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Posted: April 10, 2022

The Ukrainian war is close to the crunch

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

It’s time to excommunicate Russia.

The UN took a step towards expelling Russia from its Human Rights Council this week, but it’s not enough. Russia needs to be expelled from the entire civilized world. What else do you do with a country that commits genocide in Ukraine right in front of our eyes and then denies doing it even though we watch it day after numbing day on the TV news?

Yes, there are Nazis in Ukraine. But they don’t come from Germany. They come from Russia and they kill men, women and children indiscriminately.

They kill them in their homes, their hospitals, their schools or simply walking down the street. Some are killed cowering in church basements, theatres, or any public building offering protection from Russian missiles. But there’s no escaping the Russian blitzkrieg launched by Vladimir Putin, a modern-day Adolph Hitler if there ever was one.

Meanwhile Putin, who fancies himself a reincarnation of Peter the Great, pulls the strings on the Russian slaughter, which comes up with a new atrocity almost daily.

“So much for never again,” says a stark article in Politico, referring to the Nazi holocaust in World War II. In Kyiv, Russian soldiers shelled kindergartens and orphanages. On numerous occasions, Putin’s forces have bombed civilians trying to escape through evacuation corridors and they’ve also used grenades to booby-trap the corpses of dead Ukrainians lying in the streets.

In Kharkiv, Russian soldiers bombed a shelter for blind people and used banned cluster bombs to kill numerous civilians in a city now reduced to rubble, according to a UN report. Another UN report says 47 civilians standing in a bread line in Chernihiv were killed by a Russian missile while another Russian missile killed more than 300 civilians sheltering in a theatre basement in Mariupol.

Killing of civilians by Russian soldiers in Ukraine is simply random. It doesn’t even deserve the dignity of being called war.

Despite the horror of the Russian attacks, Ukrainians remain unbowed and have even pushed the Russians back north of Kyiv and clearly made Putin very nervous about prosecuting the war. But how long can the badly outnumbered and out-resourced Ukrainian forces maintain their brave struggle?

When he spoke by Zoom to Canada’s Parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was clear and unequivocal. “We want to live and we want to be victorious. We want to prevail for the sake of life.”

But the response from the West has denied Zelensky what he needs most – air power. Real air power with nuclear-armed fighter jets. But you can’t do that, say the critics. It might trigger nuclear war.

Not necessarily.

NATO could provide air support with a strict caveat, namely fighter jets with an absolutely no-shoot-unless-shot-at order. That would force the Russians into the strategic box of having to deliberately choose to shoot first, thereby risking the horrific possibility of triggering a nuclear war. I fully realize this is military strategizing at the most extreme level. But I also believe that when push comes to shove no sane human being is going to pull the nuclear trigger. Madman Putin would, of course, but he’s not flying the plane.

Just think about it for a moment. The Ukrainian military is already beating the Russians on the ground. So much so that they’ve stopped the Russian drive from the north and forced them to regroup from the east where they already have a toehold inside Ukraine’s border. This will prolong the war by months and result in countless more deaths, mostly Ukrainian.

What’s being ignored in this struggle is that the Russian army so callously killing Ukrainian civilians is not the mighty military machine of the Soviet Union that defeated Hitler in the “Great Patriotic War” of World War II. Russia today is a hollow giant drained of most of its energy by years of mismanagement, neglect and corruption. Putin and the oligarchs have weakened Russia to the point its economy doesn’t even make the world’s top 10 anymore (It’s 11th) when it used to be second only to the US.

In other words, the military advantage in this bloody conflict is massively in the hands of NATO if it would only act. Sanctions alone, while helpful in destroying Russia’s already weakened economy, will not win the war. And if this war is lost any hope for world democracy and a rules-based civilization will be lost too.

At the beginning of the war speaking to NATO leaders, Zelenskyy said: “All the people who will die from this day will die because of you. Because of your weakness. Because of your disunity.”

If that doesn’t make you ashamed, you don’t have a heart. Or a brain.

– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who’s decided to quit writing columns until this war is over.

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