Math prof contests Ukraine column

This letter concerns Taylor Tielke’s opinion column “Second Cold War Actually Unlikely” in the 13 November 2014 issue of the Concordian. I would like to point out several mistakes in the opinion piece.

First, the name of the country Mr. Tileke refers to is “Ukraine”, not “the Ukraine”(second paragraph).  Just like we do not say “the Russia”, we do not say “the Ukraine”.  If in doubt, one can always consult, for example, the CIA Factbook.

Second, the economy of the Eastern regions of Ukraine that are now in the military zone was quite viable before the war began, with all the mining, metallurgical and other industries. Russia destroyed that economy by sending paid armed mercenaries and later troops and tanks (not “allegedly” as Mr. Tielke writes, as these military activities of the Russian hybrid war were confirmed by NATO and OSCE). It is cheaper for Ukraine to buy gas from other European countries (Slovakia, Poland and other), who sell it after buying it from Russia, than it is to buy gas directly from Russia. The “humanitarian aid” convoys sent to Ukraine by Russia, without the approval of the Red Cross, went back with the stolen equipment and innovative technologies of the Ukrainian military defense plant “Topaz”. So much for the Russian “subsidies” and “aid” mentioned by Mr. Tielke.

Third, the citizens of the occupied Ukrainian territories were not able to receive their pensions and salaries even before the Ukrainian government stopped the payments, due to the chaos created by the separatist groups, which are described by the observers as criminal gangs terrorizing local population and fighting between each other. The Ukrainian citizens from the areas controlled by the terrorists are offered to move to a Ukrainian territory outside of the military zone, where they can get migrant status and continue to receive their pensions.

Fourth, the view of the war in Ukraine as a local problem collapsed after 298 innocent people on the Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight were killed. The plane was shot by a missile launched on July 17 of this year from the territory controlled by the terrorists.  The leaders of the Baltic States and Poland repeatedly expressed that they may be next in the succession of Russian aggressions.  Mr. Tielke forgot to mention Transnistria, another break-away region (from Moldova) sponsored by Russia, in addition to South Ossetia and Abkhazia (from Georgia) and Crimea (from Ukraine).

Fifth, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not about the maintenance of spheres of influence, but about the fight for democracy. After the Maidan revolution, Ukraine ceased to be a Russian satellite as Ukrainian people chose the democratic values of the European Union. They paid for that choice with their lives while ousting the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a corrupt puppet of Putin who ordered special police to shoot his own people. While Western countries also strive to maintain their spheres of influence, they do so in the name of democracy and peace, being governed by the international law. Mr. Tielke failed to see this deep divide between the values of the Western world and those of Putin’s Russia.

In his address during the Joint Session of the US Congress in September, the current Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko emphasized that with the aggression against Ukraine, “the post-(Second World) war international system of checks and balances was effectively ruined.” Hybrid wars, terrorism and erosion of international agreements with the aim to redraw European borders are a threat to global security.  This address was received with multiple standing ovations. Indeed, the U.S. Congress understands that democracies must support each other.

This article was submitted by Oksana Bihun, contributing writer.

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