Neo-Nazis, Azov Battalion and unending Ukraine crisis


French President Emmanuel Macron said, Ukraine crisis is unlikely to end soon as Russia may not make diplomatic concessions. Macron told RTL radio,

“Unfortunately, the conflict will not end soon. I believe that we will see a very difficult situation in Donbass in the coming days and weeks. This is why, together with Turkey, Greece and the UN, we are doing everything to organize humanitarian operations in the cities of Mariupol and Dnepr”.

The French president further said, “Russia cannot be expected to make diplomatic concessions in the coming weeks. It won’t happen until mid-May as Russia would mark Victory Day on May 9”. Emmanuel Macron also emphasized that every day of hostilities “makes tomorrow harder. There will be no peace in Europe if we don’t think about tomorrow”.

Meanwhile, ambassadors of the European Union member states approved the fifth package of anti-Russian sanctions on Thursday, which, among other things, introduces restrictions on financial institutions and prohibits coal imports from Russia and high-tech exports to Russia.

The French presidency of the European Council said in a Twitter post: “This meaningful package of sanctions against Russia extends the sanctions to new spheres”.

“It includes, among other things, asset freeze of several Russian banks, ban on coal imports from Russia, arms embargo on Russia, ban on exports to Russia, including high-tech goods”, the French presidency said.

The volume of sanctions-hit export is estimated at 10 billion euro, while restrictions on imports of “raw materials and critically important materials” will affect products worth 5.5 billion euro in total.

Moreover, Russian-flagged vessels will not be allowed to enter European ports, while transport companies from Russia and Belarus will be prohibited from business activities on the European Union territory.

The statement specifically mentions sanctions against Russian businessmen and “propagandists”. European sanctions will also be expanded to include security and military officers and defense enterprises related to Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.

“This package of measures will be adopted by the European Council under a written procedure and should be published by the Official Journal of the European Union tomorrow”, the statement says.

In another move, the UN General Assembly passed the Western resolution to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council during a special session Thursday. A total of 93 votes were cast in favor of the resolution, with 24 against, while 58 delegations abstained from the vote.

In order for the resolution to pass, two thirds of votes are needed, and votes of those who abstained are not taken into account, which makes the total number of counted votes 117; 93 is more than two thirds of that number, which made it possible for the resolution to pass.

Russian representatives said earlier that they view such steps as politically motivated, adding that they threaten to destroy the entire UN system. The suspension will only affect the current membership, which, for Russia, ends in 2023. After that, Russia may once again apply for membership in the Human Rights Council.

The following countries voted against the resolution: Algeria, Belarus, Bolivia, Burundi, Vietnam, Gabon, Zimbabwe, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, North Korea, Cuba, Laos, Mali, Nicaragua, the Republic of Congo, Russia, Syria, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Central African Republic, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

The UN Human Rights Council includes 47 members, which means most UN member states are not currently included in this body. Since its established in 2006, not all countries have been its members yet. There is no permanent membership in the council. Its decisions are no legally binding; at the same time, a suspension of membership does not mean that a country in question is freed of its obligations in the human rights area.

Between 2017 and 2019, Russia was not a member due to the council’s rotation of membership. In 2018, the US withdrew from the council under a decision of then-President Donald Trump, but returned after Trump was succeeded by Joe Biden.

Human Rights Council member states vote on resolutions in human rights area. No member has a veto power. Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out repeatedly that the Council is highly politicized and is being used by Western countries in their own interests.

Following a suspension, a country is stripped of its voting power, but can still attend the meetings.

Ceasefire and escalations of hostility

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a telephone conversation with French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune said: “The main cause of the Ukraine issue is an imbalance in the European security system. There is a need to follow the principle of indivisible security and recreate a balanced and effective security mechanism in Europe. This is the only way to establish lasting peace and stability in Europe”.

Wang Yi also pointed out that all parties should facilitate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. “You can’t call for a ceasefire and at the same time, continue the delivery of a large volume of weapons and ammunition, escalating hostilities”, he noted.

Commenting on Ukraine crisis, Chinese newspaper the Global Times in an editorial said:

These days, the US tends to kidnap countries across the international community that are not standing with it over the Ukraine issue. Washington’s senior officials have taken turns, making intensive threats to countries, including China and India. On Wednesday, US Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, arrogantly said that sanctions on Russia should give China a “good understanding” of the consequences it could face if it provides material support to Moscow. On the same day, the director of the White House National Economic Council, Brian Deese, claimed that the US told India that the consequences of a “more explicit strategic alignment” with Moscow would be “significant and long-term.” Previously, US officials named and pressured India in several occasions and even hinted at imposing sanctions. US President Joe Biden also criticized India’s response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict as “shaky.”

It seems that the Ukraine crisis is also a mirror reflecting the US’ nature of seeking hegemony for itself by coercion. Washington first kidnapped small countries with the lure of security, turning them into pawns to check and contain major countries. Then, it has continued to instigate and incite disputes, and pushed these pawns into the fiery pit, held allies hostage by virtue of so-called values and made them pay for its hegemony. After that, Washington has further expanded its scope and exploited various means to force other countries across the world to take sides, trying to overwhelm opponents and maintain its absolute hegemony.

Ironically, Washington has been accusing China of engaging in “coercion diplomacy” in recent years but the Ukraine crisis has precisely shown that it is the US who is sparing no efforts to coerce other countries. It is trying to drag other parties to the crisis while it passes the bucks and reaps profits.

As a matter of fact, “coercive diplomacy” is tailor-made for Washington. The term “coercive diplomacy” was also created by US scholars to summarize US policies toward Laos, Cuba and Vietnam in the 1970s. After the end of the Cold War, from Latin America to Europe and the Asia-Pacific, through rogue-style measures such as military threat, political isolation, sanctions and blockades on technology, the US has intimidated small countries to serve its national interests. Otherwise, those countries would be sanctioned and isolated, and their governments could be overthrown. “Coercive diplomacy” has been integrated into the path of American foreign behavior and it has risen and fallen together with US hegemony. The US has formed a system of “combination blows” to fully coordinate with its hegemonic logic that “whoever obeys the US will be prosperous but who goes against it will suffer.”

On one hand, “coercive diplomacy” has a strong implication of hijacking morality and intimidation. The US has gone out of its way to monopolize the interpretation of “democracy,” “freedom,” “human rights” and “sovereignty.” It tends to stick various labels to non-Western countries that insist on independent foreign policy and push them into the opposite of “universal values.” The values and aspirations accumulated over the long history of human kind have become the sandglass that the US can wantonly overturn. At one time it wants “human rights to override sovereignty” and at another moment it advocates that “sovereignty should override human rights.”

On the other hand, “coercive diplomacy” is all about calculation of interests. Recently, the Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, Mikhail Popov, said that the US, while pressuring European countries to sanction Russia, itself continues to import Russian oil with last week’s imports increasing 43 percent from a week ago, to 100,000 barrels per day. It also allowed US firms to import Russian mineral fertilizers. For Europe, war and sanctions brought wave of refugees, capital outflow and energy shortages, but for the US, war and sanctions have allowed the US to profit from the chaos.

However, US’ “coercive diplomacy” has also eroded American national credibility as it has caused a large number of victims. Data showed that since the World War II, the number of unnatural deaths of foreign citizens due to US sanctions have exceeded the total death toll in all the wars during the same period. Now, more and more countries are unwilling to submit to US coercion. Therefore, in face of the US pressure, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that “India stands firm before the world with its interests without any fear or pressure.” Countries like Singapore, which has “friendly ties” with the US, also expressed that they are reluctant to take sides. These are the resistance against US “coercive diplomacy.”

US “coercive diplomacy” is increasingly ineffective as its fake morality and true hegemony are seen by the world. Fundamentally, it is Washington that stands on the wrong side of history. It cannot always threaten other countries to “take chestnuts from the fire” for it, and it is even less possible to extend its hegemony through intimidation.

An attempt of cornering Russian and Vladimir Putin

South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers were invited to join the high-profile NATO session on Thursday for the first time as NATO seeks to gain cooperation from Asia to isolate Russia and put extended pressure of Russian President Vladimir Putin and hundreds of Russians by imposing newer sanctions. At the same time, United States wants to pressurize China over Ukraine issue, where Washington is looking for using the European Union and Britain as its co-forces in winning the cold war against Russia and China. Western media has been enthusiastically publishing anti-Russia and anti-Russia contents since beginning of the Ukraine crisis, while they also are making full attempts of hiding truth beneath lies. Western news media are competing in suppressing Zelensky’s deeper connections with neo-Nazis, including notorious Azov Battalion. Social media platforms and tech giants are openly exerting pressure on its users while newspapers are being threatened of suspension of Google AdSense revenue if those newspapers publishing contents favorable to Russia and Vladimir Putin. It means, Kremlin is gradually being cornered particularly through media offensives. Efforts of demonizing Russia, Russians and Vladimir Putin are continuing in full swing with mad rush for confiscating wealth, cash and properties of Russian nationals worldwide. In plain words, during Ukraine crisis the international media outlets and social media platforms are almost placing Russia and Russians into worse position than Al Qaeda or Islamic State while unhealthy competition of demonizing Russia and Russians are on rise. In this case, Kremlin and those mighty Russian riches are miserable failing in countering such dangerous propaganda as Russia does not have strong English media of its own or it is not getting any sympathy from the international media.

Where is the end?

First of all, we need to remember, days are gone when United States mobilized against so-called enemy which often brought an ersatz sense of unity in prosperous times. In those days, the US could afford massive military expenditures, constant wars, and still have relative economic well-being for a majority of its citizens. But now, especially due to failed or bankrupt policies of President Joe Biden and challenges posed by the pandemic the US cannot afford indulging in war against Russia in the Ukraine front for long. At the same time, the Ukraine crisis has further aggravated a serious global economic problem, which will badly hit the US, the European Union and Britain in particular. Meaning, for Americans, tomorrow would only bring further depressing and bad news. And of course, Joe Biden will not be in comfortable position after the November midterm elections, when Republicans are going to gain majority both in the Congress and Senate. On the other hand, Europeans can hardly be confident that Trump or a Trumpian Republican won’t be in the White House after 2024.

Considering these facts, in my opinion, even if the US promises not to allow Ukraine to join NATO, Russia may not immediately withdraw its troops.

Commenting on the Ukraine situation and shall Russia withdraw troops if there is assurance of Kiev not joining NATO, James Peck, adjunct professor of history at New York University said:

It is hard to say where this is headed. If Washington could put itself in Russia’s position for a moment, knowing it would never tolerate such forces or foreign presence on its borders (or the Caribbean – or just off its coastal waters), it would suggest the obvious – a neutral Ukraine not in NATO, its independence guaranteed by all powers, no offensive weapons in the country. Even then, Ukraine would have an extremely hard road ahead of it. The severely damaged country has bitter divisions that will not be easy to manage. The Eastern regions have to be given at least a viable, guaranteed autonomy or perhaps some more creative form of protection.

Yet the dangers of a long-term war are considerable – and while European leaders, in this first greatly influenced social media war, are strongly supportive in public, there are growing concerns over the war and the growing risk to their countries and their economies. The terrible ways this crisis could escalate are finally starting to sink in ways that will help fuel ways to end it. The way out and how to do so is possible if the reasons for how it came to this state are really understood.


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