Dr. Steve Levine was the guest on Thursday’s Talk Back show co hosted by Bob Seidenschwarz of the Montana World Affairs Council.

Levine, whose specialties are China and Russia, provided some historical background on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“In the early 1930s, Josef Stalin, the Soviet dictator, through his policies caused a huge famine in Ukraine that led to the deaths of between three and 4 million people,” said Levine. About 10 percent of the whole population died as a result of this communist policy in the 1930’s, and the Ukrainians, obviously, have never forgotten. So in 1991, when the Soviet Union was collapsing, Ukraine then declared its independence.”

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Levine described the huge mistake Ukraine made after declared its independence.

“In 1991 Ukraine becomes independent,” he said. “One of the things that it does early on is to give up its nuclear weapons. A lot of the nuclear weapons that belonged to the Soviet Union were actually based on Ukrainian territory. If Ukraine had not done that, but rather had retained those weapons, then Putin would not have been able to invade, because he would have been facing another nuclear armed country.”

Levine had harsh words for the Biden Administration regarding its handling of the period immediately prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I think the United States should have told Putin before the invasion, even though Ukraine is not a part of NATO, if you attack Ukraine, we are going to respond in a way as if it were a member, because if it will go to war to defend one and a half million Estonians, which are part of NATO, then what are we doing sitting back and just warning Putin? We're telling them we're not going to do anything militarily.”

Levine did not mince words on the fastest way to end the conflict in Ukraine. Take Putin out.

“I think the solution is to someone in his inner circle to take him out of circulation,” he said. “In this case, I support what Lindsey Graham said; ‘this guy needs to be knocked off’. This sometimes happens. It happened to Indira Gandhi, and it has happened to other political leaders. I think, unless that happens, he's going to up the ante. As Washington suggested, he may use chemical or biological warfare. He might even go nuclear. The man is out of control. I think the off ramp is closed and he's on the highway until he crashes.”

Levine said there are several programs coming to the University of Montana centered on the conflict in Ukraine. Click here for details.

To hear the full conversation with Dr. Steve Levine, click here.

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