A Balanced Perspective on Ukraine

An OpEd in today’s New York Times impressed me as well balanced, and I recommend you read the entire piece. In the meantime, I’ve excerpted a few key parts below my signature line. The difference between the author’s perspective and that usually espoused by the Times and other mainstream Western media is striking and dangerous.

Martin Hellman

=== BEGIN OpEd EXERPTS ===

… of the roughly 454,000 people who had fled Ukraine by the end of October, more than 387,000 went to Russia. Most of those who fled were Russian speakers from the east, but this still raises a sobering question: If this is a conflict between Ukraine and Russia, why did so many Ukrainians choose to cast their lot with the enemy? … Mr. Putin is brewing unrest in the east, but he is brewing with local ingredients. He is connecting with the population using a language they speak and a symbolism they understand.

The unpalatable reality is that a significant portion of eastern Ukrainians — the very people on the ground living and suffering through this conflict — distrust Kiev and the West and at least tacitly support Russia and the separatists. And frankly, that isn’t surprising. …

Equally awful is Kiev’s decision to maintain a relationship with the Azov battalion, an ultranationalist paramilitary group of around 400 men that uses Nazi salutes and insignia. To anyone familiar with eastern Ukraine’s bloody history during World War II, allowing the Azov battalion to fight in the region is a bit like sponsoring a Timothy McVeigh Appreciation Night in Oklahoma City. It does nothing but infuriate the local population and provide Mr. Putin with yet another opportunity to shed the mantle of invader and position himself as a protector. …

Mr. Putin and the Russian news media say that western Ukrainians in Mr. Poroshenko’s government are neo-Nazis. The West denies these claims, averring that there are no neo-Nazi elements in the Kiev government. Both are wrong. The Kiev government and the armies fighting in eastern Ukraine contain a small minority of neo-Nazi ultranationalists. To eastern Ukrainians, however, even one is too many.

About Martin Hellman

I am a professor at Stanford University, best known for my invention of public key cryptography -- the technology that protects the secure part of the Internet, such as electronic banking. But, for almost 30 years, my primary interest has been how fallible human beings can survive possessing nuclear weapons, where even one mistake could be catastrophic. My latest project is a book with the audacious subtitle "Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet." Its soon to open website explains: https://anewmap.com.
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