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Putin is sabotaging Ukraine’s grain deal New 'humanitarian corridors' are being abused

A Ukrainian soldier patrols a wheat silo (Lara Hauser/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A Ukrainian soldier patrols a wheat silo (Lara Hauser/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)


January 13, 2023   6 mins

To walk along the Odesa seafront is to briefly forget that you are in a country at war. Several times each day, the sounds of Russian attack start up, and soon after comes the Ukrainian retort. The alto of the air raid siren is now an almost inevitable precursor to the baritone of the air defence guns, booming reassuringly across the skies in answer.

The seafront, though, remains close to normal. The sky shines bright blue in the sharp cold, the beaches glisten a powdery off-white. But the idyll is upset by a strange stillness. The port, which made the city a global outpost, is almost closed. Providing the Russian Empire with access to Europe, and to the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, it saw everything from silk to olives to cocaine flow back in return. It made the people here, if not exactly cosmopolitan, then perennially open to the world. And it enabled a lot of good times. Eventually “living like God in Odesa” became Yiddish slang for having a good time.

Today, however, the city is almost landlocked. Ahead of me, stretching out miles into the sea are hundreds of underwater mines. Somewhere just over the horizon lurks the Russian Navy. Moscow first wanted to conquer Ukraine. It couldn’t. Now it seeks to break the will of its people: as winter bites, rockets and drones pound energy infrastructure across the country; and once more Moscow is jeopardising international food security, by trying to sabotage the country’s grain shipments and further delay their arrival to the millions around the world who need them.

***

Ukraine’s “black soil” (Chernozem) is one of the most potent natural resources on earth. It contains a particular constellation of microelements that make it the most fertile in the world, enabling it to grow a large and varied number of crops, including grain. These are then exported: Ukraine has a 42% share of the world’s sunflower oil exports, 16% of maize exports, and almost 10% of global wheat exports.

Pretty much as soon as Russia launched its invasion, routes in the Azov Sea were closed to merchant ships. The Russians do not respect the civilian/military divide, so it was simply too dangerous for them to sail. In early March, Ukraine had no choice but to suspend its export of meat, sugar, salt, oats, buckwheat, millet, and rye.

Fearful of a global food crisis, international institutions lobbied Russia, which initially ignored them. Eventually, though, the clamour got too much. On July 22, the UN (assisted by Turkey) brokered The Safe Transportation of Grain and Foodstuffs from Ukrainian Ports Document. This slowly began to ease the backlog of 20 million tons of grain and other foodstuffs that had piled up in Ukraine. Finally, Odesa’s great port began to work again. Finally, the grain began to move — in theory.

***

“They totally misunderstood our country; they didn’t understand who we were.” Igor Tkachuk, Deputy Governor of the Odesa Region, is flanked by two of his colleagues from the regional administration in a cafe in the city centre. Together, the men are responsible for making sure the region can continue functioning despite daily attacks.

Tkachuk explains how Russia is continuing to prevent grain from leaving Ukraine. The July deal established a so-called “humanitarian corridor” in the Black Sea for the shipment of grain — with ships searched in Istanbul by Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish, and UN inspectors. The point of inspections is, apparently, to search for “unauthorised cargoes and personnel on board vessels inbound to or outbound from the Ukrainian ports”.

From the outset, Ukraine has complained about Russian inspections of their ships: often ships are waiting “for over a month”, according to the Ukrainian Information Ministry in December. Tkachuk says this is deliberate. “The ports are working; the grain is going on to the ships; we are ready to work. But there are more than 90 grain ships waiting in line in the Bosporus. Four months ago, I was Deputy Head of the port in Chornomorsk [south of Odesa]. I know how this works. They are acting as a break to sabotage the grain deliveries.”

He continues: “The Russians are saying that there are mines in the water — but there are no mines in this corridor. Also, under the terms of the deal, they have the right to inspect a ship before it goes. And they are doing this incredibly slowly. The Turkish inspectors can inspect a ship in three hours — it takes the Russians three days for some reason.”

He is not alone in this view. A few days later, I meet with Oleksiy Goncharenko, MP for the Northwest Odesa region. “The Russians are doing the inspection slowly,” he tells me. “They need a rest, they need to smoke, then a coffee. Then they are ill, and a million other excuses to delay the process. Generally, we have three or four ships going through inspections per day, but during the two days in which Russia wasn’t in the deal, that number was 20 ships.”

He is referring to a 48-hour period, from 29 October, when Russia briefly suspended the grain deal after the Ukrainian bombing of the Crimean Port of Sevastopol. Almost immediately after the event, Putin publicly vowed that if it emerged that “the explosives that blew up the Crimea bridge were sent from Odesa by a grain shipment”, it would “call into question the existence of humanitarian corridors”.

Goncharenko believes this contains a vital lesson for the international community. “It was clear from the first day that Russia would do everything it could to kill the deal; it was looking for any excuse. From the beginning, the Russians never wanted it. They want chaos and inflation; they want the Black Sea to remain closed. So when we attacked their fleet in Sevastopol, they obviously jumped at the opportunity to back out. But it was interesting because it didn’t work. They made a huge song and dance about leaving; [Turkish President] Erdogan said, ‘fine then’ and they came back in just over 48 hours.” He concludes. “This is really important because it shows the world how to deal with Russia.”

Crucially, Goncharenko believes the grain issue will not go away soon. “For a start,” he tells me, the situation “showed the world how important the Black Sea remains. Since the time of the Ancient Greeks, it has been the breadbasket of the world, but many forgot its importance — until it was closed. It’s vital for the world to open the Black Sea, not just for grain, but for all other exports. Right now, only one product is moving.”

A big threat in his eyes remains the possibility of direct assault and occupation of the ships. And this raises new problems, especially for the continuing supply of grain. From  January 1, 2023, many ship insurers — including those based in America and the UK — stopped offering “war risk” cover across Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, citing losses related to the conflict and from Florida’s Hurricane Ian. Goncharenko believes that, for the moment, this won’t have negative effects on the grain ships, but that we can’t rule out problems arising in future.

He is, however, convinced that the problems around grain will continue. He dismisses talk that Putin is ill or too old. “He is very active; I don’t believe he is ill — look at his recent movements. One day he was in Vladivostok, then in Kaliningrad. For Putin, Ukraine is like Chechnya: the first war was a disaster, so they did it twice. He’s constantly thinking about learning from mistakes. And if he does this, make no mistake: Odesa is Russia’s objective Number One — not Kyiv. He knows he cannot take Kyiv anymore. He believes Odesa to be a Russian city. There are three ‘holy’ Ukrainian cities for him: Sevastopol, Kyiv, and Odesa. He has one and has abandoned the other — we are the only one left.”

I ask him a question that I ask almost everyone I meet here. Britain and the USA went into Iraq without really knowing anything about the country or its people and blundered accordingly. But that was a country on a different continent, whose people spoke a different language and whose culture is strikingly different to ours. How could Russia, as Ukraine’s neighbour, with a shared language and so many cultural traditions, get it all so badly wrong?

Goncharenko pauses and smiles. “Do you know the Mayakovsky poem of 1921, ‘Debt to Ukraine’?” I don’t, and we look it up. “But what do we know/of the face of Ukraine?” the poet asks, before answering: “A Russian’s/cargo of knowledge/is slight… What they know is/Ukrainian borscht,/What they know is/Ukrainian salo./And from the culture/they skimmed the foam.”

“They never really understood us. They just thought they did. And this is why they are in the mess they are,” he concludes. I think back to the beginning of the week when I asked Tkachuk what he thought an already-isolated Russia hoped to gain by delaying grain shipments that were, after all, going to help feed people across the world? “No idea,” he shrugged. “The same thing they hoped to achieve by going to war with us in the first place, I guess.”


David Patrikarakos is UnHerd‘s foreign correspondent. His latest book is War in 140 characters: how social media is reshaping conflict in the 21st century. (Hachette)

dpatrikarakos

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Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

This is an important article that highlights the reason America and Russia are using Ukraine as the rope in a game of geopolitical tug-of-war. Ukraine has significant strategic value for its agricultural output, and this has been true for a very long time. The Russian Empire spent much of its history trying to bring the area under direct or indirect control because of its agricultural value and because of its Black Sea ports. Just about as soon as they threw off the Mongols, they tried to conquer the lands to their immediate south. They were initially not very successful, and usually faced heavy resistance from the ethnic groups that lived there, notably the Cossacks, who successfully resisted Russian domination for a long time. The city of Odesa didn’t come under Russian control until the reign of Catherine the Great in the late 18th century. Until then, it had been a minor fortress which, like much of Ukraine, passed back and forth between various Eastern European and Middle Eastern powers. The Russians greatly expanded it, making it into an important city, so, in many ways, Odesa represents the culmination of centuries of struggle for the Russian Empire, the fruits of generations of blood and treasure spent. Its symbolic value is far greater than its practical value, especially to Russia. For America and the west, the war in Ukraine is about the strategic value of Ukraine’s agricultural sector. That’s why the EU was interested in having Ukraine join the bloc despite the country’s well documented corruption and not quite fully Democratic government, and that’s why the US is willing to give up billions of dollars in weapons to keep the country independent. For Russia, it is more than that, which is why they continue to accept significant losses to reacquire it that they ultimately will never recoup even if they succeed. America and Europe may have overestimated the competence of the Russian military, but I suspect they greatly underestimate Russian resolve.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

The West’s motives are complex; it’s not just about Ukraine’s agricultural sector. Most important, the Russians are, I think correct to see an attempt to diminish their power – while spending someone else‘s blood. But it was their foolishness in invading that allowed this to happen.
We’ll see how much resolve the Russians have. I have had a meme for a while now that ‘the Ukrainian people want freedom more than the Russian people want Ukraine’. We’ll see.
Remember also what happened to the USSR after the invasion of Afghanistan. Yes, there were several causes, operating at various timescales, but… As Mark Twain didn’t say, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes”.

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Noel Chiappa

I agree the west have seen an opportunity to weaken a rival and have acted accordingly, if the situation was reversed I’d expect Russia and China to do the same. The Russians have armed numerous groups opposed to the west in the past so they can’t really complain that this time it’s happening to them. As you say however it’s the stupidity of the Kremlin that has allowed it to happen, who maybe became complacent after there was no pushback after Donbas, Crimea, Georgia etc.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Yup; the classic being the arming of the North Viet Namese. In both cases, it wasn’t just a desire to damage a rival, though; there was also an element of support for an country with a somewhat similar ideology – socialism in the case of North Viet Nam, democracy (admittedly with flaws of various kinds) for Ukraine.

Noel Chiappa
NC
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Yup; the classic being the arming of the North Viet Namese. In both cases, it wasn’t just a desire to damage a rival, though; there was also an element of support for an country with a somewhat similar ideology – socialism in the case of North Viet Nam, democracy (admittedly with flaws of various kinds) for Ukraine.

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Noel Chiappa

I agree the west have seen an opportunity to weaken a rival and have acted accordingly, if the situation was reversed I’d expect Russia and China to do the same. The Russians have armed numerous groups opposed to the west in the past so they can’t really complain that this time it’s happening to them. As you say however it’s the stupidity of the Kremlin that has allowed it to happen, who maybe became complacent after there was no pushback after Donbas, Crimea, Georgia etc.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

The West’s motives are complex; it’s not just about Ukraine’s agricultural sector. Most important, the Russians are, I think correct to see an attempt to diminish their power – while spending someone else‘s blood. But it was their foolishness in invading that allowed this to happen.
We’ll see how much resolve the Russians have. I have had a meme for a while now that ‘the Ukrainian people want freedom more than the Russian people want Ukraine’. We’ll see.
Remember also what happened to the USSR after the invasion of Afghanistan. Yes, there were several causes, operating at various timescales, but… As Mark Twain didn’t say, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes”.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

This is an important article that highlights the reason America and Russia are using Ukraine as the rope in a game of geopolitical tug-of-war. Ukraine has significant strategic value for its agricultural output, and this has been true for a very long time. The Russian Empire spent much of its history trying to bring the area under direct or indirect control because of its agricultural value and because of its Black Sea ports. Just about as soon as they threw off the Mongols, they tried to conquer the lands to their immediate south. They were initially not very successful, and usually faced heavy resistance from the ethnic groups that lived there, notably the Cossacks, who successfully resisted Russian domination for a long time. The city of Odesa didn’t come under Russian control until the reign of Catherine the Great in the late 18th century. Until then, it had been a minor fortress which, like much of Ukraine, passed back and forth between various Eastern European and Middle Eastern powers. The Russians greatly expanded it, making it into an important city, so, in many ways, Odesa represents the culmination of centuries of struggle for the Russian Empire, the fruits of generations of blood and treasure spent. Its symbolic value is far greater than its practical value, especially to Russia. For America and the west, the war in Ukraine is about the strategic value of Ukraine’s agricultural sector. That’s why the EU was interested in having Ukraine join the bloc despite the country’s well documented corruption and not quite fully Democratic government, and that’s why the US is willing to give up billions of dollars in weapons to keep the country independent. For Russia, it is more than that, which is why they continue to accept significant losses to reacquire it that they ultimately will never recoup even if they succeed. America and Europe may have overestimated the competence of the Russian military, but I suspect they greatly underestimate Russian resolve.

M. Gatt
MG
M. Gatt
1 year ago

The never ending anti-Russia propaganda from this author is truly disgusting. Makes me question why I subscribe. Just utter and complete rubbish.

Su Mac
Su Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  M. Gatt

Balance I guess, if you can call it that. Skim it and move on!

M. Gatt
M. Gatt
1 year ago
Reply to  Su Mac

Balance? Surely you jest? Did you read his piece from last weekends edition? Just full of the worst kind of hateful anti-Russian bigotry. Appalling really. I cannot imagine saying things of that nature towards any other nationality and having it published.

Last edited 1 year ago by M. Gatt
M. Gatt
M. Gatt
1 year ago
Reply to  Su Mac

Balance? Surely you jest? Did you read his piece from last weekends edition? Just full of the worst kind of hateful anti-Russian bigotry. Appalling really. I cannot imagine saying things of that nature towards any other nationality and having it published.

Last edited 1 year ago by M. Gatt
Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
1 year ago
Reply to  M. Gatt

A great many top global writers would write an anti-war story, but Unherd sticks with the pro-war, anti-peace stories. Commission Ben Harnwell, or one of the many ex-security State people out there who say this needs to end, what it is doing, why it is doing that.

This war is destroying the global economy which was reeling from the HUGE self harm of the covid Plandemic.

”“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action”
― Ian Fleming,”

Well this chain of self harm is 1000 times – it is enemy action, and we need to be looking for who it is trying to destroy the global order and economy. Actually… Flemming would say Dr Evil… and we all know who that is, he looks and talks the exact part, and we know who his secret dozen at the high table with him are…..

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
1 year ago

You’ve fallen a long way down the rabbit hole haven’t you

Simon Melville
SM
Simon Melville
1 year ago

 Flemming would say Dr Evil… and we all know who that is, he looks and talks the exact part,

You mean…GIANNI INFANTINO???!!

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
1 year ago

You’ve fallen a long way down the rabbit hole haven’t you

Simon Melville
SM
Simon Melville
1 year ago

 Flemming would say Dr Evil… and we all know who that is, he looks and talks the exact part,

You mean…GIANNI INFANTINO???!!

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  M. Gatt

You’re free to write a pro Russian piece if you wish, defending their actions in Bucha and the like

Su Mac
Su Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  M. Gatt

Balance I guess, if you can call it that. Skim it and move on!

Phillip Arundel
PA
Phillip Arundel
1 year ago
Reply to  M. Gatt

A great many top global writers would write an anti-war story, but Unherd sticks with the pro-war, anti-peace stories. Commission Ben Harnwell, or one of the many ex-security State people out there who say this needs to end, what it is doing, why it is doing that.

This war is destroying the global economy which was reeling from the HUGE self harm of the covid Plandemic.

”“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action”
― Ian Fleming,”

Well this chain of self harm is 1000 times – it is enemy action, and we need to be looking for who it is trying to destroy the global order and economy. Actually… Flemming would say Dr Evil… and we all know who that is, he looks and talks the exact part, and we know who his secret dozen at the high table with him are…..

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  M. Gatt

You’re free to write a pro Russian piece if you wish, defending their actions in Bucha and the like

M. Gatt
MG
M. Gatt
1 year ago

The never ending anti-Russia propaganda from this author is truly disgusting. Makes me question why I subscribe. Just utter and complete rubbish.

Noel Chiappa
NC
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago

I see we have several “useful idiots” here (a term from the 1930’s, for Westerners who are gullible, and short-sighted, enough to believe the Russian propaganda line du jour – people who, blindly following their ideology, were ready to swallow anything – back then, in service of Communism, which had become the ‘bright and shiny object’ of the Russians, and also of some in the West).
What’s happening to people around the world is indeed very distressing, but it’s all fundamentally a result of Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine, back in February.
As to why it did that – Russia had been an expansionist power for hundreds of years. There’s a reason Russia is 10 time zones wide! The expansion East-ward to the Pacific, starting in the 1600’s; the invasion South of the so-called ‘stans, starting in the 1700’s, completed in the late 1800’s with the conquest of the Turkmen at Merv (although I suppose Afghanistan in the 1980’s can be seen as an extension of that). And finally, attempted expansion to the West, an on-going process over several centuries – the repeated dismemberment of Poland; multiple invasions of Finland; repeated seizures of the Baltics; the seizure of the victims of Germany in the later 1940’s. “Nothing’s new; they’re still the same people”, in the incredibly memorable closing words of Hedrick Smith’s wife, in his wonderful book on the Russians.
One would have thought that people would have woken up to this by now, but I see not.
Let the down-voting begin! I will wear each one as a badge of honour! Thank you to those giving them out!

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Noel Chiappa

I don’t even think those you describe are necessarily pro Russian, they’re just that anti west that they’ll believe anything written that’s critical of western nations whilst dismissing anything that’s positive as propaganda

Noel Chiappa
NC
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Right, they are not really pro-Russian – just willing to believe what the Russians say, without subjecting it to critical thinking.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Noel Chiappa

You misunderstand the point I’m trying to make I think. In my opinion they’re simply contrarian rather the ideological

Noel Chiappa
NC
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

That could be. I’ll have to ponder it. (And perhaps some are contrarian, some are ideological, and some are a bit of both – people are complicated.)

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

That could be. I’ll have to ponder it. (And perhaps some are contrarian, some are ideological, and some are a bit of both – people are complicated.)

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Noel Chiappa

You misunderstand the point I’m trying to make I think. In my opinion they’re simply contrarian rather the ideological

Noel Chiappa
NC
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Right, they are not really pro-Russian – just willing to believe what the Russians say, without subjecting it to critical thinking.

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Noel Chiappa

I don’t even think those you describe are necessarily pro Russian, they’re just that anti west that they’ll believe anything written that’s critical of western nations whilst dismissing anything that’s positive as propaganda

Noel Chiappa
NC
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago

I see we have several “useful idiots” here (a term from the 1930’s, for Westerners who are gullible, and short-sighted, enough to believe the Russian propaganda line du jour – people who, blindly following their ideology, were ready to swallow anything – back then, in service of Communism, which had become the ‘bright and shiny object’ of the Russians, and also of some in the West).
What’s happening to people around the world is indeed very distressing, but it’s all fundamentally a result of Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine, back in February.
As to why it did that – Russia had been an expansionist power for hundreds of years. There’s a reason Russia is 10 time zones wide! The expansion East-ward to the Pacific, starting in the 1600’s; the invasion South of the so-called ‘stans, starting in the 1700’s, completed in the late 1800’s with the conquest of the Turkmen at Merv (although I suppose Afghanistan in the 1980’s can be seen as an extension of that). And finally, attempted expansion to the West, an on-going process over several centuries – the repeated dismemberment of Poland; multiple invasions of Finland; repeated seizures of the Baltics; the seizure of the victims of Germany in the later 1940’s. “Nothing’s new; they’re still the same people”, in the incredibly memorable closing words of Hedrick Smith’s wife, in his wonderful book on the Russians.
One would have thought that people would have woken up to this by now, but I see not.
Let the down-voting begin! I will wear each one as a badge of honour! Thank you to those giving them out!

David McKee
David McKee
1 year ago

This is a subject which is far more serious than the Harry ‘n’ Meghan end-of-the-pier show. Yet I’m the first to comment. That says a lot about the insularity and frivolousness of us in the West, when you think about it.
Clearly, food supplies are going to be dicey until Putin is defeated. So the sooner we give the Ukrainians the tools to finish the job, the better.

Last edited 1 year ago by David McKee
Phillip Arundel
PA
Phillip Arundel
1 year ago
Reply to  David McKee

Stopping the fertilizer is 100X the bigger problem. The stopping of materials from the Sanctions – Metals, fertilizer, rare gasses (neon for chip making) oil, gas, and much more – these are what is killing the poor by harming the global economy and supply.

So where are the humanitarian passes to allow those vital Russian And Ukrainian materials out?

Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and every poor – they cannot afford kerosene and gas for cooking – diesel for their trucks and tractors. Jobs lost to reduced materials which feed international industry, and thus jobs and goods world wide.

The Sanctions will kill Millions – powers more than the slow wheat shipments.

In Europe 26 fertilizer manufacturers are shut or slowed down hard – because the natural gas they make the Nitrogen part from is too high and rationed! So Europe buys on the world market instead of exporting. Russia is a huge Potash supplier, the biggest Nitrogen fertilizer producer – yes, some gets shipped by permit around sanctions – which shows the hypocrisy of all this insane war.

This writer looks at details and misses the big picture.

Neo-Con Warmongers, Military Industrial Complex, desire to export LNG from USA, and someone wants to crash Europe – to wreck its economy – and it is us Westerners. This all is self harm Peace Now!

Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
1 year ago
Reply to  David McKee

Stopping the fertilizer is 100X the bigger problem. The stopping of materials from the Sanctions – Metals, fertilizer, rare gasses (neon for chip making) oil, gas, and much more – these are what is killing the poor by harming the global economy and supply.

So where are the humanitarian passes to allow those vital Russian And Ukrainian materials out?

Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and every poor – they cannot afford kerosene and gas for cooking – diesel for their trucks and tractors. Jobs lost to reduced materials which feed international industry, and thus jobs and goods world wide.

The Sanctions will kill Millions – powers more than the slow wheat shipments.

In Europe 26 fertilizer manufacturers are shut or slowed down hard – because the natural gas they make the Nitrogen part from is too high and rationed! So Europe buys on the world market instead of exporting. Russia is a huge Potash supplier, the biggest Nitrogen fertilizer producer – yes, some gets shipped by permit around sanctions – which shows the hypocrisy of all this insane war.

This writer looks at details and misses the big picture.

Neo-Con Warmongers, Military Industrial Complex, desire to export LNG from USA, and someone wants to crash Europe – to wreck its economy – and it is us Westerners. This all is self harm Peace Now!

David McKee
DM
David McKee
1 year ago

This is a subject which is far more serious than the Harry ‘n’ Meghan end-of-the-pier show. Yet I’m the first to comment. That says a lot about the insularity and frivolousness of us in the West, when you think about it.
Clearly, food supplies are going to be dicey until Putin is defeated. So the sooner we give the Ukrainians the tools to finish the job, the better.

Last edited 1 year ago by David McKee
martin logan
ML
martin logan
1 year ago

Russia since Soviet times has reflected the morals of a “Thief in Law”. Most Russians honestly know no better, Putin most of all. Stalin systematically removed any sense of pity, or even empathy, from them in the 30s.
To expect understanding, much less pity, for starving third world Africans is beyond them. Go ask Vagner, if you don’t think it’s true.
If it hurts Ukrainians, nothing else matters.

Last edited 1 year ago by martin logan
Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

The ironic thing is that if you replace Russians above with say Arabs, Chinese or Zulus, it would be much more accurate – and absolutely verboten to express.

Noel Chiappa
NC
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Human nature, I fear. Humans evolved to be an apex predator.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Human nature, I fear. Humans evolved to be an apex predator.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

The ironic thing is that if you replace Russians above with say Arabs, Chinese or Zulus, it would be much more accurate – and absolutely verboten to express.

martin logan
ML
martin logan
1 year ago

Russia since Soviet times has reflected the morals of a “Thief in Law”. Most Russians honestly know no better, Putin most of all. Stalin systematically removed any sense of pity, or even empathy, from them in the 30s.
To expect understanding, much less pity, for starving third world Africans is beyond them. Go ask Vagner, if you don’t think it’s true.
If it hurts Ukrainians, nothing else matters.

Last edited 1 year ago by martin logan
Iris C
IC
Iris C
1 year ago

The Ukrainian government wants more US military hardware to continue the destruction of their country but I wonder what the majority of Ukrainian citizens think. The last poll was taken many months ago – it showed 30% backed government policy; 30% were against; and 40% just wanted the war to end. Remember that Ukraine is made up of many different nationalities from surrounding countries, (including Russia).
We know that the Ukrainian army conducted vicious retaliation (and killed Russian prisoners) in areas they won back because a British journalist told us this, so it could be that members of the army (and possibly the Zelensky government) could face war crimes when the war ends.
This could be a reason for the continuation of the war and should not be ignored…

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Iris C

I’m sure every Ukrainian wants the war to end, however it’s a pointless question without stating how they want the war to end. If ending the war involved become a Belarus like client state for Russia then I’d wager most would say keep fighting, especially while there’s a realistic chance of liberating a large portion of their territory

Iris C
Iris C
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

It should end by peace negotiations initiated through the United Nations and legally binding, taking into account the interests of the different nationalities on the fringes of Ukraine’s fluid borders and Russian security.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago
Reply to  Iris C

“legally binding” – Like the Budapest Memorandum – also filed at the UN? Every country feels free to ignore things it has agreed to – the only question is how often they do so; some do it more often than others.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Iris C

Russia ignored the last treaty they signed with Ukraine so why should the Ukrainians trust them to uphold the next one? They’ll want a more cast iron security guarantee than the UN and Russias word to abide by it

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago
Reply to  Iris C

“legally binding” – Like the Budapest Memorandum – also filed at the UN? Every country feels free to ignore things it has agreed to – the only question is how often they do so; some do it more often than others.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Iris C

Russia ignored the last treaty they signed with Ukraine so why should the Ukrainians trust them to uphold the next one? They’ll want a more cast iron security guarantee than the UN and Russias word to abide by it

Iris C
IC
Iris C
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

It should end by peace negotiations initiated through the United Nations and legally binding, taking into account the interests of the different nationalities on the fringes of Ukraine’s fluid borders and Russian security.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Iris C

I’m sure every Ukrainian wants the war to end, however it’s a pointless question without stating how they want the war to end. If ending the war involved become a Belarus like client state for Russia then I’d wager most would say keep fighting, especially while there’s a realistic chance of liberating a large portion of their territory

Iris C
IC
Iris C
1 year ago

The Ukrainian government wants more US military hardware to continue the destruction of their country but I wonder what the majority of Ukrainian citizens think. The last poll was taken many months ago – it showed 30% backed government policy; 30% were against; and 40% just wanted the war to end. Remember that Ukraine is made up of many different nationalities from surrounding countries, (including Russia).
We know that the Ukrainian army conducted vicious retaliation (and killed Russian prisoners) in areas they won back because a British journalist told us this, so it could be that members of the army (and possibly the Zelensky government) could face war crimes when the war ends.
This could be a reason for the continuation of the war and should not be ignored…