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March 13, 2014

RONN MOTT: Ukraine 2

The situation in the Ukraine should let us know plainly, and openly, the old saying about a leopard never changing its spots is true. Vladimir Putin is a KGB officer, grew up a communist and, from all appearances, still believes like a communist.

He has ditched his wife of many years, put her some place he is not, and has tucked his girlfriend (a former Gold Medal Olympic athlete) and their child, or children, in a lovely house on the Black Sea. He doesn’t care what the Russians think about this and he sure as shootin’ doesn’t care what the rest of the world thinks about it. It pretty much explains about Crimea and the nation of the Ukraine as a whole.   

Vladimir Putin, our favorite bare-chested bully, does not want NATO countries bordering his. He doesn’t want to argue about missiles, aircraft, or the size of these countries’ military parked at his doorstep. (We certainly wouldn’t like that either.)

The rub is most of these countries that have not been overrun by ethnic Russians in the days of Joseph Stalin and others don’t want to be overrun by the Russians. The Gulags, the prison camps and the disappearances of people who would be in disagreement with the Russians, are all too familiar in people’s memories. The Russians, in plain old-fashioned English, are just not nice. They are not very friendly, and about the only time they are happy are when they are roaring drunk. They probably drink more than any nation in the world. (Their drinking and smoking have allowed their life expectancy to shrink. The average man in Russia lives less than 60 years.)

Russia has some trump cards … especially natural gas and oil, but none of this endears them to their neighbors. Except for people who are Russian, it is difficult to find someone who wants to be controlled by the Russians. Bullies, and at best heavy-handed, they make terrible administrators. As the Soviet Union, they robbed their neighboring countries they were overseeing of almost everything and gave almost nothing back.  

You can’t blame the Ukrainians for not wanting to be under the heavy hand of the Russian Bear.  

The trouble is there is very little we can do. We have some of the best military personnel in the world tied down in Afghanistan, the area famous for Opium and sand fleas. So, we will try diplomacy (that is not going to work), and we will try flexing some of our military muscle (that won’t work because of the lack of money, troops and equipment tied down in another part of the world).

The Ukrainians would like to be closer to Western Europe. They have a passion for freedom and independence, and the KGB officer who is running Russia wants not only Crimea, but all of the Ukraine. Let us hope we can salvage it all, but even part of it would be a good thing. Telling lies and being a liar goes hand in hand with being a Russian politician, especially those who made their bones while serving the Soviet Union.   

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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