukraine—although, de facto that has already happened—but to destabilize in order to delegitimize upcoming elections … including this weekend’s illegitimate and very localized “autonomy referendum,” whose result appear chaotic at best. All this is in support of Putin’s vision for a new world order. As one scholar noted in the Washington Post: “Putin not only seeks to revisit the results of the end of the Cold War; he also wants a final say in establishing the new world order. Briefly, the Kremlin offers a new trade-off: In return for continued economic benefits for the West, Russia wants Western consent to its interpretation of the rules of the game.”

Why delegitimize elections and destabilize Ukraine? To keep it from moving towards European integration and NATO. Putin cannot permit May 25 elections in Ukraine (which, not accidentally, coincide with European Parliamentary elections) to gain legitimacy, for this will surely “lose” Ukraine for Putin. Not only will Ukraine’s European aspirations eventually be realized, but Moscow and Kyiv understand very well that the West cannot—at least openly under the current circumstances—provide an unelected interim government serious military backing, and Putin will go to great lengths to keep it that way. And, Putin has a very potent ace up his sleeve: by quietly employing agents (while using the more overt and violent separatists to deflect attention), people in eastern Ukraine will be coaxed to boycott the May 25 elections—an outcome of no war … but also no peace.

Putin doesn’t hide his ultimate intention to rebuild the Soviet Union (the collapse of which he characterized as “the greatest tragedy of the twenthieth century”)—except this time not propped up by communist ideology (which he loathes) but based upon his nationalist vision of a “Great Russia” as the alleged protector of any ethnic Russia no matter where they are. To this end, at a 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest (the same year he invaded Georgia) Putin claimed Ukraine was “an artificial state.” Moreover, Russian commentators routinely assert the borders of countries which formerly constituted the USSR were incorrect—thus subject to change. Putin is on a westward march—the question is, how seriously does the West take this? Sanctions, while a nuisance to Russia, betray a misunderstanding on the part of the West who think limited economic pain will necessarily persuade a people who have grown accustomed to doing without; as author and journalist Edward Lucas observed: “[Putin] will accept economic pain if he believes it’s in Russia’s national interest. He is prepared to use force. And he is prepared to lie—blatantly and repeatedly.”

However, it may have recently dawned on Putin what he’s gotten himself into. First, while hardly viewed as direct economic blows by the Russians, targeted sanctions are having knock-on effects in the Russian banking industry as a whole in terms of currency exchanges and massive capital flight. Second, as ruthless as Putin’s actions are and notwithstanding his ultimate goal of reconstituting some form of a Russian empire, he doesn’t appear to be in command of a well-defined long-term strategy to realize his dreams, prompting one commentator to suggest “Putin is winging it on Ukraine.” Third, Putin’s actions have galvanized and unified Ukrainians in a way never before seen. Fourth, Putin’s recent promise to pull troops back from Ukraine’s eastern border (not yet realized) appear to be prompted more by the successes of Ukraine’s anti-terrorist operations against Russian separatists than a true commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity. (Our oldest son’s best friend in Kyiv is proud that he and “other young men are arming ourselves to the teeth” to defend Ukraine.) Fifth, this exposes limitations in what Russian special forces can achieve (which cannot be utilized as an invading force), and it also exposes long-known weaknesses in the Russian military as a whole: having the Russian army sucked into a protracted guerrilla war over a large chunk of Ukrainian territory is something Putin can ill-afford. Sixth, regardless of Putin’s chessboard-aggressiveness, the fires he stokes pose a serious potential of harming the Russian Federation far more than the current pariah state it has become. Strong domestic nationalist support notwithstanding, public opinion is a fickle thing—even in Russia: a protracted guerrilla war in Ukraine will cost dearly in national treasure and blood, and plummeting Russian stocks in an economy overly-dependent upon fossil fuels betray tremendous risks in this regard.

Finally, Putin appears to have set in motion the potential for a conflict (currently far under the public radar) beside which Russia’s aggressiveness against Ukraine will pale: in March an MP to the Chinese National People’s Congress registered a draft law on the accession to China of Russian territory in the far east—echoing the 1969 Sino-Soviet conflict. Because the Russian Federation removed visa restrictions against Chinese citizens in 1992 to support economic development in these far-flung regions, hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers have settled in Siberia and the Russian Far East—in particular to the Far Eastern Federal District. The modern Chinese historical conception views the northern boundary of the Yuan dynasty extending to the Arctic Sea, while most of the Russian Far East and parts of Siberia were also part of China under the Qing Empire—roughly one-sixth of China’s current territory. Taken together, Putin’s actions and the number of Chinese living in the Russian Far East appear to provide the government of China excellent precedent for territorial annexation, something that may have already started.

“Be Not Afraid!”
In February, a BBC reporter asked a weary Ukrainian on the Maidan square in Kiev about his country’s future in Europe. The man responded matter-of-factly: “We don’t want to go to Europe. We want to build Europe here.” Europe at the door of Russia in the guise of a vibrant and prosperous Ukraine is another fear of Putin’s, for his own overly petroleum-based economy is on the verge of collapse. Ukraine as a cultural and spiritual contributor is what Western Europe fears, for Europe has strayed from its Christian path.

And yet, a great saint exhorts them all: “Be not afraid!”

Editor’s note: In the image above St. John Paul II is pictured with Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma at the airport in Lviv in 2001. (Photo credit: AP)

Alexander R. Sich


Alexander R. Sich is Professor of Physics and Faculty Associate with the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He has twelve years of professional experience in nuclear safety and non-proliferation abroad, primarily in Ukraine. For the 2014-15 academic year, Dr. Sich was a Fulbright Teaching and Research Scholar at the Ukrainian Catholic University. He earned his doctorate in nuclear engineering from MIT and a Master's in Soviet Studies from Harvard University and a second Master's in philosophy from Holy Apostles College and Seminary.

  • Joseph

    Ethnic minorities in Ukraine’s Trans-Carpathia region will dodge the military draft. The new neo-Nazi-affiliated government in Kiev wants to draft them, probably so that they could be sent to kill and be killed in Eastern Ukraine. But Trans-Carpathians are saying, “Hey, leave us out of your civil war! Your war is not our war!”. They never had a problem with Russian minorities in Eastern Ukraine, and are unwilling to go fight them on the illegitimate putchist Kiev government’s orders.

    Meanwhile, the new “Ukrainian Spring”-installed putchist government’s first action was to abolish the minorities’ language law. Swoboda party, which is now part of the government, asked the Attorney General to ban the Trans-Carpathian Hungarians’ Democratic Association. The Trans-Carpathian minorities’ historic and cultural monuments are weekly desecrated and painted with swastikas. Still, these folks are lucky that the neo-Nazis controlling Kiev didn’t pull an “Odessa Trade Union Building fire” on them.

    However, they will have to flee their homelands and become political refugees in neighboring countries, because the neo-Nazis controlling Kiev, the same neo-Nazis who killed women, children, and the elderly in Odessa, Mariupol, Kramatorsk, and elsewhere, are now trying to draft them into the army and send them to war.

    When you want to use your native language, and preserve your own cultural heritage, in your own homeland in Trans-Carpathia, in the land where your ancestors have been buried up to the 50th generation, that’s not allowed. The Ukrainian chauvinists will not tolerate that. The government in Kiev will forbid you to use your language; neo-Nazi youths will douse with gasoline and set your historic monuments on fire. But the same government in Kiev is eager to draft your young men, to become throw-away soldiers and cannon-fodder in an unjust and unnecessary civil war in Eastern Ukraine that you don’t want to take part in.

    The rise of fascist/neo-Nazi powers in the “Ukrainian Spring” of 2014 has brought nothing good so far to the ethnic and cultural minorities in Ukraine.

    • Art Deco

      The new neo-Nazi-affiliated government in Kiev

      I do not think there is much point in tolerating utter rot on this site.

      • SebastianVenier

        Art Deco: If it’s your view that Joseph’s comment is merely “utter rot,” you should find it easy to explain why and rebut it. Yet you do not even make the attempt. Merely deriding a point of view as utter rot is not engaging with it, much less refuting it. Surely you have more to offer than repeating sound-bites from Western mainstream media as though they were a secular gospel.

        • Arriero

          Many America hate the mainstream media for its ideas and coverage on some issue but they have not realized that they’re certainly an intellectual byproduct of this irrational and post-modern media-ideology, as this issue about Ukraine certainly shows.

          They don’t know that the anti-Russian (or pro-Ukraine) tone of the mainstream media has the same smell that the anti-Catholic (or pro-protestant) usual tone in that media. They hate people who say: enough is enough. This media only likes vassals.

          PS- This same anti-Russian media already organized a disgusting anti-Sochi Olympiads campaign.

          • TheAbaum

            “This media only likes vassals.”

            So says the PHO. The irony is almost to much to bear,.

        • Art Deco

          Murray Chotiner once explained many decades ago his method of political promotion: “Say ‘three cheers for Joe Smith; end the parking meter racket”. You let him explain with patience and detail that there is no parking meter racket and gulled audiences will suspect him of a cover-up.

          No, I am not going to make ‘an attempt’ to explain that common and garden political participants in a country which has had a rough-cut electoral system for 20-odd years are not ‘neo-Nazis’ because some Russian press agent shows up here and claims they are. Nor will I make an attempt to explain that they are not aliens from another dimension.

    • Arriero

      I think you pretty much nail it.

      Russia FELT COMPELLED to intervene. Russia is being very cautious. Putin is not crazy, unlike the Ukranian neo-nazis.

      The Euro-Atlantic press stinks with the coverage of this issue, as it certainly stinks with the majority of coverages.

      • Art Deco

        Enough of this stupidity.

        • Arriero

          I don’t know why you say that all this is a stupidity. What Joseph has said above pretty well explains what has happened. Am I a Russian agent? Am I’m paid by Russian agents too?

          The Cold War already finished. Communism failed. Open your eyes and see the new world.

          PS- I don’t understand why you support here the mainstream media thesis on Russia, the same media that hates everything that smells Catholic or everything that goes against its narrow post-modern and decadent world.

          • TheAbaum

            I don’t know why you say that all this is a stupidity.

            How would you? You are the author of it.

            • Arriero

              Your anti-arguments no-argumentation resembles that from the stupid anti-intellectual no-arguments liberal progressive media.

              I collect the rubbish with broom and dustpan.

              Obama is evil except when he tries to support a neo-nazi anti-Russian Ukranian government or when he supports the anti-Christian irrational and crazy turbans-men throughout the Middle East.

              The same press which calls a Pope marxist is the same that would like to throw an atomic bomb in Moscow. How dangerous are all these pseudo-calvinists anti-Orthodox, anti-Copt and, above all, anti-Catholic.

              • TheAbaum

                There are no arguments against pretentious collages of discordant run-on sentences, especially when the author imagines it them be some wellspring of wisdom and erudition.

                You forgot to write “Rome does not pay traitors” in all capitalized letters, but you did get your reference to Calvin.

                • Arriero


                  ROME DOES NOT PAY TRAITORS.

                  Russia seems that does not pay traitors, either.

                  Beware that night. Maybe the spirit of Stalin visits America… Ooh, the commies coming, the commies coming again…

                  Communism failed. The Wall failed. The Cold War ended. Period, end of story. The Ukranian crisis is another issue. An almighty Germany is a danger for Europe, the english (Farage), the greeks (Tsipras) and the french (LePen) already know it.

                  You don’t seem to know that Putin has given much more importance to the paper of the Orthodox Church in the Russian life. You don’t seem to know that Russia is a conservatist country. You don’t seem to know that Russia does not want the kind of decadence you find in Euro-Atlantida. You don’t seem to know that economically, Russia has a balanced budget, low debt and a thriving economy (despite high corruption and cronyism. Well, like in the US and everywhere). The mainstream media hated Putin’s no to homosexual marriage, that’s why they tried to boycott the Winter Games.

                  But hey, if you don’t know what this all of Calvin is about (which is, by the way, merely a conceptual metaphor to join some similar ideologies and attitudes), don’t worry. Just trust Obama, he – the commander in chief – knows what to do with the greatest nation on Earth (like he knew in Egypt, Syria, Lybia, Bengazi, etc.).

                  I hallucinate with some of you, seriously.

                  • TheAbaum

                    All I know is that I know about you is that you like to pose as some sort of infallible and impeccable authority, but you live in a fortress of fantasies-and when you are confronted with a different view, you dismiss them it with an ad hominem, because your fortress is weak.

                    You can’t imagine that people have experiences that inform their view, because you have no experience. That’s why you repeat anthems-you have nothing else to draw on.

                    It’s not a metaphor, it’s all you have-if you want a metaphor-you are a Tudorist, desperate for am earthly king, not the real one.

                    Worse, your logic is terrible. Recognizing that Putin has imperial ambitions does not mean recognizing Obama is a cheap street hustler who is putting the world at risk-everywhere.

                    I’m not impressed with what Putin has done for the Russian Orthodox Church any more than I was impressed by Al Capone’s showy acts of false charity. I’m not Orthodox, so their interests aren’t necessarily mine. Last I checked, the Orthodox Church was still in schism.

                    We have a word for people like you whose appreciation comes so easily- sucker.

                    By the way, the word “hallucinate” means to see things that aren’t real. It’s self-impeaching-or a Freudian slip.

                    Buy a dictionary, so you don’t use words you don’t understand.

        • TheAbaum

          I’m still wondering how a political entity FEELS anything.

    • Paul

      The Ukrainian neo-nazis you refer to are no more neo-nazi than the Russian invaders. This is a conflict of Nationalism, or more precisely of national identity. While Putin wants to rebuild a Russian empire of bygone days – does this sound like Mussolini’s dream of the Roman Empire and Hitler’s 3rd Reich which was supposed to last 1000 years ? – and the Ukrainains want indepence.

      • Joseph

        I tried to highlight one facet of current Ukrainian reality – the neo-Nazi threat to ethnic and cultural minorities in Ukraine, more specifically one region in Western Ukraine where the Carpato-Rusyn and Hungarian minorities live. This threat comes both from neo-Nazi hooligans, and from the new neo-Nazi-affiliated government in Kiev. The threat for these folks doesn’t come from Putin, or from Russia.

        For these minorities, it is the Ukrainian neo-Nazis who regularly vandalize and desecrate their historic monuments and cemeteries, paint swastikas, destroy bi-lingual inscriptions in their cities, and specifically in the Trans-Carpathia region, this has been going on for years and years now. I just don’t see how and why Putin and Russia would have any relevance to this. It’s not Putin desecrating and destroying these people’s historic and cultural monuments. It’s not Putin painting swastikas on them. It’s the Ukrainian neo-Nazi hooligans doing this stuff, and local people have had to endure this for years now.

        But since the vicious massacre in Odessa, we now also know that the Ukrainian neo-Nazis mean business. They will do more than merely paint swastikas and vandalize other people’s historic monuments. They will beat people to death. They will torture people to death. They will strangulate pregnant women to death.

        And if all that wasn’t enough, now the government in Kiev wants to force young men into the army, probably in order to send them to war in Eastern Ukraine.

        My point is, many citizens of Ukraine despise this new government in Kiev and everything it stands for, and they will not let this government conscript them into the armed forces. Again, no point bringing Putin or Russia into this. It’s not Putin who wants to conscript Ukrainian citizens into the army, and make them cannon fodder in the civil war in Eastern Ukraine. It’s the crazy genocidal putchist government in Kiev trying to do that.

        To government in Kiev wants to force people from Western Ukraine into the army, probably in order to send them to fight other people in East Ukraine, and Western Ukrainians refuse that. There’s no point going to kill other civilians in Eastern Ukraine who never did anything wrong to you. If the people of Slovyansk, Donetsk, or Kramatorsk want to federalize themselves or even secede from Ukraine, it’s their private business. It is not the role of Western Ukrainian folks to go kill them and get killed in the process, and Western Ukrainian folks will dodge the military draft.

        People in the Trans-Carpathia region of Western Ukraine do not fear Putin, or Russia. They fear the government in Kiev, which tries to force them into the army. And they fear the Ukrainian neo-Nazis, who had been vandalizing their stuff for years, had been painting swastikas on their historic monuments, and who might now decide to attack and kill peaceful unarmed civilians, just like they did in Odessa.

        • Art Deco

          I tried to highlight one facet of current Ukrainian reality – the neo-Nazi threat

          I haven’t figured out whether you’re an ignoramus or an utter fraud.

          • TheAbaum

            Written two months ago on The Daily Caller:

            “I’m only interested in nano thermite, the controlled demolition of WTC building 7, and the cruise missile that hit the Pentagon on 9/11. Which TV station is covering that stuff best, Fox, MSNBC, or RT?”

            The other possibility is Joseph is Rosie O’Donnell.

      • Joseph

        Let’s put it another way. Supposed that Catalonian people wanted to secede from Spain, and the Spanish government in Madrid tried to draft into the army the people of the Galician, or Basque regions of Spain, and send them to fight against Catalonians. Wouldn’t that be crazy? Wouldn’t the Gallegos, or the Basques, have all the reason to dodge the military draft, and refuse to go fight Catalonians? If Catalonia wants to secede from Spain, let them secede.

        And this is exactly what the people from parts of Western Ukraine are saying, now that Kiev wants to draft them into the army. Kiev needs to butt out. If Eastern Ukraine wants to federalize, let them federalize. If they want to secede, let them secede. Kiev must not be in the business of drafting people into the army from one region of Ukraine, and sending them to fight people from another region.

        • It’s not that easy. Each part of the country wants Kiev, so the territory would be divided unsatisfactorily.

  • Joseph

    Putin is right that Ukraine is an artificial state. Trans-Carpathia used to belong to the Kingdom of Hungary for 1000 years before Ukraine took it; Bucovina used to belong to Romania. I’ve heard that other parts of current Ukraine, more than just Crimea, used to belong to Russia. Perhaps this is why Putin made that comment.
    Ukraine got away with taking other countries’ and other peoples’ lands, but now the regime in Kiev, and the Ukrainian fascists, also want to treat the indigenous people living on those lands as second-class citizens or worse, physically exterminate them (see Yulia Tymoshenko’s “we need to kill 8 million Russians with nuclear bombs”; see the massacre in Odessa, May 2, 2014, where women, children, and the elderly were strangulated with electric cords, raped, tortured, beaten to death, their corpses doused with gasoline and set on fire).

    • Paul

      As much as I find Tymoshenko’s comment inflammatory and unhelpful, Russia needs to respect Ukrainian independence. We must not loose our level-headedness over one single comment.

  • Joseph

    “Europe at the door of Russia in the guise of a vibrant and prosperous Ukraine is another fear of Putin’s”

    At least a prosperous Ukraine will (hopefully) pay for the gas it gets from Russia, not fall behind on payments, and will be less tempted to siphon off gas without paying for it.

    • Paul

      The operative word in your post above is “hopefully” which is conveniently bracketed. What you have not undertood is that the price of gas supplied to the Ukraine populace is extortionately high and Russia is holding the Ukraine to ransom.

  • vito

    This is an excellent analysis. I agree that Putin has probably made a mistake with his hysterical reaction re Ukraine’s wish to join the EU. Joining the EU is a very lengthy and difficult process. Frankly, no one really is too happy about accepting Ukraine, in its present/recent economic and political condition and corruption, in the EU. It would have been a lengthy process and Ukrainians might have lost enthusiasm along the way and Russia would have had a million chances to discourage it in a more civilized way (economic pressure etc). Under current extraordinary circumstance, the EU may speed up the processes and not only for Ukraine, but also for Moldova and Georgia.
    Moreover, Russia’s actions are a huge motivation to further expand and solidify NATO. It is already increasing air defence in the Baltics, Poland etc are already being and permanent presence of ground troops and bases is very likely too in near future.

  • Dan

    There isn’t nearly enough evidence to condemn the March referendum in Crimea–this article references only one claim, based on a supposed blog post at a Russian-run website that was almost immediately taken down. The fact is that a majority in Crimea are strongly pro-Russian–it doesn’t seem surprising that they would wish to be aligned more closely with Russia.

    And the fact that thuggery was involved doesn’t invalidate the results of the referendum, as the author believes. In fact, even if we grant that the theory linked to by the article is correct, then pro-Russian thugs did the worst job ever of trying to skew the results, by frightening away even those who would have voted pro-Russian!

    Finally, I would like to point out that there is nothing wrong, theoretically, with a leader like Putin trying to strengthen and rebuild the nation he loves. No one argues that Putin is a thug or that his tactics always include violence, but, really, what business does the West–and particularly, the United States–have interfering with Ukraine’s interior struggles? Let them figure out who they are, what sort of government they want, and who they ultimately want to be aligned with. I, for one, have no interest in seeing American money, equipment and especially lives be dumped into yet another foreign entanglement.

    • Art Deco

      They stuffed the ballot boxes and the vote of the legislature was also tainted. Get over it. The Ukraine may benefit from conveying a collection of ethnic Russians to the government in Moscow, but Putin et al. were sufficiently lacking in confidence re the results of a free vote that they elected for a pantomime.

      • Dan

        “Stuffed the ballot boxes”? Yes, there is clear evidence of some intimidation, but even the article doesn’t claim that anyone “stuffed the ballot boxes”! The claim is that only a portion of the Crimean population actually voted, but of that group half voted against joining Russia. That’s pretty incompetent ballot box stuffing. And again: why should the US become so intimately involved over such a thing? Is there some vital national interest that I’m missing? Or is there an overwhelming moral concern, such as the committing of genocide in the Ukraine or the launch of nuclear weapons going on?

        • Art Deco

          And again: why should the US become so intimately involved over such a thing?

          Why are people like you (and Daniel Larison and Steven Sailer) so addled by Victoria Nuland’s phone conversations and Jennifer Psaki’s hashtags? It’s all gas and Foreign Service busywork thus far, undignified but of consequence only perhaps to public opinion on the ground; I tend to doubt this administration is influencing that in any considered, systematic, and predictable way.

          • Dan

            People like me? What kind of people do I be? And how does your response answer the question: why should the US become intimately involved with the Ukraine situation?

            • Art Deco

              And my question is unanswered: why do public postures and Foreign Service business constitute ‘intimately involved’?

    • TheAbaum

      Finally, I would like to point out that there is nothing wrong, theoretically, with a leader like Hitler trying to strengthen and rebuild the nation he loves. No one argues that Hitler is a thug or that his tactics always include violence, but, really, what business does the West–and particularly, the United States–have interfering with the Sudetenland’s interior struggles? Let them figure out who they are, what sort of government they want, and who they ultimately want to be aligned with. I, for one, have no interest in seeing American money, equipment and especially lives be dumped into yet another foreign entanglement.

      • Arriero

        But the American establishment has interests beyond the American people.

        Wait… does someone said we lived in a succesful democracy and in a free-market society?


        Will come the day that we will send them to the gallows, again.

        PS- Of course, this crisis is a product created by the german neo-colonialist policy in Europe with the help of the USA. You can cheat the Portuguese, the greek, the irish… but not everybody; not Rusia in this case. They (the germans) already did a propagandist anti-russian campaign with the Sochi Olympics, which was a very coward and disgusting campaign (everybody was caring about gays health in the evil Russia). Putin has just said: enough is enough. We’re with him, because we know which are our friends and which are our enemies. Apart from that, he is being very cautious and too polite. He could have already bombed half Europe and stop all this stupidity (by the way, the US wants Russia to invade Ukraine to create there a new Afganisthan for Russia).

        • TheAbaum

          You know even if this was relevant, it would be blithering idiocy. What an incoherent, rambling, raving screed.

          • Arriero

            What is an idiocy?

            This crisis has been created mostly by Germany wanting to expand the EU to the East – through the adhesion of Ukraine to the NATO and the signing of a commercial agreement Ukraine-EU which was heavily detrimental for Russia – and also not complying with the agreements that Gorbachev signed with the US and the major European countries about the «neutrality» in its Western border and about the protection of Russian minorities in ex-soviet republics (Germany already pushed hard to finish with the only totally independent and powerful region that was in Europe in the 90’s: Yugoslavia).

            It’s very well known that Russian minorities are incredibly marginalized in the Baltic Republics and that the Ukranian (fascist) para-militar troops that shoot many people to death during the demonstrations in Maidan Square – troops which in turn were supervised by the German secret service which has always had a prominent and historical paper in the rise of anti-Russian groups in Ukraine – also wanted to marginalized the East-Ukraine population (that’s is why Putin sent a signal to Germany when he imprisoned some camouflaged germans from the OSCE: ).

            Putin also knows that although the South-East of Ukraine is overwhelmingly Russian, there is no unanimity about the adhesion of half of Ukraine to Russia and the majority of Russian Ukranians support an united Ukraine. They only want their lives, culture and traditions to be respected by the Kiev government. Putin knows that if he invades South-East Ukraine it’s very probably that he would have to face a harsh opposition and he would have to suffer to take the whole control of such a vast territory, insofar as many para-militar groups would arise, being feeded by Occidental governments (similar to what has happened in Syria).

            That’s why despite the incredibly superiority of the Russian army, Putin is being very cautious. This crisis, and this is important to underline, did not begin with Russia attacking Ukraine; it did begin with a president democratically elected (Yanukovich) being thrown out of the presidency by an heterogenous group of demonstrators (where there were some neo-nazi anti-Russian groups). The new government of Kiev, then, adopted a dangerous anti-Russian rethoric and Putin felt compelled to intervene.

            PS- There is already huge literature in the issue. Again, my last comment was not a personal delirium, everything is very well documented, although not in the anti-Russian European and American mainstream press (which hates Russia as hated Catholicism and as hates everything that goes against their decadent post-modern irrational world).

            PSS- The germans are becoming very dangerous, again. And that’s not an opinion, either.

            • SebastianVenier

              Re your PSS: Germans today are dangerous only insofar as they are the muscle of the evil EU.

          • Art Deco

            Blithering idiocy seems to be the baseline on this thread.

            • SebastianVenier

              Care to specify? If not, a pointless comment.

              • Art Deco

                I’ve specified repeatedly. Please see the Russian press agent’s claim that ‘Ukraine is an artificial state’.

                • Arriero

                  Russia was born in Kiev.

        • Arriero

          I have re-read my post and I must apologize for the poor content, the improper capitalization, bad grammar, inconsistent capitalization. I also apologize for indulging my hostility with out apparent purpose.

          • Arriero

            Oops, I thought clonation was not accepted by the Church…

            Maybe I could have apologized for «the improper capitalization, bad grammar, inconsistent capitalization» (Arriero II is obsessed with capitalization, isn’t he?), but I would have never apologized for the «poor content».

            I should call Obama. Has the NSA hacked my nickname? These americans…

            PS- Discuss the content, not the form. I don’t have time to write the Quixot in english.

            • Arriero

              I am sorry for this.

      • Dan

        Golly, it’s so super-powerfully brilliant of you to replace the Putin-related nouns in my statement with Hitler-related nouns. Clearly, you’ve closed this case! Putin is indeed no different from Hitler, especially in the way he is systematically rounding up millions of people in the Ukraine and exterminating them…oh, waitaminnit, no he isn’t…

        • SebastianVenier

          Agree. Let’s discuss the problems of 2014, not rehash those of 1938.

          • TheAbaum

            “Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.”

            George Santyana

            • Dan

              I agree with Art Deco and Sebastian Venier here.

              After all, Abaum, if your argument is to be taken seriously, then the only possible response by the US is war, and right now. Is that what you think should happen? And please don’t backpedal and start talking about sanctions or diplomatic solutions…if Putin is the new, Russian-style Hitler, and if his master plan is world domination, then we must stop jaw-jawing (to borrow from Churchill) and start war-warring. Is that really the right response to Putin?

              • TheAbaum

                “After all, Abaum, if your argument is to be taken seriously, then the only possible response by the US is war, and right now.”

                That’s your simplistic and binary view of the world, not mine, that you can’t seem to understand there are options other than cheerleading or war reveals a rather unsophisticated view of the art of statecraft,

                • Dan

                  ? But you are the one describing Putin in the most blunt, Hitler-style terms, and warning us that we are all doomed to repeat history for our failure to respond to him. So, for the sake of a guy with an “unsophisticated view of the art of statecraft”what exactly is your solution to Putin’s threats against the Ukraine. What would President Abaum do?

                  • TheAbaum

                    No, I used analogy and a bit if hyperbole to point out that your “assessment”

                    “I would like to point out that there is nothing wrong, theoretically, with a leader like Putin trying to strengthen and rebuild the nation he loves. ”

                    is ridiculously glib and thoughtless.

                    • Dan

                      Right. Mere hyperbole:

                      “I take Putin very seriously. He’s not the orator Hitler was, but he’s a better mind, with better military and strategic training.” And…
                      “He’s using the same tactic…to annex parts of the Ukraine the same way Hitler claimed ethnic Germans were being mistreated in the Ukraine. Only a fool would not consider this as a possible baby-step to deeper territorial ambitions and greater territorial claims and your defense sounds a lot like
                      naive pre World War II apologists for Germany.”

                      So, once again: what should we do?

                    • TheAbaum

                      That wasn’t the post that was hyperbole and you should know it, but perhaps I assume to much.

                      “So, once again: what should we do?”

                      No action can be specified unless there’s a defined objective. What’s your objective?

                    • Dan

                      Peace is the objective, naturally.

                    • TheAbaum

                      Too late. The best we can hope for is a rapid end to the current festivities without diffusion.

                    • Dan

                      Lame. You’re being evasive. Peace is always the objective, even if war has to be declared. Do you think the US should declare war on Putin, or not? Where did all of your outrage go? And where are all of these sophisticated options from the world of statecraft to which you alluded earlier?

                    • TheAbaum

                      What part of this unclear?

                      “War is not an option, if for no other reason we could not prosecute it with any reasonable probability of success.”

                    • Dan

                      Well, thanks for keeping us out of war…that’s been my stated preference from the beginning of this thread! But the question I’ve been asking is: what should we do with Russia and the leader you’ve sternly identified as a major threat to the western world?

                    • TheAbaum

                      You figure it out. I’m tired of repeating or rephrasing things.

                    • Dan

                      I figured you out a long time ago, actually. Get some rest.

                    • Dan

                      And don’t think I didn’t see you go in and edit that last comment of yours! That’s three times now, at least! Cheater.

                    • TheAbaum

                      I actually edited it five times in five minutes.

                      Post under a real ID, coward.

                    • Dan

                      Hey, and by the way: no fair! You’re leaving comments, then you go back in later somehow and modify them after someone points out their flaws! Cheater.

                    • Dan

                      For instance: with that last one, you originally posted simply “Too late.” Which of course is just dismissive and pathetic. After I called you out on it, you went back in and added all that pseudo-sophisticated stuff about “the best we can hope for is an end to festivities and diffusion and blah, etc.”! That’s the second time you’ve done that in this thread! Man, you’re shameless.

                    • TheAbaum

                      ‘You’re leaving comments, then you go back in later somehow and modify them after someone points out their flaws!’

                      Get over it. Ir’s not going to change. That;s why there is ab EDIT button-but it only appears if you are logged into Disqus, which you don’t do.

                    • Dan

                      The Edit button is to correct mistakes–not to go back and whitewash all your previous responses so that you can save face! That’s just unethical. How can you be trusted to guide us through the crisis in the Ukraine when you can’t even handle the Edit button at Disqus?

                    • TheAbaum

                      Oh grow up. This isn’t the SAT or trauma surgery.

                      How can we trust you when you won’t even get a real ID?

                      (Edited three times. so far)

        • TheAbaum

          Your flailing and pathetic attempt at sarcastic indignation only shows that you can’t answer the point.

          I didn’t say Putin is Hitler. Hitler attempted to remake Germany into something that never existed, Putin appears to be attempting to resurrect the USSR.

          I take Putin very seriously. He’s not the orator Hitler was, but he’s a better mind, with better military and strategic training. Hitler was a failed corporal, not a Colonel.

          He’s using the same tactic (fomented or contrived grievances among an ethnic minority) to annex parts of the Ukraine the same way Hitler claimed ethnic Germans were being mistreated in the Ukraine.

          Only a fool would not consider this as a possible baby-step to deeper territorial ambitions and greater territorial claims and your defense sounds a lot like naive pre World War II apologists for Germany.

          • Art Deco

            What has happened to date has been the annexation of the Crimea (which may be augmented by portions of two eastern palatinates). That’s not going to injure the Ukraine much and removes foot soldiers from Putin’s local allies, which is of consequence in a neatly bisected political society.

            Putin’s been knocking about for 14 years and change and is now past 60. Perhaps you haven’t seen the worst of it, but initiatives of the sort you’re referring to commonly manifest themselves at earlier points in a regime’s life-cycle and in personal life-cycles.

            • TheAbaum

              Putin’s been knocking about for 14 years and change and is now past 60.

              Why is why the situation bears close observation, not bellicosity. Putin might very well harbor ambitions he knows are unattainable, or he might feel the need to act quickly. Sometimes you just hope to guard against the deep bomb and try to run out the clock.

              The real problem is the feckless drifting from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. We likely would have had little different domestically, but Romney apparently had better judgment on this matter.

              • Art Deco

                I’m not sure what brought that on; Mr. Romney is not effete and is the most accomplished individual to stand for the presidency in the last 50-odd years (with the exception of Ross Perot). That the incumbent was returned to office is indicative of a defect in the process (excess advantage accruing to people who manage publicity campaigns well) and of defects in the culture of the word merchant element and the public at large.

                What we would have had domestically would have been conditioned by our dysfunctional institutional architecture far more than anything Mr. Romney might have brought to the table.

                • Conniption Fitz

                  Mr. Romney has many gifts, but is a stunning liar (we counted 8 lies in the Jacksonville debate alone) and the evidence of his record as Massachusetts Governor shows he is not a conservative, but a confirmed radical socialist Democrat. His ruthless Alinsky campaign and business tactics also betray his leftist orientation. Like most leftists, he speaks in opposites and projects his views on others.

                  He acts like a sweet little Morman guy, but he’s quite the opposite.

                  • Art Deco

                    Your handle could not be more appropriate.

                  • marygar

                    Phenomenal analysis of the true Romney! First time I have ever read such truth. Unfortunately, Americans can’t visualize a billionaire as a communist. They still have the vision of a peasant like Lenin. Romney was never a conservative. He was never raised to be one.

                  • Arriero

                    Yours is a great comment.

                    It’s also my thesis, which I already exposed in the article about inequality and Piketty: there are too many (harmfully un-productive) MARXIST PARASITICAL CAPITALISTS in our current economies. They don’t know it, of course. They wrap themselves under the veil of conservatism, but they’re nothing that «bonfire meat», that would say the old Torquemada.

                    Unlike them and in clear opposition to them, we’re the authentic Liberals (True political and economic Liberalism was invented by the Second Catholic Scholastic), Capitalists (in the spirit of Thomas Aquinas and the School of Salamanca) and, above all, Catholics (praising and extoiling the whole history of the Catholic Church, without exceptions).

                    I must say that «conservative» Catholics voting in mass for Romney (a pseudo-calvinist, direct heir of the anti-Catholic Reformation and another puppy of the very anti-capitalist and anti-economic parasitical establishment) appeared to me as a clear sign of decadence and conceptual disorder.

                • TheAbaum

                  I’m not questioning his professional resume or business career, but his 2012 candidacy,

                  The key terms are lacking vigor and unable to produce.

                  lacking in wholesome vigor; degenerate; decadent: an effete, overrefined society.
                  exhausted of vigor or energy; worn out: an effete political force.
                  unable to produce; sterile.

                  Obama lost almost 7 million votes between 2008 and 2012. Romney was repeatedly unable to capitalize. He actually had .8 million fewer votes than McCain who was arguably a worse candidate.

                  There were times one could sense there wasn’t enough fight in the dog. The big issue should have been Obamcare, Romneycare neutered him of any moral authority on that matter.

                  When you are challenging somebody who says something about bringing a gum to a knife fight, you have to bring some fight to the fight and a gun too, not a resume.

                  He was, to borrow a term, too pale a pastel to motivate the opposition.

                  • Art Deco

                    Personally, I tend not to second-guess the judgments of working politicians on how to conduct electoral campaigns (bar that I hate brazen lying). It’s their trade and not mine. I dislike much of the artifice and glitz you see, but that’s common because they’re attempting to sway people with a particular disposition toward civic life. James Neuchterlein described this element thus: their opinions on candidates tend to gems like “she reminds me of my first wife”.

                    Since Romney built a national organization and traipsed all over the place for two years, I tend to doubt he was lacking in drive. That someone as frivolous as Barack Obama was sitting in the Oval Office is indicative of the mountain any serious politician has to climb these days.

                    • TheAbaum

                      “Since Romney built a national organization and traipsed all over the place for two years, I tend to doubt he was lacking in drive.”

                      That’s a piece of cake for an MBA, it’s one thing to build an army, it’s another thing engage the enemy in battle.

          • Arriero

            – «Putin appears to be attempting to resurrect the USSR.»

            God, what a stupid statement.

            Please, read something beyond the NYT.

            It’s Germany who wanted to expand the EU to the east – with the support of Obamargeddon -. And Putin has just said: «NOT IN MY BACK YARD».

            Putin is simply a NYMBY. Period.

            Ukraine WILL REMAIN united. Time will give me the reason, you’ll see.

            • TheAbaum

              I line my bird cage with the NYT.


            • No, he doesn’t want the USSR back, but he wants the Russian Empire. It was odd this winter when Putin flew the icon of Our Lady of Kazan over the Black Sea. It would have been the first time in a century it was used to bless a peacetime affair. As it turns out he was blessing the invasion of the Crimea. His use of Orthodoxy is startlingly reminiscent of the Romanovs.

              • Dan

                He wants a strong Russia, definitely–he’s a nationalist. But there was no “invasion of Crimea”. And I don’t see how him invoking Our Lady of Kazan for Russia is any more scandalous than the author of this article invoking St. John Paul in order to rally anti-Russian forces in the Ukraine debate.

                • I’m not sure I would call it scandalous, just a sign of his intentions lying with a strong-and Orthodox on his terms-Russia.

  • Watosh

    I sympathize with the Ukrainian church in that I attend the Ukrainian Catholic Liturgy myself every week, and the Ukrainians suffered under Russian Communist domination. I have seen the documentary “Holodor” that describes the horror in detail, in fact I purchased a copy. But there has been a lot of misinformation regarding the recent crisis,
    The Ukraine as presently constituted is composed of two opposing factions, those of the Western Ukraine, many of whom allied themselves with the Nazi’s and participated in the Nazi invasion of Russia and those of the Eastern Ukrain who fought against the Nazi’s. When the Western Ukrainians rioted and overthrew the official democratically government, corrupt as it may be (all Ukrainian governments have been corrupt, as are most governments these days) we said good for them, and Senator McCain encouraged the rioters, as did Victora Nuland, from our State department and wife of Rober Kagan a notorious neocon who urged the u>S. to invade Iraq, were there beside the rioters. Victoria Nuland bragged in a public statement that the U.S. had spent 5 billion dollars to gain influence in the Ukraine. Yet it is all Putin’s fault. She eveselected the current head of the Ukrainian Putsch government, I mean that is what it is. We say it is legal. Now I can list the lies my government has told me, so I take that with a grain of salt. We have the Monroe doctrine to prevent any foreign state from exercising control over any country near us. The Ukraine is on Russias borders. Fact Russia was invaded two times within 25 years recently in the two World Wars, and before that by Napoleon. They were told by the U.S. that if they allowed the unification of Germany and did not contest the dissolving of the former soviet territories we would not allow them to enter NATO. We then incorporated many of these countries in NATO. I mean you may not like Russia, but still this is what the facts are. Then there was the Crimean War in the 1850’s when England and France and the Ottoman Empire went to war against Russia. Most of the battles were fought in Russia on the Crimean peninsula where the Russians were besieged in the fortress of Sevastopol, and finally forced to surrender. On May 9th of the is year the Russians celebrated the fall of Sevastopol and the Crimea to the Nazi invaders, 60 years ago. Crimea had been Russian for longer than the U.S. was independent. Yet we are outraged that Russia should annex Ukraine after the Crimeans petitioned to rejoin Russia because the new Westernbacked Putsch Government with Victoria Nulands man “Yats” running it, being anti-Russian could very well eject the russians from Sevastopol and imperil Russias opening to the Black Sea. Hey did you ever read how the U.S. annexed Hawaii? Or how about repeating the territorial integrity of Mexico. Crimea had long been considered part of Russia and the inhabitants were a majority of Russian ethnics. But we are shocked at the illegal annexation of Crimea. Then too in the above article a reference was made to the Russian invasion of Georgia. Look, I know that is the story peddled by our tightly controlled corporate media, but if anyone is interested check the facts. The Georgians under the encouragement of the U.S. invaded two small breakaway Republics and killed some Russians stationed there legally as peace monitors. The Russians then reacted and chased the Greorgians out of the two territories and then went home. How many times have we invaded Panama or some carribean governments. Remember how Reagan invaded Grenada “to protect American citizens living there. Remember how we said Kosovo should be independent of Serbia and bombed Serbia for a couple months to force them to let Kosovo go. Where was the territorial independence of Serbia.

    I tell you it seems like because we are so good we can do whatever we like. If we say something is legal, it is legal, if we say it is illegal, then it is illegal, never mind any objective standard. We are the standard. I am sick of this hypocrisy. Not only that but we are playing around with a potential nuclear war. The Western Ukrainians would like to provoke the Russians into something so they can get the U.S. into a war against Russia for them. One former Ukrainian head, Julia Timoshenko, a darling of the West now, recently said she wanted to see all the Russians killed and Russia razed to the ground.

    Remember Eisenhower did nothing when the soviets quashed rebellions in Hungary and Czechoslavakia. Yet today Hungary and Czechoslavakia are in NATO and integrated with the West. We started this mess and we now blame everything that has resulted on Russia and Putin. This gets us nowhere. Americans used to say one should put themselves in the place of others and try to look at things from their point of view. Bit now we are so all powerful we don’t have to do this, Pride has always led to the downfall of nations. “My name is Ozymandis, etc.” The Russians of today are not Soviet Communists, Putin is not Stalin. But it seems we have to have anomy to justify our obscene military budget, and to support the military industrial complex behind it. The Ukraine putsch government has one fifth of its ministries controlled by fascist, right wing elements of the Svoboda and the Right Sector parties. We told the former Ukrainian government not to use force on the rioters, now we tell the Putsch government it is okay to use tanks and artillery against the protestors of the new illegal/legal government (depending on who you favor). Right wing thugs burned about 40 protestors recently in Odessa, and our response was that it was unfortunate but it was all Putin’s fault.m Give me a break. Does this make me a Russia supporter, or a Putin supporter, or a supporter of aggression, or unsympathetic to the plight of the Ukrainian Catholic church. because I support and try to get at the truth of these events? The truth will make us free.

    • Art Deco

      Western Ukraine, many of whom allied themselves with the Nazi’s and
      participated in the Nazi invasion of Russia and those of the Eastern
      Ukrain who fought against the Nazi’s.

      You do realize that anyone old enough to have carried a gun in 1941 is now approaching their 90th birthday? Do you also realize that the Soviet government engineered a famine in the Ukraine in 1932-33 which had a seven-digit death toll?

      as did Victora Nuland, from our State department and wife of Rober Kagan a notorious neocon who urged

      What’s pathetic is that she’s your idea of the real enemy.

      • Watosh

        Now as I stated in my original comment, perhaps you weren’t reading carefully, I have viewed a documentary made by the descendants of the Ukrainian holocaust, they call it the Holodomor, Art for your information, and some of the survivors who were still alive when the documentary was made. If you had read my comment carefully you would not need to ask me if I realized the soviet government engineered a famine in the Ukraine in 1932-1933, because I clearly said I was well aware of this.

        Now while those Ukrainians who fought for the Nazis are probably very old or dead, as would the Ukrainians who fought against them it is very likely their descendants would harbor the same enmities. ( I called them Ukrainians but as someone pointed out in another comment, the boundaries and the constituents of what we now loosely refer to as Ukraine were never clearly delineated in history, i.e. the Crimeans were always previously considered to belong to Russia, not part of the Ukraine until just recently due to a Soviet administrative decision to include them in the Ukraine Soviet Republic.)

        Now the Soviets leadership, which under Stalin, a Georgian by the way, caused the death of many Ukrainians in the seven digits. Very bad, very bad. No question. Do you realize Art that the Nazi invasion resulted in from 20 million to 27 million Russian deaths Art? Some undoubtedly due to their despotic communist government, but still, Art it was the Russian people who were killed. They too were victims of the Communists, but I gather you have no sympathy for them since you want to paint the Russians bad now.

        Now victoria Nuland has been doing her best to get the U.S. into another war, as her husband is a notorious war hawk, who used his influence to encourage the U.S. aggression against Iraq, he wants the U.S. to declare war against Iran, and he wants the U.S. to go to war and ruin Russia. and that behavior is what I would call pathetic.You see Art, as a Catholic, I regard war as something to be avoided if at all possible. Now in the later stages of the Korean war I entered the Air Force and remained on active duty as an Air Force officer for nearly eight years during the cold war. I have little regard for the chicken hawks who are so prevalent in our government today.You aren’t another chicken hawk are you Art?

        • Art Deco

          I’m not your psychoanalyst, Watosh, nor is anyone else here.

      • The Holodomor should make it no surprise that the Ukrainian population would turn against the Soviet Union. Little did they know how much the same the Nazis were, and it gave Stalin a “good” time and reason to suppress the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church after the war.

    • Art Deco

      Ach. 1,028 words worth of free association.

    • Joseph

      Yeah, recently I saw a documentary on Georgians committing genocide against South Ossetian folks, they killed women and children in 2008. Our tightly controlled media never told us the truth.

      And regarding Odessa, I saw the photos of what the Right Sector thugs did inside the Trade Unions House 10 days ago. Really nasty stuff. Among other things, they strangled to death an 8-mo pregnant woman, with an electric cord. They raped another woman and killed her. They killed people with some sort of chemical and with guns, doused their corpses with gasoline, and set them on fire. The Western media is not telling us that it was a vicious massacre by fascist/neo-Nazi thugs, but the photos and videos are all over the internet. Dmitri Yarosh the leader of Right Sector is Undersecretary of Defense now, and the Kiev government uses both the National Guard, and the paramilitary units, in a genocidal way.

      The Christian thing would be to de-escalate the conflict, ask the Russians to protect and respect the Ukrainian and Tatar minorities in Crimea, and likewise respect and protect the Russian, Jewish, Romanian, Carpato-Rusyn, Hungarian, Polish minorities in Ukraine.

      • Art Deco

        South Ossetia has a population in the five digits. They’re still there, liar.

        • Watosh

          And so are the Ukrainians , and the Jews, and the Armenians and the American Indians, they are still there, so are you saying that genocide did not occur with these groups?

          • Art Deco

            Watosh, it’s a territory of about the dimensions of one of the European statelets in an area which has suffered several waves of internecine violence and economic implosion. It makes about as much sense as speaking of ‘genocide’ against the population of Liechtenstein, even if Georgian forces had actually massacred much of the population. In case you had not noticed, “Joseph” is a troll who trades in random calumnies (e.g. the Ukrainian Europhiles are ‘neo-Nazi’s, &c). This is just another one. Sorry you’re a sucker.

            • Watosh

              Well in the past I have made it a rule not to get in an argument with a drunk or with a two year old. Now I have learned not to ague with a sociopath . I will argue to arrive at a truth, wheres a sociopath is one who believes he is in sole possession of the truth regarding every issue, and hence believes it is his duty to bear down anyone who dares express a different opinion. Like the United States has acted on the world stage now that it is the most powerful nation and it believes as such it can do no wrong, and any nation that does not go along with what the U.S. expects them to do, the U.S. feels it must make them pay for it. When the French resisted voting to give us the right to launch an aggressive war against Iraq, all the TV news in all the networks spent the next two months insulting everything French. The French were a cowardly race, an effeminate race, they couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag. Now it is the Russians who are the subject of demonization. Same with a sociopath, they are quick to insult and demonize. It is hard for a person like me who has always enjoyed the company of normal decent people to believe that there are some people whose goal is to belittle and insult and make fun of someone els at every opportunity. There is this concept of civility that a sociopath simply has no understanding of. Maybe as I have noticed children are not taught that there are things they shouldn’t do anymore, now anything they do is admired by their doting parents. Maybe this is the result when these children grow up, they crave adulation, they crave admiration. These people can be a pain.

              • Art Deco

                You are under the illusion that this is at all responsive, I take it.

                • TheAbaum

                  I believe the proper word would be delusion.

      • Watosh

        Well said, and I agree the Christian thing would be to de-escalate the conflict, by all means.

    • Paul

      You forget to mention the Ukrainian genocide perpetrated by the Russinas under Stalin where 9-10 million Ukrainians died between 1932-1933. This genocide was mainly a man-made famine, but at least 2 million Ukrainians were deported to the gulags to die and whose bodies were never recovered.
      Try looking at the Ukrainian point of view, if they wish to come out of the shadows of the Russians that’s their choice. Whether the Ukrainians decide to join the EU or not it’s also their choice. Choice is the very basis of Christian life.

      • SebastianVenier

        “…Ukrainian genocide perpetrated by the Russians under Stalin…” This is a fundamental misinterpretation of what happened, although there is no doubt millions of Ukrainians died as a result of malicious Soviet misrule in the 1930s, and not only then. We might begin by remembering that Stalin himself was a Georgian, not a Russian.

        Without wishing to be an apologist for Russians, to understand the sordid history of the Soviet Union one must look past the superficial view that the USSR was a state ruled by Russians who oppressed everyone else just for the fun of it. The terror-famines the Soviet Communist Party inflicted across the Ukraine – and, yes, southern Russia and Belorussia as well – were not targeted against Ukrainians as such, and were largely supervised by commissars of ethnicities other than Russian and Ukrainian to ensure they would not overly empathise with those from whom they were expropriating. Had the terror-famine been meant to be a genocide of Ukrainians, the Communists would not have forced so many Russians and Belorussians to starve along with the Ukrainians who starved. The Soviet Communist terror-famines were a major battle in the Communists’ class war. The primary target was the independent Slavic peasantry: kulaks who were small-scale capitalists and productive farmers. As a threat to collectivisation, they had either to be forced into collective farming or starved to death as enemies of the people. And the Communists didn’t particularly care which.

        There was sin aplently in the Soviet apparat, and there is guilt aplenty to apportion. One thing we may be sure of is that not all of that guilt should be laid at the feet of the Russians. How many of the General Secretaries of the Soviet Communist Party during Communist rule were actually Russian? Very few, perhaps none.

        In any event, what is happening in the Ukraine and Russia today is happening in the Ukraine and Russia. Trying to analyse it using a Soviet template guarantees misunderstanding it.

        • Art Deco

          How many of the General Secretaries of the Soviet Communist Party during
          Communist rule were actually Russian? Very few, perhaps none.

          1. V.I. Lenin (1903-22) [title was different]
          2. Yuri Andropov (1982-84)
          3. Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-91).

          Nikita Khruschev and Leonid Brezhnev were on the Russian-Ukranian spectrum. Brezhnev grew up in the Ukraine, Khruschev did not. Konstantin Chernenko was Ukrainian on the paternal side; he grew up in Siberia.

          The position of Premier was occupied by great Russians from 1917-41, 1955-58, 1964-80, and 1990-91. From 1953-55 and 1968-64, it was occupied by men of mixed or ambiguous nationality who grew up in Russia proper.

          • SebastianVenier

            Two of the three you list by number, Andropov and Gorbachev, were half-Russian at most, while Lenin was perhaps one-quarter Russian and doesn’t seem to have considered himself much of a Russian at all. With very rare exceptions, the Premier was no more than the GenSek’s cats-paw. Perhaps it was the diversity in their backgrounds that made these men such determined internationalists, or at least post-nationalists. Gorbachev is still with us, and has not improved with age. Something of a post-Soviet Jimmy Carter.

            • Art Deco

              All three grew up in Russia proper and Russian ancestry, just not exclusively Russian ancestry. The general secretary’s position was not the most influential until 1927. Alexei Rykov, Georgy Malenkov, and Alexei Kosygin were most certainly not cat’s paws. It was not until 1971 that Leonid Brezhnev established himself as the senior of the two. Rykov and Malenkov were run off the reservation and Rykov eventually executed.

  • SebastianVenier

    I generally enjoy this daily e-mails from America’s Crisis magazine. Today, I’m only half-enjoying it.

    In the second linked article, William Kilpatrick is right to warn the Church to take the Islamic challenge seriously – something 1,350 years’ worth of earlier popes and bishops would not have needed to be told, but that today’s diversity-addled clerics unfortunately do. Pope Saint Pius V certainly needed no instruction about the threat militant Islam posed to Christendom, and did not hesitate to act accordingly. Sadly, one cannot altogether excuse Pope St. John Paul II, who so confused the faithful with his ill-judged kissing of a Koran at Assisi, among other excesses of ecumenism, in that respect.

    In the first of today’s articles, however, Alexander Sich (who clearly is of Ukrainian origin, hence not impartial in reviewing the ongoing mess in the Ukraine) recites a list of U.S. neoconservative/liberal talking points that, with respect to Russian history anyway, is so inaccurate and biased it might as well have been written for him by Victoria Nuland or George Soros! Topped with with a big creampuff of papolatry for St. Pope John Paul II, whose ecumenism neoconservatives so approved. But then Sich’s Master’s in Soviet Studies is from Harvard, whose “Russia scholars” are almost uniformly ethnically hostile to Russia and Russians in the first place, so there is no reason to believe he was honestly taught that subject. Also, from the tone of his article, the sages of Cambridge, Mass., forgot to tell Professor Sich that the Soviet Union went out of business in 1991.

    When one ponders his simple errors of English grammar (“…this nascent saint made it possible for my future wife and I to meet in the Eternal City”) and his gross mischaracterizations of history that is in fact very easy to learn (“The Russian Orthodox Church had usurped Ukrainian history, claiming that it was the primary heir of Eastern Christianity brought to Ukraine—never mind there is no record of Moscow existing until almost 150 years after the Christianization of Ukraine in 988 A.D. This is akin to the British colony known as the U.S. claiming itself rightful heir to the seventh-century Christianization of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that would eventually become England.”), for his students’ sake one can only hope Professor Sich is better at teaching physics than he is at history and English.

    What the founding date of Moscow has to do with the relevant history of the Kievan Rus’ — not, let us note, the “Kievan Ukraine” — is far from clear. In any event the word ukraina simply means borderland. Borderland of Russia, pretty obviously. At a time when Americans need help understanding the latest overseas crisis the U.S. government insists on involving them in although no American interest is at stake, Crisis does its reputation no favors by publishing such hack-work.

    I’m not particularly an admirer of Vladimir Putin, but I do respect a president of a nation who is actually willing to speak and act in his country’s interest – a quality sadly lacking in every “leader” I can think of in any Western nation. Especially one who is willing to speak of his nation and civilization in explicitly Christian terms.

    We should all pray for our Pope to conduct the Consecration of Russia as Our Lady commanded, not least because if European civilization is to survive, given the fecklessness of the faux-leaders of its ancient heartlands, we’ll need those Eastern outliers it has long been fashionable to deride — before PC, that is — as “oriental”: the Russians. Russia has troubles galore, including demographic, but at least Russians show some will to survive as Russians, including putting the cultural pornographers of FEMEN and “Pussy Riot” in their place and banning proselytising for sodomy. Alas, the Ukrainians Professor Sich so viscerally supports appear ready to sell their national soul to the diabiolical European Union at the instigation of the Soros- and CIA-funded fronts that have succeeded in bringing down the legitimate, if corrupt, government in Kiev. (And how clean are the hands of its illegitimate successor?)

    Alexander Sich is especially exercised because Vladimir Putin had the effrontery to describe the Ukraine as an “artificial state.” But Putin is right. While the Ukrainians are indeed a real people, the current Ukrainian state, especially with its Soviet-drawn borders, is a new and artificial state. We Catholics do ourselves and our Faith no favors by swallowing — and worse, spreading — the lies of anti-Christian NWO organizations such as the EU and, sad to say, the U.S. government under the current administration.

    • Paul

      Russia’s stance on anti-homosuality is nothing to be applauded for I hate to say. As a Catholic, I deplore homosexuality but the Russian’s way of beating up homosexuals is definitely NOT the Catholic way.
      Although I am no fan of the EU either, but we must all respect every nation’s right to self-determination – it is after all the basis of freedom and democracy.
      How much of the corruption in Kiev is the result of Russian legacy in the Ukraine ? I have been to the Ukraine before all the problems started (2001-2002) and I can honestly say corruption was rife then as it is probably now. It takes time to change, but things will definitely not change with a pro Russia governtment in place.

      • SebastianVenier

        If you rephrase your question as “How much of the corruption in Kiev is the result of the Soviet legacy in the Ukraine?”, we have a question grounded in real history that we can discuss. Soviet Union does not equal Russia, and vice versa. I don’t know how much difference in terms of corruption there might between a pro-Russian Ukrainian government and a pro-EU Ukrainian government. Not much, I suspect.

        I deplore beating up anyone, except in self-defence. I don’t deplore statutes that restrict proselitysing sodomy to minors. I find nothing un-Christian in the latter; quite the contrary.

        • No, the USSR is not equal to Russia, but Russia is the principal successor state to the USSR and they like it that way. The major policy was to Russify the other republics and it tended to work by whatever means necessary from forcing the use of Russian to ethnic cleansing…and Lenin purposefully set out to reclaim the borders of the old Russian Empire.

      • Interested

        Which laws allow for beating up someone in Russia?

  • Alexander Sich
  • Alexander Sich
  • Alexander Sich
  • The territory of Ukraine is as artificial as the territories of African countries: traced by oppressive foreigners not only ignorant of but who considered themselves superior to the nations they were corralling in. What is happening In Ukraine today is the same as what happened in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia not too long ago. For all parties involved, the best solution is for agreeing to separate. Persisting in maintaining the current Ukrainian territory, a relic of the USSR, is only going to result in more bloodshed and push peace further in human cost and in time.

    • Art Deco

      The territory of Ukraine is as artificial as the territories of African countries:

      Rubbish. The territory of the Ukraine delineates the ambo of a distinct set of Slavic dialects which had emerged by the High Middle Ages.

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  • disqus_QEwOeO5mcQ

    This piece might be called cold war propaganda. This drivel is more of a threat to us than Putin could ever be. Putin is a better Christian than most of our idiots in Washington D.C. are. The west is in bad enough shape already and continuing this Cold War B.S. should be beneath this magazine. I believe Reagan ended the Cold War and the neocons refuse to recognize this fact. Sadly too many Catholics could be described as Neocons including the author of this piece.