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WWL>Topics>>3-18 6:45am Tommy, Ukraine crisis

3-18 6:45am Tommy, Ukraine crisis

Mar 18, 2014|

Tommy talks to Melvyn Levitsky, former Ambassador to Bulgaria and Brazil & Professor of International Policy & Practice at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, about the situation in Ukraine

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

County tigers 64218. Before. Seven trying to educate us all on this this this -- conflict I guess is going on between Russia the United States. And Ukraine and then we're honored to have as our guest today ambassador Melvin of its. Who's served as the officer in charge of US Soviet relations and a political officer at the US. Embassy in Moscow he is currently. A buys you also too early to tell you former ambassador to Brazil and Bulgaria a professor of international policy and practice. At the university of Michigan's Gerald. I'm just trying to cope with warmer here I don't know which. We've got about we're in the game. Where where you. -- Ann Arbor yeah. To -- -- it's about 48 here -- Spring like yeah B 75 tomorrow. -- good so we're coming we're going to come down Leland and so ambassador you know I don't know if you wanna start. And beginning about how we got to this point and and take it from the -- Okay well there was needed to keep in mind. The the Crimean peninsula is is pretty important in the you know in Russian history. That. The Crimean war was -- there in fact if you go back even to the eighth century. The beginning of the Russians they've actually. Started -- -- And then Peter agreed had a battle with the Swedes to. Absorb that part of Europe won the battle. So Ukraine that it had been incorporated into the Russian empire before there was Soviet Union. Crimean peninsula was always part of Russia until 1954. When if you remember mr. Khrushchev who was. The head of the party and then in the head of state. Basically some people in a drunken stupor. Gave duke when he assumed. They can have stated position game you Ukrainian republic which is part of the Soviet Union. The Crimean peninsula. And that would make no sense to me and and you say a drunken stupor I don't know other what. He's at work at work there and in fact he built his career there. And that some people say this with two with his present to Ukraine to think the thing to remember I think is that excellent actor there. There's a lot of suspicion between. Ukrainians and Russians well below their -- topic people. They didn't have what I would call me close friendly relationship even during the Second World War. Many ukrainians are on the border well from the Nazis as they came through because they -- that the liberation from the from the Soviet Union. And so there has been the tension I remember traveling. This is back in the seventies actually. It was the place where that was most evident that the KGB. Security service was following you around it you're American diplomats as visiting. So there has been the there has been this tension. Now what we have is the course we can't make that step with the prime minister has together coverage he -- the went to rest he was he was pro Russian. Ukraine is populated but particularly in the east. By a lot of Russian speakers. Not necessarily Russian citizens although some of them are. Of the Crimean peninsula about 60%. The Russian speakers. Ethnic Russians. And then maybe 20/20 five ukrainians. And then there's that Butler group which is it that Turkic. -- speaking at Turkic group. There as well so there's there's the history. And when that when this firm and began. The Russians were. You quite upset that in fact what they had done that been overthrown by the democratically elected parliament that is. The Russians. Originally thought that. They were going to have an economic deal with Ukraine because. The president at that time that rejected an agreement with the European Union. So there's this question of where does Ukraine -- -- -- way they look east. Certainly in the eastern part of the country a lot of Russians during that now. I think where we stand now is. Looks like. You Russia has recognized the ukrainians vote for independence. And now Ukraine. And started the -- vote and now the chrome content. Parliament. Which is the kind of strange. Bodies. Opted to -- in the Soviet Union. And sorry again to Russia. And see him dating myself. A million making me feel better because I was governor and up earlier if you -- the ambassador and it gets confusing you know you make me feel better mr. ambassador. Absolutely because all remember Russia. Broke up into being separate countries. The the so it. It it seems pretty well set that. That Russia is going through its parliament its own procedures going to accept. The exception of Columbia in two Russia. Now what the question becomes what we do course. We have Aziz might might. Problem with is out of its diplomatically and of its more morally out of its politically bit. How do we as a nation and you would know this being an ambassador -- to draw the line between. What's right what's wrong he's human rights violations in North Korea well documented China's well but now all of a sudden we're concerned with. With the -- so with democracy and in our self determination in Ukraine I understand how this is something that we got involved with. Well we we got involved because we we have stood for the independence of Ukraine and territorial integrity. And the UN charter which you know basically -- countries not to invade another country. But you're right there's certain inconsistency in this internationally. You know there's an old expression inconsistency is the a -- consistency -- opt out of a small line. So we're not always went on always consistent. But in fact we have this relationship with Ukraine where along with the European allies. Of course supported. The integrity. Of Ukraine. I think gluten as. Basically decided to do this is done so in -- hole. They are going to -- her relationship will suffer. What comes next is a little bit equality but we're going to put sanctions on. Certain officials in the government we have already in the Russian government in the Crimean government -- The former prime minister of the Europeans are doing the same. Let me interrupt for a second mr. dress hundred -- -- put sanctions on. One person you attach their individual assets. And do you take -- travel privileges to your country that's potentially what they're doing. It's the kind of small interest at this point I would say. Yeah. Other potential problem presumably. Now people say well rested as leverage because of the media you know debt -- energy that they supplies to -- to Europe on the other hand. Kept the addresses budget comes from their oil and gas exports. And 70% of their exports them as a whole. Or come from that sector as well also they actually need Europe is much -- needs the debt in Europe has some alternatives. You know some pundits -- out of his sources of energy. Again I think this is -- -- that's the kind of murky. Our situation that and there were in. But and it's also kind of I wouldn't -- going back to the Cold War so much. But it makes addresses seem quite ideological. In other words there's some kind of sense that there is there a mission of the great Russian people there was little concept called level -- them. Which meant that there was a destiny for the Islamic peoples. And that seemed to be you know you when you read statements and so these -- Russian leaders are -- to -- that ideological content as well. Which. -- and it's you know penetrate to the Cold War. It it makes no sense for either country. In my mind anyway. It either that the Russians for the Europeans are thought to have. You know wait a fiery relationship or -- relationship. But that's what it's that. Mr. ambassador -- you know personalities I would think sometimes affect what happens racer. Bruton is KGB not likely to back down and and on a micro levels sometimes even at work if you get into it with your boss and you know you're right sometimes you have to. Yet to craft a way out for everybody where nobody loses face of that you can. In stay working there and and everybody's happy is that going to be part of what the United States has to do here craft an exit -- Prudence of that he doesn't lose phase that seems like he wins but the president. Obama he always has he also reminiscent skin in this game so. -- idea do you mind if if I was gonna put you in charge of it and say OKMR ambassador -- a solution where both win what would -- be. Well pretty tired it's that's -- pretty hard figures court 11 solution but that doesn't look likely here right now would have been four. Crimean peninsula have a greater degree of autonomy. In fact there were already. Some autonomy within the Ukrainian. State. I think. What put food in hopes for is that we will consider dissipated completely. And that at some point -- interest will coincide. Ukraine. He figures does not necessarily need crummy crummy in the Ukraine they get you know 80% of the order -- high percentage there. Electricity. From. From Ukraine itself and the budget as well. So there are some factors working against it plus Ukraine. Has to. -- -- change it's also the post office. Kind of things that are the whole system of -- Cutler collecting taxes that kind of thing. There at this point it doesn't look obviously a face saving way out in fact the Russians have been very defiant. About this if you look at the statements that that Putin's something is close colleagues have made. Eventually. What can we say we accept that. What are we going to do Putin. Much progress and much better position at this point geographically. Strategically. We gonna commit troops to help -- Ukraine doubtful. Very doubtful I would say Europeans. Their defense budgets have basically gone down need to we need to work together. So what what I look for at this point as the increasing sanctions eruptions will respond in some way maybe cut off. Gas supplies or sanctions some American officials and European officials will be in it to protect kind of war over a period of time at some point. Maybe -- a little bit of the distant future few years from now we may have we have to sit down and and figure out. But once Crimean peninsula becomes part of Russia which looks like that's where they're going. All the infrastructure is gonna go toward toward Russia. And then it's going to be very partner and do. We're out of time ambassador I appreciate your time I really do thank you sir parenthood for the car we think we will talk to again ambassador Melvin Nowitzki.

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