Ukraine has been invaded by Russia. Ukraine is being dismembered. What is happening is not an intervention or an incursion. The Kremlin’s black deeds are not a “stealth war,” nor is this any kind of Cold War. It’s bloodthirsty hot.
Crimea has been under Russian military occupation since March. Heavy weapons fired from inside the Russian Federation are killing Ukrainian soldiers and civilians. More recently, Russian armour and aircraft have attacked defending Ukrainian units. Tellingly, POWs have been exchanged.
Ukraine faces an (ex)-KGB turned president-in-perpetuity who barks about how Kyiv’s government is “Nazi” even as he parades around cobbling together an ethnic Russian empire. Is “Putler,” as some Ukrainians have labelled him, demented? Even Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, wondered aloud about that, confiding in President Obama that his Russian counterpart is “living in another world.” Right on – this latter-day Mussolini-from-Moscow is nuts.
Everyone comments how Ukraine is not a member of NATO. Quite true. But hasn’t a democratic Ukraine earned the right to expect help in its hour of need? After all, Ukraine sent troops to help the West when we were fighting in Afghanistan. Did Russia? No. Instead Putin’s Russia ‘helped out’ by empowering the murderous Assad regime in Syria. And Moscow’s men have the blood of 298 innocents, mostly Europeans (plus one Canadian) on their hands, since it was their stooges who blew Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 out of the sky. Should you want a reference about Russia as a neighbour, go ask Georgia, which suffered mutilation-by-Moscow in 2008. No wonder Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland are frightened. They’re next.
NATO’s first secretary general, Lord Ismay, famously said the alliance’s purpose was to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down. An admirable sentiment. Now we have a Europe with the Russians battering in, the Americans chickening out, and the Germans prancing about, a disaster for Ukraine given Deutschland’s addiction to sucking the Russian bear’s gaseous teats, ‘Great Russian’ nostalgia for resuscitating a neo-Stalinist imperium, and America’s retreat from the world stage, save in the Middle East, where Washington’s partiality has consistently proven counterproductive. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s purblind decision to give up its nuclear weapons and downsize its military, in return for American, British, not to mention, Russian, guarantees of its political sovereignty and territorial integrity, have underscored a national weakness – Ukrainians prefer fairy tales to confronting geopolitical realities. They are paying the butcher’s bill for that naïveté and for their stupidity in not pursuing NATO membership, years ago. They are embroiled in battle but much worse is yet to come, for Ukraine has been sold out, betrayed, abandoned, and surrendered by the West. A time for atonement will surely come.
Countries like North Korea and Iran, Israel and Japan, to name a few, would do well to be wary of other states speaking softly and promising to be good. That never works out. It’s always better to carry your own big stick. Putin knows this. Russia is armed to the teeth. Would that Ukraine had been.
To date, Russian aggression against Ukraine hasn’t cost Putin and his Kremlin cronies much. Targeted sanctions haven’t worked because most Russians have not felt any pain. Want to pinch Putin? Freeze financial transactions between all citizens of the Russian Federation and the West and stop all cultural, sporting, and academic exchanges until Russian forces and local turncoats leave Ukrainian soil, permanently. Cleansing Paris and London, Berlin and Rome, of all those boorish “ugly Russians” loitering about would be a value-added bonus. Post-Wall Europe is officially over. Putin’s Russians should pay for that.
What Ukraine needs immediately are not more sanctions but Western military intervention, to help expel the Russian invaders. If the USA can deploy special forces as “observers” in Iraq, the future of which won’t make a fig of difference to anyone in the West, than saving Ukraine from Russia while rescuing Europe from its own myopia, should surely have a higher priority. Alas, America’s president seems to have abandoned America’s ideals.
But Canada could now punch above its weight internationally. Whether ours is a nation of warriors or peacekeepers doesn’t matter. Let’s put Canadian boots on the ground, to secure the border between Russia and Ukraine, prevent the incursion of Russian troops and weaponry in, and allow the parties to seek a peaceful solution. The colour of our soldiers’ helmets shouldn’t matter. And surely Putin can’t object to such a generous Canadian gesture. He has long claimed his army is not in Ukraine, that the fighting is all between separatists and Kyiv. Putin is a liar but let’s pretend otherwise, for the sake of peace. And let’s have Canadian soldiers (peacemakers) secure it. That would be a good deed. And good deeds are always repaid.