Khrushchev asserts that Russia’s interest in Crimea is not because of oil reserves that may be present, or for being a location for a naval military harbor. Rather, he sees Crimea as a place of Russian pride.
There is a 2500-year history involving Crimea and Ukraine. “You cannot keep it simple,” Khrushchev said. “It is very complicated, as complicated as any other place in the world. If you understand this—you will win and take over if you understand what happened years ago. I think Americans do not understand the situation in Europe, especially east Europe. They try to keep everything simple, but it is very complicated.”
Despite this complexity, for Sergei Khrushchev, the bottom line for what is happening in Crimea this this: “Crimea is Russian territory. The people voted to be part of Russia. It is the end of the story.”
As we talked, I discovered that each of our fathers had similar histories and interests. (I had been extremely fortunate to interview Dr. Sergei Khrushchev about his father for America magazine.) Both loved agriculture and the science behind it. Both of them wanted to become professional engineers, but were unable to because of circumstances. In Nikita Khrushchev’s case, it was poverty; in my father’s, it was having to live in an orphanage.
What makes all of this oddly endearing is that my father would sit in his chair and talk back to the television when Khruschev came on, making threats or saying things like “Your children will grow up under communism.”
It’s a shame they never got to meet each other. I think they could have become friends. But what a great blessing for me to talk with, and enjoy conversations with, Dr. Sergei Khrushchev, Nikita’s son.
William Van Ornum is professor of psychology at Marist College and director of research and development/grants at American Mental Health Foundation in New York City. He studied theology and scripture at DePaul University.