tv Atlantic Council Discussion Focuses on Tensions Between Russia and Ukraine CSPAN February 24, 2017 10:03am-11:35am EST
>> good afternoon. my name is john herbst and i'm the director of the center here at the atlantic council. we have a somewhat different event for you this afternoon, and thank you for coming. nice to see with a good-sized crowd. the title of today's event is connecting ukraine's past and present. i say this is a little unusual of an event for the atlantic council because this is kind of a deeper dive than usual into history. not that we ignore history. of course we don't think it's important to understand the past can understand what you are today. so we spent a bit more time on historical dimensions today and on the current dimensions. and it's important because this historical dimension has gotten short shrift ever since the awful events of the holodomor in
the early 1930s. we had a wonderful panel for you today. i don't think i need to name all of them. you have here the bios of each. people well prepared to discuss this very serious topic. let me just say two more things. one, this event is timed in part to something very unusual, a full-length regular movie, bitter harvest, coming to a theater near you later this week. you may have seen advertisement for this on tv over the weekend. i've seen a pic of fact i've more in touch more than once. he keeps your attention a very, very difficult subject. but it's not a documentary. it's a full-length feature film which seems to be the way to catch peoples attention in this post modernist age. second thing and hepatitis a i
did not need to be reminded, you can follow us at hashtag future ukraine. and with that, i think i'm done. i will just introduce timothy fairbanks is a senior fellow nonresident senior fellow at our center will be moderating today's discussion. tim? sorry, i knew i would make a mistake. >> ukraine was the talked about.
we have a great panel today to discuss ukraine, past and present. can't think of a better group to discuss this today. before we begin with some questions that i will moderate, introduced the full panel. as you know we have ambassador john herbst. john is at the director of the eurasia center here at the atlantic council. also the former u.s. ambassador to ukraine. next we have nadia. to her left is naphtail rivkin, a research fellow at the victims of communism memorial foundation and last but not we have michael sawkiw. michael is the director of the ukraine national information service which is part of ukrainian congress committee of america. he's also the chair of the u.s. committee. michael, if you don't mind i will start with you and then we'll work our way back.
very little is known to the outside world even in eastern europe of the events of holodomor. can you talk about this lack of information and lack of understanding, specifically what many would describe as the soviet disinformation campaign, which you during 1932-1933, and really since then? >> great, absolutely. thank you. first i would like to thank the atlantic council for hosting this event. it is hosting this event. it is not everyday that we get a group together such as this of experts and of audience participants that can talk about the holodomor. the holodomor is one of the least known atrocities in the world. frankly speaking, we from the training american community call it a genocide and the call it a genocide because even the person that termed genocide, ukrainian at united nations and use the holodomor as an example of what
true genocide is. i look at this and a look at this in the perspective of what happened in nearly 85 years ago in ukraine, and, frankly, speaking what is happening right now. that you are parallel but looking at it, that you are quite similar as well. and i'd like to begin with a quote, a quote from a french writer, an aristocrat, from the mid-1800s used to travel quite often to russia and had an opportunity to meet bazaars, various czars, opportunity to meet the various noblemen and also in to come he went into the countryside, and in his book
which is letters from russia, french writer quotes a russian civil servant proudly proclaiming the following, and i quote, russia lies, denies the facts, makes war on evidence and
wins. that i think is the perspective of what we are dealing with right now. whether it's in this book, letters from russia written nearly 135 years ago, which have an 85 years ago and i incidents that having right now in eastern ukraine in crimea shows that russia lies, and russia makes war on the facts. this is not necessarily a historical lesson that i'd like to give you today. what i'd like to give is a philosophical notion of what is happening in that area and what is emanating from moscow. from moscow it's not so much a territorial rabbit ukraine. and what it was during soviet union times of 1920s or even
right now in the early 2000s, what it is, it's an information war. it's attraction as to what you can get out there for the people to believe, and at the same time
do as much of the unfortunate to various societies as possible. so it's a matter of principle. it's a matter of democratic principles versus it's a matter of authoritarianism, dictatorship, and how you wield power. now, it's quite interesting that the soviets deny the holodomor for the locus of times. frankly speaking they denied it and tell about the mid-1980s when we in the greater ukrainian diaspora whether united states or throughout the world started speaking more and more about it. there was some traction associate with it. memories of congress, president of the united states issued that particular statements about the holodomor. frankie speaking that culminate in 2008 with a statement by president george w. bush that said that the holodomor was a quote crime against humanity.
soviets denied it for so long and only after a lot of information and started trickling out after the dissolution of the soviet union in 1991 did to even acknowledge that the holodomor happened. it's the same thing fast-forward 85 years, ladies and gentlemen. fast-forward 85 years from the holodomor, what is happening right now in eastern ukraine and crimea. if you remember of march 2014, nearly three years to the day, that the russian started invading crimea with quote-unquote little green men, that putin odyssey said there's no such thing as little green men in ukraine. that no notion that this was being done in an organized fashion in terms of the illegal annexation of the autonomous republic of crimea in the ukraine, in ukraine. so this is the point of the story. and what we see is that so much
about how history repeats itself because unfortunately it does repeat itself. but how we have to tackle those historical burdens of not being silent. i had a wonderful opportunity to see premiere of the film last week, bitter harvest, which we just saw just a very short trailer. the movie is poignant. the movie is riveting. the movie in capture your heart and your so because it is about a love story in the dire circumstances of a forced famine in ukraine. but i picked up one amazing quote from that particular movie. and the quote came from a soviet commissar saying that reality is the enemy. if reality is the enemy, how do we fight against it? who is the enemy? is reality the true enemy, or is the disinformation that is being
strewn about the enemy? this is what i'd like to lead you. i'd like to leave you with certain instances of water happening in today's world. unfortunately there are lots happening, a lot is being set in terms of fake news, a lot is being set in terms of facts, how to look at these particular facts. the facts are there, ladies and gentlemen. the facts have always been there 85 years ago. the facts were there nearly 175 years ago when the french writer and aristocrat traveled throughout russia. the facts are all there. in 1932-33 there were journalists that were embedded in ukraine, that did get out the story. it is unfortunate that a lot of the writing did not receive the prominence of one particular writer for the "new york times," the name of which walter ramsey
as a pulitzer prize within the "new york times" building. these are all the attributes what we have to deal with in today's world. but in today's world since we know a lot of the facts, we know of a lot of information that is already strewn about, it is our opportunity now to make sure that that doesn't repeat itself. it's not about the history. the history is necessary. it's about the perception, and the perception that is being made, unfortunately from russia, whether it was czarist russia, whether it was the soviet union and thomas russian or whether it is today's russian federation, it's that perception of what is reality. and in the movie if reality is the enemy, and that is what we have to deal with. but how do you combat that? had you combat this disinformation that is happening? there are many ways.
first and foremost, if the example of inmate 17 in july 2014, the facts are out there. more needs to be done. more investigations. more trials frankly speaking has to be brought. other instances in terms of combating this disinformation is the movie itself. the movie itself combats all types of disinformation stemming from moscow. the memorial which we dedicated november 2015 prominent location in washington, d.c. on the court of massachusetts avenue and north capitol street were at the tip you can see the u.s. capital. it's very important to have these types of instances. curriculum within our high school social studies programs. i went to the high school systems here in the united states and, frankly, speaking if i as a ukrainian american didn't raise the issues of the holodomor, unfortunately i don't think much would've been said. and i have even have an example
in my college courses of russian history from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, going from czarist russia to communist russia or to the soviet union and talking about lenin and stalin five-year plans, where collectivization was mentioned but not necessarily in the capacity of what it meant for the starving of nearly five, seven, 10 million people in ukraine. this is what we need to do. we need to bring forth the facts. we need to make sure that this is evident. and as i mentioned earlier, one of the great examples of holodomor in terms of its debunking of the information from the russian federation is recognizing it as it's true genocide. i leave you with one particular quote as well, and this is a quote from desmond tutu. this is a quote about what
should inspire us to work in the future and to debunk a lot of this misinformation and a lot of this again to. it is a quote as follows, if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. and i think those are poignant words that we need to remember as we examine a little bit more of the holodomor. this panel discussion and if you have unique opportunity of watching the film "bitter harvest." thank you. >> thank you. following up with what michael talked about, you've done a lot of research regarding how reporters and politicians misrepresented the events and early 1930s. can you talk about this a little more, and how this misrepresentation of the facts affected past events but also what's going on currently in ukraine? and also how that affects the
culture of the society? >> sure. first of all, thank you, tim and michael. i apologize to the room. i picked the worst day to get a cold. so i don't know how it's going to sound. my voice coming to the mic night. i wanted to pick up on something michael just said about high school curricula. it's important to note the way we talk about history, the way the words that we use here in ukraine and in russia have an effect on younger generations. i was sifting through some russian high school textbooks. i found an example of how russian children are taught about basic history like the famine in ukraine 1932-33. this is a quote from a textbook a quote from a textbook published in russia in 2008. the author says, the famine was
a result of weather conditions as well as the incompleteness of collectivization processes. in parentheses, collective farms were not yet able to provide the required level of production of red while the wealthy farmers were liquidated as a social class and did not participate in the production. so this is just to substantiate your point further, that the disinformation has an impact in the way we educate our children here and in russia. i also wanted to pick up on some ummah to develop walter duranty. how many people here know who walter duranty is? i think a sizable portion of the river for those of you who don't know who he is, he was the "new york times" correspondent in moscow from 1917, a police use the bureau chief until 34, and then 34-35, did he stayed on as a reporter.
and he want a future for a series of 11 articles partially covering the victims of communism memoriaholodomor inuk. and for the shiva don't think he deserves the pulitzer, which i do not, you may change your mind because he mak may deserve a pulitzer for the orwellian linguistics gymnastics in his article. he writes simply, there is no actual starvation, but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition. [laughter] now, duranty is an easy target and we could as many to dismiss him as a liar. but duranty enforcer was not an outlier at the time. famous people come intelligent people like george bernard shaw, h.g. wells, french prime minister were all fooled by russia's propaganda campaign
during the holodomor. even arthur kessler -- that's the goal. even arthur kessler, author of darkness and knew which i think is one of the best books on common is ever written, unfortunately dismissed the dying ukrainians as quote enemies of the people who preferred begging to work it so my question is why? why this shameless lying? the almost hilarious doublespeak, the complete denial of reality. who do these people think they are fooling? as always george orwell holds the key to the mind that can believe freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength. in 1945, orwell wrote it was considered equally proper to publicize famines when they happen in india, and to conceal them when they happen in the ukraine. and if this was true before the war, the intellectual atmosphere is certainly no better now. and i think bout extends to 2017.
orwell gets to the heart of the matter. it's not that the holodomor deniers were fools, although many of them were fooled by russia's disinformation campaign, which for example, removed starving orphans from the street before the arrival of the french prime minister. it's that it is fashionable in this long 20th century of ukrainian history from the holodomor to the war in done boss to create false equivalence between the common tragedies of the human condition and the deliberate systematic and malicious aggression of the russian regime. i want to share with a quote from another journalist, a good guide this time. garrett jones went to joe's originally broke the story of the holodomor. he interviewed soviet foreign minister in 1933 and in that interview he took a line we've heard from many russian foreign ministers since. he said flat out well, there is no famine, which, of course, is a blatant lie.
but then he tailored and amended statement a little bit. he said you must take a longer view. the present hunger is temporary. in writing books you must have a longer view. it would be difficult to describe it as hunger. notice the sentence construction. there are no active verbs. my college english professor would be appalled is used to ask me, who is doing what to whom? hunger and family after all over the world all the time picking india, for example, like orwell said. and at the end of his trying to say the famine in ukraine which he says was really a famine, just occurred without any cause or any effect necessarily. similarly, over the past week or so russian officials have been asking ukraine to reconsider its economic sanctions on donbas end quote stop the attack on donbas as if the conflict of donbas simply occurred in a vacuum. the russian regime and many
people who don't know better talk about the holodomor as one famine amongst many in a year that killed millions of people. similarly, the russian regime and others who don't know better talk about donbas as a semi frozen conflict that seems to be symptomatic of 4070. nobody is at fault, they seem to say. nobody is getting hurt they seem to believe. that's just the way the world is these days. they want us to think. it's the so-called longview that soviet foreign minister wanted us to take. >> thank you. nadia, it seems like there's a pattern here, sort of a struggle for the truth. spin what's left to say? >> can you talk about why this is, and are there some others between the 30s and today? >> well definitely. i guess i'd like to divide my remarks into two parts.
looking back what happened then and, the chernobyl, the money of christianity, that are just the parallels that are just so striking. first i want to talk about the parallels here in the united states. as michael said, the first official recognition of the famine occurred in the mid '80s. we began to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the famine. famine. so first there were resolutions to commemorate the famine, and then there was the resolution to have the commission. the united states was the first government in the world to officially recognize that the famine, the holodomor, took place. several of us old-timers had a
little group that actually called ourselves the caucus, the ukraine caucus, and our headquarters were in the monocle. and we met. and one of them was a person who worked for the national science foundation and she was detailed to senator hollings is a guest who sponsored the resolution on the famine in the senate? it was senator hollings. so that was the beginning of this campaign to officially recognize, and there were some interesting things that happened. we tried to get a hearing on the senate side, and senator lugar, chairman of the foreign relations, didn't want to do it. so we went to see senator jesse helms. now, old-timers will remember him as being quite the rebel, you could say, and he was chair of the agriculture community. and so he claimed that he had jurisdiction over this topic because the holodomor had to do
with collectivization and, you know, agriculture. so this sort of little interesting thing. so this was the beginning of pressing for recognition here besides thanking the atlantic council for organizing this event, i want to thank the people who put together this film. because i think this film represents a milestone in the world recognizing this event. when you have an event like this, now being introduced into the popular culture, the film or books, i think this is another step towards more widely people recognizing it and accepting the historical fact of this. now, when we were doing this resolution, we thought we were uncovering sort of the world for the congress.
let me back up. this year we are actually 100 years of congress supporting the people of ukraine. one of the things we discovered was that actually in 1934, hamilton fish the third of new york introduced a resolution in regards to the famine. so the world knew, people knew, and even in washington people knew. now, we had the pleasure of interviewing him. .. the way of the congress being
able to recognize, does anyone see parallels to today. if we look at the history, congress has always been in the forefront of these kind of issues in relation to praying and throughout history there have been different reasons why presidents may not have wanted to support or endorse certain positions. it seems like history continues. it is always -- it has already been somewhat discussed about the disinformation. i will call it the kremlin playbook, which is consistent from then until now. the only thing that changes are the methods because of advances in technology and resources.
and i divide it into what people have already said. first, deny and cover up. whether it was chernobyl -- you name it, that is the first step. and then you have the propaganda which provides an alternative narrative to substitute for the truth. then we have fake news. the biggest example of that was walter duranty. this is an interesting case study about his role that he played. it is much more than just writing articles to cover up what was going on. he was an integral part of promoting the soviet position.
looking at walter duranty there is an interesting quote. in november 1933 after there had been negotiations about the recognition of russia there was a dinner at the waldorf-astoria hosted by the soviet foreign minister. one of the participants who wrote about that said during the dinner as people were being introduced there was mild applause but when walter duranty who was introduced, it was thunderous applause. this is a quote. one quite got the impression that america, in a spasm of discernment, was recognizing both russia and walter duranty. the other part of the playbook
is to identify people of stature and recognized status who are either paid experts or as stalin defined them, useful idiots and sometimes it is hard to figure out in which category people fit. i went to the ukraine weekly archives for 1983 and pulled out an article not about -- about reverend graham attending a peace conference in moscow in 1983. the reason i pulled it out is because can you think of another person who is so respected, an american icon, then reverend graham?
spiritual advisor to many presidents, respected by people of all faiths. i don't think there is anybody who would attack reverend graham. so when he goes to moscow and says he sees no sign of religious persecution, despite the fact that he visited with six pentecostal believers from siberia who had been living in the us embassy for five years, he then went on to say things like he went to several orthodox churches and they were packed, something you would not see in charlotte, north carolina, his home. the final one, which was hard to read, when talking about food shortages, he said i have wonderful meals, caviar, in america only the very rich can
afford caviar. i am not picking on reverend graham but i am trying to illustrate that when you have someone of this stature who, for whatever reason, is promoting a certain life, this was a prelude to 1988 when we were commemorating the minimum around -- millennium of christianity, it was political guerrilla warfare because the kremlin was trying to sees it as the latium of christianity in russia. so it is very challenging to maneuver through today in terms of different people. i'm not going to name names, in this category. the final step is to vilify and attack those who speak the truth
and it has already been brought up, garrett jones was a welsh journalist who was undercover in ukraine who spoke the language and held a press conference in 1933 talking about the famine, he was denounced, attacked and two years later murdered under suspicious circumstances. unfortunately i don't think we see much changes in the situation in the playbook by the kremlin, in terms of politics. >> why is it so important today to understand the events of
1932-33. >> seven main points to answer your totally unscripted questions. one, it is important to understand that the horrors of the communist regime were world-class horrors. the worst things in human experience. the people brutalized under communist rule were all the peoples of the soviet union not to mention people of china, cambodia and so on. we are talking one specific, the most horrific of all communist crimes in china during the revolution, in cambodia,
everyone suffered including the russians. .2. two or three. vladimir putin's russia, something we have been talking about since the panel began, is a serious geopolitical problem and a serious human rights problem but not nearly on the same magnitude as the soviet union. point three. and that period of not quite a decade of possible russian democracy, that followed the implosion of the soviet union, there was real interest in russia, in the horrors of communism, the kgb archives open as soon as research was done and we are grateful for the findings
of that research and we have a civic organization in russia that appeared in the 80s in the last days of the soviet union, run by the academic risk that was interested, it means memorial, interested in memorializing sufferings under communism. point four. sadly, the brief russian flirtation with democracy ended did the when you had to hand off president nixon and prime minister putin who became president putin and he was and is a kgb agent, except with extreme prejudice. vladimir putin said the great geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century was not the holocaust
but the fall of the soviet union, which is a great misjudgment in moral terms. vladimir putin represented -- the people who ran the kgb, the ministry of defense, and various other, the power of ministries of the soviet union and his becoming president meant the return of this psychological type to power in russia and that psychological type greatly enjoyed the geopolitical preeminence of the soviet union and to this day they feel about preeminence the way a person feels the managed leg. it is no surprise therefore,
point five, under this regime in a former kgb types, no interest in looking at the horrors of communism. the extent that vladimir putin is an ideologist, i don't want to overstate this, to creating a fusion of czarist greatness and soviet greatness which is a legacy the russian people today have as a point as they look to the future. our legacy concludes the aspects discussed my fellow panelists. and it is really important in ukrainian national consciousness.
for the people of ukraine to understand what was done to them as the horror of communism and in order to quash ukrainian national feeling at a critical moment in soviet history is important to understand ukraine as independent country. just as vladimir putin's ukraine solidified national consciousness. it is an earlier preconscious phenomena in, preconscious, only ukrainian intellectuals understood it in the 30s. that is reason one. reason 2, it is a wedge for understanding the horrors of communism not just in ukraine. and a bit of harvest is an
important cultural event. that is my hope that this leads to serious conversation about the things that happen in the soviet union. i am surprised, delighted to be the free safety on this panel. i am surprised no one mentioned the extent of the horrors, if you look at various writings on it. the number of fatalities ranges from 3 million to a high of 10 or 11 million. very large number, very large number. finally, finally -- recognition of the extent of the horrors, recognition of who was responsible and who was responsible was very much the politburo of the soviet union. an important geopolitical fact
today, and prime importance to the kremlin, two reasons, reason one, they understand the true recognition of this horror makes them hard to ignore the problems of communism. how can they speak positively about this past of theirs if everyone understands several million or as many as 10 or 11 million people were starved to death by conscious policy. therefore, they have attacked ukraine's commemoration as an example of extreme ukrainian nationalism and tendencies that are nonsense. point two on this, the second point. point be.
is that this commemoration is also a danger to vladimir putin's authoritarian project in russia because again, the same regime that nuked -- that murdered -- is a regime that is not one to acknowledge horrors on an extraordinary scale in the communist period. and that is openly the significance of talking about this film. i think i have said enough. >> thank you for your remarks. we have 15 minutes left and i would like to ask one more round of questions and if you could keep your remarks or two or three minutes before we open up, michael, if i could go back to you, you touched on this a little bit, but looking at the
present day, the disinformation campaign coming out of moscow, how does that affect events in ukraine, and illegal annexation of crimea? >> on into the bit of it in terms of looking from the national consciousness of the ukraine. it is a narrative. it is coming out of the kremlin in terms of this narrative and how the world is supposed to believe this narrative but obviously it is a matter of the self-conscious ukrainians and harboring ideas as ukrainians need to stand up ourselves because frankly speaking the world is not the same as it was 85 years ago, different tactics being used in terms of this
information. luckily the world is open enough to use technology in terms of social media and so forth that we can actually know these truths that are happening in ukraine. 85 years ago unfortunately other than a few journalists the world did not know, how do you combat that. there are so many methodologies you can combat, today's present crisis in ukraine. in terms of the little green men in crimea we do as a fact, that was out there and something that happened 85 years ago, though the information was known 85 years ago, it was a matter of time for appeasement. i will give you a quote. i have something ready. there was a document compiled by the british foreign service and in this particular document, the truth of the matter is we have a
certain amount of information about famine conditions in ukraine. we do not want to make it public, however, because the soviet government would present it and our relations with them could be prejudiced. that makes complete circle here. it is a matter of appeasement and we don't want to appease. we cannot appease right now and that, in terms of an answer to your question, solidifies the ukrainians and what they are trying to accomplish, what they are trying to do, integrate into europe, they have been a democracy before. this is not the first time ukraine has had a democratic republic and a democratic country but civil society makes the difference. frankly speaking that is one of the things stalin wanted to annihilate as much as possible, that free will and free thinking from the ukrainians because he
needed the land for his industrialization and needed to squelch the population. today the population won't be squelched but if there are matters of appeasement on a larger global political scale, the ukrainians could be back 85 years ago. >> this has been hit on a little bit, but examples of accurate portrayals of what is going on in that part of the world about russian aggression, you talk about culture, can you talk about the memorial a couple years ago, can you talk more about others? >> sure. the memorial cycle definitely can talk about it more than i can. where i want to go with this is
there has definitely been examples of good cultural memory in the post-soviet space that can be followed. in latvia for example one of the first things they did after latvia became independent again was changed the street names in the city, people were asking the mayor at the time why are you focusing on street names when people need to adapt to an entire new type of lifestyle and people need to eat and his response was public symbols matter. public references and cultural sphere matters in the way that you perceive the water and digest information so that is why there are memorials in dc, a step in the right direction. as much as i hope this panel is seen by a lot of people, i hope this film is seen by a lot more.
that is a step in the right direction. in russia, that step haven't been taken. if you walk through the streets in moscow, you see hammers and circles all over the metro stations. and post-soviet warsaw pact, the giant, monstrous statues of stalin have been torn down. day have been torn down but moved to a pocket in moscow. you can still go and see it. and textbooks haven't changed. the way schoolchildren to commemorate their own history is unapologetic. ukraine on this cultural sphere is a country influx. they have been democratic and working tirelessly since the collapse of the soviet union but it is not always easy.
people don't want to tear down the statue of lenin where they celebrated their 13th birthday 50 years ago. it is hard to change the smaller villages, the textbooks. that is where the fight has to happen. >> nadia mcconnell, you may the deck of the russian playbook being the same over the decades and generations. maybe the tools have changed. how might organizations, the international community, what programs could be done, how do we raise awareness? >> it is constant vigilance. you will hear in the atlanta council, a fantastic job of putting out credible information. if i might make some other comments. one of the things i don't think we have come to understand is
the impact on ukraine society. i think it is worthy of analysis as well. i will cite three examples. when the ambassador was here, he talked about the fear that remains within ukraine. this whole -- when you think about this fear is inculcated in society, it makes the recent striving of civil society that much more remarkable. a couple of examples. in 1992 i happened to be in ukraine with a colleague of mine and went to visit her elderly aunt, we were all euphoric.
and tells me that her aunt is squirreling away dry red. bread. the notion that ukraine may threaten them. and about these women in her 80s and 90s, a lot of made of the fact that they are living with radiation. testing their water and all that. in the film, one of them says they have no fear about the radiation. the thing they fear is famine, not having enough food to eat.
this, i think, has seeped into society in ways we have not yet understand. this point, we can talk about the disinformation by the kremlin, i have 2, i think, bring out the fact the party of regions, was not ready to recognize this horrific event. even though the harshest was suffered in eastern ukraine. this is something that to me is of interest, in 2008, doing a major program to recognize this, there was a lot of criticism and
he was wasting his time, there are more important things to focus on. i contradicted him. i happened to be there. one of the things i observed, people in eastern ukraine who lived through it and never spoken about it were finally feeling free to talk about it. if you imagine the impact of keeping this inside, the fear and terror and what that has done to ukrainian society. and ukraine's fight about independence and democracy. that much more remarkable given the fact they have this remembrance of terror. >> do you have any other
remarks? >> if you want to know about it, the book to read is bitter harvest of sorrow by the great british historian. another author whose books i can't remember who has written extensively about this. finally everyone speaking about the concept of useful idiots, westerners doing soviet bidding even if they didn't understand it. paul hollander, a great book -- >> love to open it up, if you can identify yourself and give affiliation. >> thank you for organizing this wonderful panel. my name is david talbot. i work at the victims communism memorial foundation and would
like to offer it to you to defer the question where you see it. one of the things in thinking about the future of ukraine that did not necessarily come up in conversation today is the future of ukraine in context. i would love to hear thoughts about how people who love ukraine i thinking and strategizing right now for the welfare of their people. >> thanks. interesting question. i had a feeling this would work out. i think you have to put everything in perspective. given we are discussing the events of 85 years ago, the
quote that i had written or mentioned about the british foreign service diplomats, talking to you about it yet they didn't say anything about it meaning appeasement, we know what appeasement has led to. we know what appeasement led to in 1933, in 1934 the united states recognized the soviet union as an entity during the height of the famine. we know what happened in the late 1930s because of appeasement and what that led to so i am looking at this as a global context and perspective. the issue of appeasement, we have to know the facts are out there, we have to know what's billeds a strong world and that is democracy, democratic principles, a free and open society. and there is a fight going on
right now, not in some obscure part of the world, not in some small little plot of land but in the center of europe, at the heart of europe's principles, exactly a fight for freedom that is happening. if we in the west, in particular the united states, don't realize that for exactly what it is, then i am fearful that that appeasement may lead to other aspects. >> would you like to respond? >> let me answer not so much as someone who loves ukraine but as someone who has some affection for ukraine but also affection for russia. most importantly a lot of affection for the united states. we have a serious geopolitical problem, the leader of the second most powerful military in the world, one of the two great
nuclear superpowers has a revisionist agenda in europe, wants to weaken nato, we can transatlantic ties, what do disable it. jim matus, the most important danger we face today, we need a policy that recognizes that. just about everyone chosen by president trump to a senior national security position seems to understand that was the new national security advisor seems to get it, the secretary of state seems to get it, the director of the cia seems to get it was the vice president seems to get it. not so clear the president of the united states seems to get it. that is worrying. having said that, we have seen in the wake of inclination on the part of the commander-in-chief to offer preemptive concessions to the kremlin, resistance from within the administration and congress. we have seen this ukrainian
peace plan as quoted by the new york times. all this is making people wonder what is up. as a result of this we will ultimately see a sound policy recognizing dangers of vladimir putin's revisionism and the need to make vladimir putin pay a price for russian ukraine by supporting ukrainian the plan they deserve to be supported especially since they gave clear weapons in response to assurances from the united states and britain and france and china. >> i have two things everyone in this room could do to help ukraine in the next week, the next month, concrete things. one, educate our own american kids about the real history of ukraine, make sure they are completely inoculated against what they call fake news, fake
facts, incorrect things, educate them. and 2, assist ukrainian civil society, train their journalists, fund their schools, support democratic movements and ukraine will make an educated choice for itself. >> i would say that we need to have more americans understand that people of ukraine are in the front line. not only for their independence and sovereignty but relief defending europe values. as somebody said, unlike vegas, what happens in ukraine doesn't just stay in ukraine. if you understand what vladimir putin is doing all over, in the arctic, or whether it is working in europe, this is not isolated.
ukraine is not an isolated case, but ukraine is on the front lines, literally, militarily, and ukraine is succeeding and it can succeed if we honor our commitment and given the tools militarily to ultimately succeed. they are fighting our fight and that is the message we need to more broadly understand. >> yes, sir? >> one difference. between 85 years ago, the russian orthodox church.
the russian orthodox church, moscow patriarchy has in supporting the separatists movement and also a major conduit for russian disinformation, if anyone wantss to comment on what you see going on and what amounts to a war within a war between the moscow patriarchy, the key of patriarchy and the ukraine catholic church. >> there is no question the march -- the moscow patriarchy as an instrument of kremlin foreign-policy including ukraine. there is also little doubt the russian orthodox church was used by the kremlin during the revolution.
and switched to the key of patriarchy and the church of ukraine. the circumstance also worsened the current round between russia and ukraine. the previous metropolitan moscow patriarchy, understood what happened during the orange revolution and tried to mitigate support to the kremlin at the start of the crisis in winter of 13-14 and since passed the scene, all this has led to strengthening the patriarchy into a lesser stance of the orthodox church of ukraine. the church doesn't play in this. they remain strongly supportive of the ukrainian national project but by and large you haven't seen orthodox christians
in ukraine moving to the union church as a result of the mp's not very pretty game. one last point, when you have a period of the key of branch of the moscow patriarchy pushing back against leadership in moscow that set up tensions between russia and ukraine. >> can i add something? one of the things, john is correct in terms of speaking about the role of the church but there is a little more i would like to mention. you heard of this term before, russian world, the opportunity of russia to use as a branch of the foreign-policy arm to protect those russians -- resin -- resin speaking populations, ukraine is an example of that.
this is a conscious effort that is being used by the kremlin and moscow on how to stifle resistance as much as possible. they use the church, the russian orthodox church moscow patriarchy is not an altruistic church here, they are not out there for your soul frankly speaking. they are out there, frankly, part and parcel with the foreign-policy arm of the kremlin. we must understand that. this notion of warfare in ukraine as we have alluded to that ukraine is literally on the front lines but not just militarily. whether we can go to congress or the administration and ask for you - reform for ukraine it is not just about military aspects. there is an informational hybrid war going on as well and this is
that hybrid warfare but it has different facets, facets of culture and religion and facets of social, look back to the 1930s, who are some of the first people stalin sent to prison? the priests, the bishops, those that led civil society, those that had trust within civil society, stalin do that in the 1930s, 40s and 50s and b does that today. >> underscore what john said. the russian orthodox church had always been and continues to be an arm of the state and we see that continuing to play out in terms of the politics of the vatican. but i think the council of ukrainian churches and religious
organizations in ukraine is a powerful anecdote to this. it unites all the products of the muslim faith, the jewish faith, the orthodox catholics and they are a real active force and body so i think they are enormous resource and weapon to counterbalance what is done by the russian orthodox church. >> important to note the problem is not the russian orthodox church as such but the russian regime's co-opting of the russian orthodox church. the catholic church in poland for example was an incredible force for good in bringing down communism specifically because polish identity was so wrapped up with the catholic church. there was a very important
component. but why is the russian orthodox church so successful? the russian regime so successful, more exploration, kgb archives were open for a brief time in the 90s, became tragically clear that most of the russian orthodox priests were reporting what they heard and confessional to the kgb. a tremendous breach of ecumenical and personal trust. another interesting point is most russians, despite communism's nominal atheism and today, identify as orthodox. it is a part of their identity, more so even then a part of their faith. the russian regime is very successful, almost in some news segments harkening back to the
old trinity of orthodoxy, autocracy and nation. the pillars of russian civilization. the russian regime is successful because they play on old identities and relief and what needs to be done is to uncouple that. they have to take their church back. >> next question. >> associate director of wi you you in ukraine. tie these points together. the french quote in the early 1800s, basically what we are seeing about how facts are to a
particular end to there when and all the way to what we are experiencing at this moment, check the news and some more, manipulation of the news, propaganda, everything being cranked out, difficult to know what is coming, clear and accurate versus what is tainted, that being said what we are dealing with today is a complex situation, ukraine, what is happening in ukraine, documentation which will bring past history too late factually and the effects of russia's aggression in ukraine being
practiced, what is exported in our society. and information, manipulation, cyberissues, how would you like to be able to aggressively bring this forward to the american public to understand how important this is in ukraine because ukraine is us. >> thank you for the question. and things that have happened, positive things that have happened already and how we as american society can build upon that. there is the bill, there was an
amendment that added $80 million for formation of a senator which would gather information within the state department, this information act, gather information about the information coming from russia. and to leverage that information that is coming and get the true narrative as compared to vladimir putin's narrative and so forth. distributing that true narrative, frankly speaking is going back to ukraine and abroad, that is one of the first keys to success and it has to start on a local civil society basis in ukraine. if they get the information how to combat that information working in unison with other
western democracies, that is one of the first problems we can build on. a second aspect, some of my colleagues on the panel have alluded to we need to get the choice out as much as possible meeting, about -- a strategic context to all of this. this is not just about ukraine. we are discussing the issue how it relates right now but again what happened 85 years ago and what is happening now what is happening now we can actually do something about. bringing this to american society having more discussions such as this is uniquely and opportune way to bring forth a little more combating that
narrative. it is much more difficult sometimes to deal with this. what is happening in terms of this is weapon icing information. it is a hard concept to understand weapon icing information. you think of information as fact and build your case on those facts but it is weapon icing, making it into its own beef so to say and that is where our work lies ahead of us. let's begin in these segments, the greater european venue in theater and obviously in parallel do the same thing. >> education like michael mentioned is the key. be so bold to add to your reading list, very useful, one of my favorite books on
communism's witness by whittaker chambers. in the introduction to the book where chambers is sitting in his farmhouse writing to his children, he writes a line i always remember, i want to inoculate you against communism before you ever learn. it is belief in truth as an antidote to untruth, learning the truth before you learn the untruth. let's amend that for 2017, and oxalate against russian disinformation before they ever learn the term. >> as everybody noted this is an enormous situation because the amount of resources, devoted to this information is enormous and i don't think we need to match
dollar for dollar their resources. and whatever program could be developed to address this issue, i'm not sure that is the total answer. a government bureaucracy will be creative to coordinate messaging will not be nimble and quick. it has a role. at a conference in my collapse organization sponsored was the it world in ukraine, mentioned they have some volunteers working on this issue. i would like to challenge the ukrainians and proven themselves, cutting edge, to
take this initiative, the program to bring in volunteers to be strategic about. each of us with respective organizations play a role and it requires a massive approach in the social media world. >> is 10 minutes for two questions and short responses. >> bob mcconnell, i would like to make a comment following up on something mrs. mcconnell said. she challenged ukrainian specialists, i would like to challenge the ukrainian government. they are confident in sending their own message, they are still talking not about a war,
russia's war with ukraine but they talk about antiterrorist operation. it is time they said what was going on in true terms. >> another question or comment? >> hello. my name is roxana and i have been working with a nonprofit called ukraine of colorado providing humanitarian assistance for victims of the war in eastern ukraine and recently moved here from colorado and i'm also an inspiring scholar, and the specifically bator and i would like to thank you for hosting this panel, very important for people to realize the importance, going off of what we heard today i would like you to please speak about what has been done in the us and also what you
think should be done as far as trying to get to the level of not only recognition of the holocaust which ukraine suffered in as well as jews but also the holocaust and several countries in europe, about 13 countries there has been a ban to deny that you can't deny the holocaust and also with that the symbolism of nazi is like the salutes to hitler and 4s. as we have seen recently the communist symbol of the hammer and sickle have been particularly popular with hollywood. kim kardashian appeared wearing a sweatshirt wearing the hammer and sickle. for many people that was very
offensive. i was wondering, with the up enemy of the great evil of communism that has happened particularly in ukraine along with several of the genocides, with researched, and what can be done and what has been done to try to go to that level to ban the denial of it. >> anyone would like to take that? very nice question. frankly speaking a lot has been done. it may not be evidence of much but this is where the rest of us in terms of american society, work a little bit. we have examples of what has happened, worldwide there are only 14 countries that acknowledged a genocide.
this needs to be brought to the world's attention. there are many ukrainian diasporas, it is our role to bring forth this notion, that is first and foremost. and the commission on ukraine, and 86 it did mention that we in terms of the commission, on the genocide in 1932-33 the us government as a whole has not recognized it. interestingly enough, the legislation enacted the building of the memorial in washington dc it actually does state ukrainian famine/genocide of 1932-33,
certain things have been done regarding curriculum, it is all about education and this is not a centralized educational system, this all begins from local grassroots and goes further up. it is necessary to get outside in your school board. the state of illinois is mandatory. massachusetts, new york state is a matter of fashion, and two years ago had a question on european history and you get to choose. another question regarding world war ii. certain things are out there. i can give you a great example, senator schumer, and mentions
big intimidating words. and russian troops to confiscate grain during a type of famine keeping the protagonist from his beautiful fiancée. >> i would underscore that. you can't get everybody to read a history book or sit down -- begin to spoonfeed and i haven't seen the film but what has been said about it is it until and way to introduce the topic and get people interested. to use it in various settings and organizations, it is a soft touch and since people have been promoting books i will promote one. it is fiction called child xliv, a murder mystery, you can't put
it down. it is an easy way to introduce, the film is not nearly as good as the book. it is an easy way to get introduced to the topic in different ways. to mister mcconnell's comment. there has been frustration. a lot of information from the ukraine government meaning ukrainian but i have noted in the last several weeks that there have been some very interesting infographics. that is what is needed whether you are trying to go to congress or whatever. they are not going to read multiple reports. spoonfeed these various kinds of information, that would be helpful so hopefully more coming out from the ukrainian government. >> two minutes if you want to
give a response. >> the last question points to a problem. there is no clear understanding society as a whole of the horrors of the communist project. for that reason you see communist symbols, the continuing glorification of that thug shake one of our -- you need to change the culture to understand this use of symbols from this absolutely historically unprecedented bloodied project is unacceptable. ..
>> there is a reception after this. thank you very. go see the movie, bitter harvest, please. >> we have been bringing you live coverage of the conservative political action congress or cpac on president trump finish remarks at gathering. that was live on c-span. we'll show it to you later on the c-span networks. more live coverage this afternoon when we bring you the remarks from nra wayne laperriere and former republican presidential candidate, carly fiorina.
that will be 12:55 eastern. you can watch that on our come pan union network, c-span. back on c-span shortly we'll bring you a live discussion on president trump's conflicts of interest. the first ethics council. that is from center of american progress here in washington. that is noon eastern. coming up live later today, white house briefing, press secretary sean spicer will brief reporters at 1:15 p.m. eastern. we'll have that live on c-span2. >> c-span where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as public service by america's television companies. brought to you today by the america's satellite provider. look now at u.s.-russia relations, how they may develop under the current administration, from thissing's "washington journal."
>> host: our next guest is the director of russia and your rash i can't program at carnegie endowment, eugene rumer, thanks for being with us. >> guest: delighted to be here. >> host: the latest essay on the carnegie website and united states and russia. more specifically between president trump and president putin. you say the following, quote, the challenge facing the trumpo administration is to skillfully manage rather than permanently resolve tensions with moscow, trying to appease president putin would convince them he is winning and enhim to encourage wrong footing the united states and the west but a more confrontational approach risks generating a provocative andng dangerous response from russia, so washington will need to chart a middle path. what is that middle path? >> guest: the middle path is standing up for our core principles. our core values that have been guiding our foreign policy for a long, long time. but also cooperating with russia where it is necessary.
and also working to defuse the situation in a number of very,y very tense global hot spots. one being syria. skies over syria and iraq. the other is in europe. where we see a military confrontation, standoff, between russia and the nato, in a way that we haven't seen since then end of the cold war. >> host: there is a piece from "time" magazine he talked about montenegro, a country a lot of people don't know a lot about. it is a country wants to join nato. reluctance from the trump administration to do just that because president putin want it to remain one of the deepwater ports along the mediterranean. so you have a country, i would surprise in the middle after dispute between the u.s. and russia, around nato. can you talk about that for a moment? >> right, it is a tiny country of