Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 03.01.2019
Russia invaded Ukraine in Crimea and Donbas in 2014, forcing many Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars to flee their homes and livelihoods for the safety of unoccupied areas of the country. As of 2 January 2019 the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Ukraine stands at 1,512,435. This figure was announced by the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, based on the number of IDPs who register with its offices around the country.
For well over four years, 7.2 percent of the territory of Ukraine has been occupied by foreign invaders from Muscovy, comprising all of Crimea and some of Donbas (Luhansk and Donetsk regions).
Some of the Ukrainians who are refugees in their own country were driven from their homes because they remained loyal to Ukraine and could not abide the illegitimate administration imposed by the foreign invaders. Activists and loyalists who could not escape the invading Russians face persecution. Over 70 Ukrainian citizens from Russian-occupied territories are political prisoners of the Putin regime.
Most IDPs became so for economic reasons. There are few jobs to be had in the wasteland created by Muscovy. The Russians stole factories out of eastern Ukraine and shipped them holus-bolus to Rostov in the Russian Federation. They steal coal from the mines of Donbas. In Crimea, the invader-occupiers are unable and unwilling to provide the necessities of life – like water and electricity – because Crimea is a peninsula that is naturally a part of Ukraine. Temporarily occupied Crimea and Donbas have become places for old people who can live off of meagre pensions and of collaborators who work for the occupation regime.
Over one and a half million Europeans have been driven from their homes because of international war. There is no greater threat to the peace and security of the continent than Russian aggression.
One would think that stopping Russian aggression and ending the humanitarian crisis of Europeans as refugees would be the top priority of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. But Federica Mogherini, who holds that post, does not even mention the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine in her “Twelve things to bring with us in 2019” missive issued on January 1. Since she assumed office in November 2014, Federica Mogherini has opposed new sanctions against Russian individuals and entities, despite ceaseless suffering by Europeans who live in Ukraine that is caused by the war visited upon Europe by the Russian Federation. Under her guidance, the EU has taken no effective action to stop Putin’s War or to liberate Crimea and Donbas. Federica Mogherini is completely uninterested in the fate of over one and a half million Europeans from Ukraine who want to return to their homes and live in peace.
The European Union is a project of ethical life. The EU is the assertion of a new way of living for disparate nations who share a common home. Since the Second World War, the EU has succeeded magnificently in breaking the pattern of great power politics that has meant centuries of warfare and ruination for Europe. Russia’s war against Ukraine is the greatest challenge to the rules-based international order in the entire period of existence of the EU. The EU will survive if it confronts and defeats Russian aggression. The EU will die if it accepts Federica Mogherini’s choice to ignore Russia’s war against Ukraine.
One and a half million Ukrainians are Internally Displaced Persons because of Putin’s War. Justice and the core values on which the European Union was founded demand that IDPs return to their homes and livelihoods. Europe will never be whole, and will never be at peace, until Russian aggression is defeated and Europeans are refugees in their own country no more.