The ongoing Ukraine conflict got extra look with a mayor in Ukraine, who appeared heroic. Later, it was found that the mayor was ultranationalist.

A Yahoo report (Ukrainian mayor, heralded by many, is ultranationalist, by Ben Adler, Senior Editor, Tue, March 15, 2022, 10:18 PM, https://www.yahoo.com/news/ukrainian-mayor-heralded-by-many-is-ultranationalist-161819300.html) said:

‘It was an especially inspiring story of Ukrainian bravery, in a war replete with many of them. In video that spread quickly online on March 2, Artem Semenikhin, the mayor of the small city of Konotop, in northeastern Ukraine, stood on a planter outside the City Council and announced to a crowd that Russian soldiers had told him they would “raze the city to the ground with their artillery” if it did not surrender. Then Semenikhin asked the crowd whether they wanted to fight anyway, and the response was overwhelmingly in favor.

‘The video was picked up by Western media outlets including Newsweekthe Daily Mail and the New York Times, which also showed a video of armed Russian troops being jeered by Konotop residents. Semenikhin was also featured in a “PBS NewsHour” segment, in which he referred to the Russian troops as “cockroaches.”

‘There was just one thing missing from those accounts: the fact that Semenikhin is a member of the far-right, ultranationalist Ukrainian political party Svoboda, which emerged in 2004 from the former Social-National Party of Ukraine.’

Svoboda rally

Supporters of Svoboda rally outside the Polish Embassy in Kyiv in 2018 against a Polish bill that would impose prison sentences of up to three years for using the term “Polish death camps” and for suggesting complicity in Nazi crimes on the part of the Polish state. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

The Yahoo report said:

‘In 2015, shortly after Semenikhin took office, the Jerusalem Post reported that he “refused to fly the city’s official flag at the opening meeting of the city council because he objected to the star of David emblazoned on it.” The newspaper also alleged he uses white supremacist dog whistles.

‘One sharp-eyed observer on Twitter noticed that in Semenikhin’s interview with PBS, conducted remotely via video, one can see a painting of Ukrainian nationalist icon Stepan Bandera in the background. During World War II, Bandera led the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which collaborated with Nazi Germany and killed Polish and Jewish civilians. At the time, Nazi troops were invading the Soviet Union, which Ukrainian nationalists were hoping to break away from. Bandera later had a falling out with the Nazi regime and was imprisoned in a concentration camp. He remains a highly controversial figure in Ukraine. After Semenikhin was elected in 2015, he replaced the portrait in the mayor’s office of then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko with one of Bandera.’

Artem Semenikhin

Artem Semenikhin. (Via Facebook)

The report said:

‘Like in many European countries, Ukraine does have far-right, nationalist political parties with racist tendencies. Svoboda, Semenikhin’s party, has had a number of incidents that drew widespread condemnation.

Svoboda

Ukrainians participate a march under the flags of the far-right Svoboda, marking the 77th anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, in 2019. (Sergii Kharchenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

‘Svoboda’s leader, Oleh Tyahnybok has been accused of racism and anti-Semitism for such comments as saying Ukraine was headed by a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” On April 20, 2018 — Adolf Hitler’s birthday — the youth movement of Svoboda, C14, destroyed a Roma settlement in Kyiv by driving out its residents and burning down their tents.

‘It’s worth noting, however, that Svoboda no longer holds any seats in Ukraine’s parliament, whereas far-right nationalists hold seats in the parliaments of at least 19 European countries, including Hungary, Austria, Switzerland and Denmark.’

Arms, Not Humanitarian Aid

Italian trade union Unione Sindacale di Base (USB) said (From Pisa airport arms to Ukraine disguised as “humanitarian aid”: workers refuse to load the planes. Saturday 19 USB demonstration at Galilei, Pisa, 14/03/2022 20:15 March 16, 2022, last updated 4:27 am, https://www.usb.it/leggi-notizia/dallaeroporto-di-pisa-armi-allucraina-mascherate-da-aiuti-umanitari-i-lavoratori-rifiutano-di-caricare-gli-aerei-sabato-19-manifestazione-usb-al-galilei-2017-1.html):

‘Some workers of the civil airport Galileo Galilei in Pisa have informed us of a very serious fact: “humanitarian” flights depart from the Cargo Village located at the civil airport, which should be filled with provisions, food, medicines and anything else useful for Ukrainian populations tormented for weeks by bombings and fighting. But is not so!

‘When they showed up under the plane, the cargo workers were faced with crates full of weapons of various types, ammunition and explosives.

‘A bitter and terrible surprise, which confirms the climate of war in which the Draghi government is dragging us.

‘Faced with this very serious fact, the workers refused to load the cargo: these planes land first in the US / NATO bases in Poland, then the cargoes are sent to Ukraine, where they are finally bombed by the Russian army, resulting in the death of other workers, employed in the bases affected by the attacks.

‘We strongly denounce this genuine forgery, which cynically uses “humanitarian” cover to continue fueling the war in Ukraine

‘Let’s ask:

‘1) the air traffic control structures of the civil airport to immediately block these flights of death disguised as “humanitarian” aid;

‘2) workers to continue to refuse to load weapons and explosives that feed a spiral of war, which we can only stop with an immediate ceasefire and the relaunch of peace talks;

‘3) citizens to participate in the demonstration on Saturday 19 March in front of Galilei airport (3 pm) on the slogan “From Tuscany bridges of peace, not flights of war!”.’

In another news (USB Porto Livorno, solidarity with Pisa airport workers. All in the square on Saturday 19th against the war, 15/03/2022 15:33 March 16, 2022, last updated 4:31 am, https://www.usb.it/leggi-notizia/usb-porto-livorno-solidarieta-ai-lavoratori-aeroportuali-di-pisa-tutti-in-piazza-sabato-19-contro-la-guerra-1535.html) the USB said:

‘Maximum solidarity with colleagues from Pisa’s Galileo Galilei airport who refused to load weapons and ammunition bound for Ukraine. Only the workers will pay for this war, and now to say enough is enough.

‘The port workers registered with USB want to show their closeness and solidarity with their colleagues in the air transport of Pisa who yesterday, with courage, refused to be complicit in this war.

‘When they arrived at the Cargo Village in Pisa, thinking they had to load a “humanitarian” flight, they found themselves in front of weapons and ammunition bound for the theater of war in Ukraine. Weapons useful to fuel even more a war that shows no sign of ending. Weapons that are used to kill workers like us. War that we are paying directly with the consequences on the economy and skyrocketing prices. War propaganda that would have us believe that to achieve peace we must send even more weapons to Ukraine.

‘We port workers reject all of this. We stand alongside the Ukrainian peoples, the Donbass and Russia and we do not want to be complicit in this conflict.

‘But we are not just talking about a political and ethical issue. As happened in our port a few months ago, with a load of explosive material bound for Israel at the Tuscany Dock, we wonder what security protocols exist when these movements of war material take place. Is it normal that workers, and also the population, are exposed to these risks?

‘Saturday USB Livorno will be present at the anti-war demonstration on Saturday 19 March at 3 pm at Pisa airport.’

Saudi Arabia Considering Accepting Yuan Instead Of Dollar For Oil Sales

Saudi and Chinese officials are in talks to price some of the Gulf nation’s oil sales in yuan rather than dollars or euros, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The two nations have intermittently discussed the matter for six years, but talks have reportedly stepped up in 2022, with Riyadh disgruntled over the United States’ nuclear negotiations with Iran and its lack of backing for Saudi Arabia’s military operation in neighboring Yemen.

Nearly 80 percent of global oil sales are priced in dollars, and since the mid-1970s the Saudis have exclusively used the dollar for oil trading as part of a security agreement with the U.S. government, according to the Journal.

The talks are the latest in an ongoing effort by Beijing both to make its currency tradeable in international oil markets and strengthen its relationship with the Saudis specifically. China previously aided Riyadh in construction of ballistic missiles and consultation on nuclear power.

Conversely, the Saudi-U.S. relationship has been increasingly frayed in recent years. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman initially put forth a public image as a reformer, liberalizing the country’s policies on women’s rights and criminal justice.

However, the 2018 assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been catastrophic for both the crown prince’s public relations offensive and relations with Washington. The rift intensified after President Biden, who has said the assassination should make the kingdom a “pariah,” took office.

During the same period, China’s economic relationship to Saudi Arabia has grown closer, with the kingdom providing 1.76 million barrels of oil a day to the country in 2021, according to the Journal, citing China’s General Administration of Customs. While the country plans to maintain the dollar for the majority of its oil trading, a shift by the Saudis could create a domino effect for China’s other major oil suppliers, such as Russia, Angola and Iraq.

Saudi Arabia previously threatened to sell in other currencies in 2019 if Congress passed a bill that would allow antitrust liability for OPEC members. The bill, which has been introduced numerous times over the years, failed again that year.

The report Tuesday also comes as the U.S. has appealed to the Saudis to pump more oil to offset soaring gas prices compounded by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the U.S. cutting off Russian oil imports in response.

Russia Quits Council Of Europe

Russia on Tuesday sent a notice of withdrawal from the Council of Europe to the organization’s Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric, Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“The states of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the European Union, abusing their majority in the Council of Europe, are consistently turning this organization into an instrument of anti-Russian policy, refusing equal dialogue and all the principles on which this pan-European structure was created,” the ministry said in a statement.

Nevertheless, Russia remains open to pragmatic and equal interaction with the members of the Council of Europe on issues of mutual interest, it added.

Russia announced on Thursday that it would no longer participate in the Council of Europe. Russia joined the council in February 1996 as its 39th member.

Russia Sanctions Biden, Blinken And Top Officials 

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday announced sanctions on top U.S. officials, including U.S. President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Russia’s “stop list” also includes Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Biden’s son Hunter, and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton among others.

Moscow made the “stop list” on the basis of reciprocity in response to a series of unprecedented sanctions prohibiting, among other things, top Russian officials from entering the United States starting Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Russia introduced the restrictions as a counter reaction to the extremely Russophobic course taken by the current U.S. administration, the ministry said, warning that the blacklist could be expanded in the future.
“At the same time, we do not refuse to maintain official relations if they meet our national interests. And, if necessary, we will solve problems arising from the status of the blacklisted persons in order to organize high-level contacts,” it added.

U.S. and EU To Revoke Russia’s MFN Trade Status

Following in the steps of the U.S. and Japan, the EU moved to revoke Russia’s “most-favored nation” (MFN) trade status under the WTO framework, which experts called a “middle ground choice” between halting trade with Russia and stopping the pace of sanctions, as the EU and its allies hope to isolate Russia from the global economic system, but fear this may backfire on its own economy as the region’s trade is closely intertwined with Russian supplies.
Experts said the effects of such a policy would be strategic over the longer term, as they will gradually erode Russia’s trade with Western countries, but the EU’s economy will also suffer shockwaves, such as rising inflation, they said.

The revocation, disclosed by the French EU presidency on Twitter on Monday, is believed to pave the way for further punitive measures, such as imposing higher tariffs on certain Russian goods, according to a Reuters report.

Specifically, sanctions are set to include an import ban on Russian steel and iron, an export ban on luxury goods including cars worth more than 50,000 euros ($55,000), and a ban on investments in oil companies or the energy sector, Reuters cited sources as saying.

China Raises Questions On U.S. Bio Labs In Ukraine

At Monday’s routine news conference of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the spokesperson for the ministry rebutted the U.S.’ inconsistent and flawed responses regarding its biological laboratories in Ukraine, urging a full clarification of its bio-military activities within and outside its borders.

When a BBC reporter asked that the U.S. claims seem to suggest that its secret research involving viruses in Ukraine has nothing to do with the military, Zhao Lijian, the ministry’s  spokesperson, directly pointed out that the US’ response to the issue so far has been contradictory and confusing.

Under a 2005 agreement between the U.S. and Ukraine, U.S. Department of Defense representatives are authorized to participate in all activities related to Ukrainian facilities, and Ukraine is prohibited from releasing information that the U.S. determines to be “sensitive.”

According to the U.S. submission to the 2021 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Meeting of States Parties, the U.S. has 26 laboratories and other cooperative facilities in Ukraine.

“We can’t help but ask: Did the U.S. send teams to Ukraine or not? What exactly is the scope of their activities? How many collaborative facilities are there? What sensitive information in the field of public health is not allowed to be disclosed? Does Ukraine know what the U.S. is doing in Ukraine?” Zhao asked.

Hungary Will Stay Out Of Ukraine War

Hungary will not send any weapons to Ukraine and will stay out of the war, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told a rally of his supporters on Tuesday, accusing the opposition of trying to drag Hungary into the conflict on its eastern border.

The conservative nationalist leader has a tight race for election to a fourth consecutive term on April 3 because for the first time since 2010 his right-wing Fidesz party will face a united front of six opposition parties.

Orban’s path to re-election is complicated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has put his decade-long close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a new light, drawing sharp criticism from the opposition.

Addressing a rally of tens of thousands of supporters who waved the Hungarian national flag in front of parliament, Orban said Central Europe was only a “chess board” for big powers and if Hungary did not stand up for its interests, it could easily fall victim of the crisis.

“Russia looks at Russian interests, while Ukraine looks at Ukrainian interests. Neither the United States, nor Brussels would think with Hungarians’ mind and feel with Hungarians’ hearts. We must stand up for our own interests,” Orban said.

“We must stay out of this war … therefore we will not send any troops or weapons to the battlegrounds.”

Orban said the choice for voters on April 3 will be between his party that wants peace and the leftist opposition “which would stagger into a ruthless, protracted and bloody war.”

Russia’s UN Humanitarian Resolution

Russia circulated a proposed UN Security Council resolution Tuesday demanding protection for civilians “in vulnerable situations” in Ukraine and safe passage for humanitarian aid and people seeking to leave the country, but it makes no mention of Russia’s responsibility for the war against its smaller neighbour.

The draft resolution endorses UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for dialogue and negotiations and calls for a negotiated cease-fire to rapidly evacuate “all civilians,” and underscores “the need for the parties concerned to agree on humanitarian pauses to this end.” But it never identifies “the parties concerned.”

The draft expresses “grave concern” at the deteriorating humanitarian situation and reports of civilian casualties in and around Ukraine, and strongly condemns “attacks directed against civilians and civilian objects, including indiscriminate shelling.”

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters the resolution was being put in a final form that can be put to a vote on Tuesday, and a Russian diplomat said a vote could take place as early as Wednesday.

Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward tweeted that the Russian draft “has a few glaring omissions. For example, the fact that Russia is the aggressor here, and it is Russia’s invasion driving this humanitarian crisis.”

The Russian draft was circulated a day after France and Mexico announced that a humanitarian resolution on Ukraine they cosponsored, which had been discussed for two weeks in the 15-member Security Council was being moved to the 193-member General Assembly.

The France-Mexico draft resolution would demand “an immediate cessation of hostilities” and deplore “the dire humanitarian consequences of the hostilities against Ukraine” and would almost certainly have led to a Russian veto. Those provisions are not in the proposed Russian resolution.

France’s UN Ambassador Nicolas De Riviere told reporters: “Obviously, it would have been difficult in the Security Council.”

By taking the draft resolution to the General Assembly where there are no vetoes, the cosponsors lose the prospect of the resolution being legally binding, as Security Council resolutions are. But they could gain massive support for a call to halt violence and for deploring the dire humanitarian situation sparked by the war. Diplomats said Tuesday a vote in the General Assembly will take some time.

Nebenzia told reporters that the French and Mexican ambassadors knew from the beginning that “we would be prepared to adopt a humanitarian resolution on the situation in Ukraine, provided that this is not a disguise to blame and shame Russia.” He said they know that paragraphs in Security Council draft “which are not humanitarian” and shouldn’t be in a humanitarian resolution.

Russian authorities maintain that they did not start the war and have repeatedly and falsely decried reports of Russian military setbacks or civilian deaths in Ukraine as fake news, as well as denouncing reports calling the offensive a war or an invasion. State media outlets and government officials insist the Russian forces only target military facilities.

Nebenzia said Russia thinks “the chances are still there” for the Security Council to adopt a humanitarian resolution, so it was putting forward its own resolution “with clear humanitarian provisions” and will see whether the council adopts it.

To be approved, the resolution needs at least nine “yes” votes and no veto by another permanent council member — the United States, United Kingdom, France or China.

Olivia Dalton, spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the UN, called it “unconscionable that Russia, the aggressor responsible for creating this crisis, would have the audacity to put forward this resolution.” She said the United States will work with other countries for a General Assembly resolution “that will more accurately reflect the views of U.N. member states” about the impact of Russia’s “unprovoked aggression.”

The Russian draft resolution also demands that “all parties concerned” respect international humanitarian law, which requires protection of civilian infrastructure “indispensable to the survival of the civilian population” and “critical to enable the delivery of essential services in armed conflict.”

It demands that all parties — again unnamed — “refrain from deliberately placing military objects and equipment in the vicinity” of civilian infrastructure or in densely populated areas, “as well as not to use civilian objects from military purposes.”

The Russian draft also calls on “all parties concerned to allow safe and unhindered passage to destinations outside of Ukraine, including to foreign nationals without discrimination,” and to facilitate humanitarian aid to all in need in and around Ukraine.

And It asks the secretary-general to report on the resolution’s implementation within seven days “and regularly thereafter.”


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One Comment

  1. more ultranationalists to be exposed by the liberator of ukraine PUTIN