Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 01.12.2018
All 24 Ukrainian Navy sailors captured by Russian forces at the Battle of the Kerch Strait have been transferred to Moscow. Even Ukrainian prisoners of war who were wounded in the Russian attack on November 25 were transported out of Russian-invaded and occupied Ukrainian Crimea. This is a violation of the Geneva Convention and a war crime.
Lyudmyla Denisova, the Human Rights Commissioner of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, said that she received information that the Ukrainian sailors were moved from Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine (temporarily Russian-occupied) to Moscow, Russian Federation. This was confirmed by Russian television channel Dozhd, which reported that 21 Ukrainian POWs were taken to Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo Prison and three other Ukrainian POWs who were wounded were transported to hospitals of the Matrosskaya Tishina prison.
Treating prisoners of war as criminals violates the Geneva Convention. Secretly moving them without notifying the International Committee of the Red Cross and the other belligerent is also a violation of the Geneva Convention. Prisoners of war can only be taken to prisoner of war camps. The Russian Federation breaks every international treaty about the conduct of war and the treatment of military captives and civilian hostages in a time of war.
Instead of acting to stop Russian aggression, many Western leaders are calling for “de-escalation.” As they do so, the Russians escalate their war against Ukraine. In a press conference on November 30, the press spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Maria Zakharova, threatened all of Ukraine with invasion and occupation like Crimea faced in 2014. When asked about Ukrainians protesting outside the Russian embassy and Russian consulates in Ukraine, Zakharova said: “Sometimes it turns out that the status of diplomatic missions changes. Remember, we had a Consulate General in Simferopol [Crimea] which recently became a regional Russian Foreign Ministry office. It happens.” She was threatening to attack and seize the cities of Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv, and Lviv – where there are Russian diplomatic missions to Ukraine. She also threatened attacks on Ukrainian diplomatic missions in the Russian Federation.
As part of the “war state” declared in 10 Ukrainian regions, Ukrainian border authorities began to restrict the entry of Russian Federation citizens. Male Russian citizens aged 16 to 60 years old are banned from entering Ukraine while the “war state” is in effect (which will be until December 28).
The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, urged NATO allies to send naval vessels to the Sea of Azov on port visits to the Ukrainian ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol. “We hope that NATO states are prepared to send ships to the Sea of Azov in order to support Ukraine and provide security,” he said on November 30. He also said: “The only language that Putin understands is the cohesion of the western world.”
Friends of Ukraine in the NATO alliance can back up their words with action by sending naval vessels on port visits to Berdyansk and Mariupol as they already send them to Odesa. Russian aggression can be stopped cold by completing a peaceful transit of the Kerch Strait as the Ukrainian Navy did on September 23 and was prevented from doing on November 25.
The Russian Federation is expanding its war against Ukraine rapidly. The Putin regime is compounding its act of war on November 25 with a string of war crimes committed every day afterwards. Ukraine is taking adequate measures to look to its national defence, in anticipation of the Russian offensive which is to come. The rest of the Western world is doing nothing to stop Putin or to effectively help Ukraine. This all but guarantees that a much more devastating war by Muscovy against the civilized world is coming.