Wednesday, September 26, 2018
At United Nations, Poroshenko Offers Blistering
Condemnation of Russian Crimes against Ukraine
With the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-18 still raging in Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko in his annual address to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, September 26, reminded the international community that Ukrainians belong to a portion of the world’s population that is still suffering the horrors of war.
The Ukrainian leader didn’t hesitate to reveal the identity of the perpetrator, saying at the top of his presentation that Ukrainian families daily are struck by grief “as their loved ones perished under Russia's hostile attacks.”
Before recapping the toll of Russian war against Ukraine, Poroshenko reminded the United Nations that despite its lofty, universal ideals and declarations, wars and armed conflicts remain the world’s reality. “We shall never forget that the raison d'être of this Organization is to ‘save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,’” he noted.
While devoting his address to a blistering condemnation of Russian crimes against Ukraine and the horrors of its war against Ukraine, Poroshenko also implored the United Nations and the free world to stand up and subdue invaders whether they’re Russian or other nations. Otherwise, evil will prevail.
Citing the existence of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, of which peace is an underlying principle, Poroshenko said global conflicts have created an unprecedented 65 million refugees, of which Ukrainians constitute one-fifth, and hundreds of million are doomed to live without peace, he continued, and for them that means no development.
The Ukrainian president also pointed out that as Ukrainians are fighting and dying for their homeland against Russian invaders, they are also defending the free world.
Poroshenko eloquently detailed the pain and suffering that Ukrainians experience at the hands of Russian aggressors:
Unfortunately, my fellow citizens have become a part of that one-fifth of the world population who is experiencing the horrors of war.
As I deliver my speech, reports have brought a sad news about another human life just lost on the frontlines of the war inflicted upon my country by the permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Yesterday, and the day before, several families, again, were struck by grief, as their loved ones perished under Russia's hostile attacks.
Moscow turns Ukrainian to orphans.
It tortures our patriots in its prisons.
Over 1.5 million people became internally displaced persons.
They still can't return to their homes.
Russia constantly multiplies the human tragedy, which lately received a new dimension: ecological.
It poisons the Ukrainian soil and causes an environmental disaster not only in the occupied Crimea, but in Donbas as well.
This has been a daily reality for Ukrainians for four years now. Thousands of deaths, destruction, displacement and human suffering.
For my fellow citizens, these years have become a tremendous challenge – a test for their determination and solidarity, resilience and faith.
Let us not forget what this war is about.
Ukraine made a sovereign decision to live its way and promote the free world based on democratic values and rules
Russia punishes Ukraine for this decision.
It kills. It ruins homes. It lies on industrial scale.
It pretends that Ukraine, as well as Georgia attacked themselves.
Do we know which neighbor of Russia will attack itself next?
Or will the world be “comfortably numb” in a hope that “the next one won’t be me”?
As we defend Ukraine's land and our free choice, as we counter the resurging neo-imperialist power willing to divide the world anew - we defend the free world.
Poroshenko also challenged the United Nations to shed is inactive policies and take an active role in subduing Russian aggression:
“The UN shall not be silent, when the values and principles rooted in its Charter and the entire body of international law are being violated by a veto country. This is not just a challenge, but our chance to make the United Nations relevant and to make the motto of this Assembly session work.”
Silence in the face of war’s brutality is the evil that keeps the aggressor on his destructive path, Poroshenko said.
Addressing the UN member-states, he pointedly said “Your silence is exactly what the Kremlin weaponizes against Ukraine and ultimately, against all of us! It’s naïve to believe that safe shores will always be around.”
Without a strong and united reaction, the wrongdoer will pursue further escalation, creating new crises, raising the states, blackmailing other countries and even the entire international organizations.
“All in an effort to get away with murder,” he declared.
What is the cure: responsibility.
“The international community’s ability to ensure systemic and inevitable responsibility for each and every violation of international laws - first and foremost norms and principles of the UN Charter - is the benchmark indicating how successful we, as the family of nations, can be in achieving common goals.
“Ensuring responsibility is never an easy feat.
“Let me be clear on this point: Nothing will stop Moscow from continuing its aggressive expansionist policies if it does not face a united stand of the international community, if punishment for its actions does not become inevitable,” he elaborated.
The absence of an appropriate punishment for Russia led it to attack Georgia and then Ukraine, and later poison Lytvinenko and the Skrypals, and gas attack Aleppo. And where will Moscow’s criminal behavior end?
“Kremlin has no intention to stop. After occupation of Crimea, it aims now at occupation of the Sea of Azov between Ukraine and Russia,” Poroshenko said.
In order to build peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies, Poroshenko said the world community must protect the UN Charter, “uphold its norms and principles, take resolute action to restore justice.”
He added that the “beautiful language of the UN Charter” is worth nothing if its principles aren’t enforced – “No more words, time for deeds!”
Turning to Security Council reforms, Poroshenko warned veto-holding countries that using this right not to help international peace and stability but rather help itself escape from responsibility is an abuse that does not allow UN to really act.
“We believe that the progress on the Security Council reform will be an important contribution to the ongoing UN-wide change,” he said.
Poroshenko reiterated his appeal for peacekeepers first articulated in April 2015, saying a mission, with a strong mandate and broad responsibilities” can bring peace to Ukraine. “Rather that freeze the conflict or cement the presence of the aggressor and its proxies in Donbas. We firmly count on further progress on this important issue,” he said.
While Ukraine favors legal and diplomatic means of conflict first, Poroshenko said the country will not be intimidated into passivity.
“We remain as determined as ever to keep defending every inch of our territory against the aggression. At the same time, we will continue exploring all available means to end the conflict peacefully and restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” he said.
Ukraine initiated several legal cases against Russia in international courts so that “Moscow feels that strength of the rule of international law,” pointed out the Ukrainian president.
In early 2017 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Russia to lift the ban on activities on Mejlis - representative body of Crimean Tatars in the occupied Crimea. However, Russia continues to ignore the ruling demonstrating its disregard not only to its international obligations but to the Court as well.
“Another important element of our case in the ICJ it is the downing of MH17 in 2014 and the role of the Russian Federation in this tragedy. It is important that Australia and the Netherlands recently joined Ukraine in its efforts to bring Russia to account,” he relate.
Four years after Russia’s invasion and illegal occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol, Poroshenko said the Ukrainian peninsula has been turned into a military stronghold that threatens security and stability in the greater Black Sea region.
“We believe that increasing militarization of Crimea deserves the General Assembly’s close attention and prompt reaction,” he urged. Russia s aggressive policies as well as its arrogance in using lethal weapons multiply the threat. In this regard, Ukraine counts on your active support for the relevant resolution during this session.”
At the same time, the number of hostages and victims of the Russian occupation regime in Crimea is growing almost every day as Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar identities are criminal offences.
“Crimean farmer Volodymyr Balukh was arrested and sentenced to 5 years in prison for raising a Ukrainian flag upon his private residence. Crimean film director Oleh Sentsov remains behind the bars in a remote penal colony in northern Russia serving a 20-years prison term on fabricated charges. Both Oleh and Volodymyr are balancing between life and death as they remain on a hunger strike,” Poroshenko said.
Returning to his maxim of responsibility, Poroshenko described Russia in this manner:
“This is the thing about today s Russia: they don't care.
“They don’t care about suffering.
“They don’t care about truth.
“They don’t care about law.
“They think that their military might and status in the UN give them this right.
“It’s up to us to prove them wrong.
“It’s up to us to make them care.”
Poroshenko pointed out that Ukraine is delivering on its commitments under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals while welcoming the hunger principle of the UN 17 SDGs.
“Ukraine, like nobody, knows the price of this tragedy. This November we will mark 85th Anniversary of one of the deadliest crimes of the 20th century - the crime of Holodomor, mass starvation in Ukraine artificially organized by the Stalinist regime. It took lives of several millions of Ukrainians,” he said.
“In this regard, I would like to renew my appeal to the Assembly to mark one of the biggest tragedies in human history by adopting a dedicated declaration.”
Monday, September 3, 2018
Tension on the High Seas: Russia
Readies Third Front vs. Ukraine
Despite warnings, threats, condemnations and sanctions, Russia has turned a deaf ear and is escalating apace its war against Ukraine and by association Europe and the free world.
Moscow’s third front against Ukraine – after Crimea and eastern Ukraine – is in the Sea of Azov, a 15,000-square-mile body of water north of the Black Sea and southeast of Ukraine – where it is interfering with maritime shipping lanes and raising tensions between itself and Kyiv. Russia set its eyes on what is called in Ukrainian Ozivske More ever since the World Cup tournament in Russia concluded this summer. The Russian navy has blocked commercial vessels from docking in Ukrainian ports and engaged in dangerous cat-and-mouse games with Ukrainian ships.
This latest Russian intensification of its military intent does not bode well for a restoration of regional peace and stability while simultaneously underscoring Moscow’s desire to widen its military campaign beyond the borders of Ukraine.
In May, Russia opened a bridge across the Kerch Strait connecting mainland Russia to the Crimean Peninsula—the Ukrainian territory Russia invaded and seized in 2014, obnoxiously declaring its sovereignty over territory it seized from Ukraine.
The Kerch Strait is the only water passageway from the Black Sea to the Sea of Oziv. Consequently, all maritime traffic now has to pass under Russia’s new bridge. Maritime traffic in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol has dropped by 15 percent, and the port of Berdyansk has decreased by one-third, Ukrainian officials report.
Russia has effectively taken control of the sea-lanes in the Sea of Oziv—a move tantamount to a military blockade, Ukrainian military experts have pointed out.
With its new bridge complete, western pundits have observed, Russian officials swiftly moved to limit the tonnage of ships passing through the Kerch Strait. That paralleled a spike in activity by Russian naval forces this summer—comprising mostly gunboats, corvettes, and submarines—to board and harass Ukrainian merchant ships in the sea.
Russia has stopped at least 16 vessels bound for Ukrainian ports in recent weeks, and delayed hundreds of others since April. Some Ukrainian officials warn the Russian move this summer could escalate the ongoing land war.
“We see this being done to block the Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Oziv, to escalate tension, and possibly to conduct a military operation, attack Mariupol that exports ferrous metals, as well as attack other ports of the Sea of Azov,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in July.
The United States made note of this latest Russian provocation against Ukraine on Thursday, August 30, when it called on Russia to cease what it called “harassment of international shipping” in the Sea of Oziv and Kerch Strait, accusing Moscow of trying to destabilize Ukraine.
“Russia’s actions to impede maritime transit are further examples of its ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilize Ukraine, as well as its disregard for international norms,” the department’s spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
“The United States supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters,” she said.
Strong statement, indeed. Hopefully, the United States will have the temerity to stand side-by-side with Ukraine if and when Russia opens begins bombarding Ukrainian ships and ports.
According to an international relations expert, with its military adventurism growing in the Sea of Oziv, Russia is apparently working out the algorithm of further aggression against Ukraine’s interests in the Black Sea. Russia could repeat in the Black Sea its scenario of the blockade of Ukrainian seaports, now being worked out by Russian coast guard vessels in the Sea of Oziv, according to Andriy Karakuts, He believes such a step by the Kremlin would entail serious consequences, according to Obozrevatel. “Russia in the Sea of Oziv is in many ways working out options for blocking the Black Sea, precisely the part controlled by Ukraine. Unlike in the Sea of Oziv, where large warships can't enter because of its status, and because it’s a small sea, such scenario unfolding in the Black Sea would cause much more serious consequences,” he pointed out.
With Russia dead set to escalate its invasion of Ukraine and consequently threaten Europe, it is encouraging that the United States is ready to widen arms supplies to Ukraine to help build up the country’s naval and air defense forces in the face of continuing Russian support for eastern separatists, Kurt Volker, the US special envoy for Ukraine was quoted as saying in Britain’s The Guardian.
Volker said in an interview published on September 1 that pro-Western, anti-Russian sentiment was growing in Ukraine and that the Trump Administration was “absolutely” prepared to go further in supplying weaponry to Ukrainian forces than the antitank missiles it delivered in April.
“They are losing soldiers every week defending their own country,” Volker, a former US ambassador to NATO, said in the interview.
“And so in that context it’s natural for Ukraine to build up its military, engage in self-defense, and it’s natural to seek assistance and is natural that other countries should help them. And of course they need lethal assistance because they’re being shot at,” he added.
Fortunately, the Trump Administration’s absolute support to send Ukraine more arms is definitely sustained by the Senate and Congress.
“We can have a conversation with Ukraine like we would with any other country about what do they need,” Volker told the Guardian. Considering Russia’s threating incursions in the Sea of Oziv, he added:
“I think that there’s going to be some discussion about naval capability because as you know their navy was basically taken by Russia. And so they need to rebuild a navy and they have very limited air capability as well. I think we’ll have to look at air defense.”
At a time of Russia’s dangerous sabre rattling, it is noteworthy to hear increasing American support for Ukraine. A day after the funeral of Senator John McCain, Samantha Power, former US permanent representative to the United Nations, and a recognized vehement supporter of Ukraine and detractor of Russia, observed in a tweet “Surely [it is] no coincidence that John McCain – who planned every detail of today’s memorial – invited Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and seated him beside Jens Stoltenberg, head of NATO. A parting message to Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump: America stands with our friends & allies.”
Indeed, today Ukraine and the other former captive nations depend on America and the free world for their independence and sovereignty. Despite the shortcomings of sanctions and condemnations, Washington and other capitals must maintain them until Russia evacuates from Ukraine.
A dependable political solution to the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-18 would be welcome compared with a bilateral escalation of hostilities. However, even in face of that unwanted eventuality Ukraine can stand its own ground. According to DefenseNews.com, Ukrainian state-run defense firm Ukroboronprom has announced a successful test of the new Neptun cruise missile. The anti-ship missile struck a maritime target 100 kilometers away from its launch point in the south of the Odesa region on August 17.
Locally developed by the Kyiv-based state design bureau Luch, the Neptun reportedly is a subsonic anti-ship cruise missile with a reported maximum range between 280 and 300 kilometers. More significantly, ground- and air-launched variants that could be used to strike targets as far away as Moscow are reportedly in development. Thus the Russian war against Ukraine could be brought to the source.
Following the test, Ukrainian Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksandr Turchynov observed: “Ukrainian cruise missiles are capable of providing reliable defense of the Black Sea and Oziv coast, affecting enemy vessels at distances up to 300 kilometers, if necessary, even in the ports they are based.”
Therefore, the alternative is obvious: the United States and the free world must now steadfastly join ranks with Ukraine to subdue and expel Russia from Ukraine and save mankind from the scourge of Russian aggression and imperialism.
Sunday, September 2, 2018
Ecological Disaster in East Ukraine is Real
The Ukrainian government, perhaps as a follow up to a UN study, has issued a dire warning to the global community that an ecological disaster of significant proportions in eastern Ukraine is an undeniable possibility.
Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov rang this alarm in an op-ed on September 1 in the “Dzerkalo Tyzhnia” weekly.
The flooding of mines, sinking of land, the release of “dead” water into utility water supply system and drinking water reservoirs, chemical and radioactive contamination – these are all risks facing not only the temporarily occupied areas in eastern Ukraine, and not only Ukraine in general, he wrote.
Avakov said each of these threats is real and pressing to neighboring European countries as they all could lead to catastrophic consequences for the entire ecosystem across the continent.
Earlier, in a blog that I wrote on August 13, I quoted the United Nations as having written that in addition to extreme human casualties, Russia’s more than four-year war against Ukraine has destroyed eastern Ukraine’s bio-diverse geography. A UN report said in springtime, several species of feather, sheep fescue and blue grass as well as forget-me-nots, and yellow cress, have been known to blossom on its steppes. The region is also recognized for a wealth of mineral resources, including deposits of rock salt, gypsum, raw cement materials, flux limestone, and dolomite as well as granite and clays.
However, according to the United Nations, today the region’s ecological purity has been greatly tarnished. In addition to toxic waste from nearly two centuries of intensive coal mining, and chemical and metal industries accumulated in its soils, the ongoing Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-18 – one of the bloodiest in Europe since the 1990s Balkans wars – has added another layer of significant and partially irreversible damage to local ecosystems, the UN concluded.
According to Avakov, as of today, there is no reliable information about the actual situation at top hazard facilities and the level of threat amid the ongoing natural and man-made processes.
“It might as well be that the things have already gone so bad that an urgent large-scale international operation is required” to eliminate the consequences of ‘management’ of seized territories by Russia-puppet self-proclaimed authorities in the occupied Donbas, he said in his article in the newspaper.
“Such an operation is possible only if the hostilities cease and only within the framework of a comprehensive Donbas de-occupation process. So this makes de-occupation the most urgent issue in global politics,” Avakov wrote.
Therefore, he continued, the tough position of international organizations and international public should become an argument for introducing the issue of Donbas settlement to the top agenda of foreign politics.
As I wrote in my blog, the best place to raise this Russian environmental crime against Ukraine is the United Nations, which has acknowledged Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Ukrainian, x-captive nations and sustainability-related NGOs at the UN must prepare documents and declarations condemning Russia for destroying Ukraine’s ecology and demanding global remedies. The upcoming 73rd UN General Assembly offers a wide range of opportunities to do so.
Monday, August 13, 2018
Despite Global Sustainability Awareness,
Russia Inflicts Toxic Pollution on Ukraine
In September 2015, 193 member-states of the United Nations, including Ukraine, the United States and Russia, adopted the Sustainable Development Goals – otherwise known as Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development – that committed the signatories to respect the environment in hopes of improving life on Earth.
Earlier, in February 2014, Russia launched the world’s latest war by first invading and occupying Crimea and later that spring the eastern oblasts of Donbas and Luhansk.
In the ensuing years, in addition to human casualties, Russia’s war against Ukraine has destroyed eastern Ukraine’s bio-diverse geography. In springtime, several species of feather, sheep fescue and blue grass as well as forget-me-nots, and yellow cress, have been known to blossom on its steppes. The region is also recognized for a wealth of mineral resources, including deposits of rock salt, gypsum, raw cement materials, flux limestone, and dolomite as well as granite and clays.
However, according to the United Nations, today the region’s ecological purity has been greatly tarnished.
In addition to toxic waste from nearly two centuries of intensive coal mining, and chemical and metal industries accumulated in its soils, the ongoing Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-18 – one of the bloodiest in Europe since the 1990s Balkans wars – has added another layer of significant and partially irreversible damage to local ecosystems, the UN concluded.
In 2013, the region hosted 5,500 industries which produced 4.3 million tons – equivalent to 44% of the country’s emissions. Due to destruction of production infrastructure and emergency mechanisms, environmental degradation risks have significantly increased. The UN said the damage doesn’t stop there: the northern Donets River has been the most polluted river in Ukraine since before the conflict. It condition has recently worsened.
Pollution of the 650-mile long waterway, generated by the conflict, continues to pose health risks for the population living along the Don, for whom the river is the main source of water. Suspension of farming gave weeds and rodent mice space to thrive and reproduce, further endangering public health.
“Donbas is on the precipice of an ecological catastrophe fueled by air, soil and water pollution from the combustion of large amounts of ammunition in the fighting and flooding at industrial plants. There is an urgent need for ecological monitoring to assess and minimize the environmental risks arising from the armed conflict,” said UN Environment Program Analyst Dr. Leila Urekenova.
Due to the war, institutions which protect nature reserves have suffered from a loss of staff. This has led to an increase in environmental law crimes, massive poaching, illegal logging and the disruption of waste management operations. Invasive species such as jackal, sunfish and the Asian lady beetle have also expanded and colonized the conflict zone and adjacent areas.
The forests in the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces have played a crucial role in the natural and man-made landscapes by preventing wind and water erosion and ensuring the stability of water supply bodies. In addition to creating a favorable environment for the local fauna and flora, the region’s massive pine forests played a key social and economic role, as they are often used for recreation, hunting, and mushrooms, berries, and herbs picking. The war has destroyed these natural activities.
According to an assessment carried out by UN Environment’s Science-Policy Platform on Environment and Security, the conflict has affected, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems within an area of at least 530,000 hectares (1,309,658.52 acres), including 18 nature reserves covering an area of 80,000 hectares (197,684.31 acres). Furthermore, 150,000 hectares (370,658.07 acres) of forests have been impacted, with 12,500 forest fires blazing through the military operations zone and adjacent areas.
The UN said in 2014 alone, the lack of forest protection and the fighting led to the near irreversible destruction of 479 hectares (1,183.63 acres) of forests. The fighting has had direct mechanical and chemical impacts on trees, including shrapnel damage of barks, branches, tops, ground vegetation, weakening or killing individual trees and entire plantations. The war zone has also been contaminated by unexploded ordnance whose elimination could take years or decades, based on the experience of other countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia.
US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker tweeted that Russia is attempting to conceal its humanitarian and economic catastrophe in eastern Ukraine. “Russia and its forces routinely block [the] OSCE SMM in violation of its commitments. Russia doesn’t want [the] world to see that it has created a humanitarian, economic, & ecological disaster in Donbas. It’s time for peace for Ukraine,” he tweeted on August 7.
Long after the towns, building, homes, schools and churches have been rebuilt; long after the dead have been buried; and long after the wounds have healed, Ukrainians in eastern Ukraine will continue to live with contaminated land. Farms will not be arable, food will not be produced, forests will not protect the environment, and waterways will be incapable of irrigating the region and providing water for the population.
The best place to raise this Russian environmental crime against Ukraine is the United Nations, which has acknowledged Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Ukrainian, x-captive nations and sustainability-related NGOs at the UN must prepare documents and declarations condemning Russia for destroying Ukraine’s ecology and demanding global remedies. The upcoming 73rd UN General Assembly and the 67th UN Department of Public Information / Non-Governmental Organizations Conference offer a wide range of opportunities to do so.
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Agree to Disagree with Russian Aggression
Ukrainian Americans are so eager to hear words of support for Ukraine from the White House that we’ll accept double negatives, tidbits of opinions, Cabinet officials’ backing and new disclaimers.
Unfortunately, they’re all meaningless unless President Trump says so.
As the situation stands today, some two weeks ahead of the US-Russia summit in Helsinki, Finland, the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-18 is raging, Crimea and Donbas are occupied, Russia is violating ceasefire agreements, and Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are being killed.
Will the United States continue not recognizing Russia’s illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea?
I can’t say for sure.
What I can say is that the White House has adopted a new foreign policy strategy aimed at scaring Moscow, safeguarding the former captive nations, and reaffirming its role as the protector of the free world: Agree to disagree.
That expression first surfaced a couple of days ago.
White House national security adviser John Bolton admitted that he discussed Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea with Russian fuhrer Vladimir Putin.
Bolton, who met with Putin in Moscow on June 27, told CBS’s Face The Nation on July 1 that “President Putin was pretty clear with me about it and my response was we’re going to have to agree to disagree on Ukraine.”
Russia says aggression, US says they speak Russian.
That’s updated brinkmanship. Putin was clear and resolute about Crimea remaining an occupied possession of Russia while Bolton not only blinked but he shut his eyes and stuck his head into the sand, hoping the problem will disappear.
The next iteration of this bold strategy was the next day by Susan Sanders.
Sanders, in her regular exchange with reporters, repeated that the White House rejects Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and US sanctions will remain in place until this is reversed.
“We do not recognize Russia’s attempt to annex Crimea. We agree to disagree and the sanctions against Russia remain in place until Russia returns the peninsula to Ukraine,” Sanders told reporters.
So what does agree to disagree really mean? We agree that 2+2=4 but not always. We agree that today is Tuesday except when it isn’t? Russia agrees to do what it wishes to do anywhere in the world and the US is free to disagree with it? The US may or may not agree with Russia’s invasion, illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea and Russia certainly disagrees with Washington’s point of view and doesn’t care what it is.
Ukraine and the other x-captive nations that live or die on whispers of US support must certainly feel encouraged by such a myopic policy.
Perhaps President Trump ahead of the summit has personally voiced his firm commitment about Crimea’s return to Ukraine?
Trump has been vague on the issue when pressed by reporters last week. “We’re going to have to see,” he said.
See what? If Putin will allow the American President to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty or not?
On June 29, Trump declined to rule out recognizing Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Asked by reporters on Air Force One whether reports about him dropping Washington’s longstanding opposition to the annexation were true, Trump said, “We’re going to have to see.” He didn’t flatly deny such an eventuality.
Trump gave a similar answer when asked whether he would consider lifting US sanctions on Russia that were imposed over the annexation.
The President pointed out the goal of his upcoming summit is to improve Washington-Moscow relations, which are at a post-cold war low, but apparently not forcing Russia to stand down with its occupation of Crimea and war in eastern Ukraine is not among his goals.
“We'll see what Russia does,” Trump observed when pushed by reporters.
For his part, Bolton earlier ruled out the possibility of abandoning Washington’s opposition to the annexation. “That’s not the position of the United States,” he told CBS on July 1. “I think the president often says ‘we'll see’ to show that he’s willing to talk to foreign leaders about a range of issues and hear their perspective,” Bolton said. Would he say “we’ll see” to discussing world affairs with Hitler in order to hear his perspective on invading Poland and France?
In other words, Trump has told Putin that he’s willing to discuss everything for the sake of better relations with Moscow while the Russian dictator said they can discuss “all other issues” except Crimea.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Putin has “repeatedly stated and explained that Crimea cannot be and will never be on the agenda because it is an inseparable part of Russia.”
By agreeing not to discuss Crimea and Donbas with Putin, Trump is giving into Putin’s demands that the war in Ukraine and Russian aggression are none of America’s business – Moscow’s sphere of influence. Russia will continue to try to re-subjugate Ukraine and Washington has to accept it or agree to disagree.
Accepting that Crimea will never return to Ukrainian control, as Putin insists, would be a major concession to Russia, which is being punished by international trade sanctions over its actions. EU leaders this week extended sanctions for another six more months due to Moscow’s continuing war with Ukraine. So foreign policy pundits see this combination of interests as bartering chips.
The Helsinki summit is stirring nervousness among foreign policy experts. I have tweeted that the summit in Finland may repeat the infamous Yalta meeting of 1945 and result in Washington’s silent recognition of Russia’s plans for the re-subjugation of Ukraine and the x-captive nations.
In the past few weeks alone, Trump has called for Russia to be readmitted to the Group of 7 industrial powers, suggested Moscow has a legitimate claim to Crimea because a lot of Russian speakers live there and continued sowing doubts about whether Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential election — or if it did, whether the sabotage actually benefited Hillary Clinton.
Is this an appropriate time for a summit with Moscow? Previous summits were conducted during the so-called cold war. Today, Russia is involved in a real shooting war with Ukraine. Putin is currently leading several wars at once – in Ukraine, Syria and a hybrid one against the West. He has been declared an international terrorist in some quarters after the verdict in the Litvinenko case, the shooting down of MH17, the poisoning of Skripal and so on, said Deutsche Welle commentators.
The World Cup and the upcoming summit are PR triumphs for Russia that legitimize Putin and pave the way for expanding its war in Ukraine. Remember that two weeks after the end of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia invaded Ukrainian Crimea. Obviously, Russia doesn’t deserve such positive public relations and a renewed opportunity for aggression.
While a handful of GOP senators have travelled to Moscow to kowtow before Russian leaders,
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) sent a warning to President Trump, pointing out why he shouldn’t recognize unlawful annexation of Crimea.
“Recognizing Crimea as part of Russia would undermine the rules-based international order that was created with US leadership and has caused democracy to thrive around the world and made America a safer home for our citizens,” Corker said in a tweet, without directly mentioning Trump.
Indeed, the global community operates in a rules-based international order that Moscow has been violating with impunity for decades.
America’s latest foreign policy tenets of agreeing to disagree, proactive ambivalence, wishful naiveté, or ostrich optimism will not preserve peace in our time. Russia, regardless of who occupies the Kremlin, must be convinced that its opposite in the free world is resolute in defending the free world against any encroachments.
Americans should write their elected officials, insisting that Helsinki 2018 will not repeat Yalta 1945.
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Take Putin’s Saber Rattling Seriously
Russia’s Vladimir Putin has again threatened Ukraine with dire consequences if it takes advantage of the global diversion created by the World Cup 2018 tournament in Russia and escalates its defensive military campaign against Russian invaders.
Putin’s latest words of war and the confluence of Russian activities and maneuvers certainly point to an ominous conclusion for Ukraine and the x-captive nations as Moscow seeks to restore its torn curtain. Moscow’s quest for domination is also visible in Syria as well as the United States and other democratic countries where it is undermining long-established national values.
A week before the soccer games were to begin, in reply to a Russian writer who advises Russian warriors in the Russian-occupied Donbas region of Ukraine, Putin commented about the possibility of Ukraine – not Russia – launching military action during the month-long tournament.
“I hope that there won’t be any provocations but, if it happens, I think it would have very serious consequences for Ukrainian statehood in general,” Putin warned.
In other words, Russia’s führer put Ukraine on notice that it could endure a massive military invasion and lose its independence if it escalates defending its country and people while Russians and others are playing soccer. These obnoxious words stated by a known criminal should be enough for the victim to raise its stakes against the lawbreaker, sever all diplomatic, political and commercial relations, and expel Russian soldiers and their mercenary-terrorist allies out of Ukraine.
So that Putin’s words would not be misconstrued, his Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov explained to journalists: “You know, President Putin is extremely clear about what he thinks and speaks his mind, so everything here has been said unequivocally. The question was, what would happen if Ukraine took advantage of the World Cup and decided to go on an offensive in Donbas, once again to unleash a war, bloody and fratricidal. President Putin answered very unequivocally.”
Peskov ironically absolved Russia of any culpability in unleashing a second or third front against Ukraine with or without Kyiv’s provocation.
Five years ago Putin also used the guise of an international event to caution Ukraine of dire consequences to its statehood if it continues to shed its Russian chains.
In the August 19, 2013, edition of The Torn Curtain 1991, I wrote that while attending the observance of the 1025th anniversary of Kiyvan-Rus Christianity in Kyiv, Putin raised his rhetoric about forcibly returning Ukraine to the Russian prison of nations.
At the time, as weeks remained for Ukraine’s accession to the EU Association Agreement and Kyiv’s intentions of doing so become clearer, Russia became more vocal with its threat to punish Kyiv for continuing to dissolve captive relations with Moscow.
Amid a host of religious, predominantly Orthodox spiritual leaders, Putin on Saturday, July 27, 2013, urged Ukraine to join forces with former fellow Soviet state Russia, its colonial overlord, saying Russians and Ukrainians were “one people.” Putin regularly reiterates this idiotic and inaccurate fraternal theme.
Moscow’s imperial intentions then were not lost on global news media sources. Headlines trumpeted Russia’s intentions: “Russia Worried as Ukraine Creeps Closer to EU,” “Russia Accused of Trade War against Ukraine,” “Russia Tightens Customs Rules to Force Ukraine into Union,” “Putin Grasps Ukraine Warmly by the Throat,” “Moscow Starts Realizing Plan to Prevent Ukraine from Signing Association Agreement with EU and Pull Country to Customs Union, Say Media Reports,” and others.
Putin’s words was not empty chest-beating meant to scare the x-caption nations into obedience. Then President Viktor Yanukovych did abandon plans to sign the EU Association Agreement and in response Ukrainian students took to the streets across Ukraine and toppled Lenin and Stalin monuments and ultimately him. Six months later, after the Revolution of Dignity and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia invaded Ukraine first via Crimea and then Donbas thus launching the latest bloody war in Europe.
History repeats itself today. With Russian forces unexpectedly mired in a more than four-year war against skilled and committed Ukrainian soldiers, Putin has resorted to terrorizing Ukraine into yielding to Russia’s will.
Reportedly, the Russian navy has been seen preparing for new operations as a sign of prowess. Russian Ministry of Defense sources said on June 14 that its naval forces in the Black Sea, near Crimea, had been put on heightened state of combat readiness to scare Ukraine from trying to disrupt the World Cup.
Ukrainian National Security Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov did not comment directly on the Russian deployments. Asked if Ukraine was planning provocations, Turchynov’s office said in a statement: “Regardless of the moaning of scared Russian mercenaries and the threats of the Russian president, the Ukrainian military will act in a way appropriate to the threats.”
Russia is also intensifying military activity on the ground. Press secretary of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, Col. Oleksandr Motuzianyk reported that Russian occupation command has intensified the work on equipping fire positions along the contact line in Donbas. “According to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the Russian occupation command intensified the work on equipping fire positions along the contact line. At the same time, the engineering units of the so-called 1st and 2nd Army Corps of the Russian occupation troops are carrying out terrain mining with the use of Russian-made anti-personnel mines, which are prohibited by international law,” he said according to UNIAN. The official also said the enemy has expanded mined areas as a result of its chaotic mining on the orders of the advanced units’ commanders to prevent the desertion of subordinates by blowing them up.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed concern about the unauthorized movement on June 14 of military equipment and weapons of the Operational Group of Russian Forces, accompanied by unconstitutional militia structures, in the Transnistrian region of Moldova. That day, a huge column of Russian armored and transport vehicles was spotted on the Tiraspol-Rybnitsa highway, a few kilometers from the southern border with Ukraine.
The recently opened Kerch Strait Bridge on the Sea of Azov can be used not only for commercial traffic but also to allow Russia to drastically improve military logistics into the occupied Crimea, according to Andriy Klimenko, head of the supervisory board at the Maidan of Foreign Affairs Foundation, expert on Crimea, and editor-in-chief at BlackSeaNews. Klimenko pointed out that previously, tanks, armored vehicles, missiles, trailers and personnel would have to be transported to Crimea by ferry, which involved loading on Russia’s Taman Peninsula, crossing the Kerch Strait only in favorable navigation periods, then unloading in Kerch, with further deployment across the territory of the annexed peninsula.
“Now all these loading and unloading operations of military equipment and personnel are no longer needed. They can quickly deploy in Crimea everything necessary and further build up their [military] grouping in Crimea,” Klimenko explained.
He noted that during the Crimea occupation in 2014, women and children were put in front of Russian troops as the latter started blocking Ukrainian Navy and Army bases in Crimea.
“In this case, it won’t be about creating a corridor to Crimea through Mariupol and Berdyansk – in this case it will be about [invading] part of Ukraine along the Dnipro’s left bank, that is, the seizure of entire Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk regions and parts of Zaporizhia and Kherson regions, to say the least. It was no coincidence that Putin talked about grave consequences for the Ukrainian statehood as such. That is, he threatens entire Ukraine with aggression,” Klimenko emphasized.
Nearby Poland is also subject to escalated Russian threats. Stars and Stripes reported on June 18 that the Russian military has renovated an underground bunker 50 miles from Poland that could be an active nuclear weapons storage site, a nuclear watchdog group said.
A series of satellite images analyzed by the Washington-based Federation of American Scientists show one of three underground bunkers in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad being excavated, renovated and then covered, the group said in a report.
“The latest upgrade obviously raises questions about what the operational status of the site is,” wrote Hans M. Kristensen, director of the nuclear information project at FAS.
The United Nations has taken note of Russia’s military escalation by expressing grave concern over the recent deterioration of the security situation in eastern Ukraine and its “severe impact” on civilians. The United Nations Security Council condemned “continuous violations of the ceasefire regime, especially the use of heavy weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements, responsible for tragic deaths, including among civilians.” It called for implementation of disengagement commitments and the “immediate withdrawal” of heavy weapons in accordance with relevant provisions of the Minsk agreements.
Noting the bloodiest month in the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-18, the US again urged Russia to withdraw from eastern Ukraine, a day after Putin threated Kyiv with “dire consequences.”
“May was the bloodiest month this year for Ukrainian soldiers defending their country against Russian aggression: ten killed and 91 wounded,” Heather Nauert, spokeswoman for the Department of State, tweeted. “The United States stands with Ukraine and calls on Russia to withdraw its forces from Donbas,” she added, using the hashtag #Peace4Ukraine.
Where will Russia’s escalation lead?
Volodymyr Gorbulin, who served as national security and defense secretary a member of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk to resolve the conflict in Donbas, predicts the war could turn Ukraine into a Ukrainian Chechnya. Indeed, Russia could freeze the war and turn the country into a target range with daily drive-by shootings and bombings.
The Russian government is raising its political stakes in Ukraine and is planning a “year of terror” in Ukraine, Gorbulin said. Russia’s strategy consists of more political assassinations, deaths and social chaos in order to make the idea of capitulation more attractive when selecting candidates in next year’s presidential (March) and parliamentary (October) elections in Ukraine.
“And there will always be ‘constructive politicians’ at hand who will propose ‘reconciliation’ and ‘ending this senseless war’,” wrote Gorbulin, the director of the National Institute of Strategic Research of Ukraine. “Everything will be initiated for their sake. For the sake of the fears of Ukrainian citizens and their indecisiveness. To show that Russia can do anything on this territory that it wants. And that it can’t be defeated.”
Finally, Radio Poland quoted Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, an outspoken critic of Putin, as saying that the threat of Russia invading Lithuania remains high, but will be countered if her country shows that it can and is ready to defend itself, the Unian news agency reported on June 20, citing an interview the Lithuanian leader gave to a German magazine.
“The likelihood (of Russian invasion) is high if we don’t constantly defend ourselves,” Grybauskaite said in the interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel. “If we demonstrate that we are able and willing to defend ourselves, no one will attack us.” Grybauskaite said Lithuania should be “politically and technologically” prepared for a possible Russian attack.
Grybauskaite told Der Spiegel that “Russian troops on the border with the Baltics and Poland are ten times stronger than those of NATO.” She said, as quoted by Unian, Western states are naive in their assessment of Russia and will “wake up” only “when they have been attacked” and “notice that Russia interferes in their interests, spies on them or manipulates their elections.”
Grybauskaite has warned that Russia’s threat goes beyond Lithuania, Ukraine and the other x-captive nations. We’ve seen Russia doing that in the United States since the elections of 2016 but Washington doesn’t get it that it’s not one or another political party but rather against the United States of America.
The Russian gauntlet lays before Ukraine, the x-captive nations and the free world. Hitler’s warning in “Mein Kampf” presaged World War II, and Putin’s threats have resulted in the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-18. Is the free world listening to his saber rattling?
Saturday, June 2, 2018
The Russian Monster can be Defeated
To paraphrase Hans Christian Andersen: Russia is vulnerable.
From the battlefield, to the hallowed halls of the United Nations, and to an urban crime scene, imperial Russia last week fell flat on its cold-blooded face with a thud heard round the world raising the real specter that it can be defeated.
Russian invaders are fast realizing that their earlier gains in the war against Ukraine are now threatened by a battle-tested Ukrainian army. UNIAN reported that the Ukrainian Armed Forces on May 22 destroyed an enemy position near the village of Troyitske at the Svitlodarska Duha hill in Donbas.
Ukrainian volunteer and civil activist Yuriy Mysyagin wrote on his Facebook page that Russian-led forces had begun firing on the frontline positions of the 54th brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “The K-2 combat group, which is part of the brigade, reacted and launched its drone. The (enemy) position from which fire was opened was identified,” Mysyagin wrote.
“The position was completely destroyed by precision fire from three different positions: a BMP-1 (infantry fighting vehicle), ZU-23-2 (a towed 23 mm anti-aircraft twin-barreled auto cannon) and an anti-tank guided missile, which became a security shot. The facility burned and collapsed,” Mysyagin added.
On May 28, Mysyagin wrote about additional battlefield victories and called on Ukrainians to have faith in the army and help it to protect the native land.
Ukrainian soldiers of the 25th battalion of the 54th brigade were forced to relocate several of their advanced positions at the Svitlodarska Duha bulge. “They took a new strategic height, expanded by several hundred meters and advanced as much forward,” he wrote on Facebook.
He also noted that in addition to improving its tactical positions, the battalion took full control of the advanced position left by the Russian terrorists. In fact, it turned out to be a fortified underground bunker. Excavators were used to build it and a container was installed under the ground and the position was fortified with a wooden frame and concrete.
“Now this fortified position is under full control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Mysyagin said.
Ukrainian Member of Parliament and leader of the Information Resistance OSINT community Dmytro Tymchuk observed that despite a recent escalation in Donbas, there is no significant transfer of regular troops from Russia to the area, so the militants are unlikely to have any chances for large-scale operations.
Under current conditions, the Russian militants have almost no chance of carrying out successful attacks on the positions of Ukrainian troops, he said. “It is difficult to say how much tension will grow. We should understand if we take the current configuration of the occupation forces and those formations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that are involved in the joint Forces Operation, the militants have no chances for any large-scale offensive operation at the operational-tactical level,” he said. “But amid escalation, which is now being observed, we do not yet see any large-scale transfer of troops from Russia to the occupied territory of Donbas. The situation may change at any time, but we do not see that at the moment,” Tymchuk said.
And now Ukrainian soldiers are reinforced by American Javelin anti-tank missiles.
A Dutch-led international criminal investigation has concluded that the Buk missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014 actually came from Russia’s 53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade. As Ukraine said at the time, the Russian launched missile show down MH17 over the war zone in the Donetsk region on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board.
The Joint Investigative Team (JIT), comprising authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Ukraine, made the announcement at a press conference on May 24 in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
The JIT “has come to the conclusion that the Buk-TELAR that shot down MH17 came from the 53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade based in Kursk in Russia,” top Dutch investigator Wilbert Paulissen told reporters. “The 53rd Brigade is part of Russia’s armed forces.”
Moscow can scream all it wants, but the Netherlands and Australia told Moscow on Friday it will hold the Russia legally responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014, after investigators concluded that a Russian army missile system was used in the attack. And the world will know the truth about Russia.
In a related revelation, investigators led by Bellingcat, British investigative journalists’ website, identified conclusively that the person of interest known as “Andrey Ivanovich” or “Orion,” whose identity is sought by the Joint Investigating Team as commander of the Russian unit that destroyed MH17 is in fact Russian citizen Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov, born on April 2, 1967. He is also responsible for war crimes in Ukraine.
Condemnations of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have been reverberating in the halls of the United Nations since the war began. And the Ukrainian delegation is not the only source of the denunciations – though, understandably, it leads the diplomatic community in doing so.
Recently, Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, declared: “In the history of the United Nations there are numerous examples of violations of the Charter. I will bring up the most recent and blatant one. Russia’s temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine clearly demonstrate that the violation of fundamental principles of international law by a permanent member of the Security Council is one of the most serious threats to peace and security.”
Russia faced sharp criticism at a special session on Ukraine in the UN Security Council on Tuesday, May 29, over the its invasion of eastern Ukraine and Crimea, and its rejection of an investigation linking the Russian military to the downing of MH17 over Ukraine.
Among them, Ambassador Nikki Haley, Permanent Representative of the US to the UN, called on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine and acknowledge its role in the destruction of the commercial plane.
“We condemn, in the strongest terms, Russia’s involvement in eastern Ukraine and its purported annexation of Crimea,” Haley said, promising US sanctions will remain in place until Russia withdraws from the long-simmering conflict, which she called “a textbook example of the direct violation of the sovereignty of one (UN) member-state by another member state.”
Haley further accused Russia of creating “a catastrophe of suffering,” by supporting separatist groups and violating its obligations under an international cease fire agreement.
“Unsurprisingly, Russia has serially disregarded all of these promises. And it has permitted – if not instructed – its forces to detain, threaten, and even shoot at monitors, their vehicles, cameras, and observation drones. In short, Russia has created a catastrophe of suffering in Ukraine,” she said.
“Despite its transparent denials,” said Haley, “there is no doubt Russia is driving the Ukrainian conflict.”
Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, Ambassador Karen Pierce declared that London we stands “in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.”
Pierce also said: “Since 2014, the fighting in eastern Ukraine has continued unabated. The Under Secretary-General set out some compelling facts of what is happening on the ground. But I think for me, Mr. President, one of the most shocking was that there have been over 100,000 violations of the ceasefire. That’s 100,000 too many, but 100,000 is a very, very large number. And we should just think about what that really means for the people on the ground. Not only the conflict, but also the resulting humanitarian situation as the Assistant Secretary-General said, and also the potential for long-term environmental damage. These are the many reasons why the topic of Ukraine needs to be on the Council’s agenda and to be repeatedly discussed here.”
She noted that Russian belligerents demonstrate complete disregard for the Minsk ceasefire.
As for Crimea, Pierce pointed out: “A number of speakers, Mr. President, have cited Crimea. We share the view that the annexation of Crimea four years ago by Russia is illegal and it is in violation of the first principle of international law. General Assembly Resolutions 68-262, 71-205 and 72-190 reaffirm the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine and the absence of any legal basis to change the status of Crimea. These resolutions characterized Russia as an occupying power.”
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, who presided over the Security Council session, renewed his call for a peacekeeping mission to be deployed to east Ukraine and urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint a special envoy for Ukraine. Czaputowicz said Warsaw supports Ukraine’s efforts to “become part of Western Europe.”
In his speech, the Polish official said 2018 marked the fourth anniversary of the “Revolution of Dignity,” referring to the Ukrainian revolution which toppled President Viktor Yanukovych, the Kremlin’s henchman. Czaputowicz said the revolution was sparked by the will of the Ukrainian people to be part of the broader community of the West.
“This spirit will not be broken,” he stated, “either by the illegal annexation of Crimea or the conflict in the east of the country.”
He also pointed to the systematic violation of human rights in the Crimean peninsula since it was invaded, occupied and annexed by Russia in 2014.
In his speech, the Polish official said 2018 marked the fourth anniversary of the “Revolution of Dignity,” referring to the Ukrainian revolution which toppled President Viktor Yanukovych, the Kremlin’s henchman. Czaputowicz said the revolution was sparked by the will of the Ukrainian people to be part of the broader community of the West.
“This spirit will not be broken,” he stated, “either by the illegal annexation of Crimea or the conflict in the east of the country.”
He also pointed to the systematic violation of human rights in the Crimean peninsula since it was invaded, occupied and annexed by Russia in 2014.
Urging the international community not to forget the lingering war, he cited systematic human rights violations by the Russian Federation in the occupied territories and called on the United Nations to take up its role in defense of civilians.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, dramatically raised the emotional stakes at the session by holding up a photograph of 15-year Dariya Kazemirova, who turned 15 a week ago and a day later she was killed in the backyard of her home in an explosion of a 122 mm Russian shell that is prohibited by Minsk agreements.
“I will ask the Russian delegate: is this shell from the latest so-called humanitarian convoy? Or did the Russian proxies buy heavy ammunition and weaponry in local supermarkets?” Klimkin insisted.
While Ukraine is willing to fulfill the Minsk ceasefire accords, Klimkin said, “Russia’s persistent denial of its responsibility as a party to the conflict have a devastating impact on the situation on the ground.”
Klimkin accused Russia of concealing heavy weapons that have been banned under the truce only to reveal then when it is time to attack and inflict substantial losses among military personnel and civilian population.
“The activities of Russia’s occupation authorities are already causing an ecological disaster in Donbas. The shootings carried out by Russia in the vicinity of the Donetsk Water Filter Station make operation of this critical infrastructure facility impossible. The plans of the occupation administration to shut off pumps at the Yunkom mine — the site of Soviet nuclear test in 1979 — risk radioactive contamination of drinking water,” he said.
Klimkin said the war in eastern Ukraine can easily stop as “soon as Moscow takes the decision to stop violence, the conflict will end. I urge Russia to take this decision.”
The first step in assuring regional peace, he suggested, is to deploy UN Peacekeepers throughout the occupied territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
So that no one is confused about Ukraine’s goal, Klimkin resolutely added Kyiv stands for “reintegration of all of our Donbas,” meaning Kyiv will not allow it to be absorbed into Russia’s restored prison of nations.
Turning to the Russian occupation of Crimea, Klimkin said Russia’s invasion, occupation and annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula constitute the “most flagrant breach of the UN Charter since the World War II,” challenging the “norms and rules of international law and created the atmosphere of fear and hatred.”
The result has been an accelerated militarization of Crimea, he said. Russia has more than doubled the strength of its military and continues expanding Crimean military infrastructure for deployment of nuclear weapons, including overhaul of Soviet-era nuclear warhead storage facilities. “In fact, Crimea today is a huge military base often used for Russian interventions in distant hot spots, including Syria. In return, the Syrian regime thankfully sends delegations to Crimea and as it happened today recognized so-called independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” he said.
On the human side, Russian occupation is characterized by gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, blatant suppression of opposition and systematic persecution of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians as the most vulnerable communities, Klimkin said.
“Along with killings and enforced disappearances, intimidation and fierce attacks on the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian identity and culture, the phenomenon of political prisoners has become the sad reality in the Russia-occupied Crimea. My courageous compatriots fight now not only for freedom and justice, but for their lives as well,” he said.
Klimkin listed individuals persecuted by the Russian regime for protesting Crimea’s subjugation, notably Oleh Sentsov, Volodymyr Balukh, Emir-Usein Kuku, Nariman Memedeminov, Server Mustafaiev, Edem Smailov, Uzeir Abdullaiev and many other Crimean Tatars, who now need support of the international community. “Using this opportunity, I urge the Security Council members and the wider UN community to join our call on Russia to free them,” he asked. “Russia continues its blatant disregard for the provisions of UN General Assembly resolutions on Crimea.”
He said the list of Russia’s human rights violations is “practically endless.”
Klimkin condemned the opening of the Kerch bridge and said it is another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. He expressed gratitude to those countries that denounced this “attempt to cement the illegal occupation of Crimea” and urged all other countries and organizations, including the UN, to support this position.
Exhorting Russia to reverse the illegal occupation of Crimea and to stop its aggression, Klimkin concluded his address at the Security Council session, saying he has been compelled to present detailed lists and stories of Russia aggression against Ukraine because “this issue is a matter of life and death of many of my fellow Ukrainians.”
“There is nothing I would have wanted more than being able to tell you that we reached a resolution of the conflict,” he said. “But since the end is nowhere near in sight, we will not spare any effort to ensure that justice is served and the Russian state bears full responsibility for its aggression.”
Since the start of the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014, more than 10,300 Ukrainians have been killed, 25,000 were injured, and 3.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, particularly along the front lines.
For his part, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia ridiculed what he termed “pathetic expressions” accusing Russia of aggression as “propaganda.”
“We are not in a state of war with anyone,” Nebenzia lied in his characteristically impassioned remarks, which were often laced with sarcasm and peppered with heated criticism of the Ukrainian government.
He profanely insisted that it is Kyiv, not Moscow, that has undermined the cease fire and stoked the conflict.
Speaking for more than half an hour, Nebenzia dismissed Haley’s criticism, as his predecessors dismissed Ambassador Samantha Power’s reproaches, noting the United States’ “long history of illegally invading sovereign states.”
No, he didn’t make any reference to Russia’s own history of invading and subjugating nations around the world.
THE STING AND RUSSIA MURDER INC.
In a storyline worthy of Ian Fleming, the Security Service of Ukraine devised a historic gambit that proved its stealth and saved the life of a targeted Russian journalist and uncovered the would-be Russian assassins.
The world media said the assassination bore all the trappings of yet another contract killing planned by Russia, this time in Ukraine.
A photo of the victim, Arkady Babchenko, regarded as an anti-Putin Russian journalist, showed him lying face down Tuesday, May 29, in a pool of his own blood. He was found by his wife, and died on the way to a hospital from multiple gunshot wounds to the back, said police in Ukraine’s capital.
Then lo and behold, the next day, Babchenko, very much alive, walked into a news conference that Ukrainian security officials had called to discuss his “murder.” It was like a Gary Powers news conference in reverse. This time Moscow was guilty.
“First of all, I would like to apologize that all of you had to live through this, because I know the horrible feeling when you have to bury your colleagues,” Babchenko told stunned reporters after the gasps died down. “Separately, I want to apologize to my wife for all the hell she had to go through.”
The staged murder, said Vasyl Hrytsak, head of the Ukraine Security Service, was a sting operation aimed at stopping a real assassination plot against Babchenko.
While Russian officials first denied the plot and then tried to explain it with egg on their faces, Ukrainian officials unveiled a scheme that called for a Ukrainian traitor to kill Babchenko for $30,000 – American currency. The whole lot of them was busted.
While some media pundits decried this successful entrapment, The Wall Street Journal in an editorial on May 31 was blistering in this indictment of Moscow, declaring: Russia Murder Inc., a spin on the epithet usually afforded American gangsters and the Mafia. The newspaper’s editors wrote:
“The message of this extraterritorial murder and intimidation spree is that nowhere is safe for Kremlin critics, and it’s good to see that Western countries are finally responding. After the Russian nerve-agent attack in March on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, Britain expelled Russian spies and is considering more measures. The Trump Administration has sanctioned Mr. Putin’s inner circle and lobbied countries like Latvia to stop laundering Russian money.
“More needs to be done to expose and stop Russian Murder Inc., and let’s hope Ukraine tells the world more about this latest plot to kill Mr. Babchenko.”
WORLD CUP 2018
Sixty members of the European Parliament from 16 EU countries and five political groups have seen the light about Russia’s global transgressions. They signed an open letter calling upon EU governments to boycott the FIFA World Cup 2018, which will be held in August in Russia. The letter was initiated by Rebecca Harms, expert on Eastern Europe of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament.
The letter calls on government officials, who represent EU citizens, to join Island and the UK in boycotting the World Cup over Russia’s wars in Syria and Ukraine, war crimes in Syria, occupation of Crimea, and holding of Ukrainian political prisoners.
In addition, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on world leaders to boycott the games’ opening ceremony – only – of the World Cup soccer tournament in Russia unless Russian President Vladimir Putin takes steps to protect Syrian civilians.
So why is Russia still tolerated?
The free world should take all steps to ensure that Russia doesn’t wash the mud off its face.
Officials like Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European commission, implored the international community to end what he called “Russia-bashing.” Juncker said he believed it was time to renew ties with Vladimir Putin’s country, given its size and importance. Not to mention its military strength and global aggression.
“I do think we have to reconnect with Russia,” Juncker said. “I am not very happy with the state of our relations. We will never accept what Russia did with Crimea or eastern Ukraine.”
On the other hand, Russia’s fuhrer Vladimir Putin would happily accept Juncker’s inconsequential reprimand.
Russia will not implode tomorrow and Juncker’s observation will not keep Moscow from waging war against any other country on earth. That will only happen if the free world mobilizes all of its political, military and diplomatic resources to cage Russia’s belligerence. The time is now because the Russian monster is vulnerable.