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Ukraine Sovereignty

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 3 March 2022

Tags: Violence

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Ukraine is a sovereign democratic country. It has the right to self-determination and the integrity of its territorial borders. The Russian invasion of Ukraine was in the words of Vladimir Putin partly designed to 'de-Nazify Ukraine'. What a tragic irony that yesterday Russian shelling destroyed the sacred ground of Babi Yar, where there is a ravine outside Kyiv where about 100 000 Jews, Romas and other people were slaughtered over the course of two days by the Germans in 1941. Vladimir Putin and Adolf Hitler have a lot in common.

Over the past week I have been struck by the courage of the Ukrainian people, those brave brave people.

Only today on social media there are pictures of hundreds of Ukrainians with their cars blocking Russian access to the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe. The stories of courage and love of country of the Ukrainian people have been profoundly moving and inspiring. What a price they are paying for being a neighbour of Russia that had the brazenness to wish for a peaceful democratic future.

Thousands of Ukrainians, we now believe, have died in the past week as Russian forces indiscriminately shell residential areas, public buildings. There is no care for preventing civilian deaths. What Vladimir Putin's army is doing amounts to war crimes. I understand now that the Hague is investigating.

This is an unprovoked act of aggression against a democratic nation by a very small psychopath. When people talk about the need for dialogue, I do not think you can reason with someone like Vladimir Putin. I do not think you can reason with someone who, when the western world stood up, threatened to unleash the nukes and apparently is parking part of his nuclear arsenal in Belarus, another state formerly of the Soviet Union that chose democracy which was thwarted again by another nasty little man.

There is a sense of frustration among free-thinking people and nations along with our despair and grief that there is no obvious path to peace here other than capitulation.

My parents always taught me that you stand up to bullies. How does the western world, how does Europe and every democratic country in the world, properly express its disgust and rejection of what Vladimir Putin is doing to peaceful and democratic Ukraine?

A cause for optimism in these dark days has been the way democratic nations have stood up their resolve. We have even had Germany, which has deep business ties with Russia, cancel the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. We have democratic nations across the European Union preparing or sending lethal weapons to help the Ukrainian people defend themselves, because at the moment they are on their own. The risk here is so grave. We are dealing with a potential much wider, devastating conflict should NATO be provoked any further.

It is an issue that democratic nations must find a way to deal with effectively. Yes, sanctions, yes, seize all the corruptly acquired assets of the oligarchs. Stand together in solidarity with Ukraine and any other peaceful democratic nation, like Taiwan, when they are threatened by aggressive totalitarian regimes.

I read into the Hansard the other night a very moving plea from the Greens leaders of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. They captured the values struggle that many of us who long for peace are having right now. They say:

Remaining committed to the principles of non-violence, we are forced to admit that the only way to stop the current bloody marching of the aggressor across Ukraine is by using military force. Russia itself tightly closed the window of opportunity in the sphere of diplomacy. We call on all European countries to recognise this cruel reality and ensure the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine, where the battle between good and evil is taking place today, the outcome of which will determine the future of the continent and the whole world.

That is no exaggeration, Mr Speaker. In a more perfect world, the United Nations would be stepping in to help Ukraine and the Ukrainian people defend their democracy. But as we know, Russia is on the UN Security Council and has a veto power, so the UN will be no help to the people of Ukraine.

I also want to acknowledge that this is not a war being waged by the Russian people against the people of Ukraine. We have seen the most inspiring protests in Russia against Putin's madness. We have seen brave mayors of Russian cities co-sign an urgent plea for Putin to withdraw the troops. We know this is not a war of the Russian people against the Ukrainian people. We also know many Russian people have friends and family in Ukraine so there will be pain in Russia over this war as well.

As it is now, we can only make sure we are cutting off the dark money to the oligarchs, we are crashing the ruble, we are making pariahs of the Russian Government. We are in a very fraught moment in the history of humanity. As we know, Europe was where the two biggest wars of the last century took place and to see a conflict like this happening in Europe is deeply worrying.

On behalf of the Greens, and I know Dr Woodruff wants to speak as well, I express my deep admiration and support for the Ukrainian people, to recognise the unbelievable courage and leadership of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He did not leave, he did not get on a plane to Hawaii when his country was under attack. He is still in Kyiv which is under relentless assault. We now have reports of a million Ukrainian refugees. We have stories of people in neighbouring countries, when the trains stop, pouring onto the trains with food, clothes and love. This is not only a war but, as every war does, it has created a massive humanitarian crisis.

We do not know because we cannot know where this will lead. But what if Putin wins? What if the Ukrainian people cannot hold his tanks and his thermobaric weapons back? Where does that leave the free world? Where does that leave the people of Taiwan? The signal that is sent to the other nasty totalitarian regime, Xi Jinping's government, is that the west will watch and not do enough. This is a hugely significant and dangerous moment in our history.

I pass on my love, respect and admiration for the people of Ukraine and to let them know that all over the world people are watching in awe of their guts, tenacity and absolute determination to defend their peaceful democratic country, their unique language and culture, to defend their people, their place in Europe and their status as a democracy.