PRAVEDNYK: The truth about Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified invasion of Ukraine

Ukraine has never been a militaristic state and never increased the number of weapons fort its armed forces, before its indefensible invasion

In Summary

• For a year, the Moscow regime has continued its merciless, bloodthirsty terror by shelling Ukrainian cities, striking civilians and critical infrastructure

• In addition, the Russians are actively sharing disinformation and false narratives about the Russian war against Ukraine, hiding the real reason for the invasion

Ukraine Ambassador to Kenya Andrii Pravednyk at Embassy of Ukraine.
Ukraine Ambassador to Kenya Andrii Pravednyk at Embassy of Ukraine.
Image: FILE

February 24 marked one year since Russia's unprovoked and unjustified full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

For a year, the Moscow regime has continued its merciless, bloodthirsty terror by shelling Ukrainian cities, striking civilians and critical infrastructure, in particular energy infrastructure. In addition, the Russians are actively sharing disinformation and false narratives about the Russian war against Ukraine, hiding the real reason for the Russian invasion.

According to the Kremlin, the goals and objectives of their so-called “special military operation”, announced by President Putin in February last year, are the “demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine”, which allegedly is led by neo-Nazis who persecute the ethnic Russian minority. But this is nothing more than the sick imagination of the Russian dictator.

First of all, Ukraine has never been a militaristic state and never increased the number of weapons available to its armed forces, before the unprovoked and unjustified invasion by Russia. On the contrary, in December 1994 Ukraine, Russia, the United Kingdom and the US signed the Budapest Memorandum according to which Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons, eliminated its military nuclear potential and strategic aviation as well as significantly reduced its armed forces.

Also, and it is very important to understand this, the Russian leadership expected to take Kyiv in three days after their full-scale invasion. They hoped that some regions of Ukraine, which they considered to be allegedly pro-Russian, would meet Russian squads with flowers and would definitely support Moscow’s intervention.

But Ukrainians went to the streets of the cities, lying down under Russian tanks, creating "living chains", organising peaceful anti-Russian demonstrations to stop the Russian onslaught.

The unprecedented resilience of Ukrainians, including Russian-speaking ones, as well as ethnic Russians is a convincing proof that the Kremlin's narratives about the alleged oppression of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine are nothing more than the complete lies of Moscow.

The Kremlin's accusations of Ukraine for allegedly bombardment and shelling of civilian populations in the temporary occupied by Russia areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions since 2014 have no evidence.

Instead, after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, almost 70,000 crimes committed by the Moscow and its soldiers against Ukraine and innocent civilians have been recorded and documented by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies in cooperation with special international investigative groups. Investigations into Russian war crimes are currently being carried out by the International Criminal Court, as well as by 21 countries.

According to Unicef, more than 470,000 people in Ukraine found themselves in poverty for the first time. Most of them are children. Eight million Ukrainian citizens moved abroad to escape mortal danger. And almost seven million Ukrainians became internally displaced persons. In total, 21.3 million people were affected by the Russian aggression against Ukraine, which is almost half of our population.

In the cities and villages that still remain under Moscow temporary occupation, the Russian armed forces, continue use of weapons not justified by the military necessity against the civilian population of Ukraine. They commit murders, rapes and kidnappings and other deliberate actions aimed at torturing the civilian population by starvation, armed attacks on educational, health care, religious buildings to name the few.

The Russian occupation regime organizes the mass forced deportation of Ukrainian children from the temporarily occupied territories and sends them to various, primarily remote regions of the Russian federation, impose Russian citizenship under a simplified procedure against their will, and allows adoption in order to destroy the gene pool of the Ukrainian people. 

Before the Russian full-scale invasion, 424 schools in Ukraine conducted education in the Russian language; most of the mainstream media (print or Internet version) were bilingual (Ukrainian and Russian) etc. But at the same time, there was no single Ukrainian-language school in Russia, any media or books printed in the Ukrainian language, despite the fact that there are millions of ethnic Ukrainians living in Russia.

[Russia President Vladimir] Putin, who supposedly wants to establish peace in Ukraine and rejects any accusations of unleashing bloody terror on the Ukrainian people, proposed to Kyiv his so-called "peace agreement", which provides the recognition of Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions as Russian territory.

This is absolutely unacceptable for reasons that are understandable to most people, who really love their own countries.

The peace  [agreement] should be fair, lasting and based on international law, in particular on the principles of inviolability of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Ukraine proposed a real mechanism – Ukraine's Peace Formula presented by President Volodymyr Zelensky on November 15, 2022, at the G-20 Summit - which will bring a comprehensive, just and lasting peace to Ukraine and security to the whole world. This formula’s main goal is to deprive Russia of its tools to commit the crime of aggression against Ukraine and to guarantee security and justice for the entire international community.

And on February 23, 2023 within the framework of the UN General Assembly an absolute majority of the world’s nations, 141, voted in favor of the “Principles of the Charter of the United Nations underlying a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine” resolution, which was co-sponsored by over 70 countries and based on the peace formula.

Even in the conditions of full-scale war launched by Russia, Ukraine retains its place among the world`s top five agricultural exporters, being one of the guarantors of the world`s food security. Since the start of the war, Ukraine has exported more than 50 million tonnes of grains, oilseeds and processed products to provide food for hundreds of millions of people across the globe.

Thirty countries and the EU joined the "Grain from Ukraine" humanitarian initiative launched by President Zelenskyy to help the poorest countries of the world with food.

The programme raised almost $200 million and sent 140,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain to countries suffering from hunger brought about by drought, including African countries and Kenya in particular.

Key historic turning points in the invasion of Ukraine

1) Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine is a part of a well-planned Russian armed aggression against Ukraine, which started on 20 February 2014 with the military operation of its armed forces on seizing a part of the Ukrainian territory — Crimean Peninsula.

This Illegal occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol was just the first Russian step aimed at undermining independence and sovereignty of Ukraine. The next step of the Russian aggression was an attempt to destabilize the situation in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine in order to form a quasi-state so called “Novorossiya”. Russian regular troops and its proxies managed to temporarily occupy certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

2) Eight years later, on early morning of February 24, 2022, Russia launched its unprovoked and unjustified full-scale invasion of Ukraine with strikes from land, air and sea using cruise, ballistic missiles and reactive system volley fire against the capital city of Kyiv and other cities in the country.

Long before the invasion of Ukraine, in August 2008 Russia had already illegally invaded the territory of the independent and sovereign nation of Georgia, annexing parts of its territory – Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

3) The International Criminal Court on March 17, 2023 issued an arrest warrant for war crimes for President Putin and also one for Maria lvova-belova, his commissioner for children’s rights and a loyal party servant. The court at The Hague accused Putin and his minion of bearing criminal responsibility for the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

This is an important step in holding Moscow accountable for abuses during its yearlong war against Ukraine.

This decision requires the court's 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory.  

Andrii Pravednyk is the Ambassador of Ukraine to Kenya

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