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.  

Heres 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.

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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.

Italian Government Delegation and UNESCO Visit Odesa to Sign Reconstruction Pledge
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Italian Government Delegation and UNESCO Visit Odesa to Sign Reconstruction Pledge

The head of UNESCO and Italy’s ambassador to Ukraine met with the mayor of Odesa to pledge half a billion euros for an ambitious reconstruction project.

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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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Comments (11)

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I support
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How long and how low will this go on . It's appalling and heart breaking to watch. Mass destruction on a scale unseen since WW2. War crime after war crime why are they still getting away with it. Because we are scared of Putin and escalation. Well sooner or later we will have to respond. He doesn't care who he kills and won't stop. THE CLOCK IS TICKING.

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Alan Wright
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I'm ashamed of the leaders of the free world who stand around and watch and what's going on in Ukraine. You send Ukrainians the weapons that they to fight this war but you send them months and months after the request of Ukraine when it is almost to late to send them at all. I've said it before the way Ukraine goes is the way alot more countries will go.

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Bohdan Krucko
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Best write up.Distribute widely and personally.International media outlets

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Dan Bedford
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I have followed this tragedy since the beginning. I have donated to humanitarian causes in Ukraine. As a landscape artist, I painted my interpretation of a wonderful painting by Ukrainian artist Konstantin Kryzhitsky and auctioned it to raise funds for Ukraine. Daily, I follow Western and Ukrainian news sources hoping for good news. This piece by Bohdan Nahaylo hits the nail on the head. I hope that every feeble heart in the United Nations' top ranks can summon up some moral fortitude and do what is right. Kick Russia out of the security council and get on with the job they are there to do. Well said, Bohdan, or, as we would say, "Good on yer mate".

Pat Frankewicz
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@Dan Bedford, Good for you in putting your personal time and $$ where your mouth is, unlike the UN, US politicians, and NATO. Sorry US Congress, your spending of the taxpayers' dollars does not equate to any sincere personal efforts to stop Putin and to help save Ukrainian lives. "Real actions, not words..." is what Ukraine needs. I too have donated $$ to the International Rescue Committee for Ukraine, and I help teach English to a man and his family on the outskirts of Kyiv. For the rest of you, what exactly are you personally doing to help Ukraine and to stop or to imprison Putin?

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Franklin Machin
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Where was all this when NATO was dictating how countries like Canada would do things. The United States of America dictated to, so many countries it was ridiculous. How would you like you life turned upside to were you could not even find work because of the dictator. I watched 2014 Maiden protest and how involved the United States of America, Canada, Germany, were involved, and because I disagreed with what they were doing I was unofficially interrogated, because this is exactly what they intended to do was overthrow the government in Ukraine.

Support Ukraine
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@Franklin Machin, Your support of Russia's attempt to maintain control of Ukraine through corrupt pre-Maidan politicians who do not rule democratically - is noted. That you did not even spell Maidan properly, and blame western countries for it, is exactly what I would expect of a Russia-supporting troll, Franklin - if that really is your name.

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I support
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The UN has failed to do what needs to be done. Why is Russia still on the security council? Nato why are you dragging your feet war is at Europes gates. Putin is a threat to not only the Ukraine but also to millions of people facing starvation. What's it gonna take this is a very serious situation that needs to be stopped now.

I support
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@I support, oh yah you really think letting Russia bomb anywhere it wants to in the Ukraine is fare. Give you head a shake Nato .

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Jerome
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I'm surprised by this piece. The author is an ex-official of the UN, and asks for some kind of assistance from them. When has the UN ever solved anything? Pleading for UN help is a total waste of time.

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Greg Miller
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I read the Kyiv Post every day and this is by far the best Opinion piece I have read yet. Thank-you Bohdan Nahaylo for this fantastic, heart-felt piece of writing. I am a United States citizen and I am ashamed of my country's foot-dragging in regards to supporting Ukraine with the tools it needs to remove the Raschist plague from your borders once and for all. On behalf of all (well, 80%) of the American population, please accept our most sincere apologies for our leadership's weak response and please know that the vast majority of us support your brave efforts! Slava Ukraini!

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Pat Frankewicz
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Great article, Bohdan! And I loved your slam on the Vatican - a bunch of part-time politicians in pretty white and red robes. That's on par with Sinead O'Connor's valid protest/condemnation of JPII 30 years ago on SNL. I admire such courage and dedication to the truth. Still, hypocrites are hypocrites even if they sometimes do good things. And that's the real message here, isn't it? Bohdan is calling out all those hypocrites who refuse to take a clear stand on what Putin is doing to Ukraine. Churches, Eastern countries, and Western countries, are you really having such a hard time determine right from wrong in assessing what Putin did in 2014 and is continuing to do? Maybe that's the wrong question... Let's try this: do you all know how cowardly, ignorant, and selfish you appear in not clearly condemning Putin and in further arming or directly helping Ukraine defend itself from Putin. Let's all say a prayer at the end of the day and our sins will be easily forgiven, won't they?

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Barruntaranchos
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Apart from all the horros described that after more than 500 days of war leaves no adjectives to describe the situation, I think there is no reason at all to include the Vatican among the countries that are "neutral" on this tragedy. Mention China, India, Brazil, South Africa is quite right, mainly China and India (and Turkey) that make possible the reception of the money and equipment necessary to continue this massacre, but The Vatican? Is The Vatican buying oil, gas, sending electronics..... And a bit more unnaceptable, if you are going to enter on that area, why not mention the hypocresy of Israel, on a war to a country whit a Jewish President, and using the acussation of nazis for most Ukrainians? If you want to talk about religion, in the case of the Ukrainian conflict the only hypocritical country is Israel.

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Hartwich
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BOhdan article is simply masterful, clear sighted and very elegantly expressed
It’s a long time since I have read a content allying elegance of expression and depth of reflexion. Дякую

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