KINDLING – PART V: Many faces of the Soviet Union

Pipeline Politics

The Intourist hotel in Moscow was the jumping off point for the many points of interest that were included  on our U.S. journalist exchange program that I’ve been describing over the past four weeks.

The U.S. sent 12  journalists and two advisors to the USSR in October and November of 1975.  I was one of the 12, as explained in prior columns.  It was a life changing event for myself and there is not a day that I don’t remember details of the fascinating and challenging adventure.  

Recent interest in Russia has prompted me to write about the experience and the many earthshaking world events have occurred since 1975. The USSR dissolved under President Reagan with the Berlin Wall coming down.  The Russians, in recent years, took back Crimea and portions of the Ukraine.  These were two areas that we did not visit; the Ukraine was the grain belt and Crimea was the favorite vacation ocean resort area prized by the Communist leadership.

We traveled to Leningrad, Siberia, visited state and collective farms and saw a ballet inside the Kremlin walls along with the crown jewels of the former aristocracy.  Some of the riches fled with royalty fleeing the country but most of the fabulous crowns, massive jewels, and majestic carriages are still intact and the Communist revolutionaries didn’t know what to do with this vast display of opulence, so they preserved it, locked up inside the Kremlin walls. 

Only two of us were allowed to see the vast collection and as we entered the building guards were armed with machine guns giving us an evil eye.

During one of our evening sojourns in the Intourist hotel the bar  was full of German soldiers who were part of a crew building a new gas line from Russia to Germany, no doubt crossing the Ukraine.  Now we read about the U.S. and Germany reaching an agreement to allow the completion of the controversial  Russian natural gas pipeline.  The Biden administration is waiving the longstanding opposition to the pipeline project.  Germany, under the new arrangement, will agree to assist Ukraine in energy related  energy-related projects.  Prior to President Biden, the last two American presidents opposed this Nord Stream 2 project dating back to 2012.  Russia will be able to double the amount of natural gas exported to Germany under the Baltic ocean with the new deal bypassing the existing pipeline through the Ukraine.  The present administration approves a pipeline from Russia to Germany but disapproves an oil line from Canada to the United States.  We could use the oil rather than Japan.

Where the situation becomes almost ludicrous is that we still have an estimated 50,000 troops in Germany protecting that nation from the Russians.   

During my early days in the USSR I attempted to explain to the Soviets that America was really a God-loving, peace-loving country that enjoyed many freedoms and democracy.  

The Soviets had a different shocking perspective of American military strength and involvements.  They knew exactly how many military posts that we had all around the globe, ranging from Japan, Turkey, South Korea, Vietnam, and beyond.  Since that time, we  lost the conflict in Vietnam, invaded Iraq, flubbing the occupation and suckered into a 20-year conflict in Afghanistan where we are now departing this month.  We aren’t such a peaceful nation at home and abroad as many of us still believe. 

No doubt having a strong military presence in both Germany and Japan has assisted us in our attempts to bring democracy to these oppressed countries.  But the bottom line is that they really don’t want U.S. intervention and our undo influence.  

To Be Continued.