Friday, March 21, 2014

A Jewel in Crimea

The Livadia Palace pictured above is one of the points of interest near Yalta. Built originally for Czar Nicholas II and his family, it is small by palace standards, much smaller than Downtown Abbey of television fame. The Czar's family enjoyed summers there for just a few years, before they were overtaken by the events of World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917.

In February, 1945 the palace was the site of meetings between an ailing Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Russian leader Joseph Stalin that helped determine the fate of Europe after World War II. Just about a year later, Churchill declared in a famous speech given in Missouri that an Iron Curtain had descended over Eastern Europe, and experts generally agree that the Cold War between Russia and the West began about a year after that.

Today Livadia is a pleasant place to visit, with spectacular views of the Black Sea and memorabilia of Nicholas II and his family. Now that Crimea has been annexed to Russia, I suppose the entrance fee will be in rubles, not the beleagured Ukrainian hyrivnia.

It would be nice if leaders of Russia and the Western powers could once again sit down, perhaps in a place like Livadia, to work out some accommodation over the Ukraine situation before it gets out of hand. Ukraine too should be represented, but it is hard to know at present who really speaks for the majority of Ukraine's population. Ukraine has not had a long history of independence, and nation-building can take quite a while.


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