The world has recently focused its efforts on solving the Ukrainian crisis. Barely two weeks after the Geneva agreement was reached, diplomats began to discuss the need for the Geneva II talks. Negotiation, of course, is a good thing. However, if an agreement signed by the heads of diplomatic departments of the USA, Ukraine, the EU, and Russia has failed, it seems that we have to look for the deeper causes of the so-called Ukrainian crisis. They are obvious – Vladimir Putin is attempting to follow the annexation of Crimea with destabilization in eastern Ukraine by direct intervention of the Russian security services and attracting collaborators from the local population in order to carve away another piece of our territory.
As American political scientist and diplomat Strobe Talbott noted in an interview with Corriere della Sera, “Putin is increasingly reminiscent of Slobodan Milosevic with his dreams of a Greater Serbia.” According to him, by annexing Crimea and trying to do likewise with eastern Ukraine, the Russian president is closing the space for any diplomatic intervention and making any negotiations impossible.
If it is so, we must then treat the causes of this phenomenon, not the symptoms, as the West is trying to do at the moment. After all, Russia has not recovered from the Stalinist totalitarianism, and Putin’s regime is a result of malignant transformation of this inhuman system. In addition, there is every indication currently that the regime’s transformation is moving in not just authoritarian, but an outright Nazi direction. This is supported by the recent actions of the Kremlin, which literally copied the actions of Adolf Hitler in 1938 when going about the annexation of Crimea.
Russia, which regards itself as the sole victor of the fight against Nazism, forgetting the contribution of Ukraine, Belarus, and other Soviet republics and allies in the anti-Hitler coalition, is also the country where neo-Fascism and neo-Nazism are thriving.
So the question remains, as noted by The Day’s editor-in-chief Larysa Ivshyna on Facebook: “What should be done with these products of Nazi propaganda? Who is able to do it, and how? We need to cover more the experience of denazification of Germany. The Geneva II’s participants, I think, should discuss not the Ukrainian crisis, but Russia... to prevent a new Nuremberg Trial from happening (or making it happen!)…”
Yurii SHCHERBAK, diplomat and writer:
“We welcome the initiative of Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to hold a new round of talks in Geneva between Ukraine, the US, the EU, and Russia. This is a very timely idea, especially given the fact that the agreements reached at the Geneva I talks have been completely undermined by the aggressor, that is, Russia, and its creeping war of sabotage and infiltration against Ukraine has only intensified to an unprecedented level.
“Perhaps, Western countries have not awakened yet from sweet liberal globalization dreams of universal peace in Europe and do not realize that Vladimir Putin is a follower of Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein, who, having become military and political leader and dictator of the ‘Russian world’ as a result of a malignant mutation, has unleashed World War III. Ukraine is only the beginning, to be followed by Moldova, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, with Poland, the Balkans, and Central Asia to come in more distant future. Any victory only encourages the aggressor’s appetite.
“Of course, the purpose of the Geneva II is very noble: to allow our country to hold free presidential elections on May 25 by negotiations and compromise (at Ukraine’s expense). This goal is shared by Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Ban Ki-moon, Francois Hollande, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. Is it shared by Russia, though?
“After all, Putin’s goal is the direct opposite: to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, to destroy the remnants of the state, spread fear and uncertainty, destroy Ukrainians’ will to resist, bring Ukraine to its knees.
“This is a total political war against the entire Ukrainian society, including Russian-speaking Ukrainians. It is also an ethnic war against the Ukrainian state, against Ukrainian language and culture, war that is full of hatred and racial contempt against the very foundations of the existence of the Ukrainian people. This is Putin’s criminal war against the entire architecture of European security and stability. The earlier Western allies of Ukraine understand it, the better. Hence, after Geneva II, we should prepare for Nuremberg II, to be held in Geneva or Berlin, where the overwhelming evidence will be presented of crimes committed by the Russian military, these ‘polite people’ and their mercenaries and henchmen – criminal low-lifes, Viktor Yanukovych’s capos and other human garbage.
“Nuremberg II should be held with the participation of European lawyers, forensic experts and other civic organizations’ representatives. The role of presiding judge would suit well experienced lawyer Ambassador Professor Volodymyr Vasylenko. Representatives of the European Parliament and other European institutions and the international press should be invited to it.
“I wonder why there still is no special state commission with public participation to investigate the Russian aggressor’s crimes, war as well as common and ethnicity-related ones. I wonder also why the authorities have been unable to organize an international exhibition dedicated to this new type of war, or to hold international conferences in the West with witnesses, experts, NGO leaders. Our silence is a silence of the victim that encourages the aggressor to commit new crimes.
“The ideology and actions of Putin are based on the doctrine of Stalinism involving violent seizure and subjugation of territories and countries, Nazi practices that were developed during the occupation of Czechoslovakia, and the latest inventions made waging the Afghan and Chechen wars and fighting rebellious population.
“Sloviansk and Kramatorsk for Putin is what the radio station in Gliwice (Gleiwitz) was for Hitler in 1939 – a giant springboard for his provocation that could ignite Europe as a pile of old tires.
“Come to your senses and wake up, gentlemen, romanticist of soft compromises with the aggressor!
“I recall that when Cain, son of Adam and Eve, killed his brother Abel, God did not conducted peace talks with him, and set a mark of eternal damnation upon him (Genesis 4:8-15).”
Why is Germany, which is probably positioned better than most countries to understand the processes taking place in Russia, so reluctant to initiate the Nuremberg II?
“This is so for two reasons. First, after the defeat of Germany in the Battle of Stalingrad, it is mortally afraid of Russia, and this fear dominates the whole of German foreign policy. It is in the subconscious and genetic memory of every German. It cannot be helped. This is a terrible complex of defeat combined to some extent with the historical guilt of Germany about what they did to Russia. Its similar actions in Ukraine go unnoticed, though.
“Second, it has incredibly high economic interest in Russia. Therefore, the German investing community and German businesspeople are constantly talking Merkel out of serious economic sanctions.
“We understand how complicated serious sanctions would be for Germany to impose and why it has been unable to do so. It would look like Germany ‘fighting’ Russia once again.
“On the other hand, the German verbal response is quite active, especially since Putin is too much of a Hitler for their taste, and articles in Der Spiegel in particular called the Russian leader Hitler’s heir. All this talk about the abandoned home, the lost lands uses Nazi terminology, the publication noted. So, the Germans understand it all and have to, but for some reason they cannot risk a serious step now, as they are still waiting for something. Their deadline for now is holding the elections in Ukraine.”
Gerhard GNAUCK, correspondent of Die Welt newspaper in Warsaw:
“The Nuremberg Trial was held after Adolf Hitler had been already stopped. Thus, now is not the time for a tribunal to be set up yet. Now is the time for decisive and fast action. If we talk about the legal dimension of this crisis, it seems that Ukrainian American Adrian Karatnycky was the first to do it, as he proposed to calculate losses that the Ukrainian state had suffered from loss of Crimea and then file a suit with the International Court of Justice. The time has come when such conflicts, including gas ones, and now it turns out, territorial ones, too, can and should be brought to court, making the aggressor to fight legal action for years. The problem is that good lawyers are expensive. Here, perhaps, public-private partnership would make sense. In other words, the Ukrainian government and businessmen can find the means and people to do it.”
However, here we are talking about the fact that Germany, which has gone through a terrible period of Nazism, has the moral right to initiate Nuremberg II. After all, your country discerns threats posed by the Putin regime better than any other, as the German press calls him a true successor to Hitler. What would you say to that?
“I think that it is precisely Germany that has it harder than others. German politicians are trying to avoid emphasizing this parallel, but Die Tageszeitung journalist resorted to it again at a major TV show just a few days ago. Earlier, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble also compared Vladimir Putin’s actions to the actions of Hitler in 1938-39. This is an interesting sign, but I do not believe that it can have legal implications soon.”
What prevents Germany from doing it: old guilty feelings or economic ties with Russia?
“The Nuremberg trial was a case of victors’ justice after a great war. First, there is still no winner. And secondly, even if the court had its say, would it stop Russian tanks? I think not. Russia would be the least likely state to comply with decisions of international courts. Therefore, the international community must now discuss how to stop Russian forces’ actions in Ukraine, both overt and covert.
“Ukraine, for its part, should bet on the internationalization of the conflict, bringing to the conflict region peacekeeping force or developing a cooperation effort with police from other countries.”
In many ways, what is happening in Russia today is a consequence of the fact that the country has never condemned crimes of the Stalinist totalitarianism. We see that they are glorifying Joseph Stalin, that people carry his portraits at demonstrations. How can it be cured? Should not that be of concern to the international community, and Germany in particular?
“Honestly, I think it makes more sense to work on the consciousness of the Germans, French, and even the Americans than the Russians. Russian citizens cannot express their views on any matter freely now. So, even changing their consciousness will have no direct impact on their nation’s policies.”
What, then, can affect the only Russian who does determine the nation’s policies, that is, Putin?
“Steinmeier, when presenting his initiative to hold a second round of the Geneva talks, said that the first prerequisite of these new understandings should be a clear signal from all parties to de-escalate the conflict. It remains a mystery whether Russia wants it.
“If we talk about what can stop Putin, it seems to me that our best hope is the threat to supply Ukraine with arms, talked about first by Zbigniew Brzezinski and now by the Republicans in the US Senate who have drafted a bill on military assistance to Ukraine to the tune of 100 million dollars, and even the actual delivery of arms will give the world leverage over Russia. It is a really risky step still, of course. Now the question is whether to stop the Yugoslav scenario in Ukraine right now, showing force and applying pressure to the other side, so to speak, to a new Slobodan Milosevic, or allow this scenario to unfold and stop it much later, as we did in Yugoslavia.”