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Déjà vu is one way of describing UN inaction over Ukraine; hypocrisy is another

September 13, 2023 at 8:23 am

UN General Assembly plenary meeting at the United Nations Headquarters on August 25, 2023 in New York City [Liao Pan/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images]

At one time we all used to rely on the United Nations to uphold international law, but now even the increasingly impatient Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that the international organisation must either “remove Russia as an aggressor” or “dissolve” itself. Two years in, and the invasion of Ukraine has laid bare the UN’s weakness and fragility. As one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, Russia has a veto over what it does. Moscow uses its veto repeatedly to block resolutions and negotiations on the global stage. The UN’s once all-powerful council is paralysed while the General Assembly is ineffectual; it is a fine debating chamber but, ultimately, it’s like a piano without keys: totally useless.

Those of us who have long called for justice for Palestine and the Palestinians can be forgiven for experiencing a touch of déjà vu in all of this, because we know only too well how weak the UN is. It is often brought to heel by a rogue state and its hypocritical allies. I refer, of course, to apartheid Israel, the US and Europe.

Thanks to the Ukraine crisis, the world can now see clearly that the UN is no longer fit for purpose and is impotent as a force for good in the world. If it can’t stop Israel’s daily war crimes and crimes against humanity in the relentless theft and brutal occupation of Palestinian land, how on earth can we expect the UN to tame the Russian Bear?

When the Security Council was first mooted, it was intended to be the home of the world’s finest diplomats who could show off their eloquence and perform persuasively in the polished chamber at UN headquarters. Now, the uneven nature of international politics makes it a no-go area for any diplomat with an ounce of integrity. The institution has become a farce, with justice the last thing on anyone’s mind as they jostle for their 15 minutes of fame in front of the cameras.

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Even Zelenskyy, the darling of the West, is morphing before our very eyes from the Mother Theresa figure draped in combat fatigues, into Kyiv’s demanding, problematic, wild child. There are many more such uncomfortable truths emerging that presidents, prime ministers and mainstream media are doing their best to ignore. Those of us relying on social media for titbits of information are far more informed than the viewers and readers of the mainstream media, who are still cheerleading in their trademark gung-ho fashion.

The uncomfortable truth is that the war is going badly wrong, and no one is prepared to tell the taxpayers who have watched impotently while our money has been squandered on deadly arms and ammunition for Ukraine. The pugnacious Zelenskyy, presented by Europe’s mainstream politicians and media as a hero, is becoming ever more aggressive in his demands for more money and weapons so that he can “beat Russia”. For a while, his demands were met by an unquestioning US and EU as crippling sanctions were imposed on Russia. Today, though, the well-oiled marketing machine is grinding to a shuddering halt.

Not least of the many rumours that keep surfacing is that only 30 per cent of the weapons despatched to Ukraine from the West and NATO actually reach the front lines. In other words, around 70 per cent are unaccounted for; untraceable weapons appear to be ending up in the hands of organised crime gangs across Europe. It doesn’t take a genius to work out how this recklessness is going to return to haunt us all.

Since the start of the war in February 2021, America has tooled up Ukraine with more than $23 billion in military aid, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Britain has committed $3.7bn, Germany $1.4bn and Poland $1.8bn, with other countries following suit.

Now it is emerging that a considerable number of the weapons have failed to reach their intended destination. Instead, they have fallen into Ukraine’s black market, which has thrived on corruption since the collapse of the old Soviet Union.

Washington, London, Paris and Bonn are now burying their heads in the sand, the ostrich-like position that they are well-practised in adopting whenever Israel demonstrates its contempt for international laws and conventions that “the West” claims to uphold. However, as cover-ups are being rolled out with indecent haste, the US, the UK and the EU Establishment are doing everything possible to sanitise any news which may portray Zelenskyy in a dim or even damning light. So let me say this while I can: Ukraine’s petulant comedian-turned-president has apparently banned eleven political parties for alleged links with Russia. Cynics might suggest that this is one way of eliminating potential opposition prior to an election. Democracy, anyone?

War in Sudan, war in Ukraine = international double-standard - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

War in Sudan, war in Ukraine = international double-standard – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Zelenskyy has also sacked Ukraine’s top prosecutor as well as the head of his security services, claiming that suspected cooperation with Russia among employees in their offices raised “very serious questions” about their leadership. Whatever the truth is, Zelenskyy has found the perfect way to silence anyone who disagrees with him. Again, another win for Ukrainian democracy. Israel is allowed to act with impunity by citing “self-defence” and “security”; pro-Israel Zelenskyy waves the strapline “co-operation with Russia” to get his own way.

And, just like Israel, Ukraine’s armed forces violate international law, using schools and hospitals as military bases and stationing troops in residential areas where they use civilians as human shields. A report by Amnesty exposing this has outraged Zelenskyy. The truth is not only the first casualty of war; it can now be used as a weapon as well.

The similarities don’t end there. In 2019, Ukraine and Israel were the only two countries in the world to have a Jewish president and a Jewish prime minister. Moreover, the extreme far-right has a strong presence in Ukraine as well as Israel, particularly in the ranks of the Azov movement, a Ukrainian militant group that has trained and inspired neo-Nazis and white supremacists from around the world.

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For the record, I must point out that I do not support Putin or the Russian invasion of Ukraine, just as I did not support the US and Britain over the illegal invasion and war in Iraq. I feel sorry for the Ukrainian people who are clearly being misled but, as the Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghans know to their immense cost, Western promises are both cheap and easily broken. Russia’s invasion was never “unprovoked”, as Western politicians repeat ad nauseum. NATO expansion into Russia’s neighbours was always going to provoke a response from Moscow, especially in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy and his people now know that the UN is a tool of the West, which has three of the five permanent members of the Security Council — the US, the UK and France — to do its bidding. Anyone who expects it to do anything against the national interests of any one of those five veto-holders is dreaming, as Ukraine, like the Palestinians and others before it, is finding out. Déjà vu is one way of putting it. International hypocrisy is another.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.