Local Ukrainian-Americans react to U.S. sanctions of Russia

Posted at: 03/20/2014 4:57 PM
Updated at: 03/20/2014 7:12 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Local Ukrainian-Americans are worried that the annexation of Crimea is a step toward incursion of other Ukrainian territories.

"We're imposing sanctions on more senior officials of the Russian government," said President Barack Obama on Thursday. "In addition today we are sanctioning a number of other individuals with substantial resources and influence who provide material support to the Russian leadership, as well as a bank that provides material support to these individuals."

But the long-time president of the Capital District chapter of the Ukrainian Congress Committee, Dr. Andraj Baran, says the sanctions don't go far enough.

"I don't think Vladimir Putin is quaking in his pants when he heard these new announcements. I think President Obama is making the mistake of thinking he's dealing with a civilized human being," said Baran, a Saratoga Springs cardiologist whose parents fled Soviet oppression in 1939.

He fears what Putin's Russia could do today's Ukraine.

"Our concern is things will go back to the way they were under Josef Stalin where 10-million Ukrainians were starved to death."

Baran, who has family in Ukraine, fears that rolling out sanctions in phases won't work and won't stop Russia if it wants to take over more of Ukraine.

But Skidmore College political science professor, Dr. Ron Seyb says U.S. economic sanctions coupled with sanctions from the European Union can be effective because so much of Europe buys natural gas, oil and other minerals from Russia.

"If you're talking about years of sanctions such as we did in Iran, there can be a real, real clear hurt to both the regime and to the Russian people," said Seyb.