Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 04.12.2018
24 Ukrainian Navy sailors were abducted by Russian forces in international waters last week. Seeing no effective action to release them by Western powers, Putin feels free to treat his new captives as criminals and not as prisoners of war. With only the Ukrainian people putting up a fight, the rules-based international order that has kept the peace since the end of the Second World War is in headlong collapse due to Russian imperialist aggression and Western appeasement of the same.
The Russian Federation committed an act of war when it attacked three Ukrainian naval vessels on November 25 and captured them in international waters south of the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea. The 24 Ukrainian Navy sailors captured by Russian forces are prisoners of war and are entitled to all the protections of the Third Geneva Convention. The International Committee of the Red Cross should be seeing and reporting on the conditions in which the Ukrainian POWs are being held by the Russian Federation. Instead, the Putin regime of state terrorism is abusing the Ukrainian POWs, subjecting them to bogus criminal prosecution, and committing multiple war crimes.
The invaders of Ukraine from Muscovy are preparing a show trial in which the Ukrainian POWs will be charged with the so-called crime of “illegally crossing the Russian border.” As the Ukrainian sailors were on vessels en route from Odesa, Ukraine to Mariupol, Ukraine, the criminal charge is a ludicrous impossibility.
Agents of the Putin regime are applying psychological pressure on Ukrainian naval personnel who are prisoners of war. The Russians have moved the Ukrainian POWs all the way from Kerch to Moscow and put them in the notorious Lefortovo prison. The aim of the Putin regime operatives is to disorient the Ukrainian sailors, to cut them off from the outside world, to make them believe that they have been forgotten and have no support, and ultimately to force ‘confessions’ from them.
The Russians committed piracy in international waters when they seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews more than 12 nautical miles from the shoreline of Crimea, Ukraine. The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation coast guard (an illegal armed formation in Crimea, Ukraine) is being called the “little green men” of the Battle of the Kerch Strait. Russian forces towed the three Ukrainian Navy vessels to Kerch in temporarily Russian-occupied Ukrainian Crimea after the November 25th battle. On December 3, the two armoured assault boats, the “Nikopol” and the “Berdiansk” were no longer docked there. Only the naval tug “Yeni Kapi” remained.
On December 3, at the headquarters of the International Maritime Organization in London, Ukraine expressed its strong protest at the assault at sea by the Russian Federation on November 25. The IMO is a specialized United Nations agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships. The press service of the Ukrainian Embassy in the United Kingdom said that 34 delegations of IMO member states supported the position of Ukraine. Countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Georgia, Germany the United Kingdom, and the United States condemned yet another act of armed aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
Russian Federation dictator Putin has refused to speak with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. By delaying any talks, Putin prevents de-escalation.
Western countries other than Ukraine have taken no action to counter expanded Russian aggression. It’s been words only from Western European and North American capitals. Democratic leaders have expressed their deep concern, and urged Putin to release the Ukrainian sailors, release the Ukrainian vessels, and lift the maritime blockade on the Ukrainian ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol in the Sea of Azov. But with no plan of action to back up these deep concerns and urgings, the sailors are languishing in Moscow, the boats remain seized, and the Sea of Azov is more and more a Russian lake.
The Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine is expanding because of Putin’s fear and hatred of Ukraine’s freedom and independence and also because of the continued appeasement of Russian aggression by Western democratic leaders, even after the Battle of the Kerch Strait.