Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 01.03.2019
Five years ago the Russian Federation began an invasion of the largest country that lies wholly within Europe, Ukraine. Foreigners from Muscovy seized Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and occupy it to this day. Putin’s War in Europe expanded to Donbas in April 2014. Trench warfare characterizes Russian aggression in this part of Europe.
On February 27 there was an international forum in Kyiv called “Occupied Crimea: Five Years of Resistance.”
The Head of the UN Human Rights Mission to Ukraine, Fiona Frazer, was a notable speaker. She reported on significant human rights violations in Crimea – an integral part of the territory of Ukraine that is temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation. The Russian occupiers are suppressing dissent, restricting freedom of religion, targeting Crimean Tatars for harsh treatment, and significantly reducing the possibility of education in the Ukrainian language.
“We should acknowledge that Crimean Tatars are the primary victims of police and FSB raids conducted in their homes and places of public assembly,” she said. Ms Frazer characterized the actions of the Russian occupation authorities as “aimed at suppressing any dissent and critical views on the peninsula.”
The Russian invader-occupiers of southern Ukraine have banned the representative assembly, the Mejlis, of the Crimean Tatar people. The Russian Federation has been ordered to stop discriminatory measures against Crimean Tatars by the UN’s International Court of Justice, and to lift the ban on the Mejlis. A Mejlis leader, Ilmi Umerov (who was a hostage of the Putin regime, eventually released on 25 October 2017), said that repressions by the foreign Russian invaders against the Crimean Tatars in their homeland. Mr. Umerov says there are about 80 political prisoners held captive like he was.
Member of the European Parliament Rebecca Harms has been a strong friend of Ukraine, especially since the Revolution of Dignity and the start of the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine. She spoke at the International Forum on February 27. Ms Harms called for new personal sanctions against Russians who are commiting crimes against humanity in occupied Crimea.
“I side with those who think that the Russians who are involved in the torturing of prisoners or the escalation of the conflict in the Sea of Azov must be placed under personal sanctions such as the Magnitsky List. They must not travel to the US or the EU, they must not have accounts in the EU, their children must not have the opportunity to study in European universities,” Rebecca Harms said. She also believes that NATO should strengthen its presence in the Black Sea region.
Aggression by the Russian Federation in Crimea, in Donbas, and in the Sea of Azov is not only directed against Ukraine. It is a dagger to the heart of the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and Western civilization as a whole.