Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Don’t Help a Bloody Dictator Stay in Power
For all intents and purposes, the United States has finally publically admitted that Russia willfully invaded Ukraine and is waging a bloody war against it.
Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, among other high-level US officials, emphatically declared as much when he said the United States will never accept trading one region of Ukraine for another in its policy towards “Ukraine’s conflict with Russia.” Putting aside his reference to conflict rather than war, Sullivan confirms that Ukrainian territory was illegally seized and occupied by Russia. That’s a violation of international law and the UN Charter.
“Given the high stakes, it’s important to be clear about US policy towards the conflict: Crimea is Ukraine. The Donbas is Ukraine. We will never accept trading one region of Ukraine for another. We will never make a deal about Ukraine without Ukraine,” Sullivan said.
His demonstrated Washington’s strong commitment to Ukraine and cast a dark shadow on Russia’s claims that it isn’t involved in the war in Ukraine. The welcome declaration is also a warning to Moscow that its subjugation of Ukrainian territory will not be forever.
Sullivan assured that the US would continue to stand with Ukraine until there is an end to Russian aggression. That is the goal that the world must pursue. Russian aggression must be ended not by a freezing of frontlines or assets but by Russia’s withdrawal, expulsion or retreat from Ukraine.
“We will continue to draw on the range of measures we have at our disposal, including diplomacy, sanctions, and security assistance," he said.
In Sullivan’s hopeful words, a stable democratic, prosperous and free Ukraine will be less vulnerable to external threats and serve as a beacon to other nations facing Russian aggression. “A free and economically successful Ukraine is one of the Kremlin’s biggest fears – and it is the Ukrainian people’s greatest hope,” he added.
An economically successful Ukraine will have more allies and trading partners standing by it. However, as for keeping Russia from invading Ukraine, that threat will always exist due to the Kremlin’s belligerent nature.
Sullivan’s comments were echoed by State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, who accused Russia of stoking the “conflict” in Ukraine by disregarding its commitments under the hapless peace accords.
Nauert said in a statement on February 13 that Russia continues to deny in the face of insoluble evidence to the contrary its direct involvement in the war that erupted after the 2014 Winter Olympics and has seen more than 10,300 people killed.
“Sadly, Russia continues to disregard its commitments under the Minsk agreements, stoking a hot conflict in Ukraine,” the statement said.
“The United States takes this opportunity to reiterate that our sanctions will remain in place until Russia fully implements its commitments under the Minsk agreements. Our separate Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns the peninsula to Ukraine,” she added.
Ceasefire deals announced as part of the Minsk accords in September 2014 and February 2015 aimed to resolve the conflict but have drastically failed due to Russia’s continued violations. Ukrainian soldiers are being wounded or killed in action daily bringing the total up to nearly 4,000. It’s a waste of time and effort to go on meeting and hoping for a truce.
Fortunately, National Security and Defense Council’s Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov has left the door open to other options. “We are not saying that today we can liberate the occupied territory solely through the use of force. But this law does not rule such a path out and creates conditions for it,” Turchynov said in an interview with the television station Hromadske.
Sanctions are practical means of forcing Russia to cease its invasion of Ukraine but, strangely, its rulers and oligarchs keep getting richer and shed violence and death in Syria.
The tragic upshot is that the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-18 has entered its fifth year and the free world is not any closer to helping Ukraine expel Russian invaders from its land. But it must do so to keep the war from expanding into new Europe and then old Europe.
At least the international community is not in denial about Russia’s role in the invasion and war. The United Nations and a recent law adopted by the parliament of Ukraine have termed Russia an aggressor state in Ukraine.
Paraphrasing the late President Ronald Reagan’s historic epithet about Russia being the evil empire, President Petro Poroshenko recently expanded the notion by saying “evil resides in the Kremlin.”
“Let us acknowledge that we failed to take it seriously, when in 2007 in Munich the Russian president declared his war on the civilized world. The Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014 has become the most serious and cynical assault against democratic values and the international rules-based order. It had been plotted well in advance. And when the plot was activated, it involved many agents,” he said.
“But even worse is the fact that these activities are accompanied by massive militarization of the Russian regime and its proven readiness to use any military tools available, including nuclear weapons,” he added.
The free world must heed this warning about Russia’s militarization. Currently, Ukraine is the only country on earth that has combat experience fighting Russian invaders. The x-captive nations of the Baltic regions have also been warning about Russia’s interminable aggression and desire to rebuild and expand its empire. Be mindful of this as well.
The groundswell of opinions about stronger actions in support of Ukraine is increasing. In a letter to the editor of The Washington Times, retired Marine Corp Lt. Col. Dominik George Nargele observed: “Ukraine stopped the Russian invasion of Europe in Crimea and Donbas without any significant help from western countries, and it is dealing with its 1.6 million refugees by itself. The best way forward for western allies is to liberate occupied Ukraine from the foreign Russian invaders and provide massive Marshall Plan aid to Ukraine to help the internally displaced return to their homes. Europeans who are not helping Ukraine are helping Putin stay in power.”
The free world should remember that with every day that the war lingers and another Ukrainian soldier is killed defending his or her country it is helping the Kremlin’s bloody dictator of the evil Russian empire stay in power.