Friday, March 1, 2024
 
 

Russia called out at the UN Security Council

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The calling for a special meeting of the Security Council at the UN this past week was a long-overdue diplomatic initiative or even diplomatic offensive by the United States that attempted to publicly forge an international framework of understanding for the crisis initiated by Russia on its border with Ukraine.

Despite the objections of Russia and China, the meeting went ahead.

The objective of the United States was to call out Russia’s aggression against another member state. But furthermore, it was to deflate and expose the, heretofore, the efficacy of Russian propaganda and disinformation, and to at least attempt to wrest control of the rhetorical framing of the essence of the conflict. Plainly, it was an attempt to clarify how the crisis is to be understood. And quite simply, the US publicly demanded that Russia explain its aggressive presence on the border of another member nation-state. 

This special effort employed by the United States was a deliberate tactic, whose message was clear: international order cannot be based on outdated myths of empire, unrealistic perceptions of the reality of a neighboring nation, or the rejection of a neighboring country’s sovereignty and independence. Most emphatically, a nation has the right to self -determination. International order must be based on facts and a legal order. 

But in addition, it wanted to re-establish and remind the international community, for the record, that Russia is solely responsible for the present crisis situation in Ukraine. In doing so, it began to establish a fresh narrative within that major international body for the potential, and future sanctioning, of the Russian Federation.

Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 in direct contravention of international law and it continues to occupy the lands of a sovereign country, which includes Crimea. This is in contravention of post-World War II norms and the principle of national sovereignty as accepted by European nations as far back as the Treaty of Westphalia. In this situation, Russia is challenging the international world order and is working towards its demise.

In the case of Ukraine, Moscow is not willing to accept Ukraine as a sovereign country. This condescending view and disrespect was only further confirmed when the Russian ambassador walked out of the chamber when Ukraine’s representative began to address the council. This was only the latest example of how Russia is not willing to accept Ukraine’s sovereignty in deeds and in rhetoric.

Notice how Ukraine is never referred to as a sovereign country by the Kremlin, but as a former Soviet republic. Have you noticed that Putin continually refuses to meet with Ukraine’s democratically elected leader, head to head, and without the leaders of other nations present? This is deliberate.

 Nonetheless, Ukraine is a sovereign country, whether Putin likes it or not, or whether he accepts it. Ukraine is a historic fact, along with its statehood.

Thus, the result of the meeting of the security council was both a re-declaration and affirmation of the international order that affirms that every country has the right to self-determination, the right to decide with whom it chooses to form alliances, the right to security, and the right to have its international boundaries recognized and respected. And in the present moment in Ukraine, that means not to be threatened, destabilized, and its population terrorized.

To contravene these principles is to go against established international and civilized order. Russia is not only challenging this order, but continues to act in transgression of these principles. 

 For the record, the US effectively called out the Russian Federation as a transgressor of international law, both rhetorically and legally reiterating that Russia is an “aggressor” nation.

But in addition, it established a narrative framework for further sanctioning of the Russian state and denied Russia from claiming the role of victim. In the situation with Ukraine, Russia is not the aggrieved party, nor can it claim to be, based on the facts on the ground. 

The Kremlin’s responses during the meeting and later by Putin, once again showed that Russia’s leaders are proven liars, dissemblers of the truth, and proven prevaricators on the worlds stage. This is a fact. Russia under Putin cannot be trusted.

Moscow’s behavior in Ukraine is not by chance, but is being done with purpose and malice. And in so doing, Russia is audaciously pronouncing to the world that it is unwilling to live and act according to the norms of international law, nor accept the responsibility for provoking alarm.

In what may seem to be stating the obvious, there would be no crisis if Russia had not deployed such vast masses of equipment along the border of Ukraine. Better yet, there would be no discussion, if Russia had not invaded and occupied Ukrainian land in 2014. Ukraine has no ambitions towards Russia and poses absolutely no threat to Russia.

The result of Russia’s actions will ultimately lead to its isolation in the international arena, diplomatically, economically, and financially. This isolation would be based on a result of its own actions. Russia will have to learn the lesson that if it is to participate in international organizations and benefit from the fruits of business in the West, then it will have to follow the rules. 

The United States and the supporters of an international rules-based order are making a stand in the international arena. Ultimately, this is why Ukraine is important at this moment in world history. This is neither an overstatement nor an overreaction.

The stage of Ukraine represents the extent and willingness of western democracies to support the principles and values upon which free societies are based in direct opposition to authoritarians and empire builders.

The potential conflagration between western democracies and the authoritarianism represented by Russia, are being played out in Ukraine. The prime storylines must be made clear. It is about the respect of the rule of law, both domestically, and in the forum of international relations. The respect of freedom, both individually and as nation-states. The right to pursue and establish the institutions that make up a democratic order, and the opportunity to fulfil one’s economic ambitions within a free market.

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