Tag: ukraine crisis
J.D. Vance

Trump’s Ohio Senate Candidate Vance In Trouble Over Ukraine Remarks

On Friday, April 15, former President Donald Trump endorsed Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance in Ohio’s 2022 GOP U.S. primary — much to the chagrin of former State Treasurer Josh Mandel and his supporters, who had been imploring Trump not to make that endorsement.

Vance, Mandel, former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken, and businessman Mike Gibbons have been engaged in a bitter, mudslinging battle to show who is the most MAGA, and the tensions between Vance and Mandel have been especially ugly. Vance has been drawing a great deal of criticism for his comments about Ukraine, and journalist Joshua Jamerson — in an article published by the Wall Street Journal on April 16 — reports that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to be a topic in the Ohio U.S. Senate race.

In mid-February — prior to the invasion that Russia forces launched on February 24 — Vance told “War Room” host Steve Bannon, “I got to be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or the other.” Since then, thousands of people have been killed in that war; millions of Ukrainians have fled their country. And Vance, according to Jamerson, has tweaked his messaging on Ukraine a bit by trying to sound more sympathetic to Ukrainians while maintaining an “America First” tone.

Vance, Jamerson notes, has described recent images of the violence in Ukraine as “disgusting” but is also describing the crisis as a distraction.

When Vance was campaigning in Troy, Ohio, a voter asked him if he thought Ukraine was a “smokescreen to cover the disasters” in the United States — and he responded, “So, I do actually.” And in a Columbus suburb, the Hillbilly Elegy author said, “At the end of the day, the tragedies that we have to care most about as policy makers…. is not what’s going on 6000 miles away.”

Then, at a campaign stop in Troy, Ohio, Vance declared, “I think it is a huge — a catastrophic — mistake for us to get more and more involved in what’s going on in Russia and Ukraine, especially when we have our own problems right here at home.”

Republican voters in Ohio, however, aren’t necessarily indifferent to the war in Ukraine. North Canton, Ohio resident Dee Braden, who is supporting Timken in the primary, told the Journal, “America has to continue to be a leader in supporting democracy and freedom.” And Shannon Wannemacher, a Republican voter in Lima, Ohio who is undecided in the primary, told the Journal, “Of course we need to be involved…. I wish we would do more. I wish we were seen as more of a leader. I’m concerned about Russia’s presence in the world.”

Ohio State Sen. Matt Dolan, another Republican who is running against Vance in Ohio’s GOP U.S. Senate primary, has been vehemently critical of Vance’s comments about Ukraine — saying, “I asked him to apologize on a human level because there’s so many Ukrainians who live in the state.

”Vance, Mandel, Dolan, Timken, and Gibbons are competing for the U.S. Senate seat presently held by Sen. Rob Portman, who is not seeking reelection. The GOP primary election will be held on May 3.

The fact that Trump has endorsed Vance over Mandel and the other candidates is ironic in light of how critical Vance was of him in 2016. Vance was vehemently critical of Trump during the 2016 election, calling him a racist and warning that he would be terrible for the U.S. if elected president. But Vance has since flip-flopped and now fully embraces the MAGA movement.

Published with permission from Alternet.

UN General Assembly Suspends Russia From Human Rights Council

UN General Assembly Suspends Russia From Human Rights Council

The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday suspended Russia from its 47-- member Human Rights Council amid widespread reports of war crimes in Ukraine. The vote was 93 to 24 with 58 nations – including China India, Brazil, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates – abstaining.

The body expressed “grave concern” over Russia's “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights," according to The Washington Post.

Russian troops are facing accusations of brutally massacring civilians, particularly in Bucha, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, where hundreds of victims have been found shot in the head with their hands bound behind their backs. In some instances, piles of corpses were burned or dumped into mass graves as if to cover up the atrocities.

Russia's Deputy United Nations Ambassador, Gennady Kuzmin, said that the move was “an attempt by the US to maintain its domination and total control” and to “use human rights colonialism in international relations.” Kuzmin maintained that the allegations are “based on staged events and widely circulated fakes.”

The Russian delegation on Wednesday had threatened to retaliate against nations that vote to boot it from the HRC.

"It is worth mentioning that not only support for such an initiative, but also an equidistant position in the vote (abstention or non -- participation) will be considered as an unfriendly gesture," the note read, according to reporting by Reuters. "In addition, the position of each country will be taken into account both in the development of bilateral relations and in the work on the issues important for it within the framework of the UN."

Russia's bluster notwithstanding, the evidence is mounting that Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces are intentionally unleashing hell onto the Ukrainian population.

In addition to the flood of photographic and video documentation that has circulated on social media and international news outlets, "Germany’s foreign intelligence service claims to have intercepted radio communications in which Russian soldiers discuss indiscriminate killings in Ukraine," the Post reported. "In two communications, Russian troops described how they question soldiers as well as civilians, and proceed to shoot them, according to an intelligence official familiar with the findings who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity."

Last month, the HRC established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate Russia's genocidal actions in Ukraine. On Saturday, ex -- United Nations prosecutor Carla Del Ponte called for Putin to be arrested and tried by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Meanwhile, in the United States, President Joe Biden has for weeks designated Putin as a war criminal. On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to strip Russia of its preferential trade status and ban imports of its oil and natural gas.

Printed with permission from Alternet.

Soldiers in Karkhiv, Ukraine

Is It Really Racist To Help Ukraine — And Ukrainians?

"Many in Mideast See Hypocrisy in Western Embrace of Ukraine," read an Associated Press headline this week. Salon asked: "Whose Lives Really Matter?" and answered its own question in the next breath — "How Racism Colors Coverage of the Crisis in Ukraine."

On social media, a tweet by Ayo Sogunro, a Nigerian human rights lawyer, has been shared tens of thousands of times: "Can't get it out of my head that Europe cried about a 'migrant crisis' in 2015 against 1.4 million refugees fleeing war in Syria and yet quickly absorbed some two million Ukrainians within days, complete with flags and piano music. Europe never had a migrant crisis. It has a racism crisis."

I beg to differ. In fact, Americans and Europeans have expended quite a lot of blood and treasure over the past several decades to defend or help non-whites and non-Christians. The most directly analogous case to Russia's invasion of Ukraine was Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The coverage of Kuwait's suffering at the time was heartrending, including stories about hospitals being plundered and civilians imprisoned, raped and tortured. Far from countenancing this assault on a non-white nation, the U.S. assembled an international coalition of 35 nations to drive Iraq out of Kuwait in what became the First Gulf War.

In 1992 and 1993, a civil war had devastated Somalia. A U.N. relief operation had run aground. President George H.W. Bush offered to send 25,000 U.S. troops to keep order so that the humanitarian aid could be distributed. What followed under the Clinton administration was the infamous "Black Hawk Down" episode in which 19 Americans were killed and 70 injured by al-Qaida-trained militants.

The U.S. took military action on behalf of Muslims six times in the past 30 years — in Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, and participated (if only from behind) in the military operation that removed Moammar Gadhafi from power when he seemed poised to destroy the city of Benghazi. So call it seven. Say what you will about the wisdom of the Iraq invasion (or the other interventions), there is no doubt that they were undertaken with the goal of freeing people from a dictator, not imposing one. Those who make facile comparisons between our wars and the Russian invasion might want to reflect that no Ukrainians are mobbing the Russian embassy in hopes of visas and no Ukrainians are hanging onto Russian jets. You don't have to agree that the Iraq war was good policy or the long occupation of Afghanistan a wise use of resources to concede that we tried awfully hard to help both countries.

As for the different treatment of Ukrainian versus Mideast refugees, let's remember that Europe accepted more than 1 million refugees from Syria and the U.S. accepted several thousand, despite non-trivial fears that ISIS and al-Qaida elements might be among those asking for asylum. Arguably, the strain those immigrants placed on European societies — because they did include some terrorists — led directly to the rise of far-right parties. And while we're thinking of Syria, let's not forget that Russia also intervened in the conflict — on the side of Bashar al-Assad, helping to reduce Aleppo and other cities to rubble and further immiserating that nation.

"Whose Lives Really Matter?" asks Salon. Well, African lives do. That's why the United States launched PEPFAR under George W. Bush's presidency, the largest commitment by any nation to fight a disease in history. The fund has already spent $100 billion and saved an estimated 20 million lives that would have been lost to HIV/AIDS.

So what has triggered this rash of commentary about Ukraine proving the racism of the West? On the BBC, a former Ukrainian official confessed that "It's very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blond hair ... being killed every day." An Al Jazeera anchor said, "These are not obviously refugees trying to get away from areas in the Middle East."

Those comments were stupid, but the reason I recited the history above is that you can't write whole nations off for the stray remarks of a few. In fact, identification with those most like us — in appearance, culture, religion, nation, whatever — is part of human nature, and no one of any color is completely immune. Arabs are more concerned about Palestinians than about the Rohingya or Sudanese. That's not racism, it's just fellow feeling.

Europeans and Americans have responded to Ukraine's plight with empathy and anger and admiration and love. And so have Kenyans and Japanese and Mexicans and Egyptians and billions more. We all have our tribal tendencies and must strive to recognize that all God's children are of equal moral worth. But looking at our recent history, we've done pretty well on that score. So let's not tar this moment of moral clarity with the racism brush.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Ukrainian Official Praises Biden, Takes Veiled Shot At Trump(VIDEO)

Ukrainian Official Praises Biden, Takes Veiled Shot At Trump(VIDEO)

A top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is praising President Joe Biden just one day after the American President committed to hundreds of millions of dollars more in military aid. And he’s throwing Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, under the bus.

Andriy Yermak, officially the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, also known as Zelenskyy’s Chief of Staff, took to Twitter today to say he’s “grateful” to America. He also called the U.S. Ukraine’s “reliable partner.”

And he added that President Biden does more for Ukraine “than any of his predecessors.”

Yermak made similar remarks Thursday morning on CNN, saying that President Biden has done more than any other President of the United States.

In 2019 Trump infamously told President Zelenskyy, “I would like you to do us a favor though,” as he blocked hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, hoping for “dirt” on then-candidate Biden. He was later impeached over those actions.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet