Ukraine Humanitarian Aid Flounders

As the violence in east Ukraine continues to spiral out of control, it is readily apparent that US diplomatic efforts to bring peace to the region are non existent – except to stir opposition against a 280 vehicle humanitarian convoy stalled at the border and to reiterate a cycle of uncorroborated fictions against Russia.

With intensified fighting in Ukraine, new allegations that a column of 23 Russian armored personnel carriers had crossed the border and been destroyed by Ukraine artillery in rebel-held territory have proven to be totally unfounded – and yet an acquiescent media continues to repeat the unsubstantiated charges as if factual.

At the same time, as the massacre of a civilian population in Gaza revealed the gross inhumanity of the Obama Administration, the current blocking of urgently needed humanitarian and medical aid from Russia to east Ukraine is the latest provocation by the US-supported Kiev government.

Since earlier incitements failed in its desired effect to lure Russian troops across the border and the downing of MH 17 failed to prove that Putin was to blame, the US has moved on to the strategy of using the Ukraine’s civilian population, an estimated 1,200 of which are abandoned orphans, as bait to achieve the hoped-for result of encouraging a Russian military intervention.

Not that there is not already a wealth of evidence from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere that a defenseless civilian population is always an expendable commodity in the larger aim of US global dominance.  The president and other US officials continue to do their best to undermine the urgency of the convoy as well as spreading panic that Russia is imminently planning an unprovoked invasion.

Despite  newly elected President Poroshenko’s approval for the humanitarian fleet (which is carrying 2,000 tons of food, water, blankets, sleeping bags, condensed milk and other necessities) with the support of the International Red Cross, the Russian convoy remains stuck 30 kms from the Ukraine border.   In spite of Proshenko’s agreement to allow access, the convey is still being denied entry by border guards into Ukraine.

Caught in the diplomatic cross-hairs of the Kiev government’s efforts to derail the convoy, the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) formally petitioned the government to allow humanitarian aid to travel through east Ukraine as an ICRC team arrived to negotiate the stalemate with Ukraine border guards.  Six hours later, the convoy received official designation as humanitarian aid and a tentative green light only to be stalled again.  Agreed-upon conditions include inspection of the 280 trucks by Red Cross personnel with a Red Cross employee required to accompany each truck into Ukraine.   While a random inspection has begun, it is uncertain how long inspections might take with the expectation that it will be at least another week before the convoy is allowed to roll again.

Even as the UN conservatively estimates over 2,000 citizen fatalities to date, what has not been agreed-upon is a ceasefire without which the convoy will be traversing through an exceedingly dangerous war-torn territory.  With a ceasefire nowhere in sight, Ukraine security forces have intensified their offensive shelling of residential neighborhoods in six Donetsk cities as the Kiev government is also fighting for control of the Yuzivska shale gas field.  Located near Slavyansk on the Kharkov Donetsk border, residents had organized protests against the Yuzivska  development including a planned ballot referendum.  Today, as the conflict spreads creating more casualties, the humanitarian convoy waits at the border.

With fighting in the beleaguered Luhansk, a city of over 400,000 without water and electricity for at least the last two weeks and desperately awaiting arrival of the convoy,  the alarming report of planned road attacks by one of the several neo-Nazi militias in the area continues to fan the fears of more violence.   If and when the unarmed convoy, its drivers unequipped with helmets or defensive gear crosses into Ukraine and heads for the Donbas, confronts a hostile military presence, Putin may be forced to act in a way he has so far resisted – that is, to order the Russian army into Ukraine to protect the convoy and its Russian citizens.

While NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a rabid Russophobe, suggested that “a Russian incursion” had occurred “through a gap in a barbed wire fence that demarcates the border.”  Seriously – 23 APC’s ‘through a gap in a barbed wire fence’?  The Russian Defense ministry has denied the claim as ‘fantasy’ and ‘fabrications’ and that “such statements should not be subject for a serious discussion by top officials of any country.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has further testified that no Russian ammunition or military has crossed the border at the two most populated checkpoints.   It is not as if the Kiev and US governments have not, in the past, provided speculative assertions of wrongdoing on the part of the ‘rebels,’ this latest narrative is more transparent than their other constructed fiction.

It is no more possible to imagine that a column of 23 Russian tanks had moved quietly across the border (through a gap of barbed wire) and into Ukraine without any detection and been so devastatingly annihilated as described without any photos of the wreckage, satellite images or other evidence on display than it would be if President Obama had missed the opportunity to provide irrefutable evidence of a Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine on primetime tv.   Is it reasonable to believe that the movement of that large a force of APC’s would not have immediately brought down the full wrath of the US military and NATO in an immediate apocalyptic armed response?  And yet all the major players remain strangely silent, not one word of outrage and no presidential announcement to the nation that Russia had invaded Ukraine.

As if the aforementioned crises were not enough to heighten the already fraught tensions that threaten to expand the battlefield beyond its current boundaries, the upcoming annual NATO Heads of State Summit in early September, a gesture to the dying dinosaur,  promises to add more fuel to the fire.

While it appears that the promised approval of NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine may remain on the backburner for the short term, every NATO member fully understands that the depth of Russia’s antagonism in an already volatile environment is rooted in a vehement opposition to a missile presence on its borders.

Rasmussen, who rivals US Secretary of State John Kerry’s indiscreet hyperbole offered that the summit will be a ‘turning point’ for the Alliance and that “We are at a crucial point in history: our peace and security are once again being tested …by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.”   If that was not enough to sound like a prelude to military action, then

“We will adopt an action plan to boost our readiness….  We are looking closely at the forces we need, where they should be deployed, how fast they should be able to respond and how to reinforce them”  depth of today’s Russian antagonism in an already volatile environment.

In contrast to US and NATO blathering officials who only know how to bully, cajole and speak in a coercive, threatening manner is Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.   A career diplomat, reliably erudite, poised and focused, Lavrov’s recent comments accurately nailed the Ukraine crisis as NATO’s pretext for existing:

“Previously Afghanistan helped NATO justify its being,” and “NATO is looking for a new reason to exist.”

“…when the West said that Assad can’t be a partner anymore, while we still adhered to the principle that you can’t just overthrow regimes, negotiations [are] needed”

“NATO’s policy is based on the desire to assert their will at any price.”

“And for those who do not agree, they apply sanctions… take revenge, I know no other way to call it, but avenge for independence and for the unwillingness to follow the one-sided, unipolar world.”

Renee Parsons was a staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives and a lobbyist on nuclear energy issues with Friends of the Earth.  in 2005, she was elected to the Durango City Council and served as Councilor and Mayor.  Currently, she is a member of the Treasure Coast ACLU Board.


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Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31

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