Oliver Stone's "Ukraine on Fire" is so topical with today's political environment of international meddling it's scary. Directed by Igor Lopatonok, produced and hosted by Stone, the film discusses Ukraine's importance in Eastern European history because of its strategic placement between western Europe and Russia.


Most of us paid little attention to Ukraine until recently; they were simply one of the former USSR countries that suddenly found themselves independent after the breakup of the Soviet Empire. Again, for most of us their only other significance was the site of the tremendous Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and more recently the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

After a stirring dance by a nude Fanny Sage in a fire-pit (CGI), the film launches into the history of Ukraine from the its time as a strategic geographical pawn between Poland and Russia. It progresses to explain its significance in World Wars I & II and the political ping-pong between Germany and Russia.


Eventually, it brings us up-to-date with an independent Ukraine with a heavy interference from Russia... and Western Europe and of course the United States. Once again Ukraine takes center stage as a pivotal spot on the global political stage.


We the film discusses election interference, one can't help but look at the very recent accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election that wound up with a Russian-friendly Donald Trump defeating a Russia-cautionary Hillary Clinton. It turns out, it may be just a case of payback as the US has been meddling in Ukrainian affairs for decades. Of course, everyone points their fingers at everyone else without any kind of solution.


Stone as an interviewer throws himself into the middle with color-by-numbers interviews with former Ulkraine president Victor Yanukovich, Vladimir Putin and other officials. But it is the narration that best describes the environment.


"Ukraine on Fire" is an interesting doc that attempts to get a clarify the significance of this historically unstable part of the world that far too many of us don't understand.   -- GEOFF BURTON