Kyiv Post | 18Feb2015 | Oksana Bashuk Hepburn

Leaders of Germany, France collaborate with Putin against Ukraine

The danger to the free world lies with enablers as much as with the terrorists. Collaborators in positions of power are as damaging as a dictator’s attack on a sovereign state. Their failure to take a stand emboldens the aggressor to make a mockery of democratic values -- the right to life, liberty, rule of law, peace, home -- and the institutions set up to protect them.

Today, the starkest collaborators are those enabling Russia President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine.

The move by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francoise Hollande to hold a tri-partite talk preceding the Minsk 2 negotiation last week was wrong. The secretive meeting, without the agreement of other EU members, or knowledge of what was discussed and decided, was a plot among the three amigos to corner Ukraine’s President Poroshenko to agree to the Minsk 2 peace plan which followed.

The result was a repeat of the previous ceasefires. Another convoy of some 140 “humanitarian” trucks carrying arms and men rolled in from Russia and its terrorists advanced. More lives were lost, more people became homeless and the wailing and grief of innocent victims filled the airwaves. Putin was emboldened enough to brag on his friendship visit to Hungary that Ukraine had lost to a bunch of coalminers forgetting to mention his skin in the game. But, then, this is well known to all who wish to see.

Merkel and Hollande are responsible for the latest debacle. They either fix it or stand accused of collaborating with Russia.

To fix it, Merkel and Hollande must lead Europe in de-clawing Putin from further acts of terror. They need to convince the EU to declare him a terrorist, charge him for illegal attacks on a sovereign country, let him stand before a war crimes tribunal and, immediately, increase sanctions which exclude Russia from the international SWIFT banking system. This is a requirement for the world order not just for Ukraine. It is also a lesson that Russians need: to recognize that their leader is as dangerous to them as he is to others.

Merkel and Hollande must assist Ukraine with arms and help NATO find a way to check Putin. To date both leaders have leaned on Ukraine to appease Russia rather than the other way around. Enough of this.

The pressure on the victim must stop. Ukraine is not the aggressor. Putin is. Yet he presides and dictates terms while declaring that he is not responsible for the chaos his fighters are creating. Worse, the criminal is invited to solve the crime. And even more shameful: the so-called fellow democrats of Ukraine let him do it. And, having broken the ceasefire, Russia sponsors a UN Security Council resolution to support Minsk 2 on Feb. 12, 2015. It is making a travesty of the United Nations; with international law; and with agreements it undertakes.

The democratic leaders should have watched their faces burn as Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov scolded Ukraine in the UN to have a higher regard for commitments. To Russia’s politicians, political perversion is their daily bread.

Putin plays games and Merkel and Hollande joined in. No good can come out of this disregard for democratic principles and law. Or, like Gerhard Schreoder, Germany’s former chancellor who went on Russia’s payroll, do they have a personal stake in the game?

Such thinking is not far-fetched. Potential and real Russian enablers abound. Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for European Union Foreign Affairs and Security, was a member of the Communist Party, a close relation to that of Russia’s. The OSCE, the monitoring agency overseeing the cease-fire compliance conveniently cannot get to the war zone when it's most needed. The deputy director is an appointee from Serbia, a Russia-aligned country. Merkel’s father settled in the Russia-controlled east, by choice, because of his political preferences.

As the Ukrainians were shelled continually during the cease fire and the dead bodies and those of the wounded were being collected, the foreign minister of France opined that peace was holding. This is uncivilized.

Although the French and German leaders had admitted that there was little chance for the peace to hold, their intent is suspect. Russia regrouped and attacked. There seems to have been a determination not to let Putin lose just as there was momentum that the United States might finally send lethal defence arms to Ukraine to even out the disadvantage it was facing from the Russia side.

As a result, the German and French efforts gave Ukraine more grief, Russia a moral victory, and turned into terrorist collaborators.

But this is not the end. Russia can be defeated by the West. It is neither as strong militarily nor diplomatically; at least not yet. It has, however, just advanced another notch thanks to the enemy within.

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn, former director with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, writes on issues dealing with Ukraine.