TROY (WWJ) — The downing of the Malaysian airliner and ongoing fighting in Ukraine has been a trying time for one Troy man who has family in his home country.
Boris Potapenko, who has a brother still in Ukraine, said there was no war there until the country tried to join the European Union and Russia intervened. But he believes the West has sat on the sidelines for too long and needs to arm the Ukranians fighting to keep their country independent.
“We’re very concerned that the Ukrainian conflict will spread and become an international conflict because the West is appeasing Russia,” Potapenko said. “The West doesn’t want to stand up, nip this in the bud and prevent Putin from pursuing his imperial ambitions.”
Potapenko said that his brother, who is in his 70’s, has been joining the protests to keep his country independent.
“We need to understand that there isn’t some sort of negotiation or compromise with Putin,” Potapenko said. “Putin’s goal is to prevent Ukraine from consolidating its independence in joining Europe.”
Potapenko said that he last traveled to eastern Europe in March and that everything was fine, before Russia invaded Crimea.
“There was no conflict in eastern Ukraine,” “Russian speakers, Ukrainian speakers, ethnic Russian-Ukrainian citizens — they have been getting along and living peacefully and as good neighbors throughout the 23 years of Ukraine’s independence.
“Then, all of a sudden, a war starts? It’s all being sourced from Russia.”
American intelligence officials now believe a surface-to-air missile took down the Malaysian Airlines plane over eastern Ukraine Thursday, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board the flight.
“That missile could not have hit that plane without a government radar system directing it, and that’s why Russia is culpable,” Potapenko said.
Ukraine’s government and pro-Russia separatists both deny any involvement.