Russia's Extended Family Is Falling Apart
By Ivan Sukhov
Published: September 4, 2014 (Issue # 1827)
The Ukrainian flag flutters among other European flags in front of a certain Greek hotel at the start of the early autumn tourist season. The hotel is brimming with Russians as well as plenty of Ukrainians. Almost all of them speak Russian, and the affable Greek waiters eagerly cater to these guests, most of whom are unable to communicate in anything but their native tongue. "Yes, of course I speak Russian," a typical waiter says in Russian. "Greece and Russia together — no America!" he adds.
It is probably rather unpleasant for the Russian-speaking Ukrainians to hear all that ingratiating nonsense about "good Russia" and "bad America," but they apparently don't know what to say or how to behave in such situations. For foreigners, the Russian language that these Ukrainians speak from birth indicates their nationality. For them, if you speak Russian, you are a Russian — period.
At issue here is not that waiters and bartenders in the warm Mediterranean countries are largely unaware of Ukraine's existence. The problem is larger than that. Despite the determined efforts made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and several other European politicians to mediate the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, many people in the West consider it an exclusively Russian problem.
Because I am currently on vacation, I have the luxury of looking at this situation as something of an interested bystander. For example, I bought the Sept. 1 issue of Time magazine and found nothing about the Russian-Ukrainian crisis other than several readers' comments responding to an Aug. 4 article titled "Crime Without Punishment."
Readers primarily questioned how ethical it was for editors to publish shocking photos of bodies at the Malaysia Airlines crash site in Ukraine. A photo of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin appears on another page along with a quote from him: "If you want peace, you must use peaceful means."
That is very little coverage, even taking into account the fact that Time magazine has repeatedly run major stories on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. And it is far less than Russians and Ukrainians might expect to find written on the subject. In fact, it seems more appropriate for a conflict taking place "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away."
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