Russia would be completely justified in assuming responsibility for a humanitarian intervention. Winter is not far off and the situation could get even worse.
Whether the topic is the armed conflict in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian relations, or the scope of the humanitarian disaster in the country, the Kyiv authorities are stubbornly sticking to the same line – Petro Poroshenko and his team are noble and forthright in all that they do, while critics of their policies are “terrorists” and “agents of Vladimir Putin.”
Just recently Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United Nations Alexander Pavlichenko denied that there was a humanitarian disaster in Ukraine. He said Kyiv has created humanitarian corridors in the east to prevent civilian casualties, and blamed their ineffectiveness on self-defense forces. But if hundreds of dead compatriots don’t qualify as a humanitarian disaster and Ukraine’s problems aren’t serious, why is the Ukrainian government asking the West to loan it almost $500 million for recovery in the country’s southeast?
The Kyiv authorities are used to lying by now. How else can you claim that dead civilians, ruined buildings and destroyed infrastructure do not amount to a humanitarian disaster? If that’s not a disaster, what is? The need for a humanitarian intervention is long overdue, but the West is obstructing. Like Kyiv, it is turning a blind eye to the disaster that has been unfolding for a long time.
I think Russia would be completely justified in assuming responsibility for a humanitarian intervention. Winter is not far off and the situation could get even worse. If we are to believe Ukraine’s ambassador, we can never know for sure whether the situation in the region qualifies as a disaster, so we will have to let people die of cold and hunger instead of bullets.
EU countries take their lead from the United States on Ukraine, so they also must deny the extent of the humanitarian emergency. The war in Ukraine benefits the Americans in multiple ways. It has caused a rupture in relations between Russia and Europe, while simultaneously increasing pressure on Russia and boosting support for the new Kyiv government, which is essentially a US proxy. For the time being, Europe does not seem capable of leading an independent policy.
The Ukrainian authorities are bluffing when they talk about humane treatment, democracy and other lofty ideals. They don’t care that people are dying in Donbas; all they care about is advancing their interests. And it’s in Kyiv’s interests for these people to die, so that they can reassert control over the southeast, whatever the cost. If 10,000 have to die, so be it. If it’s 20,000 so be it. This is a geopolitical game in which Ukraine and its people are merely chips to exchange – not only the so-called called separatists or self-defense fighters in Donbas, but also dying soldiers of the Ukrainian army.
Americans and Europeans are demonstrating a kind of civilizational racism. They are not too worried about the death toll. What matters to them is achieving their geopolitical goals.
At one point in this conflict, federalization offered a way out, if only the opposition had waited for elections to be held, instead of taking power in a coup. But after Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown, a new option presented itself – constitutional reform, which is all that the residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have demanded. A new constitution still has the potential to end the conflict and the ongoing humanitarian disaster.
Sergei Mikheyev is General Director of the Center for Current Politics.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.