In Escalating U.S.-Russian Proxy War, Eastern Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Ignored

Posted Feb. 11, 2015

MP3 Interview with Lev Golinkin, author of "A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka", conducted by Scott Harris


Twenty-four years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the ongoing civil conflict in Ukraine, many observers worry, could provide the spark to ignite a new Cold War between Russia and the United States. The stakes are high as President Obama comes under increasing pressure by Republican “war hawks” and some members of his own party to send lethal weaponry to the pro-western government in Kiev. Ukraine’s government and Washington charge that separatist rebels in the two eastern Donbas provinces are being aided in their 10-month fight for autonomy by Russian-supplied weapons, including tanks and artillery, as well as direct support on the ground from Russian troops, a charge that Moscow denies.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who recently visited the White House, has publicly opposed supplying Kiev with weapons even as President Obama has kept that option open. Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are engaged in peace talks aimed at negotiating a cease-fire and a lasting peace. Many observers agree that U.S. weapons flowing into Ukraine now would likely contribute to a dangerous escalation of a conflict, which increasingly looks like a U.S.-Russian proxy war.

With the U.S. media focused narrowly on demonizing Russian President Vladimir Putin for his annexation of Crimea last March and involvement in the current conflict, there’s been little attention paid to the deepening humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine. According to the United Nations, more than 5,300 people have been killed and 12,200 wounded in the war zone – with another 1.5 million displaced. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Lev Golinkin, author of "A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka," who came to the U.S. as a child refugee from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov in 1990. Here, he discusses the humanitarian crisis in Eastern Ukraine and his concern about the presence of neo-Nazi groups fighting alongside the Kiev government.

Read Golinkin’s recent article, "The Humanitarian Crisis in Eastern Ukraine Demands Attention," at The Nation.

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