Thursday, June 30, 2022

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn: Why is Putin still in charge of the West’s agenda?

March 10, 2022 5:33 amby Oksana Bashuk Hepburn
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A machine-gunned bus where several people died in an ambush is photographed days after in the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 4, 2022. (Volodymyr Petrov)

It’s infuriating that Russia’s serial killer, autocrat Vladimir Putin, is telling Western powers what they should be doing. What is worst, they are listening. The war-crime nominee has launched an incomprehensible war on global democracies by attacking Ukraine for no reason other than he thinks that he can get away with it. He wants his
views to dominate the world and set its agenda even if it takes a war to do it. As his new law specifies there’s a 15-year prison sentence if you speak up against it.

Ukraine’s resistance to his Ruskii Mir — Russian world — is strong. The death toll mounts while life collapses in ruins since Russia’s all-out invasion began on Feb. 24. The war scenes are heart wrenching. Little bundles with babies huddled by terrified mothers, old grannies hobbling to borders, humanity pushing into overpacked trains offend our view of what the world should be like.

Bless those receiving the refugees on the other side to give hope and help and the media’s access to their stories but the refugees are not the real story. They are the consequence of Putin’s horror.

The real story is who will win the war for freedom. It’s freedom that ends tyranny. The democratic world has been arming itself militarily since WWII to deal with a possible contest with Russia and it is happening now. Now the free world needs to use its unmatched military power to ensure Ukraine wins against the madman.

Why? Because Ukraine is in a proxy war for all freedom-loving countries of the world and it needs support from all democracies. Now.

But something is wrong. Ukraine is fighting but the leading global military powers aren’t. They are watching from the sidelines. This is not right. Even more unsettling is the fact that their risk aversion to stepping in consistently supports Putin’s agenda: to occupy sovereign states using fear and isolationism as a justification for others to stay away from the fray.

This is perverse. But a double standard toward Ukraine is not new.

Democracies have been rejecting Ukraine’s membership in NATO and the EU for decades because it would antagonize Putin and they shield Putin. Failure to punish him for occupying parts of Georgia led to his invasion of Crimea and Donbas while its calls for more economic sanctions for doing so failed to impress. Nor there was much appetite in the Western world to stop Putin’s insanity while he amassed a provocative military show of macho force at its borders. There was the interminable dickering about providing lethal weapons while the parade of foreign politicians to Ukraine on the eve of his war offered little more than Judas-like kisses to its political leaders.

This falseness is unacceptable as Ukraine singlehandedly fights a proxy war for all democracies. Above all it is fighting for the strongest global military entities — America and NATO. Despite calling themselves Ukraine’s “friends and allies" the ongoing message from both is that there will be no “boots on the ground”.

This was a clear message to Putin to advance his agenda and attack Ukraine.

Some democracies have come over to Ukraine’s side only after his war atrocities were evident. World opinion had turned against him and collaboration was politically suicidal. This forced Germany to cut Nord Stream 2. It also shamed it into reversing its position of disallowing the movement of indispensably needed weapons through its territory into Ukraine.

However, the double standard continues and questions linger: whose side are some of the key democracies on?Whose agenda are they advancing?

Here’s a case in point. As some 600 bombs rain down on Ukraine’s population the breaks are still on from Ukraine’s friends and allies to send airpower support and to declare a no-fly zone in order to create a safe corridor over a small part of its territory.

Remember: Ukraine is fighting democracies’ war. Airpower is vital at this juncture but Putin’s scare tactics of “serious consequences” to those helping Ukraine frighten — the politicians probably more than the generals —s o it’s a no.

Make no mistake, Ukraine’s loss is Putin’s road to victory over democracy and our way of life. If he wins, he will not only gloat that the U.S. and NATO are passe forces but he’ll attack them because they’re weakened. He will advance globally with his values: my world, my agenda.

Enough! Friends and allies must stop fiddling while Rome burns. Stop the Christians-to-the-lions blood-show.

Stop the war-criminal’s agenda. Stop the isolationism. Get into the trenches to protect democracy the way Ukraine is doing. Declare the no-fly zone: call it a humanitarian corridor — whatever you need to call it but do it. In light of the hate and destruction that Putin is sewing this is appalling support by friends and allies and it must stop.

Ukraine needs to win for democracy. This is why military superpowers were created by the citizens of democracies. The time has come to step in. Now.

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn
Author:  Oksana Bashuk Hepburn

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn, formerly a long-term senior policy adviser with the Government of Canada and president of U*CAN, a consulting firm brokering interests for Ukraine, comments in international media on its determination to be a free European country.