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Oksana Bashuk Hepburn: Russia knows it is losing and Ukraine needs to be careful

August 8, 2022 7:11 amby Oksana Bashuk Hepburn
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Oksana Bashuk Hepburn: Russia knows it is losing and Ukraine needs to be careful

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in the op-ed section are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions of the Kyiv Independent.

A wounded wild animal is very dangerous. So is Russia’s dictator Vladimir Putin.

He is losing his bloody war in Ukraine. He’s humiliated now and historically. He must be livid. Before Ukraine declares victory it — with friends and allies — needs to ensure the wounded criminal in the Kremlin won’t pounce.

Putin’s humiliation is considerable. Some 90,000 dead and wounded soldiers, tons of Russia’s destroyed materiel, egg on his face for the sinking of the flagship Moskva, escalating sanctions, strengthened NATO, new vigor in America’s role as leader of the free world, and more.  

He dismisses human loses because he doesn’t care about dead non-Russian ethics from the outback of the federation nor about the destroyed materiel although the deaths of generals and military industrial complex leaders – accidental or not – is in keeping with Russia’s style of eliminating those who displease the boss. He mocks the sanctions officially while begging for depleted components from other importers. 

He’s terrified by NATO”s support for Ukraine: above all America’s heavy weapons commitment. Now is the time to watch him and prevent any trip-ups especially in energy, military assistance and propaganda.  

Energy wise, the recent attempt to revive NordStream2 with ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder indicates his desperate need to control energy. He will deliver it to supporters —note the latest deal with Egypt to bypass sanctions — and withhold from critics. It’s his key weapon against democracies. His move to refuse acceptance of the NordStream1 turbines due to “sanctions” is a classic Russian trip-up: you, democracies, have brought Russia’s inability to deliver energy on yourselves. 

Now countries are smartening up. They are turning to alternate energy suppliers and diversifying to sources like coal or importing electricity from Ukraine and making adjustments. To diminish demand, France fines establishment which run cooling systems but keep doors open. These are wise checks on Russia’s single-source supply dangers. Putin’s energy blackmail must be recognized, resisted and sanctioned. NordStream2 must not happen. 

Finally, despite some pro-Russia support blocking Ukraine’s membership in NATO, Putin has failed to stop its members from helping Ukraine fight his war.  Chief among them is the United States’ contribution, some eight billion dollars dedicated to defence spending. It is a most significant game changer for Ukraine support by both American political parties.  Putin would like to change that. 

For this reason, Republican congresswoman Victoria Spartz’s supposed concerns about the lack of “oversight” for the funds and the lack of loyalty of some Ukraine officials needs watching. She has placed herself in the middle of a complicated affair at a critical time of the war. Many sane American and Ukrainian politicians see her work as dangerous to ongoing good relations.  

As if manipulating energy sanctions to serve his ends and working to create rifts between Ukraine and its supporters weren’t mines designed to harm good relations between Ukraine and allies, Putin banks on the hundred years of Soviet propaganda practices to create rifts.

Influential anti-Ukraine voices of Germany, France and Italy have mitigated recently in view of the overwhelming evidence of Russia’s barbarianism, Hungary’s pro-Putin Prime Minster Victor Orban still insists that Ukraine cannot win against Russia and that sanctions must stop. Putin is counting on more rift-making words from a new government in Italy, Schroeder to push for peace negotiations favouring Russia, and others like the Catholic Pope to opine that Russia might have been “provoked” into the war. Lastly, recent Amnesty International’s statement that Ukraine’s war positions are harmful to the population smell of Russia’s influence in the organization.  

Seems like Putin is calling in favors to sabotage Ukraine’s victory. It must stop. International leaders favoring him are de-facto traitors of democracy. The world can’t afford to have a bloody mafia boss win against established law and order. To ensure that he does his rifts must be dealt with democracy’s victory — not Russia’s — in mind.   

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn
Author:  Oksana Bashuk Hepburn

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn is the former Director of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and President of U*Can Ukraine Canada Inc., a management firm specializing in democratization projects for Ukraine. Bashuk Hepburn has been commenting on international issues in global media for decades.

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