Friends, mainstream media continues to give us a one-sided view of the dangerous situation in Ukraine. Few experts have written books on the topic, probably because they could be outdated before printed (fortunately, blogs and investigative news services are providing new facts daily). At last, a legitimate Russian expert and author, has published a book in the midst this kaleidoscopic war––it gives legitimate accounts of both sides. Read Steele's analysis of the book. Of itself it gives much of what we need to know and remember about the Ukraine situation today.
February 19, 2015
A new book, "Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands" by Richard Sakwa is reviewed below - At last, a balanced assessment of the Ukrainian conflict - the problems go far beyond Vladimir Putin
By Jonathan Steele
Jonathan Steele is a former Guardian Moscow correspondent, and author of Eternal Russia: Yeltsin, Gorbachev and the Mirage of Democracy.
When Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's prime minister, told a German TV station recently that the Soviet Union invaded Germany, was this just blind ignorance? Or a kind of perverted wishful thinking? If the USSR really was the aggressor in 1941, it would suit Yatsenyuk's narrative of current geopolitics in which Russia is once again the only side that merits blame.
When Grzegorz Schetyna, Poland's deputy foreign minister, said Ukrainians liberated Auschwitz, did he not know that the Red Army was a multinational force in which Ukrainians certainly played a role but the bulk of the troops were Russian? Or was he looking for a new way to provoke the Kremlin?
Faced with these irresponsible distortions, and they are replicated in a hundred other prejudiced comments about Russian behaviour from western politicians as well as their eastern European colleagues, it is a relief to find a book on the Ukrainian conflict that is cool, balanced, and well sourced. Richard Sakwa makes repeated criticisms of Russian tactics and strategy, but he avoids lazy Putin-bashing and locates the origins of the Ukrainian conflict in a quarter-century of mistakes since the cold war ended.