Episode

3/7 Refugee Crisis Turns Catastrophe In Ukraine w/ Kimberly St. Julian Varnon

March 7, 2022

Sam and Emma host Kimberly St. Julian Varnon, Ph.D student in history at the University of Pennsylvania, to discuss her work on Soviet-Ukrainian history and the role race has played in the wake of the fall of the USSR. They begin by walking through the history of the unification of Ukraine, which was split between the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires before WWI, with the eastern segment featuring the black earth region as a center of agricultural production for Russia and cities like Odessa (which birthed Orthodox Judaism), all under repressive rule against Ukrainian culture and language. With the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire with the first World War, and the rise of the USSR in 1922, Ukraine finally saw its unification with the creation of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, becoming the second most powerful republic in the communist union, until Stalin began his five-year plan with pushback from Ukrainian peasants, responding to them with the state-created starvation of the Holodomor, killing millions of Ukrainians. In the wake of the massacre, Ukraine ended up falling in step with the USSR up until its dissolution, opening the country up in 1991 to finally acknowledging the horrors it faced under Stalin. This brings us to the contemporary era, as St. Julian Varnon explores the 1994 Budapest memorandum that officially recognized an independent Ukraine under the conditions that they give up their nuclear arsenal, up until Russia’s invasion in 2013 which officially broke the deal, before she, Sam, and Emma take on the concept of joining NATO or the EU, with the former really not gaining popularity until Putin’s recent escalation and invasion, whereas the latter became central to Ukrainian politics in the wake of the 2013 start of this conflict. This leads Kimberly to walk through the 2013 invasion of Ukraine and the 2014 annexation of Crimea in the wake of the Euromaidan protests, looking at the progression of the war between separatists and Ukraine and the fourteen thousand deaths (largely ignored by the West) leading up to Putin’s escalation in 2022. They wrap up the interview by looking at St. Julian Varnon’s study of race in the region, especially coming out of the socialist era of race-neutrality, as she takes on the legitimate claims of ultra-nationalist neo-nazi organizations (such as the Azov Battalion) in Ukraine, which have been vaguely relevant on a national level, and understanding this segment of Ukraine as something we see throughout Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and even the United States, before they look to the rapid assimilation of Ukrainians into “whiteness,” despite their previous treatment over the years, and the massive impact this has had on the treatment of African and Afro-Ukrainian people also looking to find safety and stability. Sam and Emma also touch on the 4,500 arrests in Russia in the wake of anti-war protests, Joe Scarborough’s encouraging the US to flex their nuclear arms, despite the horrors it would obviously result in (even in a best-case scenario).

And in the Fun Half: Emma and Sam take a call from Casey from Spokane on pandemic monetary policies and their impact, admire Marco Rubio admitting that he truly knows better than Ukrainian officials what dangers are facing them, and Tucker “D’s get degrees when they stand for ‘donations’” Carlson ramps up the racism against Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Luke from Oneonta discusses the Azov Battalion and their Neo-Nazi counterparts in the Russian army, such as the Wagner Group, Andrew Cuomo returns to remind us that we should really be canceling legislative gridlock, not sexual assault, Ronald Raygun talks tayhaysay, and Mike Lindell announces his class-action lawsuit against “all machines,” plus, your calls and IMs!

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