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 GrybauskaitÄ— 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 …
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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!

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

UN Again Condemns Russian Seizure of Crimea,
Urges World to Call Ukrainian Peninsula ‘Occupied’
The United Nations again severely condemned Russia for its illegal seizure of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula and insisted that Moscow must return it to Ukraine.
UN General Assembly’s 3rd Committee reaffirmed today, November 15, that Crimea is temporarily occupied by Russia and asserts “that the seizure of Crimea by force is illegal and a violation of international law, and affirming also that those territories must be returned.”
The document was backed by 67 UN member-states, 26 voted against it, 82 abstained. The following Russian minions voted against: Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nicaragua, the Russian Federation, Serbia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.
According to UNIAN, the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations reported that the statement also condemned politically motivated persecutions of citizens of Ukraine and called on Russia to free all Ukrainians who are illegally detained in the occupied Crimea and Russian territory. Illegally imprisoned Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, Crimean activist Volodymyr Balkuh and Crimean Tatars’ human rights activist Emir-Huseyn Kuku are designated as political prisoners.
The UN General Assembly’s draft resolution also condemned the “imposition of automatic Russian citizenship on protected persons in Crimea, which is contrary to international humanitarian law,” and called on Russia “to end the practice of compelling Crimean residents to serve in the armed or auxiliary forces of the Russian Federation, including through pressure or propaganda, and in particular ensure that Crimean residents are not compelled to participate in military operations of the Russian Federation,” as well as in “illegal election campaigns.”
It also calls the Russian Federation "to monitor and accommodate the medical needs of all Ukrainian citizens unlawfully detained for the exercise of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including political prisoners, in Crimea and the Russian Federation and allow the monitoring of those detainees' state of health and conditions of detention by independent international monitors and physicians from reputable international health organizations, including the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Committee of the Red Cross."
The resolution urges Russia to refrain from criminalizing the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the rights to peaceful assembly in Crimea, as well as to stop discrimination against those who do not recognize the Russian occupation of Crimea.
The document calls upon all international organizations and specialized agencies of the United Nations system, when referring to Crimea in their official documents, communications and publications, including with regard to statistical data of the Russian Federation, to refer to “the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation,” and encourages all States and other international organizations to do the same.
After this decision at the committee’s meeting, the draft resolution will be ultimately considered in December.
The first wording of the resolution on human rights in Russian-occupied Crimea was considered in December 2016. It was supported by 70 countries, 77 Russian minions abstained and 26 voted against it. On December 19, 2017, the UN General Assembly approved its amended version with 70 countries for it and 26 minions against, while 76 abstained.
Will Russia take this UN resolution to heart and heed its recommendations or will it reject it as it has rejected all UN’s decisions. Sadly, the answer is obvious to all observers.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Holodomor: 7-10 Million Ukrainians
Starved to Death by Stalin’s Russia
As Ukrainians around the world solemnly commemorate the 85th anniversary of Russia’s mass murder by starvation of 7-10 million Ukrainian men, women and children, it’s worthwhile to dust off my earlier blog about a United Nations’ decision about famine as a crime against humanity.
The global body had made a significant admission and denunciation about using – or abusing – food as a weapon of mass destruction though it didn’t pertain specifically to the Holodomor.
As I had written, the UN issued a statement on Monday, October 23, 2017, in which it said famine can constitute a war crime or crime against humanity. An independent UN human rights expert had noted that more civilians die from hunger and disease related to conflicts than in direct combat.
“If the famine comes from deliberate action of the state or other players using food as a weapon of war, it is an international crime,” Hilal Elver, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, was quoted as having told journalists in New York.
“It is crucial that the international community understands that it is an international crime to intentionally block access to food, food aid, and to destroy production of food,” Elver emphasized.
So what’s holding back the United Nations from taking the leap from stating that famine is a crime against humanity to declaring that the Ukrainian Holodomor is a crime of genocide? Fear of Russia?
Ukraine, the United States, former captive nations and others for a total of 22 countries have recognized the Ukrainian famine killings as genocide.
Earlier this fall, the US Senate adopted resolution S-435 that is to serve as “a reminder of repressive Soviet policies against the people of Ukraine.” The resolution stated that in 1932-33, “millions of Ukrainian people perished at the will of the totalitarian Stalinist government of the former Soviet Union, which perpetrated a premeditated famine in Ukraine in an effort to break the nation’s resistance to collectivization and communist occupation.”
“Whereas, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, archival documents became available that confirmed the deliberate and premeditated deadly nature of the famine, and that exposed the atrocities committed by the Soviet government against the Ukrainian people,” the senators stated.
The resolution also cited Raphael Lemkin, who developed legal concepts and norms for containing mass atrocities and who tirelessly advocated and ultimately swayed the United Nations in 1948 to adopt the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. He wrote an essay in 1953 titled, “Soviet Genocide in [the] Ukraine,” which highlighted the “classic example of Soviet genocide,” characterizing it “not simply a case of mass murder [, but as] a case of genocide, of destruction, not of individuals only, but of a culture and a nation.”
The Senate resolution includes these two salient condemnations of the Soviet Russian persecution of Ukraine and Ukrainians: the systematic violations of human rights, including the freedom of self-determination and freedom of speech, of the Ukrainian people by the Soviet government; and the recognition of the findings of the Commission on the Ukraine Famine as submitted to Congress on April 22, 1988, including that “Joseph Stalin and those around him committed genocide against the Ukrainians in 1932–1933.”
An epic indictment of the Stalin chapter of Russian history.
Eight and a half decades ago, the Holodomor against the Ukrainian nation was triggered by an intentional, deliberate deprivation of food by Russia. Moscow was fulfilling its plan to eradicate the Ukrainian nation from the face of the earth. It wasn’t merely Josef Stalin or Soviet Russia or Communist Russia. It was singular Russia, regardless of its socio-political mantra, which for more than 1,000 bloody years has tried to subjugate or eradicate the Ukrainian nation.
Indeed, the famine murders in Ukraine of 1932-33 were the fulfillment of the imperial spirit and mission of Russia. Stalin and the Communist Party of the USSR were merely the perpetrators of record at that time. They were crimes against humanity, a war crime and an act of genocide.
Noted Holodomor researcher Robert Conquest, author of The Harvest of Sorrow, emphatically stated that the famine was a deliberate act of mass murder, if not genocide.
Anne Applebaum gave renewed impetus to the Holodomor awareness campaign. With her book “Red Famine – Stalin’s War on Ukraine” and speaking tour, Applebaum brought the story of the Ukrainian famine to the man and women in the street across the US. Fortunately, the media that covered her presentations noted that Russia’s crime was a genocide, using that designation interchangeably with famine and Holodomor.
As Applebaum spoke across the country, she reflected on the long-lasting ramifications of the Holodomor, saying that the genocide continues to shape the thinking of Ukrainians and Russians to this day, and offered examples of how contemporary political problems in Ukraine can be traced directly to both the loss of the patriotic post-revolutionary elite and the men and women who died as a result of the genocide.
Indeed, today Russia behaves toward Ukraine as it has always done. If Ukrainians can’t be cajoled or charmed into submission then they must be annihilated, which is the goal of the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-18.
In New York metropolitan region, the Ukrainian American community and supporters will hold the annual Holodomor Commemoration at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Saturday, November 17, at 4 pm.
Never Forget – Never Forgive!

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Free World must Condemn and Reject
Russian Elections in Occupied eastern Ukraine
The free world must categorically condemn and reject Russia’s contrived elections in occupied eastern Ukraine, which would turn the region into Vichy Ukraine.
The Kremlin elections in occupied Donbas are being seen as a Russian gambit to weaken and fragment Ukraine and make it ripe for re-subjugation by Russia.
In a telephone press conference a couple of days ago, Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker called on Russia to halt the sham elections.
“We believe that the entities themselves do not have legitimacy in the local area, nor are they consistent with the Minsk agreements themselves. They don’t exist in the Minsk agreements, and in fact the implementation of the Minsk agreements calls for the restoration of Ukraine’s constitutional order and there is no place for these Republics in the Ukrainian constitutional orders either,” Volker said.
The US official said Washington supports elections but they must be part of the so-called Minsk process and he insisted that they must be held in accordance with Ukrainian laws.
“So the elections being held, that Russia is organizing for November 11 (tomorrow) are wholly illegitimate. We urge that they be stopped and there is no way that anyone from Europe, the United States, et cetera, can give any recognition to the results of such elections,” Volker declared.
His message must be repeated by all governments and global institutions like the UN, NATO and the European Union.
Volker further pointed out that Russia and not its mercenary-terrorists is in control of virtually everything in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
“What is notable here is that we have said for a long time that Russia has 100% command and control of what is happening in the occupied areas there – military forces, political entities, and direct economic activity. This is the first step taken in the form of sanctions that explicitly recognizes or explicitly is based on the notion that Russia actually controls the Donbas and eastern Ukraine,” he said.
Last week, the US Treasury Department placed additional sanctions on Moscow for its continuing occupation of Crimea and its war in eastern Ukraine. Two Russian individuals and a business entity were sanctioned for “serious human rights abuses.” Eight Russian entities, some of them hotel complexes near the Black Sea resort of Yalta, and one individual were sanctioned for “advancing Russian interests in Crimea.”
Shortly after the Treasury Department announcement, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko posted a message on his Facebook page saying the new round of sanctions were a “clear message that all those involved in the illegal occupation of the Ukrainian peninsula and hybrid aggression in Donbas will not avoid responsibility.”
The European Commission joined growing denunciations of the Russian elections. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini said the European Union condemns the so-called “elections” and considers them as illegal.
“The EU considers the ‘elections’ planned for 11 November 2018 in the non-government controlled territories of the so-called ‘Luhansk People's Republic’ and ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ as illegal and illegitimate and will not recognize them. The EU condemns these ‘elections,’ as they are in breach of international law, undermine the commitments taken under the Minsk agreements and violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and law. The Minsk agreements exclusively provide for local elections to be held within the framework of the Ukrainian legislation and under the OSCE standards and observation,” Mogherini said.
Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin pointed out that Russia is making plans to rebuild its prison of nations and needs fake elections in occupied Donbas to fragment and weaken Ukraine.
“Russians already have occupying administrations that are responsible for everything, relying on military force, military and hybrid aggression against Ukraine,” Klimkin told journalists, according to an UNIAN correspondent. He added that it is pointless for anybody but Russia to hold another sham “elections” in Donbas.
“Since Russia’s entire idea is not only to stop worrying about Donbas, but to forget about it at all. The whole idea is to abuse Donbas to destabilize Ukraine, legitimize the Russian occupation of Donbas, and return it to Ukraine as a kind of a ‘Trojan horse’ to fragment Ukraine, weaken Ukraine, and so that there is no independent, free, democratic and European Ukraine,” the Ukrainian official emphasized.
Echoing Poroshenko’s statement that local Russian secessionist-proxies will be held responsible for holding these elections, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov also said everyone who chooses to participate in fake and illicit events related to the so-called “elections” in Russian-occupied Donbas will bear inescapable responsibility.
“The law enforcement agencies of Ukraine will identify all the organizers and participants in those pseudo-elections, and they will inevitably be prosecuted,” the NSDC’s press service quoted Turchynov as saying.
According to him, these criminal acts condemned by all leading nations “are a gross violation and a total discredit of the Minsk peace agreements, as well as the Russian aggressor’s attempt to strengthen its control over the occupied territory.”
There is no realistic way to halt this latest Russian attempt to destroy Ukraine but nonetheless the international community must continue to press with its condemnation of Moscow’s effort to do so.
From a local, American perspective, US senators and representatives and the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus must join the denunciation campaign and threaten Russia with further steps that will isolate it – no, ban it – from the international community.
Anything less, will mean recognizing Vichy Ukraine.
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