Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

Ukraine Crisis Concerns San Diego Community

ukraine.jpg
Ukraine Crisis Concerns San Diego Community
Ukraine Crisis Concerns Local Community
GUESTS:Veronica Shapovalov, Ph.D., SDSU, Professor, Director of Russian Studies Vera Skop, Volunteer, House of Ukraine Mikhail Burstein, SDSU Director, Student Information Systems

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. San Diego's Ukrainian communities are watching and waiting as Russian troops continues into Crimea. Last Friday night in the House of Ukraine a Balboa Park candlelight vigil was held to remember protesters killed in streetfighting in Ukraine. Even though the fighting is half a world away, its effects are being felt deeply by many here in San Diego. I would like to welcome my guests professor Veronica Shapovalov, Mikhail Burstein, Vera Skop. Welcome to the program. Russia says that it is moving in to Crimea because Russians are at risk and that part of Ukraine NBC and TV people cheering Russian troops in Crimea, you think that you Ukraine might lose Crimea? VERONICA SHAPOVALOV: A fight but let's go back to history, historically Crimea was the that part of Russia where Ukrainian Tartars left where it became during World War II Stalin reported the Crimean Tartars and accused them of being in collaboration with access of Nazis. In the 60s Nikita Khrushchev gave Crimea to Ukraine since use from Ukraine so is a very complicated history and of course the native population might be at this point not Crimean Tartars but mostly Russians, and everybody is not like Crimean Tartars in the ethnic population MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Ukraine itself the oppresses it Ukraine had much to do with whether the country would be aligning itself with the West and the unit European Union or with Russia, Why does Russia want to hold onto its alliance with Ukraine? VERONICA SHAPOVALOV: Again going back to history because Ukraine became part of repression empire and Russia was not an empire with it to join in the seventeenth century and Russia and Ukraine they belonged to one of one meta-culture even the name Ukraine means the edge, it was the edge of the Russian Empire and it was the edge of the Soviet Empire and when Stalin had that Hitler had delighted Europe Ukraine West Ukraine became part of the Soviet Union and so it is again the division at all of the ethnic groups that become part of the Soviet Union and now everybody is in the Ukraine and so of course Russia is looking at that as part of larger Russia. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Mikhail, you were in Ukraine last year, was there always a situation like that? MIKHAIL BURNSTEIN: I was there in the beginning of November for a week at that point everyone was waiting and peak slogans in Ukraine and you Ukraine Europeans root Ukrainian origin and nothing there is no science that that would be changed and there is little historical parade because it was 70s University of the liberation by the red Army. Second world war and was like all historical artifacts and memorabilia were shattered on this street and there was little Supporting the mission go and please had to call the not trying to remove this. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So the people who we later than this side the streets protesting were still hopeful when you were there that the decision would be made that you really Ukraine would ally itself with the European Union? MIKHAIL BURSTEIN: Most of the people are divided everywhere and the divided city ethically and united most people the street speak Russian with some Ukrainian accent but speak Russian and most people were looking forward to this becoming part of Europe but the different parties I think last year was local elections and I am concerned how people look at their own history but it was very peaceful event. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You have friends and family in Ukraine. VERA SKOP: I have, I recently talked to them and they described after last Sunday that there was a feeling of euphoria because the president the tyrant left at he fled and he fled and it was mixed with great sadness because over 100 people had been killed, innocent boys 17, 18-year-olds who were maybe throwing rocks and many who are just on the sides were actually killed by snipers and you have this euphoria that the tyrant who was who had managed to spend seventy to a hundred billion and there in the process of rethinking and building this new country and all of a sudden this news that Russia is invading the territory of Ukraine. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Have you spoken with anyone since? Are they concerned that they are going to be Russian tanks in the streets? VERA SKOP: Absolutely yes, I have a friend I spoke with yesterday his family is 50 miles away and very concerned. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, there was a candlelight vigil at the house of Ukraine in Balboa Park, how would you say the Ukrainians in San Diego are taking this news? Are they going to CNN or? VERA SKOP: Yes they are glued to the television set and they are glued to the internet and glued to social media and they are following events very very closely and there are a lot of new Ukrainians that are recently integrated and young and we've had since November 6 demonstration since? Of the protesters and we have raised the least $10,000 that I know of this span to help with some NHA in humanitarian aid and they are difficultly definitely be to their seats and very concerned by: MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Also community members from Russia, how is the response for the Russian community about this? MIKHAIL BURSTEIN: Russian community in San Diego is not really community as we usually think of one center, is very dispersed and Russian community is in fact Russian Jewish community and of course everybody is interested because a lot of Russian Jews are from Edessa and they have relatives and friends there and of course everybody is concerned and nobody wants any bloodshed there is it happened in Yugoslavia. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Again, from your conversations with people what would you like to see the West do and the United States do about this? VERA SKOP: They would like to see alone, there is less than $1 million and to the coffers they like to see the United States of the European union give alone and let the United States be of Peter and let the April able forces NATO forces strategy and the like to see the United States worked closely with the EU and hit it where they were hers and that is the pocketbook he doesn't care what the world thinks about it about him because everyone is time to stop this with the need to do is hit him in the pocketbook and the need to work at European and rear European Union union. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Does Putin and the government give the go-ahead for this incursion into Crimea? They have a point? VERONICA SHAPOVALOV: Strategically they do because the Black Sea Russian Navy and again Crimea is the text area that can be disputed whether it is Ukrainian or Russian or Crimean Tartars, it's not merely Ukrainian but this territory was added and as I said it was populated by Russians who wanted to come there who were sent there and they were given the place that belonged to different ethnic groups. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Lacayo you see it was peaceful and all number of people were hopeful for a closer alliance with the union and was anybody sort of saying the waving a red flag and saying this could be dangerous for us what we're doing here if Russia becomes too agitated about this? We could be facing subsequently terrible something really terrible? MIKHAIL BURNSTEIN: At that point there is no science that Russia was engaged a little later,, the government to ask my way into China and made the tour to Sochi and that started the fighting to see how much Europe given us they have their own problems and who gets us more, at that point on November 6 was a no sign at all signs that they be from some Russian speaking there that it may be a little more but nobody was against war Europeanization of Ukraine and more war of the West in Ukraine that was always more in perception right or wrong and nationalistic. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How far do you think Russia will go to secure it disinterested Ukraine? VERONICA SHAPOVALOV: With Putin it's hard to say because I think he is his goal is to keep the command and keep the Navy and so it's basically by attempting the military base what any stable to the lease that will be the story of that protecting the military base. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you all, it's a very complicated situation. I would like to thank my guests Veronica Shapovalov, Vera Skop, and Mikhail Burnstein. Thank you very much.

San Diego's Ukrainian community is watching and waiting as Russian troops demand the surrender of the Crimea. Last Friday night, at the House of Ukraine in Balboa Park, a candlelight vigil was held to remember protestors killed in recent street fighting in Ukraine. So even though the crisis between Russia and Ukraine is half a world away geographically - it's effects are being felt deeply by many here in San Diego.