The View from Ukraine

The missing piece in the Ukraine crisis, you begin to notice, is that vast grain field and the 45-million people who live on it. The real players in the crisis are NATO, just west, and Russia to the east, and of course the fretful US across the ocean. But who speaks for the Ukrainians? And what would make life better for Ukrainian people? They chose independence and a democracy for themselves after the Soviet Union fell apart in the early 90s – but for 30 years now they have not found real prosperity or political stability. What is the secret of Ukraine, which Mr. Putin says is Russia’s “brother” but then, he adds, it’s not a real nation at all? Ukrainians, says one of their leading novelists, are people of rare humor and vitality who in private—and national life, too—want more than anything to be left alone.

My question for one of Ukraine’s leading novelists, Andrey Kurkov, is what Ukrainians are going through in what is called the Ukraine crisis but has so few Ukrainian voices coming out of it. In Russia’s alienated “brother” nation, they’ve been waiting for most of a month for Vladimir Putin’s guns. But are they heard in the talks to lift the Russian siege? Do they see a way out, for themselves, for a world on edge? Andrey Kurkov is just outside Kyiv, a popular writer of many books, an independent thinker. He writes in Russian, and it sounds like he thinks and feels in Ukrainian. What would we be picking up this week with his friends and neighbors – these Ukrainians we don’t know well enough?

Guest List
Andrey Kurkov
Author of the novels Death and the Penguin and Grey Bees.
Richard Lourie
Author of The Autobiography of Joseph Stalin and Putin: His Downfall and Russia's Coming Crash.
Gideon Rachman
Chief foreign affairs commentator for the Financial Times, author of the forthcoming The Age of the Strongman.

Related Content