SEATTLE – Russia may be a half world away, but it is still close to home for hundreds of people in Western Washington.
“I’m afraid, afraid for my friends and acquaintances,” says Laada Bilaniuk. The UW Associate Professor in Anthropology is the daughter of Ukrainian parents, and spent time in the country in her youth. She watches the developments overseas with more than just a passing interest. “This referendum (in Crimea) is happening at gun point.”
She sat Sunday at a table next to someone who has a different view.
“I come from a slightly different region,” says Maxim Nazaryam. “Making a defacto independent crimea would be a more stable solution in the long term.” The press secretary for the Russian American Youth Association spent time in Moscow as a child, and backs the country’s recent buildup in Ukraine. “Some of the concerns that people in Crimea have about the new government in Kiev are certainly justifiable, understandable.”
The two said they’re bother prepared for the possibility of economic sanctions, and the lingering effects such a move by the EU and/or US would provide.
“The big business interests would remain unchanged,” says Maxim.
“I’m not sure what the sanctions will do, they will be painful for both sides.
The European Union’s foreign ministers were expected to vote Monday on potential sanctions, in what may be the first step in penalizing Russia for it’s move into the Ukraine.