BETHLEHEM, NY (WRGB) — Heated discussions in Delmar over the war between Ukraine and Russia.
Emotions ran high at the Bethlehem Public Library Friday Night as those with differing opinions on the war made their voices heard during a two-hour forum.
Some came out to protest the stance being shared by some of the speakers, who essentially disagree with the United States supporting Ukraine in the war.
One of the attendees against that take was Semen Schlokov, who recently came to the United States after fleeing Russia to escape being drafted into the war.
CBS6’s Briana Supardi spoke with him with the help of another attendee, Olena Lake, to translate.
“What he listened to in this meeting is what he is listening during all his life in Russia– it’s propaganda,” Lake translated.
Schlokov and Lake both share the same feelings, describing the speakers as propagandists.
“There’s a lot of disinformation I hear in this meeting,” said Lake. “I very much believe in [freedom] of speech but not in foreign propaganda in this land.”
One of the speakers in Friday’s forum that Lake and Schlokov are referring to is Scott Ritter.
CBS6’s Briana Supardi: “What’s your response to that comment?”
SCOTT RITTER: “I mean first of all I have sympathy for them. I have sympathy for their position. Most of the people that were labeling me this have deep ties with Ukraine. This is an emotional issue.”
Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence Officer and U.N. Weapons Instructor whose career included work in the former Soviet Union.
Just hours before the forum, the Biden Administration announced more than $3 billion in security assistance for Ukraine and European Allies. It’s the largest package the United States has committed to since Russia began its full scale invasion into Ukraine nearly a year ago.
He believes the United States should stop supporting Ukraine.
“We’re being told that this is a noble cause and that the Ukrainians actually have a chance to win. Any military analyst worth his or her salt will tell you that given the current set of circumstances, Ukraine has no chance of winning. We’re setting them up for a decisive defeat,” said Ritter.
“This war will continue. Russia is not going to roll over and play dead,” said Ritter. “I believe Russia is going to win this war and to do that, they’re going to have to kill hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians.”
Lake believes otherwise.
“This war needs to end, but the end will only be winning with Ukraine,” she said. “There is no way the war will stop if Putin wins.”