The Gospel Truth

Windy Days in Ukraine | March 19, 2014

When I was in high school, I had my first introduction to the Ukraine as more than a spot on the atlas.  Three of my freshman classmates at Xavier in 1957 were all from there.

One fellow Ihor Kotlarchuk replaced me as the class Beadle (read errand boy) after my early grades were dismal.  The second guy was Jerry Karpinsky, who played in the school’s military marching band.  I don’t remember the third boy at all.  (See comments for corrections)

I wish I had the foresight to have asked them questions about their former homeland because I find it a very fascinating place.

A Flag in danger

My massage therapist, whom I have often mentioned is from there as is her husband.  They arrived in St. Louis with only seven dollars in their pockets in 1991, the year that Soviet Russia’s economic and social empire imploded on itself.

She and I often talk about her former country, now know as simply Ukraine.  I had never questioned its past nomenclature or even thought about it.  I still find myself starting to include the word the.   It made me wonder why anyone used the in the first place.

When I asked her that she really didn’t have any definitive answer.  After all no one says the India or the Japan, so why the prior the?

But on the other hand we do say the United States, and the West Indies, primarily because we are speaking in the plural number.  When I was in high school, the Ukraine was just one of several Soviet Republics.

She also corrected me when I called her hometown, the current capital, Kiev (Key-ef), which is the Russian pronunciation.  I now say Kiev or Keeve which is the way the Ukrainians say it.

That means that every one of the news commentators on radio and TV have been mispronouncing the capital for all these months.

One small thing I do for her and her husband is clip any relevant article on Russia, Ukraine or anything even close to them.

You might say I have been very busy clipping a lot of articles lately because of Ukraine’s inner turmoil.   Her mother, a retired medical doctor, lives on the edge of the capital, and several of her family members worked for the former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanakovich.

She recently told me three of her cousins were called up to the military.  And of even greater concern is the fact that her Godmother now lives in Crimea and has not been heard from since the Russian invasion weeks ago.

Viktor Yanukovych 27 April 2010-1.jpeg

Ukraine’s ousted president

All this saddens her very much. She is 100% American now but still has deep concern for her family in Ukraine. It pains me to see the fear and tension in her eyes as it bleeds past the stoicism in her soul.

Before clipping the articles I read some of them.  You can say all you like about the politics of the New York Times, but they do have some of the best news writers and journalists in the world.

All their articles are , not only well-written but contain a broad spectrum of the issues, including background, profiles and many items of fascinating minutiae.

Our only Catholic newspaper, the St. Louis Review recently featured a marvelous story on its cover about Ukraine Catholics and their local Orthodox church as they prayed for their fellow Catholics in Ukraine.

All this, especially Ukraine’s geopolitical strategic location makes me think of the travail that Poland, another country with a long Catholic presence has undergone, primarily for its location.

Then Poland was the gateway to the East.  Now it seems to be Ukraine.

Morning first day of Orange Revolution.jpg

The New Poland

This issue dates back to 2003 when Ukraine had its Orange Revolution.  Since then the politics has , like those in the former Soviet Union vacillated between robber barons and oligarchic billionaires on the make as well as corrupt government officials..

No matter who has been in charge the common people always seemed to suffer in poverty and need.

In mid-March things started to really heat up as Putin sent 20,000 paratroopers to ensure the referendum in Crimea, a peninsula on Ukraine’s southern border would vote to secede from Ukraine. The country and the world has been on the brink ever since.

Armed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, stand guard outside a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol, March 11, 2014.

Probable Russian troops in Crimea

America’s feckless leader, Barack Obama has again shown his detachment from the grave issues of his presidency.  His vacillation and lack of any evidence that he has a spine and other male essentials has done little to quell the simmering tensions.

More than likely Obama’s insouciance has not only encouraged Putin’s lust for reuniting the former satellites of the defunct Soviet Union but prompted his aggressive actions in Crimea.

During a recent trip to Chicago, where I gave an address on Liberation Theology at the 33rd Annual Mindszenty Conference, an organization I spent 11 years writing for, in the Q&A a woman asked me:

besides praying and fasting for the people of Ukraine what can we do to help these people?

I started by trying to explain the discordant realities of the situation.

Like Poland of the past Ukraine is important geopolitically for both West and East.  Putin needs it as a buffer to allied intrusion in his plans for Russian expansion while the West looks more to the socio-economic advantages of having Ukraine as a full trading partner and maybe even a part of its North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  The Bush administration had also recognized Ukraine potential military value.

According to Secretary of State John Kerry, Putin’s thinking was out of touch with the spirit of our times.  Both he and President Obama accused Putin of living in the 19th century when might made right.

John Kerry official Secretary of State portrait.jpg

Living in a dream world

They reiterated that it was the 21st century where there would be no wars between democracies and all disputes would be settled like gentlemen.

No wonder the Russians are laughing at us.  It is Kerry and Obama who are living in some sort of fantasy land.

Putin still believes in power politics and has the ability to drive home his point through the muzzle of a rifle or the hot warhead of a missile.

Unlike Hitler’s march through Central Europe in the 1930s when any sort of allied unity might have exposed the weakness of his forces, Putin has nuclear weapons and Ukraine doesn’t.  Or should I say not any more!

The sad truth is that the West, led by Britain the United States convinced Ukraine to give up its sizable nuclear weaponry in 1994 in exchange for a promise of protection from the United States and its NATO allies.

At that time Ukraine had 1800 nuclear missiles, which made it then the third largest nuclear power in the world ahead of China, Britain and France.

Against the advice of its intelligence advisers Ukraine signed this dangerous document that has  left it without any leverage 20 years later.

This is what happens when gun control is applied, not just locally but globally:  the strong always have the guns and those foolish enough to disarm lose their freedom.

The Western powers and Ukraine say Russia has broken the agreement by invading Crimea. The Budapest Memorandum committed all parties to refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine’s territorial integrity. But the agreement was not a treaty and didn’t require any of the signatories to do anything in the event of violations.

To make matters worse the U.S. has recently refused to send any sort of military aid to arm the Ukraine reserves who have just been called to duty.   But they did send healthy and sugar free snacks for its military.

Vanilla Sugar Cookies

Let them eat cookies!

So in a showdown between a weakened West with a struggling economic and a vulnerable but aggressive power like Russia, whose leaders have nothing but contempt for America’s leaders, the odds seem to favor Russia in both the long and short run of things.

It is Putin’s game to win or lose. Will his economy hold up under this aggressive foray deeper into Ukrainian territory or will the economic weight topple him as it did his predecessors in 1991?

Who’s in his sights?

Whatever happens one thing is for certain: the winds of war are again blowing strongly in Ukraine.

With Barack Obama at our helm prayer and fasting are likely to be ours and Ukraine’s best and only hope.



  1. A Reader sent me the following. My answer will be below. BB

    Thanks for sharing your opinion.
    What I don’t understand is how Egypt Military is a Coop; and Ukraine is not.
    Everyone screams about the loss of 100 lives of protesters; but what about the police and army who died from Molotov cocktails; clubs, knives, and even guns.
    The people of Crimea were given away to a corrupt, bankrupt Ukraine; leadership that was raping the country. They can’t be any worse off with Russia. And, they are Russians.

    What bothers me is the USA throwing Mubarek and Kadafi under the bus. Don’t get me wrong; bad guys; but trying to control even worse groups as we and the people of those countries now have learned.

    Look at Syria….I bet those young people who started their protests 4 years ago in the Arab Spring would do anything to reverse their actions. Their country has been destroyed. Their effort was hijacked by Islamic radicals hell bent on grabbing another country with Oil. Russia might be the smartest guy in the region as they support Assad as he is the only one that can put that country back together and prevent another Libya, Egypt, or Somalia. Assad was elected; he is a tough guy; married to a Christian and he protects all religious groups…..Christians and Jews included. Now of course it is open season on Christians and the Jews have left. John McCain goes over and pals around eastern Syria with a wing of the muslim brotherhood and he didn’t even know it…but those in the middle east and Turkey know.

    The US continues to single handedly screw up the world. Putin should worry about Russia and not our US nut case politicians who don’t know their butts from a hole in the ground. I travel internationally; Obama is making every country hate us; or think we are totally inept…..

    We should be warming up to Putin; we made need him to protect America after we disarm; shrink our military size; and mothball most of our naval ships. Russia does a pretty good job running the space station. After Obama raped NASA; our only hope to stay in space is to make sure the Russians stay focused. We are done in space; it’s obvious.

    No more space program; just free cell phones for anyone and everyone. The New America….what a joke.


    Comment by Bill Borst — March 21, 2014 @ 6:28 pm

  2. Sure it was a coup. But one with justification. The American Revolution was along the same lines as what Viktor Yanokovitch’s being deposed. He had abused the Constitution and usurped the power of the people, not unlike Obamais doing here. So I disagree with your support of the Russian puppet. Putin has grand designs on retaking the lost members of the Soviet Union who have been enjoying different variations of freedom ever since. Putin spreads the same left-wing disease that Obama does thrives on controlling people’s loives. So i am not surprised to turn his back on the Ukrianian people because he finds the very notion of personal freedom reprehensible. BB

    Comment by Bill Borst — March 21, 2014 @ 6:33 pm

  3. Here is a note from a high school classmate and our interchange about Ukraine:

    Get a copy of Tom Clancy’s las book – Command Authority. It reads light script to the latest activities in Ukrainian.
    This could become another “Archduke Ferdinand” type of calamity.
    Why Kruschev gave the Crimean peninsula to the Ukraine still baffles me. Prior to 1954 the Crimean peninsula had been part of Russia for over 200 years.

    (ed) Thanks for the suggestion. I will look for the book and add to my list, albeit a long one. I have become fascinated with the country thanks to Lena.
    Incidentally in Morris West’s the Shoes of the Fisherman,the newly elected pope is from Ukraine. Did you remember Karpinsky et al? I can see the third
    guy’s face but no name. Bee

    Yes, I remember “Jerry” well. BTW Igor is really Ihor.
    And there were more than three in total.

    The others were :
    Orest Chernyk
    Eugene “Gene” Danylyshyn
    Ladilaus Manassy
    Orest Zaklysky

    Comment by Bill Borst — March 23, 2014 @ 2:55 pm

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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at







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