Wednesday, 21 February 2018 10:23


Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 21.02.2018 
Russia is an aggressor state. Since Russia invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014, four years ago, this is the least that can be said. But it has not been said, officially, until now. On 20 February 2018, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko signed a law which recognizes the Russian Federation as an aggressor state.
The law is called “On the peculiarities of the state policy to ensure the state sovereignty of Ukraine in the temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.” It is needed to transition Ukraine from the posture of the “Anti-Terrorist Operation” which was the term used in the very early days of the war in 2014, but which quickly became wildly inaccurate with the Battle of Ilovaisk, the Battle of Luhansk Airport, the Battle of Debaltseve, the Battle of Donetsk Airport, and the thousands of other smaller attacks by Russia against Ukraine. Ukraine now has a framework for conducting the war, defending the homeland, and ultimately to liberate all Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory.
The “Donbas  Law,” for short, declares that Russia temporarily occupies parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Those areas are under Russian administration, but Russia is conferred no rights whatsoever to the land and sea and air because of that. Russian administration of part of Donbas is a fact, but it is illegitimate.
The Russian Federation is the aggressor state. Ukraine is within its rights under international law to defend its own citizens on its own territory from foreign armed aggression. Russian individuals and entities are liable to sanctions for constituting a grave threat to international peace and security. Russian individuals are subject to prosecution in the International Criminal Court in the Hague for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Ukraine is within its rights to declare war on the Russian Federation because the Russian Federation is invading Ukraine: a state of war exists because Putin started the war.
The “Donbas Law” has its flaws. The most serious is that it does not mention Crimea. Russia’s invasion of Ukrainian territory in Crimea is not different in any way from Russia’s invasion of Ukrainian territory in Luhansk and Donetsk regions. The notions that Crimea is ‘annexed’ and that Donbas is in the grip of ‘pro-Russian separatists’ are Kremlin propaganda only, and have no basis in reality. The other flaw in the “Donbas Law” is that it does not properly address the humanitarian and civil rights of Ukrainian citizens who are victims of Russia’s aggression: the captive population in Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk, and the ‘internally displaced persons’ who were made homeless by Putin’s invaders.
Ukraine should have been given overwhelming support by other Western democracies as soon as Russia invaded four years ago. This didn’t happen. Appeasement of Russia by the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France meant that Ukraine could not declare war and defend itself properly in 2014. Continued appeasement since then has meant Putin’s War has expanded from a land grab in Crimea to a global war. Ukraine is the leading Western democracy because it is the only fighting defender against Russian aggression. Declaring that Russia is an aggressor state is most that Ukraine can do now – by rights it can and should declare war, but the cowardice and moral failure of the US, UK, Germany, and France prevents that.
Russia is at war with the West. In the Russo-Ukrainian War that began four years ago, Russia is the aggressor state. Ukraine recognizes this and it’s high time other Western democracies recognized this. The sooner Russia is defeated and the sooner Crimea and Donbas are liberated from Putin’s invaders the sooner peace will return to war-torn Europe.


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