By Jessica Easthope
Fears of a growing threat reach far beyond the Ukrainian border – they pierce the hearts of people right here in New York City.
“This guy who’s sitting in the Kremlin can push the button at any time,” said Igor, a Ukraine native living in Brooklyn. “Everybody and the whole world is supposed to be worried about it now.”
Possibly being on the heels of another Cold War has those who remember the war feeling overwhelmed with a terrifying nostalgia.
“Right now, we have a serious problem,” said Russian-native Simon Rempel. “People dying right now, killing innocent children and women? What the hell is that? It’s like Nazis from 1939.”
For St. John’s University’s Political Science Professor Brian Browne, he says a modern “Iron Curtain’ could already be dropping on Eastern Europe.
“Russia has demonstrated a willingness to use Gas, Chemical Warfare, Cyber warfare, obliterating and minimizing a free press,” said Brian Browne. “As technology and times have changed, Russia is a real threat to freedom and democracy and stability, economic stability.”
Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, Washington and Moscow still control more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads, enough to destroy most life on earth. But despite the infamous drills done by school children back in those days, the threats of nuclear warfare aimed at the United States were always just that.
Some in Brooklyn’s Russian and Ukrainian stronghold of Brighton Beach, say those threats have always loomed and what we’re up against now is much different.
“I think a Cold War has been going on for some time already – now we’re talking about a real war,” said Rempel.
During the Cold War, St. John Paul II played a significant role in aiding the fall of Communism. But now, Pope Francis seems to be taking a more measured approach. He has yet to mention Russia by name.
“I repeat: Put down your weapons! God is with the peacemakers, not with those who use violence,” the Holy Father said.
Browne says with a global stage and the moral authority, is offering Vatican-led mediation enough to derail Vladimir Putin’s “by any means necessary” approach to an already unjustified war?
“There are many ways that he can use his bully pulpit and his position of, you know, kind of global neutrality to condemn Russia by name, to call this what it is,” said Browne.
The fear now as both information and propaganda are delivered in an instant is that the years between the last Cold War and a potential new one will be forgotten – and that this Cold War will be far worse than the first.