tv Ukrainian Officials Discuss the Conflict with Russia CSPAN February 14, 2022 10:08pm-11:10pm EST
we give you a front row seat to democracy. >> up next, ukrainian officials and human rights and of us -- activists talk about the conflict between russia and ukraine and the humanitarian crisis that started in 2014. this is about an hour. >> thank you for joining us. today's webinar is called fighting to survive, the human toll of the ukraine or. -- the ukraine war. we have a member of parliament and someone focused on this for many years. welcome. i also have sasha the director
, of rights protection a really , important ngo. i am pleased to be a member of his board. i have michael, who is a nonresident senior fellow. he is all over canadian media. yeah probably see them on tv before. it is great to have you on our platform. and last but not least, a great activist who is the head of the national office of the crimea platform. we are glad to have you here. as you know, ukraine is in the news. it is in a major way. it looks like ukraine is going to be invaded by russia very soon. we very much hope and pray that doesn't happen but we need to be prepared. there are 1.5 million internally displaced persons in ukraine right now. 1.5 million people. and there will be far more. there will be a major refugee
crisis in ukraine and in europe if vladimir putin invades. we want to dive into this. we want to talk about the current situation and what happens if he does indeed invade. i want to go to michael first. let us start at the beginning. this is not vladimir putin tim's first rodeo in ukraine. remind us what did he do in 2014 , and what were the humanitarian consequences? michael: honored to be here. thanks for having me. listen, it is important to point out that before 2014 when russia illegally annexed crimea and invaded [inaudible] ukraine has no internally displaced people. and now you mention it has a million plus. some people even say 2 million
plus. the numbers are hard to come by. at that time before 2014, ukraine did not rely on external food aid. after that invasion, things got very bad, especially in the occupied area. entities like the world food program stepped up their activities and intervention. things turned very bad. a big problem, i know this from being in the occupied territory as part of the osc monetary system, is that it is very heavily bombed out. at least, in the early phase of occupation, there was a lot more traffic back and forth between the occupied territories over the so-called line of contact which has turned to a hard borderline. why is that important? a lot of pensioners in the occupied territories cross over to government controlled areas
to get pensions and to do shopping and you meet with all their relatives. that sort of things now that has been reduced to almost a trickle. the hardship has been more compounded. one other quick thing. i have got to say, having worked for unicef for so long and having served in areas like the occupied palestinian territory and also in areas like afghanistan, that frontline, which is several hundred kilometers wide, according to unicef two years ago is one of the most landmines are areas in the world. this is a huge threat, especially to children. also, to agriculture and things like that. we have also as far back as 2014 and 2015 observed ourselves evidence of cluster bombs. ,we couldn't say the time -- at
the time which side was using these, but who laid them there, they know who they are. but these are also a threat to children, because many look like toys and they pick them up with devastating consequences. where are we now? the flow of humanity across the contact line is very little. it has to be said that the humanitarian situation spreads way beyond the occupied areas. his first other parts of ukraine. right now, i thought i would introduce this into the conversation. there is a huge silent killer pummeling ukraine, and that is the covid-19 over conway. i just checked the john hopkins figures yesterday and ukraine is now in the top 15 countries in the world with the highest 28 day death count. the other thing that is happening to ramp up a lot of
international ngos are getting sickened by covid. i know at least two and large -- to u.n. heads of agencies and large numbers of their teams. why is that important? these are the people we are relying on to do interventions as well as this critical time to deliver that aid and plan ahead if there is an invasion. that is something that ukraine does not need right now. we cannot blame it on anybody. it needs to be said that ukraine was late to stepping up to the plate in terms of preventing and getting vaccines. vaccination rates here are abysmally low, under 40%, in adherence to global public health protocols is very low. >> let's hope the organizations are able to staff up and bring other people in. pinky very much.
sasha if vladimir putin invades , again, will we have an enormous refugee crisis and where do you think people will go? >> i think yes, if it happens it will be an escalation and a different scenario. this escalation, -- for this escalation, it could be something of an additional maybe up to 100,000 newly displaced persons. they would try to seek some safe place in the adjacent regions like parisian, maybe keep. -- maybe kiev.
we encounter this maybe eight years ago. at the time it was a huge wave of displaced people. if the scenario, it would be kind of a mild scenario, so it would be about 200,000 people. then, if it would be more severe , [no audio] [indiscernible] we might have almost 2 million newly displaced people or those who have already -- >> what happens if by a mere -- if vladimir putin tries to
take everything east? how many millions of displaced people are we talking about? are we talking about 10, 8, six,. >> it is very hard to say. nobody considers the scenario seriously so far. yes it would be up to 2 million , i believe. of course, ukraine would be a great generator for refugees, those who would be heading westward. what i have heard some experts estimate is the refugee wave can be up to 3 million people. >> that really puts things in perspective. this could be the biggest refugee crisis since belarus. >> do expect those refugees to try to seek safety in poland or somewhere else? >> the closest country is poland.
of course, some of them which right. specifically, those who reside in the western part, some people may try to just go to that region, but this region is also quite small compared to the central and western part. population wise, there are not a lot of big cities. many people have already relatives who live in poland and they will try to join them there. it is hard to say what would happen along the international borders. i think poland and other countries would start there. >> thanks so much for those insights.
dr., what can be done to convince vladimir putin to de-escalate now? >> it is not an easy question to answer. but at the same time, i think we should avoid escalation. -- avoid panicking. what you described in your introductory marks for me, it is the worst case scenario. putin considers multiple scenarios. we discussed the wave of migrants. it is a threat that exists in the worst-case scenario. we will elect to mention that we should remember not just the displaced refugees but more than
14,000 killed ukrainians and almost 40,000 who were wounded. the first thing is to convince putin to de-escalate. we should always or member that our foreign and security policies start at home. what does this mean in a practical sense? and means we should stay firm and united. -- it means we should stay firm and united. it also means we should keep up all of the steps to deter invading, including to most importantly -- more important things. strengthening both our army and also sanctions. this is where external actors are. second, and i think it is important to understand that what is happening now is not a ukraine crisis.
it is a crisis of european security and postwar security. the threats of escalation is only the most visible part of of the post cold war european security. that means we cannot try to solve the problem by little -- as a russian/ukrainian conflict. we cannot try to use what is definitely almost a deadpan process. tomorrow by the way will be seven years. it did not bring us anything's -- bring us any significance.
i think it is important to remember that the time of great threat to the country, usually they form the national unity government. it is number one for all ukrainians to start to unite themselves. >> and like so many of the points you just made. i need to dig in a little bit. i just got back from kiev. i came away with two observations. the first is ukrainians are not ready at all. i understand you have to keep people calm, but the border winter in russia and ukraine is very long and not well defended. when will you get your act together and harden that border? when is your president a very important member of the opposition party, there does not seem to be political unity at
the highest level, when will the president call everyone together and say let us work together and stop fighting. will that happen anytime soon? >> this is the responsibility of the president who was elected. it is a mandate to bring peace to the country. this is what the opposition are calling to the president to request formal consultations to form a national unity government. this is one of the things that will send the strongest possible signal to putin. he considers ukraine is not a country. we should not give him a chance to prove his sick idea that ukraine is not a country. it is a country, it is independent, it is a proud country. >> is zelensky causey and says, please come, we want to form a unity government, are you guys in?
>> we have already called zelensky to start doing this. it should be a kind of mutual effort. we are ready. we signaled this. it is not a question of which position in this united government or which politicians will take. it is a goodwill and a strong will to ukrainians who deserve the politicians to behave in a certain manner. but also to putin and these people in the kremlin who can see that ukraine is too fragile and tooth is too fragile and too disorganized and too chaotic. this is the most demoralizing thing that could happen. it is important for our partners take seriously ukrainian concerns to be in close coordination with ukraine. sometimes there is the feeling that when ukraine is not at the table, it could be on the bench.
this is the important thing to avoid the perception that , something is going on in ukraine. that something is going on behind the ukrainian border. >> that is a very important point. you forgot one thing. i would say you need a unity government to reassure the europeans. it is really important, we neither the europeans to maintain their unity, especially on sanctions. i hear you and i second you. you ignored by first question. when is ukraine going to harden the border? i know it is not up to you, but have you talked to zelensky and said we are worried about this? make it happen. >> we are talking to military experts. it is namely that we are not
-- we are basically disarmed and we do not have any reliable antiaircraft and weaponry to protect our seashore and the black sea or in the case of of a full-blown attack, using the airplanes. this is important to remind in terms of what weaponry is needed to minimize the risk that we will be disarmed, in front of this worst-case case scenario of full-scale military aggression. it is time to remind americans that in 1994 ukraine gave up the third-largest nuclear arsenal. 2000 strategic clear warheads,
136 intercontinental ballistic missiles. 44 strategic bombers. they were supposed to target american cities and american territories. that is why it is important that the guarantees or assurances that were given to your crane, they are delivered at the time of the most serious crisis we are facing. >> i promise i won't keep grilling you. i have one other question. we are talking to so many americans with the podcast and delighted to have that opportunity. why does ukraine matter to americans? many of the viewers live in minnesota or seattle or omaha. ukraine is far away. we have a lot of problems here, i think you know that. covid is still out-of-control. our economy is not good. we have intense political polarization. ukraine seems like a small issue. what is your response to that?
>> i already provided a serious argument. it is not a problem on the outskirts of europe far away from the united states, but ukraine is a country who gave up the third-largest nuclear arsenal, more than combined arsenals of great britain, france, and china. it was not just weaponry, they were targeting american citizens. now the second question related to it, when the united states and american citizens are very much concerned of the threats from iran that is desperate to acquire nukes or south korea. a country is ukraine, who gave it nuclear weapons in exchange for the security guarantees and the security guarantee should come when they are needed.
if not, that would create a very bad precedent. i would also like to mention, the second point, putin will be allowed to forcefully change the border and conquer the country, a peaceful, free loving, independent country. that would mean nobody is going to be secure. on the eve of the second world war -- therefore i believe it is , in the innate self interest of the united states and the citizens of the united states to make sure that protection of independent, free loving people is not just speeches at
international conferences, but something that is delivered in a very american manner, timely and credible. >> i wish you were a politician in america. melinda: americans ae in freedom and ukrainians have fought long and hard to have that freedom realized and to live a life of dignity. i will put my moderator had back on. i want to bring in my wonderful friend maria into the conversation. crime area does not get any --
crimea does not get any attention. what is life like now for those that live in crimea? is it a nice place? it used to be a place where people could vacation. maria: thank you for bringing the crimea issue to the discussion because you are right , it has been on the margins of discussions. however, i have to system -- i have to say before the military buildup that happened all over ukraine, it is also present in the russia occupied crimea. and military exercises are going on their.
if we go back to the year 2014, it all started with the occupation of crimea. russia occupied crimea in february of 2014 and proceeded with invasion in the eastern ukraine. crimea is considered to be an occupied territory by ukraine but was more important by the major international players and in particular by the u.n. general assembly and resolutions regarding the situation in crimea but also in the context of the present situation on the militarization of crimea. the situation with human rights, i won't go into details, but it is getting worse and worse. if you look at the resolutions
of the u.n. ga, all of the rights are being violated. property rights are now endangered as well. that has caused problems in eastern ukraine. until now, it is estimated by the ukrainian government to be about 52,000 refugees that fled the territory and moved to ukraine. but that is not the final number because these are at least two
times more people actually moved. these are people, those who are endangered that are recognized as the indigenous population of crimea and also ukrainians. it is not so much dependent on the ethical background but more related to whether this person has pro ukrainian views or supports integrity. just to bring the important example is that one of the most prominent political visitors in crimea was a film director and has been released luckily. his ethnic background is russian and he has a russian surname, but still he was persecuted
because he was on the pro ukrainian position. i would like to briefly react to some things that you were discussing before that. i would like to say that -- sorry, i can't hear you. can i continue? i will wrap up here. >> that was perfect. i think that if you i think if you want to say one point about the human rights situation specifically in crimea, that could be helpful. i did a bunch of research about this and i was shocked to find out children are expected to report on their parents, that
crimea has become a police state. do you want to say anything about the human rights situation in crimea? maria: i think the most important thing to know about human rights in crimea is the restrictive and oppressive politics but are being used. when it comes to the russian occupied territory, it becomes worse. something they are trying to do in the occupied territory, the implement in their main territories. i would like to mention political persecution. at least 120 people persecuted for political motives in crimea. this week, we have four more people arrested. they were arrested for reporting
human rights violations. we still have people inside crimea who are brave enough to report about the situation with human rights. all of these restrictive politics are aimed at the goal of the colonization of crimea. it is not a political statement from my side. it was something mentioned by the united nations general assembly. policies aimed at clearing out the territory, like removing all the pro ukrainian people, those who do not support the colonizer nation authorities -- colonization authorities. transferring people to crimea. it is hard to estimate the numbers of the process.
according to general estimations, it is at least 200,000 people, servicemen, policemen, civilians. different governmental programs aimed at making people move to crimea from the russian federation. colonization in the postcolonial times, the militarization process, children are forced to participate in various military camps. it is the militarization of the public space.
things related to this victory, so to speak, the russian federation, it is now being expanded to the occupied territories, as well. it would not be excessive to say crimea has turned into a military state, and it did not happen yesterday. it was a process ongoing throughout the year. melinda: thank you. that is super helpful. i would love for you to write for us about the process, as well. someone wrote some important articles about the process. i recommend them. i am so glad you are able to join us. you have offices in the donbas and you are keeping your eye close on the situation. the greatest humanitarian needs in ukraine -- shortages of
running water and not enough food. can you paint a picture of what life is like for us? who lives across the line and what is their daily life like? >> thank you for the question. we have offices close to the contact line. i encounter people very close to those who live there. i think stories of people trying to survive in these extremely difficult conditions.
it has been -- it is a very small village in the region. it is very close to the line. it has lost 90% of its population. about 20 people live there who have survived. one of them is 40 years old. she does not have a steady income. she is unable to find work because of her health. that has significantly deteriorated.
those who live in this small village survive with the help of humanitarian organizations. the family's house was damaged several times during the shelling of the village and needs to be repaired but she cannot receive compensation because the house has not been completely destroyed. it is a ridiculous situation. this is one of numerous examples. 14 of the 75 communities formed during the reform, they are along the contact line. some of the settlements are completely or partially -- medical facilities, they are literally cut off from
civilization. an ambulance could not reach a patient. after a shelling of a very small village, it happened last summer, two locals were wounded. the men died and the woman needed urgent care but the ambulance could not arrive. those who live on the others of the contact line, not government controlled areas, on top of almost all the issues i have just depicted, they have to cross the contact line. the problem is, there used to be five checkpoints along
the contact line. since covid started, three of them were closed. there are only two checkpoints available for crossing. people have to overcome long distances on the road. another example, if i have time, i don't know, do i have time? melinda: can you tell people who are listening where they can read about these people and could you also give us a clue? americans do want to help, especially the elderly people in the donbas. is there a place where we can go online and give money and the money will actually go to elderly people? >> we are an organization
thinking about them through our american counterparts to collect some assistance for these elderly people. organizations can actually do that. melinda: tell us one more story and then i will bring michael in for a conversation about the donor community. >> it is about crossing the contact line. i personally met a woman who was 70 years old. she lives in a big city. she traveled about 300 kilometers. in order to receive her pension, she is ukrainian and she is
entitled to get her pension but she cannot get the pension in the territory. she was supposed to travel to the government controlled territory. when she was on her way back and successfully crossed the contact line at the checkpoint in the government controlled territories, on the others of the checkpoints, she forgot to submit a request for entrance. before she traveled 300 kilometers, she traveled to the russian federation because it was easy for her. it was more than 1000 kilometers. due to stress, she had a panic attack and she really needed help.
our staff at the checkpoint helped her. they brought her for temporary observation to the village. there are numerous cases where people could not cross over the contact line, especially the elderly. they do not have money for travel. the experience health issues on their way. the flow of crossing continues to decline in the area. before covid, there were 16.5 billion crossings a year through the five checkpoints -- 16.5 million crossings a year through the five checkpoints. last year, it was only 1.3
million crossings. it is a clear sign of the problems of the checkpoints and the ability for people to move. to see their relatives. for some people, it is even more expensive to travel than the money they have to pay. melinda: next time we do this, we will show pictures of the crossing. people will be shocked to see what it is like. >> it is really heartbreaking. melinda: for those of you who do not know, there is only one crossing into the area, it is like the province in american terms. you cannot walk. it is an old bridge.
many of the people who live in the area are old and cannot move well, they have mobility issues. michael, tell us about the international community. when putin first occupied and then invaded the donbas, there was massive interest in the donor community. we have seen the numbers plummet. are people starting to open their wallets now that putin has threatened? michael: i hope so. a quick note on the infrastructure that the previous speaker brought up about the rickety bridges. part of their mandate is to facilitate repairs to infrastructure like those crossings. they have been blocked and blocked and blocked on a daily basis by the combatants in ukraine. that is something the normative format could deal with. it has slowed repairs to water pipes.
for the longest time, we have to be frank about this, there is a lot of competition in terms of fundraising, especially with afghanistan. the u.n. released an appeal, $5 billion, that fund has not been traditionally well-funded. the yemen appeal, which has caused horrendous human suffering, is only 60% private. the u.n. appeal for ukraine is just 40% funded. i have worked on the donor side of unicef and ukraine is seen as a middle income country. it is difficult to fund raise for. what we have to understand is that the scenario we have been talking about, if it takes hold with migrants streaming out and
a blockage of gas pipelines, this will quickly become everybody's problem, including in the united states. we will see a lack of gas in europe, already strained supply chains. how can people help? they have been working hard to prepare for a crisis, they are raising a lot of money. that process is easier now that in 2014 because there is a lot more crowdfunding channels available. also, i should say, if i could politely challenge our panelist from the parliament, maybe when parliament meets next week, his coalition might propose something like 1% emergency tax on the oligarchs who collectively control billions of
dollars in ukraine. why do i say that? i am hearing a bit of moaning about how much money is actually concentrated here in ukraine, especially in the hands of the oligarchs. i do not think this would be too crazy about thing to propose given how much money is concentrated there. the other thing that ukraine could do for itself, i always talk about how ukraine has to show through its actions that it is a responsible member of the international community. the number of refugee claimants allowed into ukraine is just a little trickle. it has to open its business and allow vulnerable people from other places that would show it is committed. the other thing that people can do immediately, today, tomorrow,
is unicef, which deals primarily with women and children, has committees around the world, 305i believe, including unicef usa. -- 35, i believe. the other great thing about the so-called committees, they have partnerships with a lot of corporations. they can collect donations and send them to places like ukraine. finally, put pressure on corporations making a lot of money here in ukraine. companies like huawei can step up to the plate. melinda: a fabulous practical step. would you like to respond to michael? dr. nemyria: the question about the oligarchs, basically to make
a long story short, there are two sources for the oligarchs. one, they are monopolies in the ukrainian -- economy. antitrust legislation is what we are supporting and it should not just be put forward, but approved. this is the single most -- the second source of strength for the oligarchs is political proximity to the decision-makers. president zelensky promised to distance himself from the oligarchs. to what extent he will fulfill this promise. to what extent others will distance the proximity from president zelensky.
to the political proximity of the oligarchs and decision-makers, and then to de-monopolize through antitrust legislation. melinda: thank you. i hope you will write up that article for deregulation. michael: i think the oligarchs, as well, could voluntarily do this because no oligarch likes to be regulated. the last time i checked out, his bank account is not doing too badly. maybe he could say i am putting $1 million into an emergency fund. have the oligarchs meet that pledge or doublet or triplet. dr. nemyria: then he would stop
to claim he is a politician. he is a billionaire businessman or a politician. melinda: let's get back to the conversation. michael, you can throw this idea out into the ether. mr. nemyria, how is joe biden doing so far in his response in and around ukraine. i am not calling this the ukraine crisis, i am listening to you. what advice would you give him now? dr. nemyria: joe biden is a veteran politician. i do not think he needs much advice. one of the things, he strikes me as a politician that is learning lessons. the vice president at that time,
joe biden in his first foreign policy speech in munich, he basically introduce this idea -- with russia and vladimir putin. i think the lesson is learned now that it is not just any illusion in terms of putin's mind and putin's ambitions. it is about democracy. that is number 1. it looks like he is learning his lessons. the second part, he was part of the obama administration that refused systematically to provide ukraine with defensive lethal weapons. now, it has changed. better later than never.
improve coordinations with allies like the united kingdom and others. increase it, especially to fill the gaps in the areas i described already. also, continue to provide much-needed training for the ukrainian soldiers because -- it is not just a sign of solidarity. it is also important for president biden to try to look at the experience of the other u.s. presidents, who i believe knew a thing or two about the military government. if you cannot solve a problem,
-- what does it mean? the problem -- that is an instrument for putin. putin's goal is not russian ukrainian rule. his goal and ambition is to rewrite the security order and use ukraine as a hostage to achieve some concessions from the united states, from nato. to understand this, it is not enough. it is important to them in practice. what does it mean in practice? it is time to admit that the so-called minsk, while necessary, it is not sufficient
to achieve a peaceful solution. something that sends the wrong signal to putin that he could try to achieve his goals to kill as many ukrainians as he would need to achieve this goal. the united states are leaders and they could provide the leadership. what i would suggest to president biden, to move beyond considering the situation in ukraine as just armed forces in russia and ukraine. stakes are much higher. it should not be addressed in the back room. it should be addressed via
deterrents and dialogue. in the russian federation proposals of the treaties with the united states and nato, in december of last year, there was not a single word -- in the united states's response, budapest memorandum, it was announced several times. the situation in ukraine as part of a larger problem that includes nonproliferation, transparency and military exercises. it includes many other things. that is where diplomacy should show. also incredible timely support
for the ukrainian army is a must. melinda: thank you very much. we have about three or four minutes for a blitz around. five questions from our audience. if you can go ahead and unmute yourself. i will direct a question that you, give me a short answer. what is your view on ukraine joining nato? are you pro? against? why? dr. nemyria: we are in favor of this. the best way to describe it is probably not now, but not never. melinda: got it. another question for you, dr. nemyria, should germany be in the u.k.? or do you want a different format entirely? dr. nemyria: it is important to have the united states, because putin respects the united states
and their determination to speak and act seriously. it shows disrespect to many european countries. also believe there is room for countries like poland. a discussion with the potential for migrants. such countries that are bordering ukraine, including slovakia and romania. it would show that ukraine is not alone or neglected. united states at the table, ukraine at the table to be part of it. melinda: if you can drop into
the chat, the q&a, the 101 explainer on minsk. the minsk accord is important to understand. the peace agreement signed in 2014 and 2015, they are controversial because they were forced down ukraine's throat. it would be helpful to those who are new to the conversation. how many ukrainian language goes where there in crimea before annexation and how money now? maria: there is not a single school with ukrainian language in crimea. they were not too many before the occupation. it goes with the overall problem with policies in crimea before the occupation started, but now you cannot go to a ukrainian school in crimea.
it has been -- there are seven schools officially, but the language in the schools is an elective. it is not true, basically. i have to say that because it is important. it is important to say that in ukraine, there is a political unity around core issues. issues that into crimea in particular. there is a majority in the parliament that supports integrity and the unity of ukraine. it is important to deal with political tensions in ukraine. melinda: absolutely. everyone is united on that
point. this is a bit of a crazy question. if we do have the worst case scenario, everyone hopes we do not have that, and we have 2 million, 3 million ukrainian refugees looking for some kind of safety, with some of those refugees potentially go to belarus? or do you expect everyone to go to poland, romania or slovakia? sasha: some people would like to go to belarus because people speak the same language, those who know russian. the russian federation -- about
800,000 ukrainians. it is possible, but of course belarus is not so attractive as poland or slovakia. to some extent, the polish language is relatively close to ukrainian. people can learn it quite easily. people will stay at home. melinda: let's hope and pray that is the case. thank you for spending your afternoon with us. i was delighted to have michael bociurkiw, aleksandr galkin, dr. hryhoriy nemyria and maria tomak as my guests today. please keep your eye on our
future programming. god bless ukraine and god i house hearing on the growing number of firearms after the airport tsa checkpoint. on c-span2, the senate needs to vote on the nomination of the commissioner of the food and drug administration. it would be his second time heading the agency. and the senate finance committee will work on improving mental health care for children. that is followed by the house judiciary subcommittee in the u.s. health care system. also available as c-span.org or on c-span now are on the free video app.
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