Monday, April 15, 2019

Ukraine’s Electoral Battle Cry 2019
Ukrainian voters faced a nerve-rattling wake-up call two weeks ago when Volodymyr Zelensky, a vaudevillian entertainer and political nobody, solidly outpaced President Petro Poroshenko for the lead in the 2019 presidential elections.
Since then, numerous post-mortems sliced and diced the results but didn’t conclusively answer the elusive question “why?”
Zelensky, 41, who doesn’t speak Ukrainian, built his popularity on a TV stage by ridiculing Ukraine frequently as a porn star while playing its president. He hasn’t offered any serious ideas about how to make life better for Ukrainians nor does he possess any redeeming qualities to be president and the commander in chief of a major European country. As a matter of fact, he is a repeated draft dodger. He and his team are busy trying to figure out what the president of a modern country really does. However, Zelensky does enjoy the patronage of the filthy rich Kharkiv-based oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, whose TV network broadcasts Zelensky’s spoofs.
Zelensky’s flippant attitude about the elections and presidency is best reflected by his absence from yesterday’s campaign debates. After goading Poroshenko into accepting the challenge, Zelensky turned out to be a no-show, leaving the President alone on stage talking to journalists, calling his opponent a virtual candidate and addressing cheering voters in the 70,000-seat Kyiv stadium. Poroshenko stood in front of an empty podium with the comedian’s name written on it and spent nearly an hour talking about his platform and answering questions from the media. Poroshenko seized on Zelensky’s absence to urge Ukrainians not to trust Ukraine’s future to an untested comic at a time of war.
Indeed, Poroshenko’s warnings about Zelensky ring loudly. How can a draft dodger and political neophyte lead Ukraine at a time of a bloody war with its greatest enemy Russia that has claimed thousands of lives? How can the nation trust the country’s defense, arsenal and soldiers to an untested, unknown entity?
Poroshenko is not a perfect president and he has his flaws. But 28 years after Ukraine proclaimed its independence from the Russian empire, there is ample, undeniable evidence that the country is moving in the direction as an independent, prosperous, democratic and inclusive society. He is respected in the United States, Canada and throughout Europe and the free world.
So why was Poroshenko denied his just victory? Some voters said they favored Zelensky’s youthfulness compared with Poroshenko. Others were fulfilling the bidding of oligarchs and the Kremlin. As Putin had said, he could tolerate any president of Ukraine except Poroshenko, the commander in chief who has stymied the Russian war machine. Still others were imbued with vengeance because his or her life hadn’t improved.
Voter fabrication can’t be blamed for the outcome because election observers attested that the voting was without manipulation. However, Russia didn’t allow the process to proceed without interference. Its cyber and psy-ops specialists attempted to sabotage the elections in Ukraine as they are doing around the world. The techniques were both sophisticated and down to earth, complete with lies. Two websites reported that Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, a staunch supporter and defender of Ukraine in its war with Russia, allegedly remarked that corruption, not Russia, is Ukraine’s greatest enemy. I inquired with Ukrainian diplomats and learned that the comment is not true and the websites are known for posting fabrications.
Corruption is still plaguing Ukraine at all levels of life and little has been done to root it out. However, the complaints about this are dishonest and duplicitous. Corruption doesn’t merely exist at the highest echelons of government, the parliament and corporations. It exists everywhere in Ukraine. Many good, god-fearing Ukrainians still harbor larcenous manners from their soviet past. They should first abandon corruption on personal levels and commit to electing later this year a Verkhovna Rada that is pro-Ukraine and dedicated to eliminating graft and corruption.
Hopefully Ukrainian voters will be able to recognize that they have been targeted and can be brainwashed. Consequently, they can vote against their own best interests, as well as the interests of people who need them most like their neighbors near and far.
Meanwhile, next Sunday, Ukrainians will be making a fateful decision between two singularly vital concepts – not two candidates – similar to their choice in the referendum of December 1, 1991. Twenty-eight years ago more than 90% of Ukrainians voted for independence. Have their lives taken such a significant turn for the worse that Ukrainians would reject independence today? Have they forgotten the strides they made to break the bonds of Russian subjugation and chart their own independent lives? Have they forgotten that Ukrainian servicemen and women as well as civilians are dying in battle with Russian invaders in the eastern oblasts?
Today, the choice is the same as it was in 1991. It’s not Poroshenko or Zelensky.
To paraphrase James Carville’s successful battle cry for Bill Clinton:
It’s independence, stupid!
In voting booths in Ukraine, New York City, across the free world, Ukrainian voters should put aside deep-rooted feelings of retribution, jealousy, spitefulness and punishment and focus on one thought and one thought only. Who has demonstrated that he can maintain Ukraine on its nationally beneficial course to becoming a prosperous, democratic, free European country?
The answer is Petro Poroshenko.

Monday, March 4, 2019

From Ukraine’s Battle Trenches to NATO HQ –
Olena Bilozerska Brings Message of Liberation
Olena Bilozerska, a well-known Kyiv-based journalist and blogger in her late 30s, who is now a Ukrainian volunteer soldier fighting for her native land in the eastern oblasts of Ukraine, took a temporary leave from the war zone to travel with five comrades-in-arms, one of whom is in a wheelchair, to NATO Headquarters in Brussels with a personal message about her country’s war with Russia.
Speaking to the military leaders of the free world, Bilozerska, who in another life could have been a successful businesswoman but today decided to place herself in harm’s way in defense of her nation, emphasized that the West’s goal for Ukraine is not Ukraine’s nor her goal.
“We, Ukrainians, are fighting not for ‘peace at any costs,’ not for ‘cessation of fire,’ but for the liberation and return of our land,” she declared.
Consequently, the Minsk process is a misleading undertaking meant to satisfy gullible Western leaders about what is really happening in the Donbas region of Ukraine and the desired outcome. Russia is violating the accords while killing Ukrainian soldiers and civilians.
Bilozerska explained that Ukraine is again fighting for its independence, its life and future, against a recidivist country that means to subjugate and ultimately eradicate the Ukrainian nation from the face of the earth.
The Ukrainian soldier accentuated that despite Russian propaganda to the contrary, Ukraine was invaded by Russia and is now forced to fight a war against its military machine. She pointed out: “In 2016 I took part in a reconnaissance mission near Mariupol, where we captured the military map made by a Russian officer, and on this map the positions, forces and facilities of our enemy were designated, including those officially belonging to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
“It was written there clearly: Russian Armed Forces.”
She passionately told Western leaders not to force Ukraine to accept a faux peace with Russia because ultimately it will fail as others have failed in the past. Russia’s mission is to dominate Ukraine and assimilate it into its prison of nations.
“I want to tell you: Dear, dear foreign friends! Please do not help us to seek agreement with Russia. Any agreement with that country is hopelessly futile and counterproductive.
“Only the tough line of the whole free world towards Russia, a wide complex of military, economic and diplomatic measures is capable to stop it,” she eloquently said.
Bilozerska warned the free world that all forms of commerce, “every barrel of oil, every cubic meter of gas purchased from Russia” is transformed into missiles, shells and bullets which kill Ukrainians today and may be used against other innocent nations and people tomorrow.
“And, as a matter of fact, not only tomorrow. We all remember 300 innocent people of the flight which were killed by the Russian missile, the attempt of coup d’état in Montenegro (organized by Russia) to prevent that country from joining NATO, the actions of Russian assassins in the Great Britain, and so on and so forth,” she elaborated about just a few recent examples of Russian crimes against humanity.
Looking toward the future, Bilozerska said Russia’s war against Ukraine is not merely a Ukrainian problem, it is such for the entire free world.
She did not beg NATO to do Ukraine’s fighting for it. Quite the opposite, she said: “We’re fighting for you.”
Indeed. The Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ukrainian soldiers and Bilozerska and her fellow male and female soldiers are the only ones in the world that have real battlefield experience fighting Russian soldiers. Undoubtedly a unique and valuable skill.
“We, Ukrainians, defend the whole free world from Russia,” she pointed out. Looking around the world today, at Russia’s extensive military and non-military interventions, that’s not a far-fetched observation.
While she didn’t request that free world soldiers fight for Ukraine, Bilozerska did specify that the Ukrainian army needed its support in the forms of weapons, ammunitions and anti-Russian sanctions.
Ukraine’s armed forces have come a long way since the days when the traitor Viktor Vanukovych destroyed every element of Ukraine’s defense and security structures, but Ukraine still needs help to subdue Russian invaders.
“Do it now, and future generations of Europeans will be forever thankful to you,” she implored.
God speed, Olena. May the Ukrainian Army be victorious against Russia.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Statistical Look at the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-19
The world looks at the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-19 as if it’s a made-for-television movie about war and peace. Or a video game.
Perhaps world leaders and international organizations are sick and tired or afraid of delving deeper into the causes and effects of Russia’s invasion and war against Ukraine. They naively believe that negotiations, sanctions and the so-called Minsk process can force Russia to withdraw its murderous soldiers from Ukraine.
The Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-19 is real and its bloody trail can be seen across eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas.
Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko, permanent representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, in a statement to the UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine on February 13, provided a succinct chronological and numerical presentation of the coldblooded statistics of Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine.
As Yelchenko said, “So here we go.”
•February the 20th. This is the day when back in 2014 Russia started its invasion in Crimea. We’ll have a General Assembly debate on this date, but maybe someone will come up with an idea of having a discussion in the Security Council as well. It is better to be prepared, just in case;
•March the 16th. The date of holding the infamous so-called referendum in Crimea. The GA on March 27, 2014, adopted resolution 68/262 asserting that this so-called referendum has no validity and cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of Crimea. By the way, the Russian side is consistently pushing the narrative of a peaceful nature of events in Crimea. Just one episode from 2014 for your reflection: on March 18, Ukrainian warrant officer Serhiy Kokurin, a native of Crimea, was shot by two bullets in the heart during the Russian special forces assault at the Ukrainian cartographic station near Simferopol. He was the first Ukrainian soldier killed by Russia in this war;
•June the 14th. Over the Luhansk airport the Russian forces shot down a Ukrainian transport aircraft killing 40 Ukrainian paratroopers and 9 crew members;
•July the 17th. The downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. Another terrorist attack by Russia. All 298 people onboard were killed;
•August the 23rd-24th. Four battalion-tactical groups of the Russian armed forces invade the territory of Ukraine;
•September the 5th. Signing of the Minsk Protocol, which together with the Minsk Memorandum constitutes the core of the Minsk agreements, implemented by the Package of Measures. For the record, on the Russian side the document was signed by Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov;
•October the 22nd. At a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, Russia blocked the adoption of the decision to extend the mandate of the OSCE Observer Mission at the Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk to the entire uncontrolled part of the Ukrainian-Russian border. By the way, paragraph 4 of the aforementioned Minsk Protocol reads as follows, and I quote: Ensure permanent monitoring on the Ukrainian-Russian State border and verification by OSCE, along with the establishment of a security area in the border regions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation;
•November the 2nd. Illegal elections were held in the occupied areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. It was yet another violation of the Minsk Protocol, paragraph 9: Ensure the holding of early local elections in accordance with the Law of Ukraine on the interim status of local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions (Law on Special Status). Worse, the recent holding, in late 2018, by the Russian occupation administration of another illegal so-called “elections” in the occupied areas added insult to injury: it was a clear and deliberate provocation to undermine the Minsk agreements;
•November the 25th. Another significant development, this time in 2018, when the Russian navy attacked Ukraine’s two armored boats Nikopol and Berdyansk and a tugboat Yani Kapu;
•January the 13th. In early 2015, the Russian forces shelled a checkpoint near the town of Volnovakha. 12 civilians were killed and 18 more were wounded. Later the same month, on January the 24th, the Russian forces randomly shelled the outskirts of Mariupol, killing 31 civilians.
• From 2015 on, Russia 18 times (I repeat, 18 times) has effectively sabotaged implementation of ceasefire agreements. During this period, there were over 54,000 cases of ceasefire violations. In almost 6,000 cases, the Russian forces used weapon systems prohibited by the Minsk Agreements.
A few more statistics presented by Ambassador Yelchenko:
• As of the beginning of this February, the Russian armed formations in Donbas have in their possession 496 main battle tanks (this is comparable to the arsenals of such countries as Germany, France, Indonesia), 938 armored combat vehicles (similar to Peru and Kuwait), 128 multiple launch rocket system (somewhat less than Indonesia), 776 artillery systems, including self-propelled ones (again, comparable to the numbers in such former Council members as Kazakhstan or Ethiopia).
• The armed force of 35,000 in the occupied Donbas is supported by over 2,100 Russian regular military, mostly in the key command and control positions.
• The total number of the Russian offensive strike group personnel along the Russian-Ukrainian border (including the groups adjacent to the occupied territories of Donbas and Crimea) is 87,750 military.
From Crimea, to eastern Ukraine and now to the Sea of Azov, Russia has been killing Ukrainian civilians and soldiers while chiseling away Ukrainian territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence for more than five years.
Is the free world prepared to tolerate this crime against global institutions, law and order, and peace and security without an end in sight? No one had to convince the free world to mobilize a powerful military machine to defeat Nazi Germany after it invaded Poland, France, Italy and others.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

UNGA again Condemns Russian Invasion,
Occupation of Crimea; But Expulsion is Better
For the record, the United Nations again condemned Russia for invading and occupying the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and demanded that Moscow withdraw its troops.
While it is important for global consumption and historical archives that the UN General Assembly took this step, Russia will most likely not abide by its demands. Moscow has disregarded previous resolutions that denounced its illegal activities that targeted Ukraine or other countries and it will do so again.
However, what is significant now is that the vote on Monday evening, December 17, demonstrated that Russian supporters are dwindling while the world is watching and listening to Ukraine.
According to a tally by the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations, Russia until recently enjoyed the regular support of 26 countries. This week only 18 countries sided with Moscow in voting against this resolution. Russia and its global influence are withering.
Kremlin lackeys include: Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Burundi, Cambodia, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Laos, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Serbia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
Sixty-six countries voted in favor of the resolution initiated by Ukraine that calls for Russia to end its occupation and militarization of Crimea. The resolution, titled “Problem of the Militarization of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, Ukraine, as well as Parts of the Black and Azov,” insists that Russia withdraw its armed forces from Crimea and cease the occupation of Ukrainian territories.
The UN emphasizes that “the presence of Russian troops in Crimea is contrary to the national sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine and undermines the security and stability of neighboring countries and the European region.” There have been numerous reports that Russia is installing high-tech rockets and modernizing its military installations on Crimea.
The resolution expresses serious concern over the growing militarization of Crimea by Russia, which threatens the Black Sea region as well as the Mediterranean. With Russia expanding its invasion of Ukraine with a third front in the Sea of Azov, countries along the coast of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean should be concerned by Russia’s expanding belligerence.
The resolution calls on Russia to “refrain from impeding the lawful exercise of navigational rights and freedoms in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, and the Kerch Strait.” It expresses concern over Russia’s “ongoing actions in parts of the Black Sea surrounding Crimea and the Sea of Azov, including their militarization, which pose further threats to Ukraine and undermine the stability of the broader region.”
The UN declares its “utmost concern about the dangerous increase in tensions and the unjustified use of force” by Russia against Ukraine, including against three vessels of the naval forces of Ukraine on November 25 in the Black Sea, and calls on the Kremlin to release the vessels and their crews, and equipment unconditionally and without delay.
The resolution condemns Russia’s construction and opening of the Kerch Strait Bridge between Russia and temporarily occupied Crimea, and condemns the increasing military presence of Russia in parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Even though Russia will not abide by the UN General Assembly’s decision regarding Crimea, it was not a waste of time and effort to call for the vote. The UN officially repeated reaffirming that it deplores Russia’s international transgressions and insists on its withdrawal from the Ukrainian peninsula is a noteworthy development.
Furthermore, citizens of free world countries are now positioned to take advantage of this document in addressing Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine in the chambers of their national governments and legislatures. This is no longer a matter of Ukraine or the Ukrainian diaspora seeking justice against Russian crimes but it is a global concern. United Nations decisions still carry weight in government offices.
What can civilians do at this point? A stroll down memory lane reveals that 80 decades ago, on December 14, 1939, Moscow was expelled from the League of Nations following its treaty with Nazi Germany and its invasion of neighboring Finland. An updated campaign, launched in the halls of the Senate and Congress and other national legislatures will raise awareness about Russia’s criminal recidivism as well as the voices for punitive measures beyond mere resolutions.
Consequently, expel Russia from the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Trade Organization, the World Tourism Organization and other alliances because of its aggression against Ukraine.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

US Senate Unanimously Adopts Resolution
Condemning Russian Aggression vs. Ukraine
The US Senate unanimously condemned Russia’s recent one-sided, blatant attack on Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait and called for the immediate release of all incarcerated Ukrainian sailors.
Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, introduced the resolution, which was adopted on November 29, according to the Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS).
Undoubtedly, this statement, endorsed by all 100 members of the UN Senate, should send a unambiguous signal to Putin and his Kremlin junta that the United States is aware of all Russian crimes against Ukraine and stands with Ukraine and, by association, with all former Russian captive nations that are striving to defend and preserve their independence and sovereignty against Moscow’s aggression.
In his accompanying remarks, Johnson pointed out that the West must tell Russian President Vladimir Putin that the west “will not stand for this sort of provocation.”
“I am pleased the Senate spoke with one voice to reaffirm our support for the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian government and Ukraine’s territorial integrity and make it clear that Russia’s aggression cannot be tolerated,” Johnson said.
Other senators offered the following observations:
“Today, the Senate took action and sent a clear message to Putin that his government’s aggression against Ukraine in the Sea of Azov will not be tolerated. We strongly condemn any military action taken by Russia to unilaterally rewrite international rules,” said Senator Murphy.
“The United States should stand firmly alongside Ukraine in the face of this most recent Russian aggression,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). “Russia’s unprovoked action against Ukraine is a violation of international law and it highlights the urgent need to bolster Ukraine’s ability to defend its sovereign borders. I’m pleased that this resolution acknowledges my amendment to the FY 2018 NDAA authorizing naval security assistance to Ukraine. As Sunday’s events showed, the Black Sea and Sea of Azov have become hotspots in this conflict and increased naval assistance as well as international condemnation is appropriate and necessary.”
“Through cyberattacks, propaganda, military intimidation, and outright invasion, Russia continues to attack Ukrainian sovereignty and international standards. By escalating the tension in the region, Russia’s campaign of aggression in Eastern Europe blazes on. Such blatantly hostile acts must be universally condemned. I’m proud to join my colleagues from both sides of the aisle on this resolution reaffirming that the United States Senate stands arm and arm with our friends in Ukraine,” Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) said. “President Trump should forcefully tell Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit to stop continued meddling in American and western democracies and that the U.S. will not stand idly by while Russia bullies Ukraine in the Azov Sea.”
“This resolution reaffirms the US. Senate’s steadfast commitment to defending Ukraine and the transatlantic community against escalating Russian aggression,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “The Kremlin’s latest assault wasn’t just an attack on Ukraine – it was a signal to the entire world that Russia’s assaults threaten our collective security and global stability. This behavior cannot go unanswered. I’ll continue to urge Congress, as well as our transatlantic allies, to prioritize response measures that hold the Kremlin accountable for its rogue actions. As Ukraine navigates this perilous time, I urge Ukrainian lawmakers to continue to maintain the higher ground they’ve always held in the battle against Russia’s aggression.”
There are two salient remarks made by the lawmakers. Murphy accented that Russian attacks against Ukraine will not be tolerated and, in the words of Shaheen, Russia’s assaults are a threat against our collective security and global stability.”
Mighty powerful words. However, for them to be effective, there must be an obvious threat incorporated into them. What will happen if Russia persists in assaulting, attaching and invading Ukraine? What kind of impediments will the US and the free world throw in the path of oncoming Russian tanks? What credible steps will Washington undertake to repel Russian aggression?
Right now, the only military force that is protecting “our” collective security and global stability are Ukrainian soldiers. Free world’s applause and cheers will not be sufficient to ensure their combat readiness.
Support from Georgian Association
The Georgian Association in the USA “strongly condemns” Russia’s assault against Ukrainian vessels.
In a statement released on December 4, the association also said:
“The attack and seizure of three Ukrainian naval vessels and crew members, some of whom were injured, is the latest incident in Russia’s incursion on its neighbors and a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.  While Russia’s motives in this latest action and next steps may be unclear, Russia continues to ignore international norms of behavior as it attempts to unlawfully increase its presence in the eastern European region by whatever means it deems necessary.  Their aggressiveness is a threat to all freedom loving people.  The Georgian Association stands with the citizens of Ukraine in reaffirming support of its independence.”
Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a Russian human rights leader and dissident, who challenged Soviet & Russian regimes for decades, has died at 91. My friend, Borys Potapenko and I had the privilege of visiting her in her temporary home in Queens, NY, in mid-1970s. We discussed with her the broad human rights movement in the Soviet empire with an obvious focus on events in Ukraine. The late Alexeyeva observed that when the Moscow human rights group was just beginning to form, Ukraine already had powerful campaign in place.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Russia’s 3rd Front vs Ukraine:
Shots Heard ‘Round the World
Russia’s hostile actions against Ukraine in the Sea of Azov last week cannot be regarded as an isolated, disconnected act of aggression as many foreign policy pundits have tended to imply in their regular ruminations, wondering where this belligerence came from and where it will lead.
The latest Russian shots heard ‘round the world were unquestionably connected to the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-18 that Moscow launched two weeks after the conclusion of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. If the Russian invasion and illegal occupation of Crimea and its war against Ukraine in the eastern oblasts weren’t enough to prove Russia’s dangerous aggressive mindset, then this piracy on the high seas should serve as another wake-up call for the free world.
World leaders are again confronted with a saber-rattling Russia that has proclaimed in recent days accelerated conventional and nuclear re-militarization. Peace and goodwill toward man will not be the hallmark of this year’s Christmas.
The Kerch Strait incident is the newest, obvious example of The Kremlin’s never-ending 1,000-year-old imperial mission to once and for all subjugate Ukraine, to permanently shackle the country and nation to Moscow.
The attack could also signal the start of wider hostilities, as a senior EU diplomat was quoted as telling EUobserver, to create what Vladimir Putin called in 2014 “Novorossiya” – the seizure of territory connecting Russia-occupied Crimea and east Ukraine and cutting off Ukraine from the Black Sea.
However, this iteration of Russian belligerence comes with this difference. Russia has raucously demonstrated that it will lie in the face of incontrovertible facts, and do whatever it wishes to do with arrogant impunity, regardless of a global pushback. It will advance its manifest destiny in defiance of global sanctions as it does everything in its power to resurrect and reinforce the glory and might of its Holy Mother Russian Empire.
While the former captive nations have lived with that ominous reality since the end of World War II, global leaders today do not enjoy the luxury of disparaging that possibility by blindly continuing to suggest equal culpability, glad hand Putin and meet with Russian officials.
In the wake of Russia’s firing upon three Ukrainian vessels that were sailing in international waters, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense raised its Armed Forces’ war preparedness to the highest level and declared martial law in a dozen northern, eastern and southern oblasts.
The world is facing the possibility of not only losing Ukraine on its watch but also dealing with a more brazen, bellicose Russia.
At a UN Security Council meeting on Monday, November 26, Russia was left out in the cold and it wasn’t fazed by being vilified. By supporting Ukraine, the council members declined to accept its dishonest explanations as they isolated Moscow.
Nonetheless, the Russian Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polianskiy nonchalantly blamed Ukraine for disrupting regional peace and security and accused it of banditry. He told the Security Council members that Kyiv’s actions since the Revolution of Dignity five years ago have been “fraught with dangerous consequences.” He blamed the United States and other countries for encouraging Ukraine’s policies.
Polianskiy warned the international community that despite the free world’s support for Ukraine, Russia has never caused the first blow but it will repel any incursions on Russian territory and it knows how to protect itself.
“The people of Crimea, like Russia’s other regions, are well protected,” he asserted.
His most immoral, cynical affirmation was to say that the Russian people love Ukrainians. Russians “believe in their wisdom and take them in willingly. We listen to their stories of the suffering, misery and wrongdoings that are happening in that once rich and successful country, from which people today are scattering in every direction in the realization that this ship is sinking.”
Ironically, Polianskiy made this ridiculous statement on the weekend when Ukrainians were observing the 85th anniversary of the Russian-made famine that killed 7-10 million Ukrainian men, women and children.
Rather than telling what had happened in the Kerch Strait, Polianskiy offered a fictional presentation, blaming Ukraine for violating Russia’s territorial waters. Fortunately, high-tech devices have proved that the Ukrainian vessels were in fact in international waters.
Polianskiy further cautioned that sanctions will never force Russia to change its behavior. In other words, the world shouldn’t expect a de-escalation of military hostilities against Ukraine and other countries anytime soon.
For all dreamers around the world, Russia confirmed at UN Security Council that nothing, no amount of sanctions will force it to change its behavior and policies. It will actively defend its state, sovereignty and independence against all detractors and expand its empire.
It’s curious how many economic penalties would force Russia to change its ways when according to estimates by experts at Bloomberg, sanctions against the Russia have already caused the country’s economy to lose additional 6%.
Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN Volodymyr Yelchenko during the Security Council meeting accused Russia of committing an act of an open military aggression against Ukraine by targeting, firing on and capturing three military vessels. By all accounts, this wasn’t the first such act. Then he dramatically added that “Nevertheless, further escalation of the situation by the Russian Federation should not be ruled out,” indicating that Kyiv is preparing for a greater military insertion against Ukraine by invading Russian forces. Yelchenko said according to available intelligence data, there is a clear threat for invasion and seizing of Mariupol and Berdyansk, which dovetails with Putin’s plans for “Novorossiya.”
“Kremlin’s criminal regime has once again demonstrated that it won’t stop its aggressive policy and is ready for any acts of aggression against the Ukrainian state. The dramatic escalation of the situation in the region needs a prompt reaction from international community,” he said.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned Russia that its seizure of three Ukrainian vessels was an “outrageous violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory” and urged Moscow to reduce tensions caused by its “arrogant” act. Haley said she had spoken with President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier on Monday and that her statement “reflects the concerns at the highest level.”
“As President Trump has said many times, the United States would welcome a normal relationship with Russia. But outlaw actions like this one continue to make that impossible,” said Haley, a member of Trump’s cabinet. “The United States will maintain its Crimea-related sanctions against Russia. Further Russian escalation of this kind will only make matters worse. It will further undermine Russia’s standing in the world. It will further sour Russia’s relations with the U.S. and many other countries,” Haley said.
She further said “Sunday’s outrageous violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory is part of a pattern of Russian behavior that includes the purported annexation of Crimea, and abuses against countless Ukrainians in Crimea, as well as stoking conflict that has taken the lives of more than ten thousand people in eastern Ukraine, and it shows no sign of decreasing. What we witnessed this weekend is yet another reckless Russian escalation. Let’s be clear about what is known.”
Though she favorably cited Trump, the President of the United States did not condemn Russia for firing upon Ukrainian ships in international waters. Ahead of the G7 meeting in Argentina, Trump’s staff announced that the President would not meet officially with Putin but Trump did meet with him in a less-than-official setting.
The international community ran to Ukraine’s side with declarations of support and condemnation for Russia.
NATO issued a statement giving unconditional support to Ukraine, said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu in a commentary for Evropeyska Pravda. Lungescu emphasized that NATO is closely monitoring developments in the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait. “We are in contact with the Ukrainian authorities. We call for restraint and de-escalation.
“NATO fully supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including its navigational rights in its territorial waters. We call on Russia to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law,” the NATO press secretary stated.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said following a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission that all allies expressed their full support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
“So we call on Russia to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports and allow freedom of navigation for Ukraine in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.
“There is no justification for the use of military force against Ukrainian ships and naval personnel.   So we call on Russia to release immediately the Ukrainian sailors and ships it seized yesterday.” Stoltenberg said.
In Washington, the Congressional Ukraine Caucus Chairs, Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Andy Harris (R-MD), Sander Levin (D-MI) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), among many other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, rebuked Russia’s attack on Ukraine near the Kerch Strait in the Sea of Azov:
“As co-chairs of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, we strongly condemn Russia’s dangerous naval assault on Ukrainian ships. This episode, as well as Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports, is a deeply disturbing sign of continued Russian aggression in its efforts to tighten its bloody grip and illegitimate occupation of the Crimean peninsula.
“We join the international community and our NATO allies in resolute affirmation of the fact that Crimea and its surrounding waters belong to Ukraine. We call on Russian authorities, in accordance with international law, to cease any and all interference with access to Ukrainian ports and the Azov Sea. Russia must end this bloody and unjust occupation of Ukrainian sovereign territory.”
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo added the USA’s deep concern over the incident in the Kerch Strait. He noted that reports that Russian vessels rammed and fired on the Ukrainian ships, injuring Ukrainian crewmen, before seizing three vessels, represent a dangerous escalation and a violation of international law.
“The United States condemns this aggressive Russian action. We call on Russia to return to Ukraine its vessels and detained crew members, and to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters,” Pompeo said.
The former captive nations came to Ukraine’s defense. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said “obviously, Russia is waging a direct and aggressive war against Ukraine, cynically violating international agreements and assumed obligations. We are ready to defend it.”
Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius stated that Russian actions undermine security of the whole region. “We strongly condemn Russia’s move to physically block Kerch Strait and ramming of Ukrainian boat. Cannot be qualified differently than an act of aggression & another blatant violation of an international maritime law,” said Linkevicius.
European Council President Donald Tusk condemned Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian navy vessels in the Kerch Strait.
“I condemn Russian use of force in the Azov Sea. Russian authorities must return Ukrainian sailors, vessels and refrain from further provocations,” Tusk said after a phone call with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. “Europe will stay united in support of Ukraine.”
Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman told reporters “We condemn Russia’s act of aggression. This incident provides further evidence of Russia’s destabilizing behavior in the region.”
While sanctions’ success may be questionable in the wake of Polianskiy’s admission in the Security Council that Russia will not budge, France and Germany have already declared that they do not support the introduction of new sanctions against the Russia for seizing Ukrainian ships. According to sources in the EU’s diplomatic circles, at a private meeting of the Political and Security Committee (PSC) in Brussels on Tuesday, diplomats from France and Germany said it is now important to take measures to build confidence. Berlin and Paris believe that sanctions are not part of these activities. Cracks in the pro-Ukrainian, anti-Russian alliance?
Later in the week, Russia revealed perhaps its next target. Spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova has threated Ukraine with occupation of regions where Russian diplomatic institutions located. The Russian MFA said the Russian people “could lose patience,” which would lead to attacks on the Ukrainian diplomatic institutions on Russian territory.
Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko says there were 23 Ukrainians on board the three boats captured by Russia near the Kerch Strait and contact with them has been lost. “We know nothing about the navy men, there is only information about six wounded, two of them have been wounded seriously,” he said at a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine in Kyiv in the early hours of Monday, November 26.
Ukrainian sailors were transferred toward the end of the week from occupied Crimea to a Moscow prison as Dzhemil Temyshev, the lawyer of captured sailor Roman Mokriak, reported on Facebook.
“The sailors are already in Moscow. The colleagues from Lefortovo reported this information. Today due to the “technical events,” Lefortovo was almost closed.  And we could not meet our clients in Simferopol as supposedly they were involved in some events,” the lawyer reported.
Global support for Ukraine is welcome but with Russia’s aggressiveness and arrogance intensifying, the x-captive nations must revive wartime alliances such as the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations renamed Anti-Russian Bloc of Nations that must be supported militarily and politically by a global coalition of free countries determined to subdue Russia.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said in a tweet that you don’t need to be a James Bond to ascertain Russia’s designs: re-subjugation of Ukraine and the other x-captive nations and then …
Scroll down to read blogs on other Ukrainian topics.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Congressman Levin Joins Global Remembrance
Of Holodomor Murders in Ukrainian Parliament
The global community witnessed in recent days mournful commemorations of the 85th anniversary of Russia’s murder of 7-10 million Ukrainian men, women and children for the simple reason that they were Ukrainians and the Kremlin wanted Ukraine – the infamous, genocidal Holodomor.
Ukrainian communities around the world, in old settlements and new ones, bowed their heads and lit candles in memory of the victims.
The principal observance was held yesterday in the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, with Ukrainian community representatives from around the world in attendance.
The keynoter was Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI), a longtime staunch advocate of Ukraine and its independence and sovereignty against Russian aggression.
Levin is a co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus. He authored legislation that facilitated the creation of the Holodomor Memorial in Washington, D.C. near the U.S. Capitol. He is the lead sponsor of H.Res.931, which raises awareness of the Holodomor.

Congressmen Levin’s statement follows:

Many decades ago, when I was at college, I read a book about the Soviet Union. I found the book an overall exoneration of the Soviet Union’s lack of democracy and its embrace of authoritarianism.
What literally jumped off the page for me was treatment of a subject that was new to me—the famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine. The author claimed that the stories of the famine were exaggerated – suggesting that there were “many fewer millions” of lives lost than had been said by others. This dangerously dismissive and insensitive language stayed etched in my memory throughout the years.
It stayed with me as part of a Congressional delegation visiting Sarajevo, Serbia and Croatia and meeting with President Slobodan Milosevic.
It stayed with me when Elie Wiesel urged President Clinton not to forget Bosnia.
In 1992, my Congressional district included an area with a large Ukrainian American community. The relationships that I developed and the conversations that we engaged in on a wide range of issues over two decades were vital to my work in Congress.
What ensued was the formation of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus in 1997. It allowed Members of Congress from around the country with a special interest in Ukraine to join together and work together on issues important to Ukraine and the Ukrainian-American relationship.
I remember vividly joining the protest at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington during the Orange Revolution, when the government then in power overturned the democratic vote in Ukraine. It also was a remarkable experience to join the protest rally outside the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Warren, MI during the Revolution of Dignity, the fifth anniversary of which also is being acknowledged these days.
Those experiences and many others that I shared with the Ukrainian American community over these past four decades  inspired me to introduce the resolution in Congress—a long effort—that led to the building of the magnificent monument to Holodomor in Washington. This touching monument located so prominently near the United States Capitol is an important acknowledgement of this terrible stain in global history and a vital learning experience for generations to come.
Holodomor is a reminder of the value of democracy. The truth about the famine was suppressed by the totalitarian Soviet regime. One of the advantages of democracy is that there are more ways for the truth to be brought out, and fewer barriers to overcome. Holodomor is both a cry for freedom and a cry against authoritarianism.
As Winston Churchill said, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise.” He went on to say that “Democracy is the worst form of government but it’s better than all other forms.” Democracy can sure be very messy, but its goal can be far better than a worst form of government.
Today, there is a dangerous tilt to authoritarianism in many places around the world. This makes Ukraine’s struggle to resist aggression, safeguard its independence, and develop democracy all the more important. Holodomor was a weapon of a dictator against the Ukrainian people; such a tragedy should deepen our determination to fight for freedom and democracy, rather than make heroes out of dictators. Ukraine has witnessed firsthand that the challenges of democracy are not easily overcome. That makes it all the more important to overcome the threats to democracy, such as injustice and corruption. The United States must support Ukraine in its efforts.
It was deeply painful but essential to read the stories in Anne Applebaum’s new book Red Famine—Stalin’s War on Ukraine. She told how Ukrainian peasants were forced “to make a fatal choice. They could give up their grain reserves and die of starvation or they could keep some grain reserves hidden and risk arrest, execution, or the confiscation of their food—after which they would also die of starvation.”
She described this poignant memory of one person: “The mothers with babies in their arms made the strongest impression... I remember seeing one such mother who looked more like a shadow than a human being. She was standing by the side of the road, and her little skeleton of a child, instead of suckling her mother’s empty breast, sucked its own small knuckles thinly covered with translucent skin. I have no idea how many of the unfortunates I saw managed to survive. Every morning on my way to work I saw bodies on the pavements, in ditches, under a bush or a tree, which were later carried away.”
Personal stories must be recounted and remembered. A genocide, if not clearly told, can facilitate another.
I would like to acknowledge Borys Potapenko, a Ukrainian American community leader with whom I have worked for nearly 40 years and who did so much to make this visit possible.
I am very grateful to all of you for inviting me to share this commemoration of Holodomor with the hope that it can and will lead to a more humane and just society and world.
My budama pamya tatay!

Scroll down for more blogs on Ukraine and Russian imperialism.