Ethnic And Cultural Cleansing In Ukraine – OpEd
By Andrew Korybko
On the centennial anniversary of “Russophilic” individuals (Rusyns) from modern-day Ukraine being sent to concentration camps, history appears set to once again repeat itself. The Ukrainian Defense Minister has publicly voiced his plan to corral the citizens of Donbass into special “filtration” camps prior to forcibly resettling them in different parts of Ukraine. A few days later, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk declared the pro-federalists in the East to be “subhuman”. This choice of words not only wasn’t condemned by Kiev’s American patrons, but was actually defended by State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, who strangely said that Yatsenyuk “has consistently been in support of a peaceful resolution”. Raising concerns even higher that a full-fledged cleansing is being planned, Ukraine’s land agency said that it will be giving “free land” from the east to the military, Interior Ministry, and Special Services troops battling the federalists. With Ukraine on the verge of large-scale ethnic and cultural cleansing, it is little wonder at whose expense this Lebenstraum-like “free land” will be given.
1914 was the first time that people of a supposed pro-Russian affiliation were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. The Austrians imprisoned Rusyns and Lemkos (a closely related sub-ethnic group) in Thalerhof because their self-identification was seen as treasonous. In the same manner, the self-identification of the people of Donbass is also being seen as treasonous, at least according to Ukraine’s Defense Minister Mikhail Koval. He was appointed to his position after his predecessor’s dismissal following the reunification of Russia and Crimea. Koval’s extreme statement of intent for the people of Donbass also validates Russia’s prior concerns in March, elaborated upon in the White Book on human rights violations in Ukraine, that Crimea was facing an imminent humanitarian crisis before the reunification. If Crimea had not defended itself and reunified with Russia, now that the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s post-crisis ‘resolution’ plans have been made public, it is very likely that its citizens would already be imprisoned in a special “filtration” camp of some sorts and forcibly moved out of their home region (if they survived the ordeal).
What Koval has proposed to do to the citizens of Donbass is completely illegal under international law and characterized as a crime against humanity. Forcible deporting and transferring a population, imprisoning them for no reason other than their address, and specifically targeting an ethnic and cultural group is explicitly forbidden under Article 7 of the Rome Statute. Perhaps because Yatsenyuk and others in his administration believe the protesters in the east to be “subhuman”, they do not feel that “human rights” apply to them. Accordingly, these “sub-humans” won’t have the right to their former property as well (due to the forcible resettlement), so it is likely that their homes and businesses will be the “free land” that Kiev has promised to its militant henchmen deployed in the east.
This flagrant violation of fundamental human rights is being absolutely ignored by Western governments, which are usually the first actors to prematurely blow the whistle on any suspected human rights violations and threaten military intervention. It is now seen that the human intervention/responsibility to protect (HI/R2P) rhetoric and slogans were nothing more than charades to pursue ulterior geopolitical purposes. In fact, contrary to their established HI/R2P “credentials”, the West, particularly the US, is actually aiding and abetting the Kievan regime that plans to carry out the cleansing. Military advisors, millions in funds, and CIA and FBI support have flooded into Ukraine since the coup, and more than likely, they will all be directed eastwards towards violently suppressing the federalist protesters. In this manner, the US is directly complicit in any and all war crimes that Kiev’s conventional or mercenary forces carry out, up to and including Koval’s ethnic and cultural cleansing plans. Thus, the six million people of Donbass are faced with the same type of humanitarian disaster that was thought to have been forever vanquished from Europe almost 70 years ago.
Andrew Korybko is the American Master’s Degree student at the Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO).
This article was published at Oriental Review.