Carnage in Ukraine needs world’s attention

President Yanukovych of Ukraine would be well advised to read the report put together by the United Nations on North Korea and the prospect of members of that regime being tried for crimes against humanity.

His regime and interior ministers could well end up charged with crimes against their own people.  At present the Ukrainian parliament including some members of Yanukovych’s party have approved a resolution to pull back troops.

The civil disorder and bloodshed in the capital Kiev are a direct result of Yanukovych’s authoritarian rule.  The Ukrainian experience with democracy over the last decade has been mixed to say the least.

Unlike the regime in nearby Belarus, however, Ukrainians have tasted an alternative from one-party rule.

Since the election in 2010 of Yanukovych, the Ukraine has seen show trials,  imprisonment of opposition leaders on dubious charges, and a strategic move closer to Russia.   The people of the Ukraine have also seen a small group of powerful oligarchs, along with members of the wider Yanukovych family, get wealthier and wealthier.

This is, of course, consistent with any major power-smaller neighbour relationship, especially where there is a background of autocracy. The exception is US-Israel where the latter calls the shots.

The question is: what to do?  I have never believed that advising ‘the West’ is the answer, because of its own unedifying imperial baggage and because is will always be strategically second-guessed.

Ideally the UN Security Council would apply pressure, derived from the Human Rights Council.  But the obvious obstacle is the veto.  No resolution has been passed, though submitting one and witnessing a Russian veto would have its own political force.  To my knowledge, not even the General Assembly has handled the issue.

A joint initiative by the UN Secretary-General and the European Commission President could just possibly begin to thaw things.  Perhaps the UN/EU could call upon Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to cooperate with it.

The latest reports that an early election could be called ups the ante for everyone, not least the President himself.  Should he lose any upcoming election Yanukovych must realise that he could well face charges for the carnage of the last few days.

3 Comments Posted

  1. In response to Russia’s military seizure of the Crimean peninsula, John Keys has suggested that perhaps a free trade deal with Russia is in peril.

    “The FTA has been under negotiation for three years. It has been and is very close to being concluded. Good progress is being made. But I don’t think this would be the right time to signing an FTA if there was potentially one on the table today.”

    Not the right time? Perhaps after 6 months have past and everyone has gotten used to Russia stealing what it could not bribe the former Ukrainian President to do? Something more that an expression of the inconvenient timing is required from our Prime Minister.

    For example, the current UN security council president, Luxemborg ambassador Sylvie Lucas has called for international monitors to patrol the border of Ukraine- a position shared by many Security council members. Of course Russia will veto any such proposal. As a non aligned country, New Zealand would be an excellent candidate for sending such observers.

    But of course this would not please the Russians. And John Keys would not want to threaten his precious “free” trade bill. No, that would not do at all. After leaving office, Keys couldn’t expect to be enjoying any 6 or 7 figure salaries in private industry. Services not rendered means the payback never will come.

    Let’s do the right thing, and do it quickly. Step up, become a participating partner in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and volunteer to send border monitors to help prevent what could be a savage war. Now is the time to act quickly before the Russians conclude from spineless announcements like Keys’ that the West will do nothing if they march into Kiev.

  2. Russia’s super-rich oligarchy has installed a Napoleon as its tame dictator who will safegard their so favoured supremacy against ant popular uprising such as occurred in several countries such as Syria. It has taken too long for enough western powers to get meaningfully involved. USA has a bad reputation which Obama has to recognise. He is doing better than some other US presidents I believe, but needs to stay at the helm.

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