So, nothing is sacred, for Russia and its supporters. Surprise, surprise!
And for how much longer will they be allowed to get away with their cynical, criminal and inhuman behavior?
Where is the pathetic UN and its impotent, or perhaps cowardly, Secretary General, mandated to prevent wars, crimes against nations and humanity, and to promote peace? Why are you failing in showing the lead? Russia continues to use, and make a mockery of you.
Here’s a fresh example. A few days ago, the Russian news agency TASS eagerly cited UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, as “deploring the death” of Russian “journalist” – in fact an armed combatant and propagandist – Rostislav Zhuravlev, who was killed in action by Ukrainian forces on Ukrainian territory, and extending his “deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.” Such moral equivocation is impermissible from those claiming to be upholding the principles on which the UN was founded; it amounts to backhanded sympathy and encouragement for war criminals and tyrants.
And the self-assured accomplices in Russia’s horrendous crimes – the self-righteous pro-Moscow fence-sitters ranging from China, India, Brazil, South Africa to the holier-than-thou Vatican?
Some expressions of concern from them, typically, without naming the Russian warmonger as the culprit, and that’s it. Business as usual and wanting to look good.
How would you react if you were attacked, your territories occupied, your cities bombarded and your enemy was convincing others that all this was just and not a problem? Do any of you actually uphold the UN Charter, the rule of international law, or are you just invoking the international norms that have recognized your very being as its suits you?
Russia's barbaric missile attacks on Ukraine's port of Odesa this weekend struck the very center of the city. They hit its UNESCO-protected largest cathedral, cultural monuments, administrative and residential buildings.
There were human casualties, of course. But the main victim was what remained of Russia's contrived reputation as a civilized state championing the rights of what used to be called the Third World. What today is translated even more accurately as the fellow-travelling anti-Western world.
Having withdrawn earlier in the week from the deal brokered by the UN and Turkey to allow the safe passage of grain from Ukraine’s ports, and thereby blackmailing needy parts of the planet with starvation, Russia has vented its fury at being ostracized and stymied in its anti-Western ventures and focused for the time being on grabbing, or destroying, what it can of Ukraine. That is, what it will be allowed to get away with.
Russia has threatened to attack international shipping heading through international waters to and from Ukrainian ports and stepped up its missile attacks on Odesa and the nearby Ukrainian port of Mykolaiv.
Having broken international law over and over, with relative impunity, Russia has responded with forms of brutal revenge reminiscent of savage and primitive societies and states for whom conquest and self-gratification dominated over any human values: Huns, Mongols, Bolsheviks and Stalinists, and Nazis.
The attack on Odesa is, after Russia’s pathetic, if initially scary blitzkrieg in early 2022 intended to capture Kyiv within days, the latest low point in its rapacious quest for imperial glory and disdain for the democratic world and its values.
Odesa, then known by its Russifed form as Odessa, was once prized by Russia as “its” jewel port in the “New Russia” forged from Russian imperial expansion in the late 18th century. Even until recently, 2013-14 or so, Moscow was confident that this port, with its rich Jewish and multinational heritage, would remain loyal to it when the time came.
But Odesa, or rather its elite, Russian-speaking, Jewish or otherwise, chose to remain with Ukraine. It has become a bastion of Ukraine’s new political nation and westward-oriented democratic state.
The statue of the hideous Russian empress of German origin, who epitomized Russian imperial expansion and the imposition of serfdom and despotism in the south of her vast and expanding empire, Catherine, the so-called Great, has been taken down. Good. And, at last, the genuine architects of Odesa, Italians and French – Europeans, not Eurasians, are being remembered and honored anew.
Ironically, the latest missile attack on Odesa hit among other objects in the center of the city, the Transfiguration Cathedral. Built at the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries, it was of the largest cathedrals in the Russia empire at that time and was designated the main religious shrine of the “New Russia,” a concept that Putin and his imperially-minded advisors have sought to revive.
Stalin razed the cathedral in 1936 as part of the communist atheistic offensive. But it was rebuilt after 1991 when Ukraine became independent and, naively, was allowed, in a gesture of cultural tolerance, to be placed under the control of the pro-Russian Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The Patriarch of Moscow, today Putin’s supporter of his war against Ukraine, Kirill, officiated at the opening of the rebuilt cathedrals.
So, Russian missiles have severely damages Odesa’s main cathedral, for the time being still in the hands of the pro-Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. How embarrassing! Or is it?
Pro-Russian Orthodox representatives interviewed shortly afterwards at the Kyiv Pechersk Monastery, which the Ukrainian state is seeking to recover from them, claimed they did not know whose missiles had struck Odesa and the cathedral. But playing dumb is hardly convincing and once again illustrates whose side these “religious” personnel” – fifth columnists as they are increasingly seen – are on.
So, let’s see if this Russian missile strike on a major symbol of the pro-Russian church in Ukraine, targeted it seems, rather than indiscriminate, will have on those Orthodox Christians in Ukraine who still remain loyal to Moscow. And on residual pro-Russian elements in Odesa itself.
Last, but not least, a word about the reaction of the UN. Not in Ukraine, where its representatives have not minced their words in condemning Russia’s atrocious attacks on Ukraine. But where it used to count, if the UN still pretends to have relevance and meaning in these matters – its HQ and its top officials.
Gentlemen and ladies enjoying the highest grades and salaries in the UN, it is time to say enough is enough and to earn your pay as responsible representatives of humanity, and not simply earn your numerous dollars as generously endowed high-ranking “neutral” clerks.
Stop pretending you are saving the world from famine by mediating between Russia and Ukraine.
Say once and for all, unequivocally: Russia you have violated international law and the UN Charter, are committing horrendous war crimes, and are a disgrace to the international security. Add, Russia, you are to blame, and your obstructive behavior in the Security Council is not only a disgrace, but an affront to the UN and what it is supposed to represent.
Then we will begin to respect you again and take you seriously. Take the lead and save what’s left of your reputation before history condemns you to its rubbish bin of failure and sellouts. Otherwise, Guterres, your entourage and spokespersons – you will be the ones demonized.
And NATO – understandably you don’t want to be drawn into a direct confrontation with Russia because of the risk of a nuclear war. But at least patrol, and accompany ships through, the international waters of the Black Sea.
If you are unwilling to show this resolve, because you fear the risks of escalation, ask your partner Turkey to do so. Or is Ankara to be humiliated also, and relegated to watching how an unpredictable, threatening, Moscow, exerts its domination over the Black Sea unchallenged.
Odesa, Odesa! You mother of "Ukrainian" ports, make yourself be heard.
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