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Remarks on the 2nd Anniversary of Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion of Ukraine by Bohdan Romaniuk at the rally in Callgary on Feb. 24

Mar 1, 2024 | Featured, Canada

The rally in Calgary on Feb. 24, 2024
  • Distinguished representatives of the federal, provincial and municipal governments, honorable guests including especially George and Nicole Porter — parents of Kyle Porter, ladies and gentlemen, friends of Ukraine… thank you for attending this solemn event marking the 2nd anniversary of Putin’s genocidal invasion of Ukraine.
  • These are among the darkest days in Ukraine’s history, certainly the most perilous days for Ukraine since the Holodomor in 1932-33 and WWII which started six years later in 1939.
  • In my remarks today, I will address three critical matters: (1) how Ukraine is faring in the two existential wars it is currently fighting: that is, Putin’s war to physically annihilate Ukraine and (ii) Russia’s centuries-long efforts, which Putin has revived, to persuade the world that there is not, and never was, a Ukrainian language, a Ukrainian nation, a Ukrainian culture, and Ukrainian state independent of Russia; (2) what our global Ukrainian diaspora can do to help Ukraine win both these wars; and, closely related, (3) why continued western support of Ukraine is as important to the West as it is to Ukraine.

Bohdan Romaniuk

 

Putin’s Special Military Operation

 

  • The tragedy for Ukraine is that despite the losses it has inflicted upon Russian forces — and they have been massive — Putin’s army still far outnumbers Ukraine’s and Russia’s stockpile of weapons towers over that of Ukraine, most of whose weapons are provided by its western allies in any event and, sadly, supplies of which are now drying up or are being held back by in the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives at Trump’s insistence.
  • The result is that despite the bravery, ingenuity, and fierce resistance offered by Ukraine’s army, without the equipment and ammunition it desperately requires, Ukraine is just barely holding on at present. How long that situation will last is unknown, but it is unlikely to continue much longer without a significant infusion of military aid — primarily from the U.S.

 

A Few  Glimmers of Hope

 

  • As dark as the situation on the battlefield appears at present, there are several genuine glimmers of hope for Ukraine. Among them are the astounding success Ukraine has achieved — especially as a country without a navy — at sinking somewhere between one quarter and one-third of Russia’s vaunted Black Sea Fleet. The result is that Russia has been forced to re-locate its fleet from Crimea to more distant harbours at the far end of the Black Sea. This, in turn, has effectively ended Russia’s blockade of Odesa and Ukraine’s main shipping route for exports via the Mediterranean.
  • Ukraine has also recently been shooting down Russia’s most sophisticated and expensive fighter bombers and fighter jets at a dizzying rate by moving one or more of its Patriot missile systems closer to the front and using them for offensive purposes as opposed to the defense of cities against incoming ballistic missiles. Since the full-scale war began, Ukraine has shot down nearly 700 Russian aircraft split nearly evenly between fixed wing fighter and bomber aircraft (as well as  two AWACs (that is, Airborne Warning and Control System planes worth hundreds of millions of dollars each) and helicopters, including a large number of Russia’s fearsome Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters.
  • In addition, Ukraine has destroyed many thousands of Russian tanks and even more thousands of armoured personnel carriers, artillery systems, and supply vehicles.
  • In no way is Russia even remotely capable of replacing this military equipment and associated shells as quickly as they are being destroyed or used up.
  • With each new foreign delivery or domestic manufacture of longer-range missiles, Ukraine is seriously damaging, or outright destroying, vital Russian oil terminals on Russian territory. These too cannot be replaced overnight but remain essential to fueling Russia’s military.
  • If Ukraine finally does begin receiving new supplies of military equipment from the U.S. in the near future, including ATACMs, the Kerch bridge will become vulnerable to destruction. Were that to happen, the dynamics of the war would suddenly change very significantly in Ukraine’s favour.
  • Ukraine maintains and is expanding its network of partisan operatives behind enemy lines to engage in military sabotage, identifying targets for Ukrainian missiles, and engaging in assassinations of key military and civilian administrative personnel, including, especially traitors.
  • Canada and European members of NATO, except Hungary and Slovakia, have begun increasing their commitments of military aid to Ukraine, thereby making up some of the gap caused by America halting its aid to Ukraine these past several months.
  • Ukraine is actively pursuing agreements with western allies to build weapons and armaments manufacturing plants both inside and outside Ukraine. Once these plants come on stream, they will significantly reduce Ukraine’s dependence on foreign sources of supply.
  • Ukraine has finally developed and begun deploying midsize killer drones similar to Russia’s lancet drones for which Ukraine had no defence and no counterpart until now. It has also made one of its highest immediate military priorities the development of superior electronic warfare capabilities to those possessed by Russia, which at present are significantly more effective than anything Ukraine possesses.
  • Finally, despite all of Putin’s bragging and Peskov’s protestations to the contrary to western media, the West’s sanctions against Russia are starting to bite and seriously weaken the Russian economy. How do we know this? First, Putin lies with every breath he takes. So, if he tells us sanctions are having no effect on Russia’s economy, it almost certainly means that they are having a very large negative effect. Second, why did Putin order several months ago that Avdiivka be taken at all costs before next month’s elections in Russia? Answer: He needed some good news to deflect attention from all the negative consequences of the war and of sanctions themselves including a 7% inflation rate, 16% interest rates, and an exchange rate that equates the value of Russia’s ruble to less than that of a jelly bean or perhaps a couple of wooden toothpicks. Third, why did Putin order the murder of Navalny. Answer: He was concerned with possible protests organized from prison by Navalny just before the March elections focusing on how bad things are in Russia at present and/or the prospect of write-in ballots for Navalny far exceeding what Putin was prepared to countenance. Fourth, Putin has started hinting that he would like to directly negotiate a settlement of the war with the U.S., but solely on Russia’s terms and without Ukraine’s involvement at all. This suggests that behind the scenes things are not going anywhere near as well as Putin would like the West to believe. Fifth, despite all of the measures taken by Russia to obtain essential but sanctioned supplies of western microchips, Russia’s needs far exceed what it can purchase indirectly from third parties. This can be seen from the fact that Russia is unable to properly maintain the fleet of western passenger aircraft it seized when the war began. Russian operated planes keep breaking down or crashing with growing regularity or simply stop flying.
  • All of these things taken together suggest that all is not well in Moscow either, and that Russia looks stronger on the battlefield at present largely because Putin is looking for a quick knock-out punch. If he doesn’t get it, the pace of Russia’s aggression may also slow down appreciably in the months ahead since it too is reaching physical exhaustion and is unable to keep replacing equipment or soldiers as quickly as they are lost.

 

 

The Propaganda War

 

  • For any of you who watched the sad spectacle of Tucker Carlson’s so-called interview of Putin you will have witnessed Putin giving a long history lesson for much of it, void of all but a handful of half-truths, the rest bald-faced lies. The purpose of his monologue was to persuade the west of why Russia was fully justified in invading and seeking to conquer Ukraine.
  • The unfortunate truth of the matter is that Putin is merely continuing a centuries-old Russian Tsarist tradition of fabricating a false historical record to suit Russia’s immediate political and military needs in the interests of territorial expansion and consolidation.
  • Sadder still, and largely the reason why so many in the west are so sympathetic to Russian arguments over the decades and centuries concerning why Ukraine belongs in Russia’s orbit and has no legitimate claim to independence and self-government, is the fact that Russian scholars (typically with the full imprimatur of the Russian state), have controlled the narrative about Ukraine’s history in universities around the world. In a word, with very few exceptions, Ukraine’s history has been written by Great Russian chauvinists and propagated through the decades by successive generations of their Russophile students and acolytes.
  • That is about to change.
  • A leading, if not the leading, western scholar on central and eastern European history is Timothy Snyder of Yale University. Prof. Snyder has recently secured several million dollars of research funding, together with the agreement of some 70 scholars from various countries specializing in the history of Ukraine, to start the process of “decolonization” of Ukrainian history, a project that will ultimately take many decades to complete. The objective is to create from original archival sources a non-Russian centric, non-imperialist, non-colonialist version of Ukrainian history that ascribes genuine historical agency to the Ukrainian people and Ukrainian nation. This initiative will not change attitudes or thinking about Ukraine in the short term, but it will be world changing for Ukraine in the long run by denying pseudo-historians the ability to propagate false narratives about Ukraine in service of Russia’s interests.

 

What Can the World-wide Ukrainian Diaspora Do to Help Ukraine?

 

  • Since the war began the global diaspora has grown by several million. In Canada, alone, we have accepted somewhere in the order of one-quarter million Ukrainian evacuees and migrants seeking safety and respite from Russia’s continuous bombardment of their homes.
  • What is vital is that in so far as matters affecting Ukraine are concerned, all members of the Ukrainian diaspora in each country (if not the entire world) speak with one voice. And that means that all Ukrainians in each country should align themselves with one or more organizations that fall within the local, provincial and/or federal sphere of activity of that country’s Ukrainian umbrella organization. Or, equivalently, encourage new organizations of which they may be members to formally align themselves with the national, regional or local umbrella organization. In Canada, that organization is the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. There are provincial branches of the UCC as well as municipal branches.
  • Thus, all individuals identifying as Ukrainian in Canada are heartily encouraged to join one or more choirs, churches, dance groups, youth groups, sports groups, business and professional associations, arts groups, charities, and so on. All that matters is the groups all ultimately come under the umbrella of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
  • All Ukrainians in Canada are also encouraged to become politically active with the party that most closely aligns with their political, social and economic values. Party affiliation is far less important than is the need for our community to be a sophisticated participant in Canadian political life.
  • We also strongly encourage all members of our community to participate in pubic rallies, demonstrations, and commemorative events such as this one in support of Ukraine.
  • Finally, for all Ukrainians in the diaspora who are still young and are just contemplating university studies, please consider a career as an academic in the field of Ukrainian history.
  • Our community needs to work with our provincial governments here in Canada to financially support investments in university-level Ukrainian studies, expand existing and build new Ukrainian research Institutes wherever Ukrainian diasporas exist in large numbers to retake control of Ukraine’s history from its Russian jailors and, over the course of several generations, undertake the necessary scholarly work to develop — for the first time ever — a comprehensive account of Ukraine’s history written from the perspective of the Ukrainian people, instead of from the great Russian chauvinist, imperialist, colonialist perspective.

 

Why is it in the West’s, and especially America’s, Interests to Support Ukraine?

 

  • America signed the Budapest Memorandum promising that Ukraine’s security and territorial integrity would be protected if it turned over its nuclear stockpile to Russia. If America does not keep its word, what value is any mutual defense agreement with America?
  • The words “Never Again” either have meaning or they do not.
  • If the world stands idly by and does nothing while a rogue superpower invades a neighbouring country, without provocation or just cause, but with genocidal intent, then no non-nuclear country can ever again feel safe until it builds its own nuclear stockpile. So much for nuclear non-proliferation and the international rules-based order.
  • Ignoring unprovoked aggression encourages further unprovoked aggression by other authoritarian and rogue states.
  • Russia is the world’s last unreformed, revanchist, colonial, imperialist, power. If it is not stopped, it will continue to invade and swallow whole its former colonies and imperial domains to reconstitute the Muscovite Empire of Peter I and Catherine II.
  • Aiding Ukraine leads to a weakening of Russia which has always been, remains and always will be a mortal enemy of the West. Why not let Ukraine do what is unambiguously in America’s and NATO’s interests, without putting at risk U.S. or NATO soldiers?
  • Russia is the world’s greatest threat to freedom and democracy. Its grand ambition is to rule the world. Stopping Russia in Ukraine will ultimately be much less expensive than waiting for Russia to grow stronger and attack more countries before doing anything to stop it.
  • Pax Americana depends on maintenance of the international rules-based order. If Russia is allowed by the West to conquer Ukraine, the post WWII era of global peace will come to an end and a new era marked by survival of the fittest will emerge. No small nation will be safe from invasion, colonization, exploitation, annexation and/or complete annihilation.
  • China is closely watching what America does or does not do. Taiwan’s fate hangs in the balance.
  • Supporting Ukraine costs America very little as the military equipment it delivers to Ukraine comes, to a significant extent, from mothballed inventory the new and upgraded replacements for which are manufactured in America for the future use of America’s military. In other words, Ukraine is receiving what America’s military had no plans to use itself.

 

Conclusion

 

  • Ukraine will survive, with or without America’s assistance.
  • However, the costs Ukraine and much of the rest of the world will bear if America fails to deliver on its promises, will be much greater than they need to be.
  • Ukraine and the Ukrainian people have suffered much on account of Russian imperialism and colonialism over the centuries.
  • One would have thought that Russia would have learned by now that Ukraine is eternal, indestructible, sovereign and free. It does not, never did, nor ever will belong to Muskovy. And if it means that the Muscovites need to re-learn this lesson on the battlefield, then so be it. This will be the last time they will ever need to be reminded of this.
  • Слава Україні!

Bohdan Romaniuk is a lawyer, economist, and semi-retired business executive. Bohdan has been an active member of the Ukrainian community in Canada for over 60 years. Between 2001 and 2012, Bohdan served on the Investment Committee of the Shevchenko Foundation. He has also served on the Executive Committee and/or Board of Directors of the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association of Calgary since 2007, including eight years as President. Bohdan has served as the UCC-APC representative on the Canada-Ukraine Foundation Executive Committee and Board of Directors since 2016. In 2018, Bohdan was elected to the Board of Directors of New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

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