News Tip: Fascism, Anti-Semitism in Ukraine 'Both Fantasy and Reality,' Says Russia Historian

He says the Russians have their largest naval base on the Crimean peninsula

On Monday, despite pressure from world leaders, including President Obama, Russian troops moved to take hold of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

Martin MillerProfessor, Duke University History Departmentmmiller@duke.edu specializes in modern Russian history and international terrorist movements. He is the author of "The Russian Revolution" (2001) and "The Foundations of Modern Terrorism" (2013).

Quote:"The real importance of the Crimean peninsula is that the Russians have their largest naval base there and seek to protect it from the Ukrainian military."

"The language issue is symbolically significant and a passionate battle cry whenever legislation seeks to deal with the divisions. Two years ago, Russian was raised officially to second status next to Ukrainian, which would be like Congress declaring Spanish the second official language of this country. More recently, the parliament in Kiev that now 'rules' since President Yanukovych fled to Russia has rescinded that law, inflaming Russians in the eastern part of Ukraine."

"Another fuse already lit is the charge of fascism by the Russians against the new regime in Kiev. There is both fantasy and reality to the label. Many Ukrainians, mainly in the western sector, welcomed Nazi troops who invaded in World War II at the outset, primarily as an alternative to Soviet authoritarianism. Russians are now calling the Kiev government 'the grandchildren' of those sympathizers while the eastern half of the country boasts pride in having supported the Red Army in the battle to protect 'the fatherland.'" 

"These terms carry huge emotional significance that, I believe, we in the West do not fully appreciate."

"Also, the Russian charge is true that the Western-supported government now functioning in Kiev came to power by overthrowing a democratically elected government by street protests. It is also true that some of that popular protest, so adored in the Western press, was and still is composed of far-right nationalists who are anti-Semitic and violent in their politics."