Ukraine separatists seized the second provincial capital in the nation yesterday, in a move that sends chilling reminders of World War II Nazism. Actions such as grabbing land and squeezing out ethnic minorities are familiar and frightening to Jews around the world. Pro-Russian extremists in Ukraine opened fire with automatic weapons and through stun grenades at police who remained out of sight in regional headquarters. These actions come on the heels of the recent 69th Yom HaShoah (Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust).
The revolt by pro-Moscow separatists has intensified even though the U.S. and Europe are exerting pressure to get Russian President Vladimir Putin and his collaborators in Ukraine to stop military development in the eastern part of that nation. Western powers have just imposed sanctions on the new Russian government officials and businesses.
Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, has been joined by members of U.S. Congress in demanding such sanctions. However, penalties came one week later and with much less clout than had been expected.
The Russian economy has been flagging, due in part to global discontent with its invasion of Ukraine. However, the weak response from the West led to a surge in the Russian stock market on Monday, as investors in Russia breathed a collective sigh of relief.
The U.S. and Europe said preemptively that the reduced sanctions were strategic on their part. Their efforts have been focused on gaining cooperation from Russia for stability in Ukraine. They feared that strongly harsh penalties would result in economic repercussions in Russia and that this could result in breakdown of potential diplomatic cooperation.
The seizure of the provincial capital in Ukraine by separatists is serious. The question that begs asking is whether global response is sufficiently rapid and comprehensive to prevent damage that would take years to undo? Destruction of property, lives, and policies are at risk. There are some who say that another Holocaust could not occur because the world now knows the dangers and how to prevent them. A large scale atrocity would not occur again, but with weak response from world powers, neo-Nazi actions can and are occurring.
It is difficult to know where the balance should lie – to pressure or to attempt diplomatic negotiation. At what point does a world power determine that discussion is no longer a viable option because the other party is sufficiently unethical and secretive that even if agreements are reached, they cannot be trusted?
Reduction in sanctions was in large part guided by European concerns. The European economy is much more strongly tied to Russia’s than is that of the U.S. In response to European considerations, U.S. President Barack Obama said that the United States is prepared to make what he called “a calibrated – that is, an incremental and calculated – effort” to make Russia pay for its actions in Ukraine.
As weaker than expected sanctions were issued at Moscow, the pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine captured the prosecutor’s office as well as the television media building. The local police had no response. This allows the rebels to control a second provincial capital within Ukraine, after their prior capture of neighboring Donetsk.
The rebels have issued the appellation “the independent People’s Republic of Donetsk.” Addition of the Luhansk province provides an economic strength for rebel forces, as it includes the Donbass coalfield, which neighbors Russia, and is central to Ukraine’s industrialization. This is the heart of the region which Putin calls Novorossiya, or New Russia, a revival of the tsarist term of the 18th and 19th centuries.
What remains to be seen is how world powers will respond to the continued efforts by pro-Russian separatists to dismantle Ukraine. The seizure of a second provincial capital in Ukraine by forces abetted by Moscow does not bode well for diplomatic relations. The question is, how far and at what point should the West intervene when the situation is reminiscent of the incremental actions of World War II Nazism?
By Fern Remedi-Brown
Fern Remedi-Brown writes on global social justice issues (human rights, LGBT, health care and education access, immigration, refugees, Nazi Holocaust) for Guardian Liberty Voice.
Previous articles on the Holocaust, fascism, and Nazism:
Hungary Post-Election Woes and Rising Fascism
Passover Changes since pre-Nazi Time
Palestinian Empathy for Holocaust Victims Is Called Treason
Holocaust Repeated in Ukraine?
Ukraine Jews Flee?
Holocaust Remembered by Whom? Yom HaShoah is Sunday
Holocaust Denied Can Be Repeated
Holocaust Survived 1944
Holocaust Survived Through a Door in the Woods
Ukraine separatists seize second provincial capital, fire on police
U.S., Europe Impose New Sanctions on Russia
EU reaches preliminary accord to add 15 people to Russia sanctions list – diplomats