Ukraine Finally Comes into Its Own After Three Decades
Ukraine’s 30th independence anniversary on August 24 was not merely a recognition of the passing of three decades as an independent and democratic country in Europe. This year’s commemoration was momentous on several plateaus each signaling to the nation and the world – friends and foes alike – that Ukraine has genuinely come of age; that it is a political, military, commercial, technological, intellectual force to be reckoned with. However, tributes carry obligations.
None other than President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his anniversary address, summed up the national feeling in a simple manner that defused Moscow’s pointless though constant attempts at belittling if not erasing the memory of Ukraine and Ukrainians from civilization. President Zelenskyy poignantly proclaimed: “We are a young country with a thousand-year history.” Undeniably, the Ukrainian nation has existed, survived, endured and prevailed for 1,000 years ever since the reign of Grand Prince Volodymyr the Great, who baptized Kyiv-Rus in 988. Ukraine’s history has been filled with achievements and victories in everyday activities and numerous wars. They transpired long before Russia came into existence. Zelenskyy urged his fellow Ukrainians, who come from all regions of the country and from many ethnicities and religions, to take to heart his words: “Let’s remember the past, act today, think about the future.” Indeed, the Ukrainian nation has a long-standing documented bloodline of perseverance in the face of adversity. Ukrainians are acting today to improve their country and to safeguard it for future generations.
It was noteworthy that the president of Ukraine emphasized that the 30th anniversary of independence was not a sudden attainment, not an accomplishment without historical precedents. Ukraine’s commander in chief said, “And it is fairer, in my opinion, to say: the 30th anniversary of the restoration of Ukraine’s independence! Because on August 24, 1991, Ukraine restored its statehood.” Indeed, as we have underlined in many blogposts, a century ago during independence war of 1914-19, Ukrainians declared their independence from tsarist and soviet Russia and then 80 years ago, in the throes of Nazi and Soviet invasions of World War II, they repeated the restoration of an independent state of Ukraine on June 30, 1941.
In line with this restoration, Zelenskyy rightfully paid tribute to all the men and women who through the ages fought and died for Ukrainian independence. “On this holiday, we must remember to whom we are thankful for being here. These are our defenders of Ukraine. Defenders of our independence. Heroes who gave their lives for it! Let’s honor their bright memory with a moment of silence!”
Internationally, Ukraine’s allies near and far welcomed its contemporary years of freedom. Ukrainians experienced conspicuous support of the free world for its efforts to preserve its independence in the face of Russia’s latest invasion and war. President Zelenskyy at last met with President Biden in the White House and signed on September 1 a joint statement that strengthened U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership. In addition to recognizing the “restoration of independence,” the document formally called Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine a war – not a conflict, expressed opposition to Nord Stream 2, stated that the Washington, DC, does not oppose Ukraine’s accession to NATO but rather supports it, declared the US will never recognize Moscow’s occupation of Crimea, and detailed close cooperation in five vital categories.
“Thirty years after the restoration of Ukraine’s independence, the bonds between the United States and Ukraine are stronger than ever. Our shared values and commitment to a Europe that is whole, free, democratic, and at peace provide the basis for our strategic partnership. We are working together to address shared global challenges, including energy security and diversification, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our relationship serves as a cornerstone for security, democracy, and human rights in Ukraine and the broader region. We are committed to Ukraine’s implementation of the deep and comprehensive reforms necessary to fulfill its European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. We are also united in our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of continued Russian aggression,” the statement said in part.
Additionally, “Russia’s aggression, including the war in eastern Ukraine and its seizure of Crimea, has claimed more than 14,000 Ukrainian lives, destabilized Europe and the Black Sea region, and threatened the global rules-based order. The United States does not and will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea,” the statement emphasized.
Some four dozen countries joined the historic Crimea Platform that repeated the global community’s agreement that Crimea is Ukraine and demand that Russia evacuate from the Ukrainian peninsula. In no uncertain terms, the participants “condemn the continued violations and abuses and systematic undue restrictions of human rights and fundamental freedoms that residents of Crimea face, such as the right to peaceful assembly, the rights to freedoms of expression and opinion, religion or belief, association, restrictions on the ability to seek, receive and impart information, as well as interference and intimidation that journalists, human rights defenders and defense lawyers face in their work.”
They “reiterate their commitment to maintaining pressure on Russia to end the temporary occupation by Russia of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and to restore Ukraine’s control over the territory.”
American lawmakers joined the pro-Ukraine bandwagon and recognized the importance of supporting Ukraine because of its strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, the former captive nations of Russian aggression and the evil empire. The Congressional Ukraine Caucus (CUC) Co-Chairs Reps. Marcy Kaptur(D-OH), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Andy Harris(R-MD) offered their positive observations on these major bilateral events: “Ukraine is at the scrimmage line for liberty on the European Continent. Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations – free from Russian malign influence – are a noble and righteous cause. From providing security assistance that guarantees its defensive capabilities, to collaborating to rout the scourge of corruption, diversify its energy portfolio, and uplift its economy and its people – Ukraine has no greater friend than the United States House of Representatives.
“As it has done for nearly 25 years, the bipartisan Congressional Ukraine Caucus will remain a steadfast ally of these freedom-loving people, and looks forward to partnering with President Zelenskyy, civil society, and all Ukrainians to advance the solutions that ensure Ukraine’s well-being for all the generations to come.”
Their colorful usage of the football adage notwithstanding, we have said that Ukraine today stands as the bulwark of freedom, security and democracy of the free world against Russian aggression.
Ukraine’s precarious situation was a topic at the United Nations as well. The international body again adopted a resolution that said it will include Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea as an agenda item during the upcoming General Assembly session. The UN has already on several occasions condemned Moscow for invading and seizing the Ukrainian peninsula and called Russia an aggressor state for its illegal action.
While clearly Moscow opposes any public discussion of its occupation of Crimea – as it resisted all previous UN reviews of its unlawful activities going back to the early days of the cold war – Ambassador Serhiy Kyslytsya, permanent representative of Ukraine to the UN, eloquently observed on September 17, “Since the action of the Russian delegation started once again a kerfuffle, I have no other option but to try to make the best of it in order not to end up here, in the Assembly, in what the Russians call ‘balagan.’” Former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, current administrator of USAID, also enjoyed poking fun of Moscow’s balagan – mess.
Kyslytsya continued: “It is very and ominously symbolic that on the 17th of September the Russian Federation once again desperately opposes that this democratic body considers the agenda item on the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. Let me remind to all in this chamber why:
“On this very day on the 17th of September 1939, implementing an agreement between Hitler and Stalin, signed by their foreign ministers in Moscow less than 4 weeks before that, the soviet troops moved in and occupied what was then the East of Poland, thus in alliance with Nazi Germany continued the invasion of Poland that started the World War II on the 1st of September. It is appalling that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on its Twitter account this morning called the occupation of Poland a “liberating crusade”.
“Having never cut the umbilical cord from its parent – the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation continues being the genetic copy-paste of its evil progenitor. Having installed its name-plate in the UN Security Council chamber against the UN Charter, which until today in article 23 reads (and you can easily verify it) that it is the Soviet Union and not the Russian Federation, which is a permanent member of the Security Council.”
The Ukrainian official succinctly integrated the crimes of Nazi Germany, Soviet Union and today’s Russia into one irrefutable package.
Kyslytsya’s touching discourse continued with pithy quotes from America’s favorite author: “Perhaps, the best way to illustrate this creative mathematics of the Russian Federation is to paraphrase the famous line of Mark Twain: ‘there are three kinds if lie: lies, damned lie and the Russian statistics.’
“It is clear that only by blackmail, intimidation and harassment that the Russian Federation raises some support of its position against the will of the General Assembly that has been confirmed on many occasions. And that includes its General Committee where only two members supported the Russian Federation two days ago.
“I call on my respected colleagues in this Assembly to vote YES meaning in favor of the agenda as recommended by the General Assembly and its General Committee. Let’s do it and go to work.”
Fortunately, the resolution was adopted by the General Assembly. Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea will be on the agenda of the 76th Session which gets under way this week.
The irony of jubilant celebrations and the accompanying well wishes and tributes is that after the hangover wears off the partyers must face the new day by taking responsibility for their euphoric words.
President Zelenskyy must formulate his administration and policies according to the words that Ukrainians are an ancient nation who persevered in safeguarding their independence and freedom for a millennia. And they were victorious in restoring the nation’s independence. The defenders of the nation are fighting and dying in a war launched against Ukraine by Moscow. Then he, the government and parliamentarians must devote their work to improving the lives of Ukrainians today by shackling all of the oligarchs.
Ukraine’s allies should likewise pay attention to the explicit and implicit words of their accolades. You called Russia an aggressor, a violator of human rights, then treat it as such. Sanction it, ostracize it until Moscow changes its policies.
Applauding someone and then dealing behind its back with its enemy is backstabbing.