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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

War and refugees

By: Davorin Kopše

In a previous column, I wrote about Putin wanting to rebuild the Soviet Union. Perhaps his purpose is even to restore tsarist Russia and its empire or a new formation on some other scale. When we look at the Russian invasion and massacres in Ukraine today, it does not even matter too much. The fact is that Putin is not feeling well at the current level of influence and wants more. We are all more or less united that the basis for events is somewhere in the past. For today, let’s take the recent past, when tensions began between Russian expansionist policies and Ukraine’s right to defend territorial integrity and peace.

(STA News) Minsk, February 12th, 2015 – The agreement reached by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany in the morning after the marathon negotiations in Minsk is based on the Minsk agreement reached last September and includes 13 points. Among them is the first and most important ceasefire in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, foreign news agencies reported.

This agreement provides, inter alia, for a demarcation front line. I believe that this is a provision that is unacceptable for Ukraine, which is why the forced agreement was not initialled. In almost 14 days of Russia’s brutal military aggression against Ukraine, the esteemed analyst Bogomir Ferfila has repeatedly said that Ukraine should accept the provisions of the Minsk agreement and some of Russia’s demands. Because it did not, says Ferfila, it is also complicit in the Russian attack. We hear a lot, but to accuse the attacked country of being to blame is too much for me. It sounds like a raped woman is to blame for provoking it one way or another.

Putin cannot be trusted

Russia went further during this time. It demands the disarmament of Ukraine and even the withdrawal of all nuclear weapons from Europe, while they remain armed. Has that not already happened? Recall the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Ukraine, in return for promises of Ukrainian territorial integrity. And what’s more, Ukraine has been provided with security, and now everyone is looking away from the demand for airspace closure. And yes, Putin attacked Ukraine, because it is not a nuclear power, and he would undoubtedly attack Europe as well.

According to Ferfila, the airspace closure, which is increasingly being requested by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, is not realistic. He says this was possible in Iraq and Syria, but not in Ukraine because the attacker is the great world power Russia. There are also rare opinions that Russian demands should be met, as this should ensure peace and stabilisation of the region. Sure, it would, at least we should have learned a little about Putin. He intends to rebuild an empire, so he will not just stop there. The actions taken so far confirm this. You do not embark on such a big military adventure to give in. And he is crazy!

NATO allegedly did not intervene because that is what US President Joe Biden said. He did say, but he is not NATO. Sooner or later, someone will have to intervene. Undoubtedly, support, arms supplies, and a lot of intelligence help Ukraine a lot, but this is not enough for a decisive turnaround on the battlefield for now. I have already announced that Russia cannot endure a long war because it is economically too weak, and global sanctions have surprised it, which has already led to a sharp drop in the standard of the Russians.

It is worse for the Russian army in this war, it is more brutal, and it will become even more. It uses more and more ballistic missiles which fall on populated settlements. At a time of great loss of economic power and realising that it will not work, even the use of tactical nuclear warheads or at least depleted uranium could happen, which would be a disaster with long-term consequences for the environment. Not to mention the consequences for human health. We have experience of this from the only use of nuclear weapons so far and nuclear accidents.

The international community will have to intervene

Sooner or later, the international community will have to intervene in this war. NATO makes decisions by consensus, so it is almost impossible to decide there to intervene in this alliance, which is defensive and not intended for offensive action. Individual NATO members could join a coalition to help the Ukrainian army, especially in the air, from where they are most at risk because the Russians have a great advantage there.

Coalitions like this would be nothing new. Iraq was not attacked by NATO, but by a coalition of members and some others. Well, the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have written in Article 5 of their founding treaty that the parties agree that an armed attack on one or more parties in Europe or North America is considered an attack on all parties, and in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, NATO would come to the aid of the attacked member.

In view of all the above, Russia would probably not dare to attack a country or countries that might be militarily directly involved in helping Ukraine. It is clear that Russia cannot counter this great defensive military force militarily. If they could, however, then this situation in connection with Russian aggression does not change anything. They will go to the end, especially if only Ukraine resists them. Defeat without defence is the most shameful defeat. Putin and his soldiers simply understand nothing but force.

A humanitarian catastrophe

We are witnessing a drama with refugees, which is the largest drama of its kind in Europe since the Second World War. Humanitarian corridors for the passage of refugees from war zones are certainly not a comprehensive solution. That would save lives, but not the exodus. In addition, the Russian side in the negotiations agreed only to such corridors that would lead to Russia and Belarus in the occupying state. Just who wants to escape from a war zone to an attacker? The excess of ignorance and vehement rudeness of Putin and his apostasies.

Maybe Putin’s gang is making fun of everyone because they know they are setting impossible conditions. To them, people’s lives mean nothing anyway, especially if they are not Russians. Alternatively, they could set up large refugee camps on their territories with several million hungry people. This might force the West to deliver humanitarian aid. Nor is it out of the question to demand the lifting of sanctions altogether to rescue refugees whom they forced to flee.

No one wants to be a refugee

Now about the difference between refugees from Ukraine and migrants who have made and are still making their way from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, and other countries to Europe. From Ukraine these days come the wives of fighters fighting for their country, mothers with children and the elderly. Everyone in turn is desperate because they must leave their homes and fear for the fate of their husbands, brothers, and fathers. Also, everyone in turn guarantees that they will return home when Ukraine is liberated. They come to border crossings and obey the rules of procedure.

The others I listed above are different. I do not want to differentiate them by skin colour, religion, or culture, even though that is also the point. They have been coming to Europe for at least seven years. They do not come to border crossings; they have aggression and demands for a better life in their eyes. They aim to stay and enjoy for free the fruits of the work of generations of Europeans who have filled various funds and state budgets. They bring with them the situation they are leaving, which we have the right to reject.

Undoubtedly, these are differences between the two, so they cannot be treated equally, as some have already demanded or criticised. So those who are not refugees want to be. On the other hand, we have real refugees who do not want to be. At least half the world has fallen on its head.

Davorin Kopše is a war veteran for Slovenia, a candidate for MEP and an active citizen.

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