In 1933, the Holodomor was playing out in Ukraine.
After the "kulaks," the independent farmers, had been liquidated in the forced collectivization of Soviet agriculture, a genocidal famine was imposed on Ukraine through seizure of her food production.
Estimates of the dead range from two to nine million souls.
Walter Duranty of the New York Times, who called reports of the famine "malignant propaganda," won a Pulitzer for his mendacity.
In November 1933, during the Holodomor, the greatest liberal of them all, FDR, invited Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov to receive official U.S. recognition of his master Stalin's murderous regime.
On August 1, 1991, just four months before Ukraine declared its independence of Russia, George H. W. Bush warned Kiev's legislature:
"Americans will not support those who seek independence in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism. They will not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism based upon ethnic hatred."
In short, Ukraine's independence was never part of America's agenda. From 1933 to 1991, it was never a U.S. vital interest. Bush I was against it.
When then did this issue of whose flag flies over Donetsk or Crimea become so crucial that we would arm Ukrainians to fight Russian-backed rebels and consider giving a NATO war guarantee to Kiev, potentially bringing us to war with a nuclear-armed Russia?
From FDR on, U.S. presidents have felt that America could not remain isolated from the rulers of the world's largest nation.
Ike invited Khrushchev to tour the USA after he had drowned the Hungarian Revolution in blood. After Khrushchev put missiles in Cuba, JFK was soon calling for a new detente at American University.
Within weeks of Warsaw Pact armies crushing the Prague Spring in August 1968, LBJ was seeking a summit with Premier Alexei Kosygin.
After excoriating Moscow for the downing of KAL 007 in 1983, that old Cold Warrior Ronald Reagan was fishing for a summit meeting.
The point: Every president from FDR through George H. W. Bush, even after collisions with Moscow far more serious than this clash over Ukraine, sought to re-engage the men in the Kremlin.
Whatever we thought of the Soviet dictators who blockaded Berlin, enslaved Eastern Europe, put rockets in Cuba and armed Arabs to attack Israel, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush 1 all sought to engage Russia's rulers.
Avoidance of a catastrophic war demanded engagement.