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Ukraine: No good end likely
Local teacher talks about her homeland

Sunday, June 22, 2014

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Nadia Kriger is not certain how the ongoing crisis in Ukraine will end, but she is certain it will not end well for any of the parties involved.

Kriger, 38, is an English Language Learners (ELL) teacher at Bassett High School. She has a bachelor’s degree in international studies from Old Dominion University with a focus on U.S./Russian/Ukrainian relations, a master’s degree in national security studies and intelligence gathering from American Public University System, and while in the Army, she traveled extensively between former Soviet Union countries.

She also is a Ukrainian expatriate, having fled her home country with her mother and three siblings in 1990.

According to an Associated Press report, Russia recently resumed its military buildup along the Ukrainian border, the latest step in an ongoing campaign of Russian intervention in Ukraine that was kickstarted by the Ukrainian Revolution in February.

In March, Crimea, a peninsula that was part of Ukraine but also autonomous, voted to split from Ukraine and join Russia. However, Kriger said, the results of the vote have been disputed.

“Russia annexed Crimea officially, claiming that was the majority’s vote,” she said. “You didn’t have to go far to see pictures of (armed Russian) security forces at the polling stations. How would you vote if you had a gun pointed at you?”

In late May, Kriger said, Ukraine elected President Petro Poroshenko, who replaced ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, widely considered in Ukraine and in the international community to be a tool of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It is only recently, Kriger said, that Putin has even acknowledged Poroshenko as the rightful president.

“Ukraine cannot exist without a partnership with Russia,” Kriger said. “Russia is fully aware of that, and it’s bringing Ukraine to its knees until it admits that. That’s all that’s happening, and it will continue happening until Ukraine is so destabilized that it literally begs Russia for help again.”

Just days ago, Kriger said, Russia cut off Ukraine’s access to natural gas, and Putin is refusing further negotiations with Ukraine.

“The European Union (EU) is asking Russia and Ukraine to have one more meeting regarding gas in a couple of weeks,” Kriger said, “but Russia is claiming that until Ukraine pays up $1.5 billion in debt for gas, that they’re not going to supply Ukraine with gas.”

In a bitter irony, Kriger said, much of Europe’s natural gas comes from Russia via a pipeline that passes through Ukraine.

Kriger said that her friends and family in both Eastern and Western Ukraine have confirmed that their natural gas has been shut off, and they have no idea how they will cope during the winter.

“Ukrainian winters are bad,” Kriger said. “They’re not something you can survive with a little electric heater like you do here. ... And that will be the one thing to bring the country to its knees.”

In Ukraine, she said, summer begins and ends in July, and cold weather begins arriving in August or September.

Kriger believes that Putin’s desire to control Ukraine is part of a desire to return to the days of the Soviet Union. By his own admission, Kriger has said, Putin was taken aback when Ukraine applied to join the European Union without first consulting Russia, considering the action a slap in the face.

In a recent speech, Kriger said, Putin said that “every autonomous country has its right to pursue its own economic interests, and Russia, as well, will do whatever it takes to pursue its own economic interests.”

However, she said, “If every autonomous sovereign country has the right to pursue their own economic interests, why can’t Ukraine do what it wants to do? Why should it ask Putin’s input on its association with EU?”

Kriger said that although she loves America and is a proud veteran, she consistently has been disappointed by the lack of a tangible response to Russia from the U.S.

Kriger said she does not believe that the U.S. should be “the policeman of the world,” but there is a lot of room between being the policeman of the world and doing nothing.

“What European country in this day and age just waltzes in and takes over part of a country?” Kriger said. “Who does that? It amazes me. And we’re standing by. We’re setting precedents.”

Ultimately, Kriger said, she agrees with the assessment of Russian writer Grigory Chkhartishvili, who writes under the pen name Boris Akunin.

According to Kriger, in a recent interview about the Ukrainian crisis, Chkhartishvili said, “no matter what happens with Ukraine, no matter what turn things take now, Russia, Putin specifically, had a chance to do better for himself, for his country ... and he missed it.”

“This will end badly for (Putin),” Kriger said. “No matter what he does from this point on, he has missed a very important window of opportunity.”


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