As Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine grinds on, there are moments when certain events seem almost impossible to comprehend. From the latest absurd claims of the Russian regime to tests of international law, and from one man attempting to hold Western aid hostage to the Pope’s seemingly hollow prayers of hope.

Let’s take a look at some of these in a bit more detail.

Mystery of the downed Il-76 in Belgorod

For the purpose of this analysis, I am presuming that Ukrainian missiles did indeed down a Russian plane near Belgorod in Russia. There has not been, nor will there be, an international investigation either by the International Red Cross or the United Nations since Russia will not allow it. Russia asserted that it was conducting its own investigation. A Russian truth finding investigation is an oxymoron.

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Russia accused Ukraine of downing the Il-76, alleging that it carried 65 Ukrainian Prisoners of War (POWs) for a swap at the border. To date, almost two weeks after the event, only the bodies of five crew members have been unearthed in the rubble. Ukraine has asked for the bodies of the POWs for burial. To date, Russia has not produced them.

What would have been the motive of the Ukrainian side in killing their own POWs? None! The only possible answer would be that there was a mistake on the Ukrainian side. There does exist the probability that Ukraine was unaware of the Ukrainian POWs on board, but Ukraine has stressed that it was not informed of the POWs being transported.

Reports: Ukrainian Marines Retreat From Dnipro Bridgehead, Long-Held Defensive Bastion Lost
Other Topics of Interest

Reports: Ukrainian Marines Retreat From Dnipro Bridgehead, Long-Held Defensive Bastion Lost

Kyiv’s abandonment of Krynky village marked a possible end to months of attempts by Ukrainian forces to hold liberated territory on the left/south bank of the Dnipro River and expand it.

The Russians in their best defense asserted that notice was given 15 minutes in advance. Questions persist as to whom the notice was provided and whether 15 minutes’ notice is reasonable.  

Russia would be highly motivated to kill Ukrainian soldiers by simply not informing Ukraine of the transportation route and then blaming Ukraine in order to sow discord among Ukraine’s population. According to Russian accounts, some eight Russians lost their lives, which would be deemed minor collateral damage since Russia treats so many of its people as cannon fodder

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And so, in all probability, the truth will never be known.

A test of international law

Russian President Vladimir Putin was planning a visit to Turkey at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Why is that of any interest? Turkey is a signatory of the Rome Treaty which formed the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Granted, the Turkish Parliament has not ratified the Treaty, and the Parliament of Turkey means relatively little in the Erdogan authoritarian setup, yet the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Putin.

This potentially therefore becames a test for the relevance of international law and its structures.

Putin suddenly postponed the visit less that week before it was supposed to take place. 

Hungary as a fly in the ointment

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba recently met with his counterpart from Hungary, Peter Szijjarto. Kuleba came away saying that Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban was not pro-Russian, but a Hungarian patriot. Kuleba is the quintessential diplomat often at the expense of his own country. 

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In any event, pressured by the EU, including not only withholding funds earmarked for Hungary but also a loss of his veto power, Orban caved in and the EU allocated €50 billion to Ukraine on Feb. 1.

Nevertheless, questions remain as to the continued intention and ability of Hungary and Orban to damage the EU's and Ukraine's interests.  

Prayers without sympathy

Finally, despite Ukrainian Catholic insistence and the fact Ukrainian Catholics do pray for the Pope at least four times at each Mass, the Pope is not a dear friend of the Ukrainian people.

A recent compendium of the Pope’s “Ten Prayers for a Future of Hope” published in 2023 sets a aside one chapter to the “madness of war.” Ukraine is mentioned twice, but merely as a venue. A “humanitarian crisis” is referred to, but no sympathy is expressed for the people of Ukraine. Russia is never mentioned as the aggressor or perpetrator of the “madness.”

Russia's ban on the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ukraine's occupied territories has not been condemned or even addressed by the Pope.

Perhaps Ukrainian Catholics should pray for the Pope more often. He certainly needs their prayers to approach simple humanity, let alone spiritual leadership.

The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.

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