Over Ukraine, Russophobia has gone too far.
Moscow deserves criticism for the crudity of its attacks on Ukraine (though I am not sure that it is a crime if a nation is not well prepared for war).
But the reason for the attacks has been there, and valid, for eight years, and the world did nothing.
We now have it from former German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, that the Minsk Accords of 2014-5 were not meant to promise autonomy to the pro-Russian majority in eastern Ukraine.
Instead they were to give time for Ukraine to build up its forces to attack that pro-Russian majority.
In that situation the principle of Moscow’s right to intervene to protect that majority would be covered by international agreements such as Responsibility to Protect (R2P) or right to self-determination
Instead we are told that it is all about protecting Ukraine’s sovereignty. Yet from the beginning Moscow went out of its way to respect that sovereignty.
In those Minsk Accords, Moscow states specifically that the borders of the pro-Russian areas would remain in Ukraine.
It was only when Ukraine began to insist those areas had no right to the promised autonomy, and its ultra-nationalists began to attack into those areas, that Moscow began to expand its claims.
This refusal of autonomy is extraordinary. Chancellor Merkel’s Germany has 16 federal autonomous states, each with exclusive jurisdiction over items like police, education, the press, freedom of assembly, public housing, prisons, media affairs among others.The US at last count had 50.
Yet for some reason the pro-Russian areas of Ukraine with a language, culture, history, economy quite different from the rest of Ukraine are constitutionally prohibited from having any degree of autonomy whatsoever.
Worse, Ukraine has now passed laws denying the right to many of their traditional freedoms, including language use.
For eight years the two pro-Russian districts specifically mentioned in the Minsk Accords as having the right to autonomy, Donetsk and Lugansk, have been fighting a lonely batttle.
A total of 18,000 civilians have been killed, more than the total from the current war. How much longer were they supposed to fight? Until all were extinguished? The ultra-nationalists would have it no less.
The pro-Russians have received some military assistance from Moscow over the years, but not enough to prevent a substantial loss of territory – first to the ultra-nationalists and now to the very well-armed Ukrainian government. In the Russia I visited two months ago President Putin clinging for years to false hopes the Minsk promises would somehow be honoured and that Russia could somehow be accepted as an equal partner into Europe is rightly accused of naivety, not barbarity.
From the beginning Russia should have insisted on positioning of peace keepers, as it did in Southern Ossetia and Transnistria to protect pro-Russians trapped by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Absence of peace-keepers was an invitation to the brutality and chaos of the Spanish civil war in the thirties, and what we see in Ukraine today.
Imagine how Canada would react if Quebec was forbidden to use French. Yet Canada is a major provider of arms to the government in Ukraine which tries to prevent the use of Russian.
The Russophobia is out of control.