Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 28.02.2019
This is the fifth anniversary of the start of the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine. On 27th February 2014 heavily-armed Russian special operations forces seized the regional parliament building in Simferopol, Ukraine. Two months later Muscovy expanded its war of imperialist aggression from Crimea to Donbas.
Putin’s War is ongoing. On 27 February 2019 the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation bombarded Ukrainian defenders at Stanytsia Luhanska, Zhovte, and Krymske in Luhansk region, and at Novoluhanske, Chermalyk, Hnutove, and Vodyane in Donetsk region. One Ukrainian soldier serving in the Joint Forces Operation was wounded in action. Ukrainian military intelligence reports that two soldiers of the Russian occupation forces were killed, five were wounded, and one piece of enemy military equipment was destroyed.
In making its attacks, the Russian Federation violated the Minsk Agreement ceasefire. By making some of the attacks with heavy artillery that was supposed to have been withdrawn from the battlefront, the Russian Federation violated one of the key articles of the Minsk Agreement.
The Russian Federation is escalating its war against Ukraine to the Black Sea, Kerch Strait, and Sea of Azov. On 25 November 2018 Russian forces attacked the Ukrainian Navy. The Russians rammed, shot at, boarded and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels, took 24 Ukrainian Navy personnel captive, and by restricting shipping in the Kerch Strait imposed a maritime blockade on Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov.
Western democracies, led by Ukraine, have united in condemning the act of war by the Russian Federation. On February 27, the foreign minister of Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin, and 10 other foreign ministers signed an open letter in The Guardian newspaper entitled: “The west must not abandon Crimea and Ukraine to Russian aggression.”
Here’s what the Western leaders had to say about the Russian Federation’s attack on the Ukrainian Navy: “The unjustified attack on Ukrainian vessels near the Kerch strait on 25 November 2018, their seizure and the illegal detention of their crews constituted a blatant violation of international law. We call on Russia to release the arrested Ukrainian sailors, to return the captured vessels and to comply with its international commitments by ensuring free navigation in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch strait.”
The foreign ministers hinted about sanctions related to the Kerch Strait attack. “The policy of coordinated international sanctions sends a clear message to Russia that disregard for international law has consequences. We will neither forget nor abandon Crimea.”
In an interview with The Canadian Press on February 25, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada, Andriy Shevchenko, said that Canada, the U.S., and the European Union will announce new sanctions against Russian individuals and entities very soon, because of the Russian Federation’s act of war against Ukraine on 25 November 2018.
"My understanding is that the decision is in the pipeline, and we are very soon to get some news on this," Ambassador Shevchenko said. "We hope to see this co-ordinated decision and announcement from our Western friends in the near future."
Expanded Russian aggression calls for expanded sanctions. Appeasing Russian aggression doesn’t work. Only imposing a substantial cost on Muscovy will stop Putin’s War.