Ukraine: The World is being Caught Watching a Crime
The free world should stop hiding behind Article 5 and take off its NATO insignia and actively help Ukraine – not support but join the ranks of the defenders – defend not only itself but all of the countries that hold membership in the alliance and the assorted kindred spirits. Many national leaders and pundits have admitted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will not have regional repercussions. Today Russia is not expected to halt its belligerence with Ukraine as a renewed captive nations in its evil empire. Its aggression threatens the former captive nations and countries beyond. It is a valid question to wonder why the free world acquiesced to Winston Churchill’s prodding and united to defeat Nazi Germany eight decades ago.
The level of Russian brutality – genocide – in Ukraine is without comparison. Moscow has achieved its own sole place in the premier league of war criminals. It must be stopped. Women and girls aged so young it makes your blood boil are publically raped, killed and thrown in a common grave like trash by Russian soldiers, repeating the bestiality of their predecessors in Germany after the Second World War. Civilians of all ages are indiscriminately killed by the Russian invaders. Finally, the countryside and municipalities have been destroyed. Future invaders will be evaluated on the basis of the Bucha horrors. Enough! Short of allied soldiers, Ukraine urgently needs every possible defensive and offensive weapon in the free world’s arsenal today, not tomorrow.
Seven years ago, on May 13, 2015, at the start of the Russo-Ukraine War, I wrote an article about the war – a war that has now become a War of Ukrainian Independence – and the lack of active support for Ukraine. In it I cited the tragedy of Kitty Genovese, who was raped and killed while people watched the crime take place.
The international community’s reaction to what is happening to Ukraine is incomprehensible. World leaders – the usual motley group of North American, European and Asia ones – have been incapable of doing anything to stop Russia from continuing to ravage Ukraine for the sake of its imperial expansion and to protect Ukraine from Russia’s bloody military advances.
How can this be taking place in the 21st century? Hasn’t anyone read history? Isn’t the conclusion obvious?
As I think about my own questions, my thoughts drift to an event that had its place in the borough of Queens in New York City 51 years ago. A young woman was killed in full view of her neighbors who actually witnessed from the comfort of their high-rise apartment windows what was happening and couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything to stop the assailant or protect the unfortunate woman.
Here is an excerpt from Martin Gansberg’s article in The New York Times of March 27, 1964.
For more than half an hour 38 respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens.
Twice their chatter and the sudden glow of their bedroom lights interrupted him and frightened him off. Each time he returned, sought her out, and stabbed her again. Not one person telephoned the police during the assault; one witness called after the woman was dead…
Twenty-eight-year-old Catherine Genovese, who was called Kitty by almost everyone in the neighborhood, was returning home from her job as manager of a bar in Hollis…
The entrance to the apartment is in the rear of the building because the front is rented to retail stores. At night the quiet neighborhood is shrouded in the slumbering darkness that marks most residential areas.
Miss Genovese noticed a man at the far end of the lot, near a seven-story apartment house at 82-40 Austin Street. She halted. Then, nervously, she headed up Austin Street toward Lefferts Boulevard, where there is a call box to the 102nd Police Precinct in nearby Richmond Hill.
She got as far as a street light in front of a bookstore before the man grabbed her. She screamed. Lights went on in the 10-story apartment house at 82-67 Austin Street, which faces the bookstore. Windows slid open and voices punctuated the early-morning stillness.
Miss Genovese screamed: “Oh, my God, he stabbed me! Please help me! Please help me!”…
The assailant stabbed her again.
“I’m dying!” she shrieked. “I’m dying!”…
Gansberg concluded his article by writing: “It was 4:25 A.M. when the ambulance arrived to take the body of Miss Genovese. It drove off. “Then,” a solemn police detective said, “the people came out.”
Kitty’s neighbors offered a variety of excuses why they allowed her to be killed in their voyeuristic presence.
“I didn’t want to get involved.”
“We thought it was a lovers’ quarrel.”
“I didn’t want my husband to get involved.”
“We went to the window to see what was happening … but the light from our bedroom made it difficult to see the street … I put out the light and we were able to see better.” Asked why they didn’t call the police, the wife shrugged and replied: “I don’t know.”
“I was tired.”
“I went back to bed.”
On a personal level, the murder of Kitty Genovese and the callous disregard for her life by her neighbors was devastating and inhuman.
On a national level, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the indiscriminate killing of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers (and rape of women and girls) along with the callous disregard for what is happening there by countries near and far is also devastating and inhuman. The UN says more than 6,000 civilians have died because of Russia’s war with Ukraine. (That number has since then spiked to astronomical levels.)
On a global scale, thanks to all sorts of technological advances, Russia’s undeclared war against Ukraine is being witnessed by the same callous, immovable, unconcerned, indifferent neighbors who witnessed Kitty’s murder five decades ago. Their apathetic explanations are identical to those who saw Kitty killed in cold blood.
While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was undeclared and unexpected, the subsequent occupation of Crimea and Donbas, and Moscow’s advances westward did not occur without some sort of spy in the sky warnings. Especially in the past several weeks Ukrainian and NATO military and political sources have been daily cautioning that Russia is amassing tens of thousands of soldiers on its border with Ukraine in preparation for a significant escalation of hostilities. Do something before it’s too late, they plead.
Moscow’s occupation of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk has also scared the other Eastern European former captive nations into reviewing its defense capabilities and seeking military help from NATO.
Last month Viktor Muzhenko, Ukraine’s army chief of staff, listed for the first time some of the specific Russian military units fighting in Ukraine alongside Moscow’s terrorists in eastern Ukraine.
“Regular Russian army troops are still in Ukraine,” Muzhenko said for all the world to hear. “We have details of all the Russian units, where they are deployed, their numbers and their weapons.”
Muzhenko named among them the Russian army’s 15th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, the 8th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, the 331st Airborne Regiment and the 98th Airborne Division.
Just like murdered Russian journalist Boris Nemtsov, the Ukrainian official said Kyiv has proof that Russian regular troops had fought in three clashes in the east in February, including a fierce battle for the railroad town of Debaltseve, which is now controlled by Russian mercenaries.
Russian-backed militants have dramatically also increased their activity in the Donbas conflict zone, head of the Information Resistance group and military blogger Dmytro Tymchuk wrote on his Facebook page. According to Tymchuk, the militants fired artillery and 120mm mortars, and tried to attack the Ukrainian units, including using armored vehicles. A sharp growth of militant activity has been recorded in the Luhansk, Donetsk and in coastal areas, he said.
The Russian terrorists in the Donbas region in early April were to have almost 700 tanks and 1,100 armored combat vehicles, according to the report of deputy commander of the ATO Valentyn Fedichev from the information center of the Donetsk regional military and civil administration in Kramatorsk, reported Express TV.
“According to the Minsk agreements, the 9,000 servicemen of the Russian regular armed forces must leave the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and all military equipment that has been illegally transferred by Russia to the territory of a sovereign state, and this is almost 700 tanks, more than 1,100 armored combat vehicles, nearly 600 artillery systems, more than 380 MLRS and 110 air defense systems, must be withdrawn,” Fedichev said.
They didn’t while, according to him, on April 7, 40 items of military equipment, including 10 tanks, arrived in Luhansk. On April 6, two companies of Russian troops arrived in the area of Debaltseve in Donetsk region.
“In [Russia’s] Rostov region training is being conducted on combat operations performance in the city. More than 1,500 troops of the special forces of the Russian Federation Armed Forces are involved in the exercises,” Fedichev said.
US military sources have corroborated Ukrainian’s justified fears.
Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former head of US and NATO forces in Europe, warned at an exclusive briefing with the Atlantic Council that a renewed Russian offensive in Ukraine was imminent and would most probably take place between Orthodox Easter on April 12 and Russia’s celebrations of VE Day on May 8. While both dates have come and gone, Russia’s escalation is still held at bay for reasons which may be simple as the army isn’t ready to attack.
“Ukrainian forces expect attack within the next sixty days,” Clark recently wrote for the Atlantic Council. “This assessment is based on geographic imperatives, the ongoing pattern of Russian activity, and an analysis of Russian actions, statements, and Putin’s psychology to date.”
Clark was joined by the top US commander for NATO who urged that America needs better intelligence on the ground in Ukraine, and added that it appears Russian forces have used a recent lull in fighting to reposition for another offensive.
Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of NATO forces in Europe, told the Senate Armed Services Committee, who has expressed concern about Russia’s aggression, said the situation in Ukraine is volatile and fragile and urged Congress to bolster U.S. intelligence capabilities to better understand Putin’s intent in the region.
“Russian military operations over the past year in Ukraine, and the region more broadly, have underscored that there are critical gaps in our collection and analysis,” Breedlove said. “Some Russian military exercises have caught us by surprise and our textured feel for Russian involvement on the ground in Ukraine has been quite limited.”
This movement of invaders is obviously directed by Russians, Breedlove assured. “We do see a very distinct Russian set of command and control in the eastern part of Ukraine,” he said. “Command-and-control, air defense, support to artillery, all of these things increased … making a more coherent, organized force out of the separatists.”
In one 48-hour period in April, as Ukrainian forces faced 20 attacks by Russian-led militants and spotted 30 enemy drones probing their positions, the Frankurter Allgemeine Zeitung quoted an unnamed NATO official saying that Russia has sent additional military manpower and arms to Donbas.
“We have noticed again support for the separatists, with weapons, troops and training. Russia is still sending troops and arms from one side of the open border with Ukraine to the other,” the NATO official told the German news publication.
The press center of Ukraine’s Anti-Terrorist Operation headquarters has been regularly reporting that Russian-backed militants have been violating the terms of the Minsk agreement, attacking Ukrainian forces with weapons they were supposed to have withdrawn from the front line. Russia began violating the truce before the ink dried on the agreements. (Ambassador Sergey Kyslytsya, permanent representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, acerbically said Russia’s promises aren’t worth a New York City pretzel hole.)
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reported a sizeable Russian military buildup on the border with Ukraine that he said would enable pro-Moscow separatists to launch a new offensive with little warning. Stoltenberg said Russia has substantially stepped up supplies to the rebels, as well as providing them with advanced training and equipment like drones, despite a cease-fire.
Stoltenberg said the Russian moves undermine the cease-fire declared in eastern Ukraine and violate the Minsk agreements entered into by Moscow. He said more than 1,000 pieces of Russian military equipment have been moved over the past month, including tanks, artillery and air defense units.
Stoltenberg said this “gives reason for great concern” and would enable the separatists to go on the offensive again with little warning.
The list of officials exposing Russia’s impending military escalation against Ukraine includes John Herbst, a former US ambassador to Ukraine. He said recent military moves by Russia show that President Putin’s “minimal goal is to destabilize the current government” in Ukraine. The maximum goal would probably be to re-subjugate the former captive nations.
Herbst, who now directs the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, said from Kyiv that “Putin is ramping up pressure on Ukraine by adding troops on the eastern border and in Crimea and by increasing the violations across the ceasefire line and in order to do that, he can’t simply sit behind the ceasefire line. He needs to move forward to cause additional instability in the country.”
Ukraine has repeatedly urged its neighbors and allies to send it weapons and accused rebels of persistent ceasefire violations as NATO warned about an increase in Russian troop movement both near and across the border.
“The Ukrainian army needs weapons to defend Ukraine,” Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told parliamentarians. “And our western partners must hear: Now the Ukrainian army is struggling not just for itself, but we are fighting for peace and stability in the EU.”
But Ukraine’s nearest neighbors have turned a deaf ear. EU leaders have told Ukraine they are worried about ceasefire violations in the east of the country but will not send armed peacekeepers there. “We can only talk about a civilian mission, not military,” European Council President Donald Tusk said.
President Obama, at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe in Washington, demonstrated understanding the global threat posed by Russia’s belligerence. Obama said the acts of Russian aggression against Ukraine are a threat to the world that must be confronted in a global context,
“We oppose the Russian aggression against Ukraine, provide assistance to civilians under threat of the Islamic State extremist group, fight against the Ebola virus and promote global health, and now we’re offering assistance to the people of Nepal,” Obama said.
Despite these words and as increased Russian fighting on the ground in eastern Ukraine continues to claim innocent lives and disrupt regional peace and stability, members of the U.S. Congress once again are pressing Obama to request lethal military aid for Ukraine to combat Russian-backed rebels. The president already has ignored a resolution urging lethal US aid for Ukraine that the House passed by 348 to 48 votes. Consequently, the US President joins the neighbors who pulled down the window shades as the knife plunged into the innocent passerby.
“There is no doubt that it is important to provide humanitarian assistance to the population that is affected by the fighting. However, this aid only treats the symptoms of a larger problem,” read the statement by Reps. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Sander Levin (D-MI), and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH). “The Ukrainian government is in dire need of defensive weapons, which are necessary to protect its borders and sovereignty.”
Pro-Russian separatists appear to be making preparations for a fresh offensive in eastern Ukraine, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told lawmakers. “It does appear that clearly, Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine are preparing for another round of military action that would be inconsistent with the Minsk agreement,” Carter told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee.
Ukrainian President Poroshenko said the threat of a large-scale offensive from the side of Russian-backed militants has been growing, and the strength of the enemy’s troops is estimated at 40,000 men, while another 50,000 servicemen are deployed along the border with Ukraine.
Even with this imminent threat, Poroshenko said that Ukrainians ready to defend country and that the morale of the Ukrainian armed forces is currently at its best, as has been the case in recent history.
“We keep getting more evidence and information proving that the aggressor will commence a military offensive in the second half of May. I don’t want to frighten anyone, and you should know that the country is capable of protecting its citizens,” he said.
Poroshenko emphasized that the war will be over when Donbas and Crimea are returned to Ukraine. Nothing more, nothing less. That is the line in the sand, which must be recognized by friends and foes.
In the meantime, Ukrainian servicemen step up the pace of digging trenches on a beach in the port city of Mariupol, about eight miles from Shyrokyne, on the Azov Sea, where the next Russian onslaught is anticipated.
The global neighborhood must consider what it will do when they hear: “Oh, my God, he stabbed me! Please help me! Please help me!”… “I’m dying!”