Ukraine: A Letter To Farah Stockman of the Boston Globe

Ukraine with the bearToday, Farah Stockman, an editorial writer for the Boston Globe, decided to throw her two cents into the Ukrainian situation. You can read what she had to say here.

I felt compelled to respond to her. I sent the following letter to her email:

“Ms Stockman:

You either have a lack of knowledge about the Ukrainian situation or you have written for the purpose of deceiving people. Your article on Ukraine was a lopsided presentation full of half-truths. Reading it, I wondered whether that is your stock in trade.

You wrote that the Ukrainian government: “swiftly alienated Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population by abolishing a law that allowed Russian to be considered a second official language.”

You know, or should know, that the legislation that sought to do that was vetoed by the interim Ukrainian president. The law was never enacted. Why tell half a story?

You wrote as if these matters followed one upon another: “Europe offered a fast-track to increased trade. Then Mother Russia opened her wallet and offered a $15 billion bailout, plus big discounts on Russian gas.” You left out all of the intervening happenings or posited them in such a way as to confuse your readers.

As you said, Yanukovych abruptly turned to Russia after a year of negotiations with Ukraine. You then say “[p]rotestors egged on by the West, made Yanukovych pay for his decision. They chased him from power.” Such a presentation presents the Russian line which you seemed to have swallowed along with the hook and sinker.

The truth is that when Yanukovych rebuffed the EU and suddenly turned to Russia, a small group of Ukrainians, with no assistance or prompting from the West, started to demonstrate against his actions. This demonstration which lasted through the cold Ukrainian winter nights started small. It grew, not because of any Western actions, but because Yanukovych unleashed his police forces against them causing the deaths of three young persons. This outraged the Ukrainian people who flocked into Kiev in support of that small original number. The numbers grew to the hundreds of thousands without any encouragement from the West and it continued for over three months. You completely ignore all of this in your facile presentation.

It was only in the face of the rising fury of the Ukrainian people that Putin made his offer of 15  billion dollars assistance to Yanukovych. Whether there had been behind the scene deals prior to that is not known.  Even that did not assuage the people in Maidan because their fight had become one for freedom which the West offered.

You presented the matter as an economic matter. It was far from that. It was a striving of a people who had been enslaved under the tsars and Soviets to be free and not to again return to servitude. Freedom was in the West, the loss of freedom, such as the Russian people now experience, of which the Ukrainians are well aware, was with Russia.

You also present the matter as a tale from the Bible of splitting the baby. Ukraine is no baby. It is a nation of courageous people who were willing to fight to prevent their nation from going back under the control of a man who as Secretary Kerry aptly noted has a 19th Century view of the world. You suggest the West cared less for Ukraine than Russia because the West was willing to divide it up. That’s a total misstatement. The West sought to keep it as one nation. It was Russia that feigned a reason to seize Crimea, a part of Ukraine, alleging Russians were in danger which all agree was a complete falsehood.

Finally you suggest it would have been better to vote Yanukovych out of office next year. How absurd a suggestion after that man had ordered snipers to fire on demonstrators murdering over 80 of them! By the way you conveniently failed to mention that. How could the nation have functioned under him after such brutality? He drove himself out of Ukraine as the rest of the free world seems to understand.

As I said, you presented a false story of the situation. It is sad when someone in your position does that. I can only hope it was through ignorance rather than as a willful falsification of the present Ukrainian situation.

Matt Connolly”


7 thoughts on “Ukraine: A Letter To Farah Stockman of the Boston Globe

  1. Matt,

    This comment may appear not connected, but I find that world politics and economics are very much inner related…BBC is reporting this AM that sanctions are being considered against Russia for its position in the Ukraine. And, Russia’s response, no surprise, is right back at you…and, ENERGY supplies to EU that go through pipelines in the Ukraine are at issue. Interestingly, the expansion of the Panama Canal, which has its own problems, would impact the force of Russia’s threat, as would the US rail transport of LNG.

    Here’s what I think. At this time the US is an exporter of LNG. In fact Japan is a major financier of the Pan Canal expansion because it has become a major importer of LNG due to its nuclear issues…Considering that EU relies on Russian ENENRGY, it would appear that if one were to follow ENERGY as a major issue, one could begin to sort out some of the push and pull in the Ukraine negotiations; which appears to be a key pipline player in the delivery of ENERGY to EU.

    1. Jean:

      I am reading a book The Brothers about the Dulles brothers. Your suggestion that politics and economics are interrelated is corrorborated by all I have read so far.

      Russia has many economic problems and if there were other supplies of gas, as there soon may be from LNG vessels as you indicated and the new ways in which it an be extracted, Russia will be much worse off.

      You are absolutely right that the availability of gas will be a great determinate in the future of Ukraine; right now Germany’s reluctance to impose sanctions is probably tied in very closely to its need for Russian gas.

      1. Matt,

        I am a CZBrat who grew up at her fathers knee. My dad came to Panama in the mid 30s. He could have written the book you are now reading. Business is war and both need energy to win…and how energy moves and at what price – blood and treasure- has a huge impact on who wins…and as long as oil and gas are the key energy factors today…follow them to the money and power.

  2. Matt, thanks again for keeping on top of this, and for the letter to the Globe.

    I was especially amused by Stockman’s claim that Russia could possibly play a role in imposing fiscal discipline in Ukraine – Rasha is hugely corrupt, on a much greater scope and scale, and Stockman’s claim is laughable.

    Henry Barth points to a Lew Rockwell link.

    That link actually contains a link to a New Yorker article about Angela Merkel’s influence in this situation.

    And a link about Londongrad’s possible exemption from imposing any sanctions on Russian key players in Russian’s aggression in Ukraine.

    1. Elmer:

      You don’t have to thank me since I have a deep interest in the matter especially in trying to get the what I believe is the truth to whomever will listen. The big problem I see is the refusal to let the Ukraine decide for itself what it will be. Everyone wants to give Russia an input into any decisions about its future. I can’t think of any other independent nation is told that it can only decide what its future will be as long as another nation approves of it.

      It is comforting to see the US out in front on this issue. Perhaps it will be the brave Ukrainians who spent those frigid nights in Maidan who will end up as those responsible for making President Obama understand it is necessary for him pick up his act when it comes to foreign policy.

    1. Henry:

      As to whether there is a Russian-German alliance ahead it seems to me there is no such possibility. I may be wrong given Germany’s great reluctance to object to Putin’s naked aggression in Crimea which he now denies having done but I don’t see what Germany would gain out of such an alliance. Germany having taken over the basket-case East Germany many not want to again have to do it by giving the Russians a helping hand.
      I read the article you referred to but don’t agree with much of it. Bionic Mosquito, its author, has a strange view of the world as being run by the bankers, which perhaps it is, but I’m not sure how this plays into the Ukraine matters.
      It’s not just the Globe but other American papers (and Bionic Mosquito) who have conflated many of the events in the Ukrainian matter and painted a simple picture that obscures the real facts. I’ve said Ukraine is to Russia as Ireland is to Britain; that a people was subjugated for a century or two does not mean that must continue. No on seems to want to let Ukraine decide its own future. They want first to pacify Putin, a man who tried once to gobble up all of Ukraine in one gulp but now with the West’s help may be able to bite it off piece by piece as the West seeks peace at all costs.

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