Saturday, May 5, 2018

The World Knows What Russia’s been Doing, and …
In recent weeks, Russia has been subjected to a series of justified condemnations by the international community for invading two regions of Ukraine and turning them into its occupied territories, where danger and death await innocent Ukrainians at every intersection, and generally accepted freedoms and human rights are absent.
It seems as if Ukraine has finally come of age and has been accepted by Euro-Atlantic political structures – with sympathy but in a non-voting capacity.
Comparing global public support for Ukraine before the start of the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-18 and now, it has noticeably skyrocketed. Not surprisingly, the free world is pushing Ukraine to the front lines while hiding behind its back in hopes that it can stave off a massive invasion by Russia that will sweep across Europe. It is sacrificing Ukraine on the altar of world peace.
However, as with many things regarding Ukraine, the devil is in the execution. Will condemnation remain a linguistic exercise or will the international community create a policy and plan that will force Moscow to change its ways? Will the free world put their money where their mouths are?
Let’s review what happened in recent weeks.
Last month, in Canada, the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations (G7) agreed to join forces to help Ukraine oppose Russian aggression, confirmed Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin. Thanks for this gesture of support but merely opposing Russian aggression is not nearly enough to expel Russia from Ukraine.
“The main result is that they [G7 countries] regard the aggression against Ukraine as the aggression against the entire civilized world. All the participants stated this very clearly. We also agreed to join forces to repel this aggression,” Klimkin was quoted as saying. Yes, Ukraine is the first line of defense.
“We agreed to think about some formats, how to increase the role of G7 in repelling these threats and in further facilitating the reforms. I cannot disclose some ideas as they are under consideration of the (G7) presidency, but I think they will be promoted in a couple of months,” he said.
G7 observers noted that this global group has finally come around to getting off the fence and acknowledging that a war is raging in Europe. A war that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are singlehandedly fighting to protect itself and the world from Moscow’s aggression. United steps to help Ukraine expel Russian invaders from its country are still sometime in the future.
Klimkin observed on his Facebook page: “There was a feeling that Ukraine is a part of this community and the challenges that confront us today are challenges to our common values. We spoke about everything from the occupation of Crimea and Donbas to Ukrainian hostages illegally held in Russia.”
John Sullivan of the US State Department met with Klimkin in Toronto and “reaffirmed the US support for the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression,” according to a statement from the US State Department.
Those are strong words that shouldn’t be bandied about pointlessly. They are also surprising coming from an administration whose Chief Executive, President Trump, is not an overt advocate of Ukraine. The rhetorical question is Washington prepared to add substance to those words has since then been answered with America’s delivery of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine. That’s certainly welcome, concrete military aid.
In conversations with his colleagues, Klimkin compared Ukraine to a petri dish for testing Russia’s belligerent policies and military strategies.
“Fundamentally, Ukraine is perceived by many and also by Russia as a sort of test range for testing Russian nonconventional warfare – hybrid war,” Klimkin said.
He called this part of a bigger war “against the democratic transatlantic community.” Supporting Ukraine, he said, should be seen “as a part of a bigger pattern. Fighting along with Ukraine would give an immense asset to the whole democratic community in the sense of understanding Russian efforts to destabilize the western world.”
Indeed, Ukraine, its soldiers and people are defending Europe, the US, Canada and the free world from a global Russian invasion. They’re amassing battlefield experience which could help allies in the future.
In their joint communique, the G7 Foreign Ministers announced they are prepared to step up economic sanctions against Russia if the conflict in eastern Ukraine, escalates. Economic sanctions are imperative in combatting Russian aggression.
“We recall that the duration of Donbas-related economic sanctions is clearly linked to Russia’s complete and irreversible implementation of the Minsk Agreements. These sanctions can be rolled back only if Russia truly fulfills its commitments, but we also stand ready to take further restrictive measures should Russia's actions so require,” the G7 Foreign Ministers said. “We are convinced that the only way a sustainable solution to the conflict can be reached is through the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. Given Russia’s responsibility in the conflict, we urge Russia to stabilize the security situation in the Donbas without delay.”
In Europe, the Strasbourg-based Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also last month adopted a resolution recognizing that Russia is in fact occupying the territories of eastern Ukraine that are not controlled by the government in Kyiv.
The pan-European lawmakers almost unanimously supported the two amendments in the consideration of the Ukrainian bloc. In particular, the fact that the uncontrolled territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are “temporarily occupied territories controlled by the Russian occupation administration.” Amendments were supported by 98-100 MPs, and 3-4 voted against, among which were the German “Left,” “Alternative for Germany” and the Netherlands Socialist Party. Leftists will never learn.
Additionally, in its resolution, PACE to its credit condemned Russian aggression against Ukraine, stating it committed in violation of international humanitarian law.
“Russia is an occupier,” beamed PACE Vice President Volodymyr Ariev on Facebook. “The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has adopted a decision recognizing certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions occupied by the Russian Federation. This is the victory of the Ukrainian delegation to PACE, which in the long term will increase Russia's responsibility for violating the norms of international law.”
At a NATO meeting in late April in Brussels Russia’s war mongering was also top of mind. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the primary focus of the session was what he called Moscow’s “dangerous behavior.”
“This includes the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, the destabilization of eastern Ukraine, meddling in democratic processes, cyberattacks and disinformation,” Stoltenberg listed.
In Washington, which has more pro-Ukrainian officials than pro-Russian ones, the State Department last month labeled Russia and China threats to global stability, saying that their poor human rights records put the countries, the United States’ principle strategic rivals, in the same ranks as Iran and North Korea.
“The Russian government continues to quash dissent and civil society even while it invades its neighbors and undermines the sovereignty of Western nations,” John Sullivan said in remarks as the State Department released its annual report on global human rights in 2017.
For the record, on top of these latest expressions of condemnation against Russia, the United Nations also had officially denounced Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, as an “occupier” of foreign lands just like Nazi Germany and other tyrannical empires were – my clarification.
The 71st General Assembly adopted on Monday, December 19, 2016, a resolution on human rights in Crimea, titled “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine),” which was initiated by Ukraine and supported by the UNGA Third Committee. Seventy-three UN member-states, including Ukraine, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and others backed the document, 76 abstained, and Russia plus 22 others voted against it.
The resolution cited four times the word “occupier” in relation to Russia’s enslavement of Crimea.
Most importantly, the resolution condemned “the temporary occupation of part of the territory of Ukraine —the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (hereinafter “Crimea”) — by the Russian Federation.” It also notably reaffirmed its “non-recognition” of Russia’s unlawful annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea after a fabricated and rigged referendum.
With so much public recognition of Russia’s crimes against Ukraine and disruption of the world order, why do so many self-respecting national leaders and statesmen continue to extend their hands to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev and others from their junta?
The world acknowledges what Russia has been doing, which is a first step, but is it prepared to address seriously this criminal state? Condemning Russia hardly affects the Kremlin’s activities but it does confirm support for the just cause of Ukraine and the other x-captive nations. The UN resolutions, Minsk Accords and UN Peacekeepers are laughable suggestions that will not bring peace, stability and security to Ukraine. For that to occur, Russia must be subdued and expelled from Ukraine. Stricter sanctions and banning Russia from global events may help.
Ultimately, Nazi Germany changed its ways and became a democratic country only after Nazi Germany was destroyed.