Steve Kaufmann supports Ukraine

Hi. I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on the video Mr. Kaufmann put up on the Ukraine situation

For some reason a thread hadn’t been made about this video already. I thought that might be because its not related to LingQ, but it turns out that there are plenty of things relevant to lingQ in there, including:

The LingQ logo is now blue and yellow like Ukrainian flag,
They’re working on making Ukrainian free to learn,
and they’re looking to make LingQ free for Ukrainians.

Anyways do people have thoughts on these things? Personally I didn’t even notice the LingQ logo had changed until that was pointed out.

Also, I try not to say that anyone ‘should’ do anything, so I’ll just say that if I knew Russian, I would make a video like that in Russian. I think communication is more important now than ever before. I think it would be a good thing if as many westerners as possible learned Russian and used it to spread pro-western propaganda to the russian people with the aim of convincing them there is a way back to peace and integration with the west.


Also I forgot to add that LingQ is supporting which looks to be a pro-ukranian NPO

What I want to say that it’s not so much of russian people who needs to be convinced. We have not financial nor any other kind of power to make opposition to the Putin’s regime. Our protests are easilly oppressed. Actually, writing this I’m already running the risk of me and my family being prosecuted by the ‘siloviki’.
There’s one hope, that sanctions and world pressure finally take the power out of very Putin and Co, so that the police, troll-farms and army wouldn’t be funded enough to continue their loyalty.
Some of russian people are kind of loyal. Part of that loyalty is a matter of survival for those who are drown under the pressure of credits and family responsibilities. Another part of that loyalty is because of under-educatedness, many russian people really can’t even imagine what world economy really is, or how trolls’ propaganda works. The rest part of that loyalty is straight affiliated to Putin and Co through their relatives.
Still I believe what you’ve said is important. There should be not anti-russian propaganda, but anti-Putin. This distinction is very important.

Look at that: I’m already learning some Russian

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I had noticed the Lingq icon had changed a couple of days ago and I watched Steve’s video yesterday.

I believe the reason there was no thread on this forum so far is because these discussions can quickly get out of hand as you will have people defending both sides. If you look under Steve’s video, you can see it is already the case.

As far as I am concerned, I feel deeply sorry for the Ukrainians. I don’t think it is possible for someone like me to imagine what they are going through at the moment.

But I also feel sorry for ordinary Russian people who are in no way responsible for Putin’s decisions and will be the first ones severely impacted by Western sanctions.

All in all, it is a very very sad and worrying situation.


I think @SeoulMate got absolutely right the reason why Steve preferred not to mention the video on the forum.
I wouldn’t have begun this conversation here either, but since @sampearson asked about our opinion, here is mine:
A) I know both Russians and Ukrainians and I’m in touch with some people caught or flying from the conflict. War is terrible and my solidarity goes to every victim of the situation. I also consider that the refugees from this conflict should be helped, including both Ukrainians and foreigners living in the country. There have been awful reports about third-country residents who have been mistreated because of their race. That must stop.

B) Having said that, I am very suspicious of all the grandiose gestures that I’m seeing these days, including the change of the Ling logo and the like, because of how asymmetrical they are, bordering on plain hypocrisy: I would much more appreciate Steve’s gesture if he had previously changed the logo to the Yemeni or Afghan flag, when the civilians of those countries were bombed by their Western saviors. In the case of Afghanistan, by drone for over 20 years, which gave plenty of opportunity for a logo swap. Otherwise, my opinion is that there are many people (even governments) who only feel outrage when they are allowed to do so and they implicitly condone violence by the West and accept it as normal.

IMO, this cartoon illustrates the last point perfectly:

My wife says that in her home city in Russia the police are all over the center of the city and you will be arrested in minutes. Max and Julia from the Russian with Max channel said the same thing for their city. Are people really going to risk their jobs, hefty fines, and time in prison for the sake of a 2 minute protest that won’t be shown in the media?


I did notice the changes. The actions on Ukraine have been on my mind since the start. I thought it was interesting to hear Steve’s perspective since he has read a lot of history of both countries and knows the languages of both countries.

As others have said, this is a terrible situation and I feel for both Ukrainians and the Russian civilians. In my point of view this is all Putin’s (and his cohorts) deranged action that has no positive for anyone involved, including him. The sanctions are to hurt him and deter him, but I feel they will hurt citizens the most. And has our friend below has said, the citizens have very little they can do to try and change the course of what their government is doing.

I don’t think we should spread western propaganda. Propaganda are lies and one sided. We should seek peace and fairness in the world as best we can. The west certainly doesn’t have a moral high ground.


I agree with you on the hypocrisy of the west, however, I think Lingq and/or Steve’s actions are maybe related to his connection to Ukrainian/Russian languages and history.


This is an excellent take, but let me add something.
The problem with sanctioning Russia (besides its effectiveness) is that those sanctions are not and cannot be ethical or fair, irrespective of the actions of the Russian government.
Why is that?
Well, when the States has done the exact (or, quantitavely, worse things) than Russia has done so far. Has it been possible to sanction them? Has it been even proposed? By the EU? By Canada? Germany? If it is ever proposed, would that be anything but an idealistic, hopeless act?
For any sanctions to be even remotely fair, they have to be applied for all similar actions, as simple as that.
As long as this is not the case, all sanctions are just arbitrary measures of coertion: one may prefer some to others or feel better about a particular one, they may work better or worse (my hunch is that they don’t work very well, either)
but all the sanctimonious, fake moral outrage by the US, the EU and the avatar-swapping mobs rings simply hollow and a lot of the yellow-blue avatars seem to be to equivalent.
The point about sanctions is doubly valid for any tall about war crimes and their legal prosecution, which are floated more and more.
If you honorsformer presidents (at least, Bush, Clinton, Obama, Trump,… and their teams) who engaged in massive killings of civilian and let Henry Kissinger (one of the most prolific war criminals in history) end their lives as a celebrated hero without ever risking any kind of accountability, any prosecution of an enemy will always be arbitrary, no matter its merits.
And this is the exact situation we are in at this moment, thanks to our nice habit of selecting what causes are worth getting vocal about and which should be swept under the rug.
I long for a world in peace and in which illegal violent acts get the accountability they deserve, but that is not the kind of world we’ve been building for the last few decades.

In this matter, the position of the Chinese government is totally correct. You may love it or hate it and of course there is a lot to say against its human rightes record, but this time they are correct.

I feel like everyone´s already…communicating as loud as they can. Donating, volunteering etc. matters as well.


That is certainly true but you’re missing a key factor.
Steve has an affinity for Ukraine because, after the Krimea crisis, he got interested in the condemnation of Russia and, because of that, he began learning Ukrainian.
That is commendable but my point is that he didn’t feel the urge to learn Arabic when Iraq was attacked or Dari when Afghanistan was (he has been learning both languages later for different reasons and with no signs that they have made them react to the situation there, the connection is weaker there).
I don’t want to attack or single out Steve or the Lingq team, I do understand that they come from a place of real concern, and I respect that
But they are a wonderful example of the willlingly selective attention to injustice which is typical of the “West”.

As a last example. You’re an American citizen. Has anyone written you to demand to take a stance about the actions of your government? Would you think that would be a reasonable thing to do?
If an American athlete doesn’t explicitly make clear that they don’t support American aggressions, are they expelled from sports events? Do American speakers get banned because of that?
However, the situation is different when it comes to Russian nationals

It’s reasonable (to ask). Of course no one cares about my stance =). Maybe if I was on twitter.

But I agree, the actions taken on banning typically are affecting people that just want to do their activity, be it sports or whatever. They probably do not like the actions of their government, nor support them in many cases, yet they are the ones that are affected. And to your point also, the western countries don’t get banned, even if they’ve killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in other countries.

Putin lost any respect the moment he threatened with nuclear force. At that time, instantly, he became the enemy and people, who could not care less about Ukraine started to become solidaric. The sanctions are as much as the west can do to “hurt” the Russian regime and especially the oligarchs without causing a nuclear war. Are they not going to work? Let us see. The oligarchs do not care one jot about the Ukraine, they care about money.
Also, what would be the alternative? Just nodding it off and staying as silent as China? Are you kidding? This is exactly how bullies get worse. Who is next? The Baltic states? Poland?
Sure, there is virtue signaling by Youtubers, which is pathetic, but there are also people, who genuinely care. Staff at my company have donated lorries full of blankets, napkins, food, etc. Friends of mine in Poland are currently housing 3 mothers with their 3 children. This is not virtue signaling! Is it hypocritical to house Ukrainians and not Syrian refugees? Maybe. But humans are by nature biased. You choose, who is your friend and who is not. There is nothing wrong with this unless you want to force an idealistic utopia onto the world, which does not exist. BTW, such utopian ideas are also a form of virtue signaling and of feeling morally aloof.


All of that may be true now and I’m not defending Putin or denying his responsibility, but the real conflict began long before all that and there were a lot of chances to deescalate, which the “West” passed on each of them, to push its interest.
You are, once more, using unilateral moral outrage as your sole argument, without extending it to your own “side” and, more importantly, avoiding any consideration about how to actually deal with these potentially fatal situations in a systematic and effective way.
Watch this for an analysis of the situation as a whole, rather than simple reaction and blame allocation:

[Edit] Notice that this talk was from 2015, many years before V. V. Putin mentioned nuclear wars “losing any respect”

To the point when the police seize an elderly woman who went out to protest against war. The thing is the woman was a veteran of the Leningrad blockade in 1941 (now it’s Saint-Petersburg). This absurdity tells something.

Oh, I am aware of the situation. The Ukraine is in a shitty sandwich position between the EU and Russia. In an ideal world it would stay neutral, but who can blame them if they choose the West? I have for a long time argued with family and friends in favour of neutral states between Nato and Russia. Also, I am not suggesting the West was not “pushing” it. My mother even accused me of “siding with Putin” not long ago. Even when Putin was claiming that the 2 Eastern districts should be independent, I was open minded and so was most of the world. Politics is a game of power. It is about expanding your sphere of influence. Everyone does it. Russia does it, China does it, the West does it.
But, again, the moment Putin started talking about nuclear war, he lost it. You may call this “unilateral outrage”, but there is a line you do not overstep. I grew up during the Cold War…

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As a last clarification (I’m not discussing this issue further): I’m not saying that sanctions are not warranted or that the actions of the Russian government should not prosecuted.
My point is that, if you support sanctions/prosecution in this case, then you should support, and be as vocal (including avatar symbolism) about sanctioning the States for the same actions and prosecuting those responsible for them, which are still in positions of power.
Otherwise, moral objections are simply hypocrite.
My preferred way of action is creating a fair system, based first on diplomacy and, as a last resort, on same accountability for the same actions. That would warrant appeals to moral. Accepting the “might is right” for some and finger pointing for others does not fly.

I am not neutral on this. I support Ukraine. That other countries, my country, the US, or other countries, have committed great acts of injustice does not in any way make it less valid to express opposition to Putin’s actions. The sooner his government can be persuaded to stop this nightmare, the sooner Russia and the Russian people can resume normal relations with the rest of the world, based on respecting the rights of all countries to determine their own futures.