Diana Belchase

Worries for Mark: Is Ukraine the start of WWIII?

Several days ago, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, was quoted as saying:

“Russian forces could take over Ukraine’s capital in two weeks’ time, if they wished.”

I keep thinking, in this 100th anniversary year of World War I, and 75th anniversary of World War II, how similar some of the current news reports are to the events proceeding both wars. I worry we may be heading in a similar direction.

Russian political nesting dolls

Matryoshka nesting dolls depicting Russian political leaders from Peter the Great through Yeltsin. The one on the far right is Rasputin. Personal collection & (c) 2014 Diana Belchase


See this article posted today: Ukraine: Russian forces in major rebel cities

Like Russian nesting dolls, the situation is as complex as Putin himself. He’s a man who has shepherded Russia into the modern era while bemoaning the loss of the USSR. How far will he go to return to the “good old days,” and will we be entering a new Cold War?

I remember hearing about people who couldn’t believe Hitler would encroach on his neighbors, that he would only go just so far, that he would keep to treaties made by predecessors, that he would keep to treaties he’d made himself. Napoleon was much the same. History is full of such men and stories about people who took first inches and then miles.

I mostly worry about my dear friend, Mark, who is living in Ukraine right now. He’s someone I love and thinking of harm coming to him is very hard to take. He insists he’s safe, that he lives in the capital far from the fighting.

Flag flying over the Ukraine Embassy in D.C. (c) Diana Belchase 2012


Then I remember the Jews who had a chance to leave Germany but thought they were safe. Or they ran, but not far enough, to Paris, or elsewhere in Europe. Not everyone had this opportunity, but there were many who did. I remember other stories of war. How capital cities got bombed. How children were issued gas masks. How we live in the age of anthrax and biological warfare.

I remember another dear friend, Sandy, calling me to say how upset he was for his son, a wonderful young man whose girlfriend had been on the airplane the Russian sympathizers shot down. The anguish in his voice so deep, because he couldn’t take this pain away from his son or the girl’s parents.

Washington, D.C. is rife with talk — none of it good. It’s whispered at PTA and church where insiders murmur about meetings they’ve attended here and abroad. When I ask them about Mark’s safety, they say to me, he should get out.

I don’t want to be involved in a war. I have no answers. But I want to scream at my friend, run while you can, before the bombs hit, before the cities close, before there is no choice. He laughs at my fears. He tells me he’s fine.

Perhaps I’m wrong. I pray to God, I am.

But, I worry, still.

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