Putin’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine is a grave mistake

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Wellington C Ramos is an Adjunct Professor History and Political Science, Educator and Columnist

By Wellington C. Ramos

Centuries ago nations declared wars against other nations to expand their territories, killed many human beings, destroyed their cities and annexed invaded nations to expand their empires. Despite the loss of many human lives including innocent women, children and civilians, in history, many of us looked up to these invaded nations as Great Empires.

In many History curriculums for colleges and universities, they are still teaching their students about these great empires like; The Babylonian Empire, Assyrian Empire, Greek Empire, Roman Empire, Turkish Empire, Egyptian Empire British Empire, French Empire, Spanish Empire, Portuguese Empire, Dutch Empire, Indian Empire and several other empires.

There is little discussion on the moral and legal justifications for these nations to invade and colonize other sovereign nations. Yet, the citizens of these nations and other students would applaud these leaders and nations for the unjustified genocidal acts that they committed against innocent fellow human beings like themselves. These actions continued into World War-1 in 1914, where many nations of the world fought up until the ending of that war in 1918.

The total number of military and civilian casualties was about 40 million people. It is estimated that there was about 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded. On January 10, 1920 president Woodrow Wilson was so angry over this war that he founded an organization by the name of the League of Nations to end future world wars.

Most nations became members of this international organization to participate in efforts to avoid future wars. The principal mission of this organization was to maintain world peace. After years of peace in the world, some nations that were not satisfied with the way they lost their territories in World War-1 like Germany at the ending war, began to prepare for a new war. Germany began to build its military forces after the ending of that conflict. On September the 1st 1939 Germany invaded Poland and that started World War-2. When Poland was invaded the other countries appealed to Hitler to leave the Polish nation but he refused to listen to their appeal. Great Britain and France then declared war against Germany three days after.

While Hitler was invading Poland, Japan was at war with China. From Poland, Hitler and Germany began invading other countries and was expanding their territories throughout most of Europe. Many nations on the European continent were afraid to engage Hitler’s army. He continued his invasion of all the following countries in 1940; Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, France, Yugoslavia and Greece in April of 1941.

After Germany signed the Axis Alliance with Japan and Italy in 1940, Japan became emboldened and decided later to bomb the United States military bases in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The United States declared war against Japan and the Axis Alliance. As the war intensified most colonial countries and their colonies were engaged in this war up until 1945.

When this war ended it was estimated that about between70 to 80 million people perished. Battle deaths 15,000,000, wounded 25,000,000, civilian deaths 45,000,000 and battle wounded 25,000,000. Like World War-1 the effects of World War-2 were far more severe in terms of deaths to military personnel and innocent civilians. The nations of the world saw the need to build on the League of Nations and make the organization a more engaged and proactive institution. On October 24, 1945, the United Nations was established in San Francisco, California with 51 countries becoming members.

The United Nations Charter was drafted to guide the member nations on; its structure, qualifications for admissions, its purpose, principles, the functions of the United Nations and all issues and matters related to the United Nations. The administrative headquarters was later built in New York City. The two main branches of the United Nations are the Security Council with twelve members seven regional and five countries that possess Veto Powers which are; Great Britain, China, Russia, The United States and France.

These nations also possess nuclear weapons and are trying to prevent other nations from gaining this technology. If any of these five members exercise their veto powers on a UN Resolution it is difficult to get any action on it. The General Assembly is comprised of all the 193 independent countries in the world. The Security Council have more powers than the General Assembly and the countries that possess veto powers all have a seat on this body which are; China, Russia, Great Britain, France and the United States and they have been maximizing it to their full advantage over the years.

The US invasion of Grenada, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Georgia and other former USSR Republics and China’s invasion of some of its neighbouring countries, are examples of veto abuses by these countries. Some member states are calling on the United Nations to get rid of the Veto Power of these countries to make the United Nations more democratic. In 1945 when the United Nations was established, about 750 million people in the world lived in colonized countries. There was a resolution passed by the United Nations for all colonized countries to become independent. Since then, more than 80 countries in the world have gained their independence.

The right for citizens and their nations to be Self-Determined and to determine their destiny is a fundamental part of the United Nations Charter and International Law. Invading another country results in the taking away this right from citizens and their nations. According to Article-2 Paragraph-4 of the United Nations Charter, no country has the right to invade another country. This article reads that; all members of the United Nations shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations. Nations who violate this act will be accused of committing an Act of Aggression under International Law.

Nations that violate this Act get punished by other member states of the United Nations General Assembly. Sanctions, suspensions from favourable actions, reprisals, expulsion from the United Nations and other punishments can be used by this body. The member nations of the United Nations have been able to stop some countries from using military force against other countries but many countries have and continue to engage in unlawful aggression, against some nations of the world for no justifiable reason(s). Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine violate this article.

The United Nations General Assembly and the UN Security Council must convene an emergency meeting to deal with this issue. Individual countries all have the right to impose other punishments against Russia to isolate and punish them for their violation of International Law. History has proven that no matter how large and powerful a nation is, the actions taken by the United Nations against countries who violate the UN Charter rules and international laws, can have a catastrophic effect on the countries who violate the United Nations Charter and International Law.

In 2017 the United Nations went further to reactivate the Rome Statute for War Crimes, this is to bring criminal charges against countries and their leaders who unlawfully invade other countries and cause undue hardships to citizens and their nations. Many leaders of various countries have been placed on trials since then. In 2006 the United Nations passed a resolution against Iran for its efforts in constructing nuclear missiles. Then, in 2017 they brought an action against North Korea in an attempt to stop them from constructing additional nuclear missiles. Both nations failed to comply with the UN Resolutions and the UN-imposed sanctions against them.

Despite all the sanctions against North Korea, they continue to build and test new nuclear missiles. Many people and nations in the world, are frustrated with the way the United Nations functions due to its inability to enforce its rules against rogue nations. The developed nations like; Japan and Germany who were punished and restricted from building their militaries after World War-2, want all the restrictions lifted against them.

They are well off economically and can take care of themselves and do not want United States and NATO forces in their countries. Many nations in Europe still fear Japan and Germany and do not want the NATO countries to remove their troops from these two countries. Now, with Russia invading Ukraine, they will make a case for the restrictions against them to be lifted.

Developing nations want the Veto Power given to the five countries of; Russia, the United States, China, Great Britain and France to be removed so that the institution can function under the one nation one vote principle as equal nations. They contend that these countries violate the United Nations Charter rules and nothing is being done to them because they possess veto powers and sit on the Security Council which is the enforcement body of the United Nations.

Another issue is the financing of the United Nations, which is done mostly by these five countries because many of the other countries are not financially capable of financing the United Nations. Japan and Germany have the finance to assist in the financial obligations of the United Nations but they are both demanding that some concessions be made to them before they do it. Due to all these troubling issues, there is now pressure building in the United Nations to punish Putin and Russia for their invasion of Ukraine.

My guess is that there will be calls from many nations in the world to do so. Weak and vulnerable nations need reassurance that what Russia did to Ukraine will not happen to them. This is the greatest challenge that the United Nations is experiencing in this 21 century. History has convinced us that; the invasion of a country and people might be easy but to occupy a nation for a prolonged period is a greater challenge. It takes the world back to the colonial era when today most people and nations want to be free and independent.

The people and nations of the world must pass a United Nations Resolution to give Putin and Russia an ultimatum to withdraw their troops from Ukraine immediately. Failure to withdraw their troops shall result in the nations of the United Nations expelling Russia from the United Nations and using all their resources to remove the Russian troops out of Ukraine. The nations of the world cannot afford to allow this to happen because that will run the risk of other nations doing the same thing to many other weaker countries on this planet earth.

When this war is all over, Putin and Russia will face many consequences that will have a negative impact on their country in the international arena. This conflict cannot last for a long period because the people and the nations of the world will not let it last.

It is the responsibility of every living human being and nation on this planet earth, to demand that Putin and Russia leave Ukraine in the interest of world peace. I am very confident that this will happen sooner rather than later. Let us extend our love and care to all the human beings on our planet earth. As a Garifuna person whose people experienced colonialism and continued genocide, I ask that all human beings be allowed to enjoy their freedoms.

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