Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 25.10.2017
Russia has been invading Ukraine – the largest country that is wholly within Europe – and occupying part of its territory since 20 February 2014. A land war is being waged in the heart of Europe. As a result of Russia starting and continuing to fight international war, over 1.6 million Europeans have been made homeless and are refugees. Ukraine has over 1.6 million so-called “internally displaced persons.” This humanitarian catastrophe is caused by Russian aggression. It is made worse by the negligence of other Western countries who do not stop Russian aggression and do to not help on a scale that is need it to alleviate the suffering of IDPs in Ukraine.
October 24 is United Nations Day. On this day in 2017, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UN, Volodymyr Yelchenko, gave a briefing about the human cost of Russian aggression. Over 1.6 million Ukrainians have registered as Internally Displaced Persons because foreign invaders from Muscovy drove them from their homes in the regions of Crimea and Donbas. That number represents 4% of the entire population of Ukraine. Ambassador Yelchenko thanked international donors for contributing to the relief of IDPs, as a diplomat should do. But what was he thanking international donors for? Germany announced at the beginning of 2017 that it will spend 2.3 million euros on IDPs in Ukraine over the 2017-2018 period. That works out to one euro and 44 cents for every IDP. That’s about the price of a tube of toothpaste given to each man, woman and child, to spend over two years. Germany does not fight alongside Ukraine on the front lines in Donbas to defend Europe. Germany does not provide armaments to Ukraine to defend Europe. Germany does not participate in the NATO training mission at Yavoriv to help Ukraine defend Europe. What Germany does do is give the price of a tube of toothpaste to each European who is a refugee from Russia’s war of aggression.
For the moment, Ukraine is coping “in house” with Europe’s biggest internal refugee crisis. Although not wealthy, the generous open heartedness of Ukrainians has prevented the refugee crisis from spilling over beyond Ukraine’s borders. If it did, there would be a massive influx of refugees to central and western Europe who are fleeing Russian aggression. Instead of spending sufficiently so that Europeans who live in Ukraine stay there, Germany is taking action to impoverish Ukraine and reduce the ability of the Ukrainian government to take care of IDPs. Against the strong objections of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Denmark, the United States and Ukraine, Germany is forging ahead with the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project to send Russian gas across the Baltic Sea to bypass Ukraine. This project will enrich the monopoly Gazprom, cripple Europe’s energy security, and deprive Ukraine of as much as 2.7 billion US dollars in transit revenue (according to U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch). Germany is putting forward a plan to knock three percent off the gross domestic product of Ukraine.
What did Ukraine do to deserve this from Germany? Ukraine stopped the Russian invasion of Europe in Crimea and Donbas … without any significant help from other Western countries. Ukraine is dealing with the 1.6 million refugees fleeing Russian aggression within the country … without any significant help from other Western countries. The Falkland Islands were liberated 74 days after Argentina invaded in 1982. Kuwait was liberated 210 days after Iraq invaded in 1990. There is not even a plan for the liberation of Crimea and Donbas 1,344 days after Russia invaded in 2014. Some factions in Germany even wish to lift sanctions on Russia without requiring Russia to de-occupy Crimea and Donbas, and without requiring Russia to stop attacking Ukrainians.
The most prudent foreign policy goal of the Western allies would be to liberate occupied Ukraine from the foreign Russian invaders. This will allow over 1.6 million Europeans to return to their homes and stop being refugees. An interim foreign policy goal of the Western allies must be to provide massive, Marshall Plan-level aid to Ukraine to provide for Internally Displaced Persons. After the Second World War, the United States gave 13 billion dollars (equivalent to 132 billion dollars today) through the Marshall Plan to impoverished Europe. In 2017, the gross domestic product of the European Union’s 28 member countries is 16.1 trillion US dollars. That Europeans who live in Germany give the equivalent of the price of a tube of toothpaste to each European who is a refugee from Russia’s invasion of Europe is a moral outrage, and brings great shame on them.