Sunday, December 17, 2017
Yearend Observations about the Torn Curtain
Despite Ukrainians’ valiant efforts, the curtain is still torn and Russia continues to wreak havoc and death across the country and region.
The Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-17 rages without any settlement in sight. Russia is sending troops into Ukraine, supports its murderous mercenary-terrorists, kills Ukrainian civilians and soldiers, destroys towns, pollutes the ecology, and violates the imperfect Minsk ceasefire agreement.
Beyond economic sanctions, which at least send a signal of tepid free world unity to Moscow, the United States and other free world leaders are at a loss as to what should be done to force Russia to lay down its arms, unconditionally withdraw from Ukraine and pay war reparations.
Russian attacks against Ukrainian military positions have intensified in recent weeks. For example, UNIAN reported lately, “Over the past day, four Ukrainian military servicemen were killed and another one wounded amid 28 shellings by Russian hybrid forces on the positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”
At the same time, Ukraine’s gallant soldiers and guardsmen have retaken several strategic towns from Russian forces, showing their military skill and prowess.
Crimean Tatars in occupied Crimea still suffer under Russian subjugation. Their indigenous culture, language and religion have been banned by the occupying regime and any mention of an earlier allegiance to Ukraine is severely punished.
In Ukraine, the release of the movie “Cyborg” that chronicles Ukrainian soldiers’ heroic defense of the Donetsk airport at all costs against Russian invaders has mobilized the nation. As some pundits have observed, Vladimir Putin’s belligerence and hatred of Ukraine has done more to consolidate the Ukrainian nation than anyone else.
Faced with limited and lackluster global support, Ukraine has only one alternative as they sang in “Carmen Jones:” “Until you hear dat bell, Dat final bell, Stan’ up an’ fight like hell!”
Here are a few yearend observations.
The Canadian government has taken a step in the right direction by adding Ukraine to its Automatic Firearms Country Control List (AFCCL), a special register of countries to which Canada can export weapons.
As a result, Canadian arms exporters are allowed to seek permits to sell Ukraine certain weapons, devices and other military equipment. Examples of these items include fully automatic firearms, electric stun guns, and large-capacity magazines.
The decision revokes a de-facto Canadian arms embargo on Ukraine, which has been in force for the 26 years since the country became independent in 1991.
Meanwhile, the US merely says it does not rule out the possibility of providing lethal defensive weaponry to Ukraine to help the country tackle Russian aggression. “You ask about the issue of providing lethal assistance to Ukraine. We have not provided defensive weapons, but yet we have not ruled that out either. We just don’t have a lot more to say on that,” said spokesperson for the U.S. Department Heather Nauert.
The United States and the free world must realize that supporting Ukraine politically in its war against Russia is not merely about Ukraine; supporting Ukraine militarily in its war against Russia is also not merely about Ukraine.
Ukraine is the only country now that has real-time military experience is fighting a war against the Russian army. No other country on earth shares this valuable experience. To be sure, free world armies have computer simulations and other digital gadgets to anticipate what Russian soldiers would do in combat situations. However, none of them ever took a hill, drew a line in the sand or shed a drop of blood in battle with Russians. Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in action, wounded in action and captured in action.
Furthermore, Ukrainians today are not only fighting, defending and dying for their country but they are also safeguarding the sovereignty and security of the x-captive nations, Europe, Canada and the United States.
Consequently, a contemporary lend-lease supply of military hardware for Ukraine would also benefit the free world.
US Defense Bill
President Donald Trump grudgingly signed into law a $700 billion defense-policy bill that calls for $4.8 billion in spending for US military efforts in Europe, more funding for Ukraine, and for a new ground-launched cruise missile.
The defense bill allocates about $350 million in security assistance to Ukraine, including authorization for lethal defensive weaponry, something Kyiv has been seeking for years, in its fight against Russia in eastern Ukraine.
The measure also provides for the treatment of wounded Ukrainian soldiers in US military medical facilities.
Because of Trump’s support for Russia and opposition to Ukraine, this is a major step by the White House on behalf of Ukraine.
Nuclear disarmament has been a global hot-button issue for decades. The major nuclear powers as well as disarmament non-governmental organizations have been pondering how to reduce the nuclear arsenals around the world.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee earlier in December picked the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for its work on addressing the gap in international law regarding the restriction of nuclear weapons.
In her acceptance speech, Beatrice Fihn, executive director of ICAN, warned that mankind’s total destruction at the hands of nuclear weapons was just one “impulsive tantrum away.”
“Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us?” Fihn rhetorically asked, referring to the ongoing exchange of threats between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. “The only rational course of action is to cease living under the conditions where our mutual destruction is only one impulsive tantrum away.”
On a local level, Jonathan Granoff, president of the Global Security Institute, a frequent speaker at the United Nations, urged Rotary Club members in Englewood, NJ, to insist that their elected officials support nuclear disarmament. He said the detonation of just one 800-kiloton nuclear warhead above midtown Manhattan would ignite fires over 100 square miles and all life within seven miles of New York City would be extinguished.
“I am doing everything I can in my life to stop this madness, to stop these weapons from being used,” Granoff said. “Every citizen in Bergen County should be demanding that we help get rid of nuclear weapons and support our legal duty under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate for elimination.”
Indeed, nuclear disarmament is essential to civilization’s future. Segments of America have been advocating it since the first detonations over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most of those US citizens have been critical of Washington for dragging its feet on this issue while praising Russia siding with them on disarmament.
However, now Russia has shown its true colors by stating it doesn’t support nuclear disarmament. The source of this information isn’t a capitalist, Western news source, but rather a Russian one.
According to the Russian news agency TASS, Russia does not support the initiatives aimed at total nuclear disarmament without regard to security interests, Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said earlier this month.
“In various corners of the international community, attempts are being made to develop a new agreement that completely bans nuclear weapons and to compel nuclear powers to sign it, or even to create such a treaty without nuclear powers,” he said in a speech at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. "This is impossible. This is useless. We will never support such an idea.”
Consequently, while Russia invades Ukraine, increases military operations in Syria, and earmarks additional funds to rebuilding and modernizing is conventional armed forces, it also admits that it will not abandon nuclear weapons. Civilization is an “impulsive tantrum away” from being annihilated by Russia.
That should be a heartening revelation for those who support a favorable “reset” with Moscow.
US Concerned by Escalation of Attacks
Heather Nauert, State Department spokesperson, at a press briefing on December 13, reiterated Washington’s concern regarding Russia’s escalation of attacks against Ukraine.
“There are continued attacks against civilian infrastructure projects in Donetsk. It’s sad that we have to address this once again. The situation in Ukraine, unfortunately, is not getting any better and so we’re talking about it once again.
“The United States continues to be deeply concerned by the escalating violence and the worsening humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine.”
When it comes to the war in Ukraine and Russia’s belligerence, talking about it is not enough.
“The humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine is one of the – is the worst it has been now in three years and it is deteriorating. More than 1 million people in the Donbas region are food insecure, civilian casualties are up significantly over last year,” she said.
The Russian war in Ukraine cannot be limited to Washington press conferences or parlor conversations. Free world leaders must adopt strong, painful steps to expel Russian regular troops and mercenary terrorists from Ukraine. It must ban Russia from the global table until it reforms.
Russia Controls 100% of What's Happening in Donbas
US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker admitted that Russia controls 100% of what is happening in Donbas, according to his special briefing published on the website of the US State Department.
Volker discounted that the war is “an internal strife.”
“It’s not an ethnic conflict; it’s not an indigenous conflict. It is one where on the eastern side you have 100% Russian command and control of what’s happening there,” Volker told a briefing in Washington.
Russia remains the feared 600-lb gorilla in the Oval Office, about which everyone would rather whisper politely than subdue.
More on Russia’s Active Role in the War
In its Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2017 dated December 4, 2017, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) presented additional information that also points to direct military engagement between Russian armed forces, not its surrogates, and Ukraine.
It’s Russia, stupid.
The ICC indicated that the international armed conflict in eastern Ukraine began July 14, 2014, five months after Russia invaded Ukrainian Crimea.
In November 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was formally withdrawing its signature from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, just a day after the ICC Prosecutor published a report recognizing the annexation of Crimea as a military conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and classifying it as an occupation. The UN also designated the so-called Russian annexation of Crimea as an occupation.
The Kremlin’s withdrawal from the ICC will not prevent international war crimes from being recorded and prosecuted by The Hague.
The court’s decision is significant for two reasons: It states that Russia is the aggressor against Ukraine and Russia can be held responsible for international war crimes.
Ukraine is Crucial to US-Russian Relations
Washington’s inclusion of Ukraine into the US-Russia relations formula does not benefit Ukraine. This foolhardy triptych only benefits Russia because all considerations get vetted via the question of how will it benefit Washington’s relations with Moscow rather than how will it benefit Ukraine and the global community.
US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, among others, believes that improvement of Russian-American relations is possible in case of a settlement of the “situation” in Ukraine. Many global leaders hide the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-17 behind references to a “situation” in Ukraine as if it were some sort of obscene pornographic image, unsuitable for society’s eyes and ears.
“The situation in Ukraine presents certain difficulties, especially because we do not see any noticeable progress here. However, Ukraine is, perhaps, the only crucial topic that could breathe new life into the bilateral relations between Moscow and Washington. The United States believes so at least,” Huntsman said. “Ukraine is crucial for restoration of our relations with Moscow.”
His boss, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, made the same observations: “We’ve made this clear to Russia from the very beginning, that we must address Ukraine. It stands as the single most difficult obstacle to us renormalizing the relationship with Russia, which we badly would like to do.”
It is clear that above all other political and diplomatic considerations, Washington wants to restore friendly relationships with Russia. It is irrelevant that the end of the war in Ukraine will benefit Ukrainians. What’s more important to Washington is that it will help restore a solid relationship with Russia. Apparently, as far as Washington is concerned, it would be better if Ukraine would quietly disappear. How offensive is that to Ukraine.
Tillerson at Atlantic Council
Secretary of State Tillerson elaborated on this unfortunate premise in his speech at the 2017 Atlantic Council-Korea Foundation Forum on December 12.
Pro-Ukraine advocates around the world cheered when he declared: “But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is something that we cannot accept.”
Tillerson said when one country, Russia, invades another country, Ukraine, and takes its territory, “We cannot – that cannot be left to stand.”
He explained that Russia’s aggression is the basis for the “very stringent sanctions regime” that the US and Europe imposed on Russia as a result of that invasion, and “that regime will not change until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is resolved and Ukraine’s territorial integrity is returned.”
It would have been better if Tillerson had stopped at that point. But he didn’t.
Tillerson places a great deal of hope on the ineffective Minsk accords, which Russia flagrantly violates every day. He admits that US officials discuss Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukrainian Crimea and Donbas, which is akin to bragging about being paid for something you’re supposed to do. Those diplomatic discussions have not had any positive benefits for Ukraine. Russian soldiers and arms persist in flooding into Ukraine.
If there won’t be any painful penalties against Russia, it will continue doing so until it reaches the Polish border.
As for belittling US-Ukraine relations for the benefit of US-Russia relations, Tillerson went on to say “In other areas with Russia, we are looking for possible cooperations where we have joint counterterrorism interest.” You can’t please two masters – helping Ukraine and its sworn enemy, Russia.
Despite Russia’s military and cyber invasions of Ukraine, the United States and other countries, Tillerson was not ready to condemn Russia and sever relations with it. He naively asked: “It is something I do not understand about why Russia thinks it’s in its interest to disrupt the free and fair elections of other countries. What do you hope to achieve?”
Sadly, Washington has become fertile grounds for the latest crop of morons.
Corruption in Ukraine
On the one hand, the Ukrainian nation and some free world governments support Ukraine in its war with Russia, but on the other hand they justifiably cannot tolerate rampant corruption in Ukraine. It’s a love-hate relationship. The Ukrainian nation has lost its patience with President Poroshenko’s inability or unwillingness to stamp out corruption and graft and arrest some if not all of the criminals.
Poroshenko’s war effort can and must be supported and his national-awareness campaigns are beyond reproach. But his battle against corruption has been a stark failure that has given rise to the likes of Mikheil Saakashvili, who agitates the crowds in his favor and against Poroshenko. Despite his beneficial past record, Saakashvili doesn’t deserve to lead the latest Maidan revolution and the Ukrainian nation cannot withstand the internal devastation of another revolution at the time of war.
Poroshenko must realize that he is a man of destiny. He may well lead the Ukrainian nation to victory against Russian invaders and be inscribed in gold letters as a hero in Ukrainian history books. But if he doesn’t simultaneously squash homegrown perpetrators of corruption in Ukraine, he will suffer the indignation of being characterized as a goat by future generations.
Monday, November 13, 2017
UN Affirms that Famine is War Crime ahead of Holodomor Commemoration
As Ukrainians prepare to commemorate the 85th anniversary of Russia’s mass murder by starvation of 7-10 million Ukrainian men, women and children, the United Nations has made a significant admission about using food as a weapon.
The UN issued a statement on Monday, October 23, in which it said famine can constitute a war crime or crime against humanity. An independent UN human rights expert noted that more civilians die from hunger and disease related to conflicts than in direct combat.
“If the famine comes from deliberate action of the state or other players using food as a weapon of war, it is an international crime,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver was quoted as telling journalists in New York.
“It is crucial that the international community understands that it is an international crime to intentionally block access to food, food aid, and to destroy production of food.”
So what is holding back the United Nations from taking the leap from stating that famine is a war crime to declaring that the Ukrainian Holodomor is a crime of genocide? Fear of Russia?
Ukraine, the United States, former captive nations and others for a total of 15 countries have recognized the Ukrainian famine killings as genocide.
Eight and a half decades ago, the Holodomor against the Ukrainian nation was precipitated by an intentional, deliberate deprivation of food by Russia. Moscow was fulfilling its plan to eradicate the Ukrainian nation from the face of the earth. It wasn’t merely Josef Stalin or Soviet Russia or Communist Russia. It was singular Russia, regardless of its socio-political mantra, which for more than 1,000 bloody years has tried to subjugate or eradicate the Ukrainian nation.
Indeed, the famine murders in Ukraine of 1932-33 were the fulfillment of the imperial spirit and mission of Russia. Stalin and the Communist Party of the USSR were merely the perpetrators. They were crimes against humanity and an act of genocide.
Noted Holodomor researcher Robert Conquest, author of The Harvest of Sorrow, emphatically stated that the famine was a deliberate act of mass murder, if not genocide.
More notably, Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term genocide, declared the Holodomor qualifies as such a heinous crime:
“What I want to speak about is perhaps the classic example of Soviet genocide, its longest and broadest experiment in Russification – the destruction of the Ukrainian nation,” Lemkin wrote.
“This is not simply a case of mass murder. It is a case of genocide, of destruction, not of individuals only, but of a culture and a nation. Soviet national unity is being created, not by any union of ideas and of cultures, but by the complete destruction of all cultures and of all ideas save one – the Soviet.”
The Ukrainian diaspora, especially in the United States and Canada, has been informing its mainstream communities about the famine murders since news first emanated from the Russian prison of nations. One of the first articles with photographs on famine murders appeared in the Chicago American and The Daily Express report in the 1930s. Ukrainians in the free world have also been coaxing their elected officials to recognize the Holodomor as a Russian act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation. Their efforts have been successful.
Congressional Ukrainian Caucus Co-Chairs, Congressmen Sander Levin (D-MI), Andy Harris (R-MD), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), introduced on Tuesday, November 7, a resolution commemorating the 85th anniversary of what they called the Holodomor Famine-Genocide and denouncing this crime against humanity.
They said in a statement that the resolution honors the men, women and children who perished at the will of the Kremlin, which, the lawmakers said, “perpetrated a premeditated famine in the winter of 1932-1933 in Ukraine in a concerted effort to break the nation's resistance to communist occupation.”
“We must solemnly remember the millions of Ukrainians who lost their lives in the Holodomor Famine-Genocide and shine a spotlight on the truth. This monument represents our hopes, our shared values, and the humanity that binds us,” they said.
Referring to the Holodomor as a “Famine-Genocide,” the congressmen expressed hope that their resolution would serve as “a reminder of repressive Soviet policies against the people of Ukraine.”
They also noted congressional support for “the continuing efforts of the people of Ukraine to work toward ensuring democratic principles, a free-market economy, and full respect for human rights, in order to enable Ukraine to achieve its potential as an important strategic partner of the United States in that region of the world, and to reflect the will of its people.”
The New Jersey Senate and Assembly also issued a resolution introduced by Senator Tony M. Bucco and Assemblyman Tony R. Bucco and Michael Patrick Carroll recognizing November 2017 as Ukrainian Genocide Remembrance Month.
Most recently, Anne Applebaum gave renewed impetus to the Holodomor awareness campaign. With her book “Red Famine – Stalin’s War on Ukraine” and speaking tour, Applebaum brought the story of the Ukrainian famine to the man and women in the street across the US. Fortunately, the media that covered her presentations noted that Russia’s crime was a genocide, using that designation interchangeably with famine and Holodomor.
As Applebaum spoke, she reflected on the long-lasting ramifications of the Holodomor, saying that the genocide continues to shape the thinking of Ukrainians and Russians to this day, and offered examples of how contemporary political problems in Ukraine can be traced directly to both the loss of the patriotic post-revolutionary elite and the men and women who died as a result of the genocide.
Indeed, today Russia behaves toward Ukraine as it has always done. If Ukrainians can’t be cajoled or charmed into submission then they must be annihilated, which is the goal of the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-17.
In New York City, the Ukrainian American community will hold its annual Holodomor Commemoration at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Saturday, November 18, at 2 pm. The observance will begin at 11:30 am with a March of Remembrance from St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church, 30 E 7th St in New York City.
Friday, November 3, 2017
Is Russia Burying the US?
On the 100th anniversary of the Russian Bolshevik Revolution, the current Russian boss, Vladimir Putin, is fulfilling his communist predecessor’s threat to bury us.
Just read the daily news headlines and you’ll easily see that this is so.
While addressing Westerners on November 18, 1956, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR Nikita Khrushchev brazenly declared: “About the capitalist states, it doesn’t depend on you whether or not we exist. If you don’t like us, don’t accept our invitations, and don’t invite us to come to see you. Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you.” “Нравится вам или нет, но история на нашей стороне. Мы вас похороним.”
Despite naïve explanations at the time that Khrushchev didn’t really mean what he said, you can’t misinterpret the Russian “my vas pokhoronim” – we will bury you, we will inter you, we will place you six feet underground, etc.
White House officials, politicians from both sides of the aisle, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea are following the evolving scandal of Russia’s cyber invasion of America with unrestrained interest. Is it possible that a major global power attempted to undermine another major global power with the use of harmless social media? Did the Kremlin have moles or sleepers in the United States? Were Americans naïve, gullible and greedy?
The answers are yes, indeed. In an attempt to destabilize the political structure of the United States, the Kremlin created a diabolical plot aimed at subverting the 2016 Presidential Elections via social media.
The plan was simple. Russia generated content and information, and developed a foolproof plan of execution – the Internet. The formula is quite straightforward and uncomplicated to implement after mastering the technology and the victim’s trusting and avaricious psyche.
According to reports, Russia-linked accounts sent more than 1.4 million automated tweets about the US elections. Ultimately, to its credit, Twitter suspended these accounts. Furthermore, “fake information” posted on Facebook reached 126 million Americans – about one-third of the population.
Emphasizing how widely content on the social media platform can spread, Facebook said in prepared testimony it submitted Monday, October 30, to the Senate Judiciary Committee that while some 29 million Americans directly received material from 80,000 posts by 120 fake Russian-backed pages in their own news feeds, those posts were “shared, liked and followed by people on Facebook, and, as a result, three times more people may have been exposed to a story that originated from the Russian operation.”
Posts from Russian-backed Facebook accounts from January 2015 to August 2017, by Facebook’s estimation, reached potentially half of the 250 million Americans who are eligible to vote. None of the 80,000 posts generated by fake Russian-backed pages includes the 3,000 Facebook advertisements purchased by Russian entities, according to others familiar with the issue.
The shared content that Facebook estimates reached 126 million Americans was likely hard, if not impossible, for users of the social media platform to identify as originating from Russia. But nonetheless it did appear in cyberspace.
Google said in a blogpost it has discovered 1,108 videos uploaded to its YouTube video site, which were viewed a total of 309,000 times in the U.S. from June 2015 to November 2016, by accounts linked to Russian operatives. The videos encompass 43 hours of content from 18 English-language accounts, it said. In addition, Google said two accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency spent $4,700 on search and display ads during the 2016 elections.
The House Intelligence Committee released ads connected to a pro-Russian troll farm. Along with the ads, the committee released metadata showing that some advertisements were targeted at teenagers as young as 13. The messages, carried on Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube, showed efforts to divide Americans, with some aimed at both liberal and conservative constituencies.
This exercise demonstrated that the notion that Russia curries allies in one or the other political or ideological camp – for example, Democrats, liberals, leftists – is false. Russia leaches into all facets of American life with the sole intention of subjugating the body politic and the republic.
The partisan bickering about who opened the door and let in Russian trolls and subversives will continue without end. Except for criminal responsibility, “who done it” is irrelevant. However, the essential take away is that Moscow penetrated the United States and tried to subvert it, to weaken it and make it ripe for collapse. Russia successfully invaded the United States, the bastion of freedom, without declaring war.
Tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google, testifying before Congress this week about Russian cyber-invasion, were subjected to scathing interrogation by lawmakers, who belatedly challenged them to wake up to the Russian threat. Ironically, Ukrainian and other captive nation representatives in the US have employed this same admonition when addressing US-Russia and US-Ukraine issues since the end of World War II. As a matter of fact, the lawmakers’ castigations could have been expressed by any Ukrainian American civic leader.
Russian efforts to interfere amounted to “an act of war,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said Wednesday, November 1, caustically adding that to question otherwise plays right into Russia’s hands.
“You’re falling into Russia’s trap. Russia is spending money in this country to convince us that this is nothing more than what’s been done since the beginning of time,” Cardin said. “It’s a conscientious effort to say ‘we all do this, so why is America getting upset?’ And we’re falling trap to it because we’re giving legitimacy to this.
“Cyber is an attack against our country. When you use cyber in an affirmative way to compromise our democratic, free election system, that’s an attack against America,” he continued. “It’s an act of war. It is an act of war.”
Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) chastised the social media companies about their irresponsibility, emphasizing: “This is about national security ... [and a] deliberate and multifaceted manipulation of the American people by agents of a hostile foreign power.”
Virginia’s Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, poignantly underscored the ongoing nature of the Russian threat. Undeniably, Russia hasn’t stopped fulfilling its global mission of domination. Russians are using social media to “set us against ourselves and to undermine our democracy,” he said. “They did it during the 2016 US presidential campaign. They are still doing now.”
Despite the social media representatives’ efforts to excuse and explain their companies’ folly, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) didn’t believe them. “I don’t think you get it. I think the fact that you’re general counsels, you defend your company. What we’re talking about is the beginning of cyberwarfare.”
Burr said he takes Russia’s effort to meddle in US politics through social media very seriously. “A foreign power using that platform to influence how Americans see and think about one another is as much a public policy issue as it is a national security concern,” he said.
The Russians didn’t just go after presidential campaigns. Their global plan included subverting elections in other countries and additional dirty tricks.
Evidence reveals Moscow tried to break into the private email of the US secretary of state, attempted to steal the private correspondence of a manager working on Lockheed Martin’s stealth fighter program, and sought to break into the accounts of thousands of others, including the punk band Pussy Riot and Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
About 19,000 lines of data, recently shared by cybersecurity firm Secureworks, show that Fancy Bear — the hacking group blamed by U.S. intelligence agencies for disrupting last year’s presidential election — tried to break into more than 4,700 Gmail inboxes between March 2015 and May 2016.
The Ukrainian government said it had warned Facebook and US officials years ago that Russia was conducting disinformation campaigns on its platform including account takedowns and fake news, as the impact of social media on politics came under the spotlight. Dmytro Shymkiv, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, told the Financial Times that it warned Facebook and US officials about “aggressive behavior” from Russia spreading disinformation on social media in an “information propaganda war” in 2015.
The America cyber geniuses and officials inside the Beltway didn’t pay attention.
This is a severe indictment of the America’s current state of affairs and its gatekeepers. No one believed in the existence of a Russian threat and this nonbelief paved the way to gullible acceptance of Russia’s two-faced friendship. It reminds me of Mina Harker’s acceptance of Dracula.
In the horror classic, young Mina was rescued. I fear that the US may not be easily saved.
According to the latest survey from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a DC-based nonprofit, one in two US millennials, the powerful demographic cohort that will soon rule the country, say they would rather live in a socialist or communist country than a capitalist democracy. Furthermore, 22% of them have a favorable view of Karl Marx and a surprising number see Josef Stalin and Kim Jong Un as “heroes.” This reveals a troublesome lack of education and political awareness on the part of young American men and women.
“Millennials now make up the largest generation in America, and we’re seeing some deeply worrisome trends,” said Marion Smith, executive director of the foundation. “Millennials are increasingly turning away from capitalism and toward socialism and even communism as a viable alternative.”
But do they even know what it is? Do they know the blood that was shed by the likes of Stalin? Or will they again open the door for Moscow to broaden its power across the US?
The survey, which was conducted by research and data firm YouGov, found that millennials are the least knowledgeable generation on the subject, with 71% failing to identify the proper definition of communism.
These are dark days for the country and the world with Russia’s cyber adventurism in the US, its invasion of Ukraine, and its belligerence in Syria and other parts of the world. It will take an enlightened leader to pull the US and world out of this morass and shackle Russia in its cave until it reforms.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
War is Hell – A Woman’s Perspective:
Aggressors Kill, Rape, Violate Human Rights
The death and destruction that war brings are easily observable. You see lifeless bodies of soldiers and civilians strewn about at the site of skirmishes and in the destroyed vestiges of what were once homes, schools or office buildings.
War also leaves devastating repercussions in the minds of the survivors, many of which are women.
Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, deputy prime minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, speaking at the UN Security Council open debate on Women, Peace and Security, on October 27, elaborated on how the violence of Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-17 will reverberate in the Ukrainian women long after the Russian invaders have been expelled from Ukraine.
“The Russian aggression against Ukraine and temporary occupation of the part of the Ukrainian territory has resulted in widespread human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence. According to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, since the beginning of this aggression 32,252 conflict-related casualties were recorded, including 2,505 killed civilians,” Klympush detailed.
“A direct consequence of the Russian aggression against Ukraine has been a displacement of individuals and families with 1.7 million internally displaced persons registered countrywide. Of them, older persons make up 78 %, women — 58 % and children — 8 %.”
Despite the well-documented list of crimes against humanity committed by Russian soldiers and their mercenary allies, no one has been held accountable for these transgressions. Klympush noted that sexual violence is not among the least offenses perpetrated by Russian invaders.
“This is partly due to the fact that the conflict is ongoing and that a part of Ukraine’s territory remains under the control of illegal armed groups, supported by the RF (Russian Federation). While there is still much to do, Ukraine has made significant progress towards implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda,” she said.
Sexual violence – a euphemism for rape – is a violent crime in every decent society and it’s not seriously considered in the thus-far unproductive Minsk negotiations. Rape, even in time of war, has been denounced by the United Nations: “Sexual violence in conflict needs to be treated as the war crime that it is; it can no longer be treated as an unfortunate collateral damage of war.”
Rape, a war crime, in the course of the Russian invasion of Ukraine must be included in a future Nuremberg Trial against Russia.
Klympush applauded the UN system and leadership for their tireless commitment to women’s rights and empowerment and continued efforts and support to Ukraine in its pursuit of peace and security. However, she continued: “War and conflicts are devastating communities across the world today. In recent years we have also seen widespread targeting of women and girls in conflict zones. Since the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 in 2000, the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda remains relevant and critical in the face of rising violence, extremism and deadly conflicts.” She urged the UN Security Council to endlessly reinforce the importance of implementing existing WPS resolutions.
Klympush believes that a solution to the danger facing women and girls in conflict zones is for law enforcement security forces and peacekeeping missions that are supposed to protect civilians to do a better job of seeking out and listening to the needs of women and prioritizing their participation and protection.
“The international community must pay sufficient attention to providing and delivering the necessary protection to women in conflict-affected areas, in parallel with ensuring a meaningful women’s participation, so as to ensure complementarity between both pillars,” she said. “Thus the deployment of senior gender advisors and senior women protection advisors is critical to ensure that missions have sufficient gender expertise, authority, capacity to address those objectives.”
Klympush suggestion that senior women advisors’ visible role at the peace table can have positive results. Women can improve the negotiation process, contribute to a more comprehensive peace agreement, and bolster the prospect of sustainable peace. Indeed, the historic and notorious absence of women from this process has led to recurrent wars around the world.
Women at the peace table, she said, provide an “important window of opportunity to set an agenda for sustainable peace that includes the needs of the often-excluded half of the population.” Klympush made noticeable reference to countless peace negotiations that focused on ceasefire, combatants, and weapons. She rightly indicated that the other half of the population – woman – have priorities that focus on families, children and life after hostilities have ended that also need to be addressed.
“Ukraine recognizes the importance of equal and full participation of women in all activities for the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace-building and peacekeeping,” Klympush declared. “I am proud to say that in the two last years that Ukraine has been a member of the Security Council, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 has been our great and long-standing daily priority.”
Klympush told the council members that the Ukrainian government integrates women, peace and security in on-going security and defense reform programs. Kyiv has conducted a comprehensive gender impact assessment of the security sector and will soon adopt a multi-year Gender Equality Strategy for Security and Defense, she said. The result will be a comprehensive integration of gender equality and women’s rights in all areas of security and defense reform.
“Over the last two years Ukraine has achieved progress in improving the recruitment policies. This resulted in a steady increase of a number of women working in the security and defense sector,” Klympush said.
While still in a minority, Klympush said Ukrainian women play a prominent role in the peacebuilding process. President Poroshenko appointed a woman to a position in charge of the process of peaceful settlement in the Donbas region and two women in Minsk working groups are dealing with humanitarian and political issues.
“Building peace in my country requires women’s participation and influence, including the Minsk processes. It also requires action to stop the attacks against women and making sure that women will not be attacked with impunity. We will continue to work towards development of a full range of judicial and non-judicial measures, and institutional reform in line with the international standards,” she said.
However, as with all facets of life in Ukraine, talk of progress is overshadowed by the deadly effects of Russia’s murderous aggression. Klympush said as long as foreign aggression continues, “For the majority of women in the territory of Ukraine, peace and security will remain a far-fetched and almost unattainable notion. Women will continue lacking protection, living in fear, having almost no recourse to justice, remaining economically disadvantaged and living in limited freedom.
“The situation in Ukraine, suffering from the Russian aggression showed the importance of striking a balance between the two main pillars of the women and peace and security agenda: protection and participation. We believe the Security Council must prioritize these two.”
War is hell. But peace for the perpetrator of war should not be a well-deserved respite.
IN MEMORIAM: A veteran of the Anti-Terrorist Operation against Russian invaders, Ukrainian police lieutenant, ethnic Chechen Amina Okuyeva has been killed in the second assassination attempt this year. Her car was ambushed at a rail crossing near the settlement of Hlevakha in the Kyiv Oblast, and gunfire was opened from roadside shrubs. Okuyeva died of wounds on the spot. Her husband Adam Osmayev was wounded, however, his condition is non-life-threatening. Rest in Peace.
Monday, September 25, 2017
Lies, Damned Lies and Russian Lies
Updating Benjamin Disraeli and Mark Twain’s three types of lies: There are lies, damned lies and Russian lies.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in his address to the 72nd UN General Assembly on September 21, presented his country’s view of global affairs, which did not have any resemblance to reality. The events Lavrov cited took place but his spin turned them into fiction. With fabrications, twists and misrepresentations, Lavrov kept his fellow diplomats spellbound and wondering what he’s talking about.
There were no reports of anyone walking out on Lavrov like the Russian delegation did before Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, who caustically denounced Russia for its unbridled aggression, took the floor; or like UN Ambassador Ja Song Nam who left the General Assembly Hall before President Trump arrived to speak.
A day earlier, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and Vice President Mike Pence did leave the UN Security Council meeting before Lavrov’s speech. According to media reports, “Pence and Poroshenko held their speeches, and then the President of Ukraine left the room. Pence exited a few minutes later.”
But on Thursday, when Lavrov addressed the 192 other member-states, everyone remained seated.
Lavrov immediately began with his fantasies by reminding his colleagues that in December 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution on “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order,” which stipulated that interference into internal affairs of sovereign states, non-recognition of coups d'état as a method of change of power and the need to exclude from the international communication the attempts of unlawful pressure of certain States on others, including exterritorial application of national jurisdiction are all unacceptable.
That was his opening paragraph. A list of what Moscow had committed against other countries.
He also reminded the audience that member-states shouldn’t impose their will on other nations.
“Sovereignty, refraining from interference into internal affairs, equality of people and mutual respect – Russia has always adhered to these principles and will continue to uphold them,” Lavrov declared brazenly.
It is difficult to respond to such straightforward lies because there are so many examples of Russian interference in the internal affairs of neighboring countries to choose from. Without reaching into tsarist or Soviet communist history, just take any contemporary newspaper and read about Ukraine, Chechnya, Georgia and Syria. All of them have suffered from Russia’s imposition of its will on them.
As I was finishing this blog, true news media reported that Russian Gen. Valery Asapov, who commanded the Russian army in temporarily occupied Donbas as well as in Syria, was killed in action in the Syrian town of Dayr Az zawr. This became the latest evidence of the widespread nature of Russia’s terrorist tentacles.
Some three years ago, President Vladimir Putin thought his governor in Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, would succeed in keeping Russia’s reigns on Ukraine. But he failed and it took a national Revolution of Dignity – the Ukrainian nation’s latest in a long line of rebellions against foreign occupiers – to begin to shed the shackles of Russian subjugation. Russia’s interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine then quickly evolved in the invasion and occupation of Crimea and two eastern Ukrainian regions.
Lavrov complained that the West adopted a policy of “who’s not with us is against us” and is moving NATO toward the Russian border “provoking instability in the post-Soviet space and encouraging anti-Russian sentiments.” He failed to point out that in the case of the former captive nations, they sought membership in NATO and integration in the European Union as the only means to protect themselves against Russian colonialism. Some have reached that goal. Others, like Ukraine, are still waiting for accession.
As for peace talks regarding Russia’s war with Ukraine, Kyiv is not the party inventing lies and tricks to bog down implementation of the Minsk Accords, as Lavrov claimed. The newest example of Russian’s ceasefire violations came at the start of the latest academic year. After agreeing to a truce so that kids could start their schooling, Russian soldiers and terrorists immediately violated the ceasefire and resumed attacking Ukrainian military positions.
Surprisingly, Lavrov did not attempt to disparage the United Nations for declaring Russia to be an aggressor state and occupying power because of its invasion of Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula. The nearly three-year-old Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-17 has claimed more than 12,000 civilian and military lives and created some 1.25 million refugees.
Lavrov bemoaned the demolition of monuments to so-called Russian liberators of Europe at the end of World War II, noticeably omitting references to their raping and pillaging of native populations from Ukraine to the former West German border. He said terrorists, extremists and nationalists destroy and desecrate objects of historic, religious and cultural value with their hatred and intolerance. Indeed, Russia’s colonial administration and occupying army in Crimea have harassed, persecuted, arrested, imprisoned and killed Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians on the peninsula for opposing Russian domination, fostering Crimean Tatar culture and religion, and favoring their return to Ukrainian sovereignty.
Statues of Lenin and Stalin have been toppled by freedom-loving people throughout Ukraine and the former captive nations. However, it would be appropriate if one, just one, monument to Lenin or Stalin should remain somewhere with the inscription “Remember.”
Turning to modern technology, Lavrov continued whitewashing Russia’s crimes by bragging to the audience that Moscow drafted a universal convention on countering cybercrime, including hacking. “We propose to open its discussion as early as during the current session,” the Russian minister suggested.
This he said with a straight face after Russia was caught red-handed hacking into America’s electoral process as well as the elections of several other western democracies.
Lavrov called for global mutual trust without which the world could not implement the important Sustainable Development Goals or the Paris Climate Agreement but Russia’s low level of credibility on any international issue coupled with crimes against humanity are enough to ostracize it from all multilateral events.
Toward the end of his address, Lavrov called on world leaders to educate youth in the spirit of cultural and spiritual diversity, lessons which it surely cannot seriously mentor because of its well-documented examples of hatred of non-Russian, non-Orthodox and non-heterosexual peoples. In this vein, Lavrov mentioned the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students that Russia will host next month. The Government of Ukraine and Ukrainian youth and student organizations in Ukraine and the diaspora are urging governments and young people around the world to boycott the event because of Russia’s chronic litany of lies and crimes.
Recidivist liars do not deserve a break.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Ukraine’s Poroshenko Calls for Int’l Group to De-Occupy Crimea
In his address to the 72nd UN General Assembly today, Ukraine’s President Poroshenko combined a series of strong denunciations against Russia for being an aggressor-nation and recidivist violator of the UN Charter with a global call for the creation of an international group of friends of Ukrainian Crimea that would de-occupy or liberate the Ukrainian peninsula from Russian subjugation.
“The international community has to keep a close eye on Crimea to prevent a new genocide inspired by modern proponents of Stalin’s totalitarian ideology against the Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians.
“I rely on support of your delegations for Ukraine’s initiatives to ensure observance of human rights in the temporarily occupied Crimea, in particular a further respective UN GA resolution.
“We need to strengthen the international regime of de-occupation of Crimea.
“The fact that at the highest international level – UN General Assembly – Russia was recognized as an occupying power, proves that we are on the right track.
“The time has come to establish an international group of friends of Ukrainian Crimea to coordinate our common steps,” Poroshenko declared, joining colleagues from x-captive nations Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Poland in chastising Moscow for invading and occupying Crimea and Donbas.
Poroshenko, echoing his ideas expressed earlier at the 17th Yalta European Strategy meeting, developed his thoughts for the global community in a way that sharply delineated good from evil, freedom from oppression, and peace from war. He urged the international community to join Ukraine in opposing Russia’s record of crimes and human rights abuses.
Citing numerous examples of Russia’s violations of international accords and norms, the Ukrainian leader ironically said the principle of sovereignty that the UN was established to uphold is being desecrated by Moscow, a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
“When the UN was set up, it was designed to maintain peace and security in the world based on principles of respect for sovereignty and integrity of borders. The founding nations, among those was Ukraine as well, aimed at securing the world where the sovereign right of free choice to be respected,” he said.
“So was this principle to be guarded by P5 (5 permanent members of the UN Security Council – TC) in the name of sustainable peace and security. That was the principle that happened to be so blatantly violated against my own country by one of the P5.”
Poroshenko said millions of Ukrainians have struggled to invest in this “noble endeavor” in the name of sustainable peace and security since the Russian invasion of Donbas and Crimea three years ago.
The Ukrainian president accused Russia of turning Crimea and Donbas into a wasteland of freedom, arresting and incarcerating anyone who even slightly expresses support for Ukraine.
“A three-year-long war with Russia has resulted in 10 thousand people killed, 7 percent of Ukrainian territory occupied, 20 percent of Ukrainian economy and industrial output is seized, destroyed or simply stolen.
“However, the most horrific thing in this situation is that the Kremlin has consciously chosen the tactics of increasing human sufferings.
“The occupied Crimean peninsula, according to the human rights activists, has turned into a territory of repressions. Anyone disagreeing with Kremlin risks their freedom and even life,” he said.
Continuing with his litany of accusations against Moscow, Poroshenko said Russia “blatantly violates” the UN General Assembly Resolution 71/205 on the “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol” that was adopted during the 71st GA session. Russia also ignores all requests of the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure proper and full access of the international human rights monitoring missions to Crimea.
Calling for worldwide monitoring of Russia’s belligerent behavior, Poroshenko said “Such disregard of Russia’s international obligations must receive proper response of the international community. The international community has to keep a close eye on Crimea to prevent a new genocide inspired by modern proponents of Stalin’s totalitarian ideology against the Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians.”
Poroshenko said Crimea is also threatened by Russian militarization, which would affect Southern and Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. He added that Ukraine “strongly condemns” military exercises in occupied Crimea and close to Ukraine’s borders, especially the massive Zapad 2017.
The security and human rights situation in war-torn Donbas is also critical, he said.
“This year Ukraine initiated three major ceasefire attempts: Easter, Harvest and Back-to-School ceasefires. Yet again, Russian occupation troops and their proxies violated them almost immediately.
In breach of the Minsk agreements, Russia keeps its regular military and continues to supply heavy weapons and ammunition to the occupation troops in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. It flatly denies the establishment of the OSCE permanent control over Ukraine-Russia border,” Poroshenko said, adding demands for the release of military and civilian hostages and prisoners.
“Stealing other nations’ land… kidnapping people… conducting a hidden war…downing a civilian aircraft… spreading lies globally – is this the kind of behavior we expect from a permanent Security Council member? Russia is not a contributor to international security, but its biggest threat. Today Russia is, perhaps, the only country in the world that has conflicts – hot, frozen or potential – with almost all its neighbors,” he stated.
Attempting an explanation for the war in eastern Ukraine, Poroshenko opined that Ukraine and Russia strive for completely different things.
“Ukraine wants peace and restoration of sovereignty over its territory. Russia wants control over Ukraine and undermines every effort to restore our sovereign control within Ukraine’s borders,” he said.
Poroshenko elaborated on his support for UN peacekeepers to be stationed in the war zone, noting that their mandate must also include the national border between Ukraine and Russia. “As long as the border is used as the main supply route for manpower and weapons to Donbas, there will be no peace in my country,” he added.
Poroshenko believes that “robust international presence” can also help Ukraine cope with the increase of terrorist activities in eastern Ukraine since Russian terrorism is visible in the daily lives of the region’s residents.
Poroshenko labeled the greatest civilian catastrophe of the Russo-Ukraine war of 2014-17, the destruction of flight MH17 with 298 people on board, a “horrible crime” because the missile that destroyed the civilian airliner was launched from Russia.
“The death of the MH17 victims is on Russia’s conscience,” he charged.
Turning to global issues, Poroshenko said Ukraine, which voluntarily surrendered its nuclear weapons, favors a nuclear test ban and condemns North Korean belligerence. He said huge numbers of Russian military assets are deployed to Syria by ships based in Crimea.
Accentuating Ukraine’s commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, Poroshenko said Ukraine’s economy has turned around enough to commit sufficient funds to the campaign.
“Despite heavy defense expenses more than 5 percent of its GDP, Ukraine keeps going through fundamental transformations – fighting corruption, promoting judicial reforms, implementing decentralization, improving business opportunities,” he said. “A year and a half ago the economic situation in Ukraine was so dire that we could only dream about macroeconomic stabilization. Now we have all grounds to say that economic recovery is in place.”
Poroshenko concluded his address with an appeal to the UN member-states, reminding them that the 72nd GA session coincides with the 85th anniversary of one of the deadliest crimes of the 20th century – the crime of Holodomor – the famine-murder of 7-10 million Ukrainian men, women and children.
“Dr. Raphael Lemkin, the author of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, described that destruction of the Ukrainian nation as ‘the classic example of genocide,’” he said. “I appeal to all UN member-states to make their own historic judgment and to make decision by recognizing Holodomor as an act of genocide.”
With a look at the future, Poroshenko described a contemporary world that is divided between those who “believe that freedom is indispensable and those who believe freedom is expendable.”
The Ukrainian leader challenged those who believe in freedom to unite – “It’s time for freedom to be strong, convincing and convinced.”
Scroll down to read Lithuanian President Grybauskaitė’s address at the 72nd UNGA and other posts about President Poroshenko policies and observations about a global bloc to protect liberty and democracy.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Lithuanian President Grybauskaitė Equates Russia with Global Evil
Taking a strong position in support of neighboring Ukraine, President Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania denounced Russia as being as dangerous as North Korea and Syria for bullying and invading Ukraine three years ago.
Speaking at the 72nd UN General Assembly on Tuesday, September 19, Grybauskaitė issued a global warning against Russian aggression because of its Zapad 2017 military exercises in regions adjacent to the x-captive nations.
“As we speak, around 100,000 Russian troops are engaged in offensive military exercises Zapad 2017 on the borders of Baltic States, Poland and even in the Arctic. The Kremlin is rehearsing aggressive scenarios against its neighbors, training its army to attack the West. The exercise is also part of information warfare aimed at spreading uncertainty and fear. Even more disturbingly, Zapad exercise is just one symptom of Kremlin’s inability to finally end its hatred towards the West.” she declared, reinforcing the common bond among former subjugated nations of Russia’s imperial prison.
Grybauskaitė repeated a theme raised by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the 17th Annual Yalta European Strategy annual meeting. (See previous blogpost.)
The Lithuanian leader further chastised Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, for violating the UN Charter by attacking Georgia, illegally annexing Crimea and directly participating in the war in Eastern Ukraine.
“The Kremlin’s arsenal does not stop at conventional weapons. Russia continues to meddle in elections, conducts cyber-attacks and uses its sputniks to spread fake news and destabilizing propaganda,” she said in the course of an unusually short delegate’s address at the General Assembly.
Noting that energy blackmail has been a longtime weapon of choice for Russia, Grybauskaitė said Moscow is building in Belarus, just 40 kilometers from Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, the unsafe Astravets nuclear power plant “as a geopolitical weapon that fails to comply with basic international nuclear standards.”
In her remarks, she cast an accusatory stone at the international community for allowing Russian and other abuses of basic international norms to continue. She decried this state of affairs is the result of the world’s collective failure to condemn and properly react to violations. International organizations do not have the courage to enforce the rules that they create while drawing boundaries that they pretend don’t exist, she said.
“This has to change. Bullies are aggressive precisely because they are weak and insecure. That is why we must stop being passive observers and start calling things by their own names,” she said. “Aggression cannot make anyone stronger. It can never earn anyone even a drop of respect. The only thing the aggression will bring is contempt, shame and condemnation.”
Grybauskaitė said member-states must assume their share of the responsibility and not let fear close their eyes to violators because criminal states will be encouraged to increase acts of terror and abuses.
“We must learn to read the warning signs, because abuse of human rights, nationalistic rhetoric and suppression of free speech explode into violence if ignored,” she said.
Turning to the UN, she reminded her fellow delegates that the global body was formed to save the world from wars, however, “it has failed to fulfill this promise.”
“Now we face the choice: either we give this organization the voice to rise against the abuse or we will make it irrelevant,” she said.
The Lithuanian president’s firm advocacy on behalf of the former captive nations will hopefully give rise to a new coalition in support of freedom, liberty and democracy in the face of ongoing, virulent Russian belligerence.