A Closer Look at Ukrainian Independence

The tone of the editorial "The Ukraine's Vote," Nov. 27, particularly the reference to "an army larger than the German Wehrmacht" in a "nuclear-armed Ukraine" and the suggestion that the Russian minority issue is comparable to the Serb-Croatian conflict, betrays a misreading of the situation.First, the "Wehrmacht" reference is inappropriate to a nation that lost millions to the Nazis. As an independent nation, the Ukraine would have every right to an army, particularly given Moscow's use of force to try and squelch independence movements in the Baltics and Georgia. It was the Red Army that crushed the Ukraine's independence in 1918-20. As to nuclear weapons, the Ukraine has long insisted it wants to be a nuclear-free zone. But Boris Yeltsin's plan that the weapons be turned over to the Russian republic is unrealistic. Should Ukrainians unilaterally surrender arms to a huge neighbor that colonized them for centuries, Russified their culture, and has revanchist territorial claims? Clearly, the nuclear weapons are a bargaining chip for future negotiations. Finally, most of the Ukraine's 11 million ethnic Russians support independence. To date, the Ukraine has been free of ethnic conflict because of its minority-rights guarantees. So the Serb-Croatian analogy is specious. Ukrainian and Russian officials have repeatedly advocated broad economic cooperation. The Ukraine doesn't pose a danger to the West or other republics. It is Russia's history of imperialism that keeps Ukrainians wary until independence is secure. George Zarycky Freedom House New York

Food production in Russia Regarding the editorial "Why Russia Can't Feed Itself," Nov. 5: Something must be said concerning proposed Western aid to the Soviet Union. Consideration must be given to the withholding of economic and humanitarian aid until farmers are legally allowed to own the land they work. Until Soviet food producers have the incentive promoted by private property rights, the problem of feeding their people will continue regardless of Western aid. If the Soviet government wishes to stave off annual famine it must be willing to forgo ideological opposition to private property. Only when this is done should Western aid be offered. Denny Belew Florence, Ala. Anyone who believes that private ownership of land is the answer to Russia's agricultural problem should take a look at South America. There, 3 percent of the population control about 90 percent of the land. It is difficult to say where people are better served: under communism on collective farms or under the peonage of large farms in South America. During the transition to democracy, leasing of land, rather than private ownership, will protect the Russian people from having their land bought by outsiders. It would be tragic if Russians were freed from the slavery of communism only to come under the domination of foreign landowners. Clarissa Smith, Renton, Wash.

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