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  • 19 Aug 2015 4:32 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    August 19, 2015         Click here for a PDF version

    Open Letter to the Officers and Governors of the American Bar Association (ABA)

    The Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA) is a national bar association created in 1977 whose members are U.S. judges, attorneys and law students of Ukrainian descent, and those American and foreign attorneys with an interest in Ukrainian matters who share the UABA’s goals and dedication to the rule of law and its mission objectives.  Many UABA members are also members of the American Bar Association (ABA).

    As representatives of the legal profession, both of our organizations have as their core principle the strongly held belief that the rule of law can only be implemented if lawyers and jurists demonstrate - not merely by words but by their individual and collective behavior - a respect for the rule of law and take decisive action when their core principle is blatantly violated.  Regrettably, the scheduled meeting of the ABA Section of International Law on September 18, 2015 in Moscow - discussing the resolution of business disputes - flies in the face of the rule of law rather than advancing it.

    It is self-evident and beyond any reasonable doubt that Russia’s continued military invasion of Ukraine and occupation of parts of its territory are violations of numerous treaties, international norms, and the internationally accepted principle of the rule of law.  Territorial integrity and the inviolability of borders are the linchpin tenets that have been the bedrock of stability and peace on the Eurasian continent since the end of World War II.   Now, they have been deliberately ignored and violated by the Kremlin’s military revanchist actions in Ukraine.  Any denial of these obvious facts is merely a means of avoiding dealing with the uncomfortable reality of the inescapable and dire consequences of Russia’s unlawful behavior.  Those that pursue the argument that meeting with professional counterparts on Russian territory will somehow create an opportunity to influence Russia’s illegal behavior are on a fool’s errand.   History has shown that such meetings – no matter how well intentioned – only embolden the host country’s government to continue its rogue behavior by giving it the satisfaction that its willfully criminal conduct in violation of the rule of law – no matter how egregious – will only evoke a possible mild verbal rebuke on its own well policed territory and nothing more.

    The ABA and its Section of International Law should recognize the very apparent geopolitical realities and ominous consequences of Russia’s illicit actions and learn from the lessons of history.  There is an old saying “Actions speak louder than words”.  The ABA should immediately move the venue of the 2015 Conference on the Resolution of International Business Disputes to another country.  The failure to do so will only reinforce the common man’s prevalent belief that America’s legal profession only mouths the phrase “rule of law”, but that “business as usual” trumps all.

    For the Officers and Governors of the Ukrainian American Bar Association
    Myroslaw Smorodsky, Esq.
    Communications Director of the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA)
    Tel: 201-507-4500; Email;
    myroslaw@smorodsky.com; Website; www.smorodsky.com

     

  • 16 Jun 2015 12:43 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Legal report "Human Rights on Occupied Territory: Case of Crimea"

    On behalf of Razom, a team of international lawyers has just completed work on a second legal report “Human Rights on Occupied Territory: Case of Crimea”. The official release of the report is accompanied by presentations in Ukraine (June 15-19 in Lviv and Kyiv) and Western Europe (June 21-25 in Strasbourg, Brussels and Antwerp).

    The report illustrates the background of the crisis, analyzes the human rights in Crimea, including economic, social and cultural rights, and gives recommendations to improve the current situation to the Ukrainian and Russian governments, international community and civil society. A crucial part of this report is a Human Rights Protection Manual which aims to provide Crimeans of all ethnic and religious groups with access to justice by explaining their fundamental rights. It is Razom's intent and hope that this Manual will help lay people in Crimea learn how to protect their rights.

    The report is available to download at razomforukraine.org/crimeareport

     

  • 17 Apr 2015 3:03 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

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    UABA STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF RUSSIAN ATTORNEY MARK FEYGIN
         The Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA) is a national bar association created in 1977 whose members are U.S. judges, attorneys and law students of Ukrainian descent and those American attorneys who share the UABA’s goals and dedication to the rule of law.  Our Association has a very deep interest in upholding the ability of our colleagues in other countries to represent clients without being intimidated, harassed or penalized by their government for exercising their profession obligations on behalf of their clients.
         It has come to the attention of the UABA that Mark Feygin, a Russian lawyer, is apparently being “criminally” investigated for allegedly posting statements on his Twitter account which purportedly “incite social hatred and enmity”.  In reality, his Twitter comments were merely statements in support of his client, Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who is being unlawfully detained by Russian authorities. 
         As an attorney, Feygin works mostly on human rights matters and was lead counsel in several landmark legal cases in Russia such as; the Pussy Riot case (Nadezhda Tolokonnikova), the Greenpeace case (Arctic Sunrise, Dmitry Litvinov); the Bolotnaya case (Leonid Razvoszhaev and Sergei Udaltsov); the case of Ilya Goryachev who was extradited from Serbia; the case of Arkady Babchenko, political journalist; Geydar Dzhemal, Islamic philosopher, and many others. Attorney Feygin also represents Mustafa Jemilev, the leader of Crimean Tatars, and Mukhtar Ablyazov, a Kazakh opposition politician. 
         Ostensibly, the most recent “criminal” investigation of Attorney Feygin has as its motive not only to muzzle his vociferous defense of his clients, but more importantly, to create a chilling effect and to send an ominous signal to all Russian lawyers discouraging them from taking up cases that criticize and challenge the Russian government’s policies and actions that violate internationally accepted human rights norms.
         As such, the Russian government’s current “criminal” investigation of Mark Feygin constitutes a gross violation of the basic principles of justice and the rule of law and the right of an attorney to properly defend his client.

    For further information, please contact
    Myroslaw Smorodsky, Esq.
    Communications Director of the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA)
    Tel: 201-507-4500; Email; myroslaw@smorodsky.com; Website; www.smorodsky.com

  • 19 Feb 2015 1:59 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Click here to view in PDF format--- Натисніть тут для перегляду  у форматі PDF

    Putin is wearing “The Emperor’s New Clothes” 

    About 175 years ago, Hans Christian Anderson wrote a children’s fairytale, - The Emperor’s New Clothes - about a narcissistic monarch who was deceived by his tailors into believing that his non-existent new garb which they pretended to weave was real but would be invisible only to those who were hopelessly stupid or incompetent.  The gullible emperor paraded in his imaginary non-attire before his subjects.  Fearing that saying the truth to the vain sovereign would jeopardize their position in his imperial court, none of his ministers or citizens of his kingdom dared to state the self-evident – that the emperor had no clothes.

     

    Similarly, Vladimir Putin has clad himself in a fictitious political costume weaved out of disinformation and lies and is pompously pretending that the war in eastern Ukraine is not of his making.  According to Putin, there are no Russian military units in the Donbas area of Ukraine, which in his mind, is not even a real country.  However, unlike the credulous emperor in Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytale, Putin knows full well the truth and that his fabricated political “regalia” - contrived of deception and deceit - is fully transparent to all.  But he also realizes that he will not be critically challenged by Western media nor the West’s political elite.  After all, in Putin’s mind, Western leaders and their media are hopelessly naïve, stupid and incompetent and will behave similarly to the emperor’s subjects in the fairytale and will consciously ignore reality.

     

    Putin’s calculus is that as a result of pluralistic ignorance, ["no one believes, but everyone thinks that everyone believes."] no one in the West will counter the obvious since it would jeopardize their self-interest and preconceived view of the world order.  Calling out Putin would require a clear acknowledgment that the world order and international rule of law – so painstakingly constructed since World War II - is no longer the status quoand that any rollback of the Kremlin’s illegal land grab in Ukraine requires strong affirmative and unified action by the West, including arming Ukraine so it can defend itself.  These are measures the West is loath to take.

     

    The primary bedrock upon which Putin has built his political charade is the contrived concept that the conflict in eastern Ukraine is a spontaneous internal insurrection by Russian residents of Ukraine ignited by long simmering disgruntlement over the central Ukrainian government in Kyiv.  Overlaid on this fallacious premise is the intentionally misleading notion that eastern Ukraine was always a part of Russia and that the majority of the populace are historically ethnically Russian.  In the logical progression of these fallacies, carefully weaved and propagated by the Kremlin’s age old disinformation machine, the combatants of the Donetsk and Luhansk “Peoples Republics” allegedly reflect the majority will of the Russian people of eastern Ukraine to rejoin the Russian “Mir” (world).  Therefore, the actions of these righteous rebels are morally and politically justifiable.  As such, the Kremlin has proclaimed that it is Russia’s divine duty and obligation to support their ethnic brethren.  Using these canards as camouflage, Putin initiated an alternative non-conventional form of aggressive warfare against Ukraine using hired mercenaries that are trained, supplied with offensive lethal weapons, and directed by Russia.  Russian Special Forces without insignia intermingle with the mercenaries and openly use sophisticated weapons that only regular Russian military units possess and have the required expertise to use. 

    The Kremlin’s fallacies have been debunked by historians, scholars and independent observers on the ground and do not reflect reality.  Nevertheless, Western political leaders and the media have gullibly accepted these Kremlin inspired myths as fact or knowingly refuse to challenge them.  They continue to call the Russian military operatives/mercenaries as “separatists” and “Ukrainian rebels” rather than calling them what they truly are – “terrorists” and “invaders”, thereby propagating even further the Kremlin’s disingenuous mythology.  Even though Russian military forces have been in the zone of conflict in eastern Ukraine since its inception, the West is only very recently [and very reticently] acknowledging their presence on Ukrainian soil.  However, the Western political elites still fail to call the obvious Russian military activity for what it has been all along -- an aggressive military invasion by Russia of its neighbor, Ukraine, in violation of all international norms and rule of law. 

    Meantime, Putin continues his arrogant procession on the world’s political arena smugly clothed in his political costume falsely proclaiming that Russia is not a party to the conflict and all that it wants in Ukraine is peace; but no western leader has had the moral or political fortitude to confront him with the naked truth.  It is naively assumed by Western political leaders that if they remain mum as to the true reality of Putin’s actions – a premeditated military invasion of Ukraine - then he will not be a danger to their geopolitical self-interest as long as they pretend he is not a menace to the world order and that he that can be successfully dealt with through diplomacy.

    Western leaders must immediately accept that Putin has been wearing “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and their failure to confront him with the naked truth [and to take timely affirmative action to stop his military invasion of Ukraine] has emboldened him and exacerbated the potential for an irreversible danger to the peace and security of Europe.  The time has come for Western leaders to shed their pluralistic ignorance of Putin and to boldly confront the reality of his actions and supply Ukraine with the military weapons necessary to defend itself, thereby preserving Ukraine’s security and that of Europe and the world as a whole.

    February 19, 2015
    For further information, please contact
    Myroslaw Smorodsky, Esq
    Communications Director of the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA)
    Tel: 201-507-4500; Email;
    myroslaw@smorodsky.com; Website; www.smorodsky.com

     

     

     

     

  • 13 Feb 2015 2:01 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    SANCTIONS MUST BE SECONDARY

    Victor Rud: Rebuttal to Roger Altman's Feb. 10, 2015 article in the Wall Street Journal "Stopping Putin Without Firing a Shot" 
    [WSJ article reprinted at bottom] 

     Mr. Altman argues that economic sanctions should trump military defensive assistance to Ukraine. ("Stopping Putin Without Firing A Shot", WSJ February 10, 2015.) While it’s encouraging that a prominent player in the US financial market generally understands the gravity of the matter, his argument is untenable.  Sanctions are an adjunct to military assistance, but cannot be in substitution for it.  Standing alone, they are a siren song for digression and compounding of the inevitable.

    Preliminarily, Mr. Altman posits that providing defensive arms to Ukraine "might give Moscow a further basis for its historical aggrievement ." This unwittingly endorses a pivotal component of Putin’s long-standing dezinformatsia. Rafael Lemkin, author of the UN Genocide Convention, saw Russia as the apex predator state, the ultimate killer of nations.  How else did it bloat out to become the largest country in the world, occupying fully one third of Asia?  Kolyma, one of several a sub-regions of one of its regions (Siberia), is larger than France, Spain, Japan, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Greece, Sweden and North Korea, combined; and Kolyma was only one of several concentration camp regions.  It is Ukraine, the Baltic nations, Byelorus, the nations of the Caucasus and Central Asia that have a "historical aggrievement" against Russia for centuries of conquest, mass murder, slave ships, death marches, atrocities, war crimes, homicidal russification, recreational torture, assassinations, genocide of all stripes, plunder, predation, experimental executions, gang rape, stupefying terror, thought crime and forced starvation.  Russia’s "historical aggrievances" reverses that history, condemns the victim as the perpetrator and sanctifies the perpetrator as victim. The prime exemplar of virtual reality, a hologram floating on air.  

    The springboard for the sanctions argument is that for Putin the consequences of Western sanctions are or can be made greater than the consequences of Ukraine existing as a democratic, sovereign state.  That assumption is wrong, and to the very opposite effect.  Ukraine is the largest country in Europe, and anchors one of Europe’s oldest democratic traditions.  More than seventy years before Philadelphia, Ukraine produced a constitution incorporating the very essentials of democratic governance that were later repeated in the US constitution.  Moscow’s conquest and rule over Ukraine was pivotal to the formation and viability of the Soviet Union.  The bookend is that Ukraine’s renewal of its independence in 1991 (stunningly, in opposition to Washington’s wishes), catalyzed the dissolution of the USSR.  Ukraine saved the West.  The existence of a free and democratic  Ukraine thus expands the prospects for liberty in Russia itself.  Putin would then become an unperson with greater alacrity than in the face of the "pressures" that sanctions presumably would cause.

    Second, Western profit imperative fueled its embrace of the Russian economy and financial system.  The resulting dependency of Russia, Mr. Altman says in essence, allows for the very leverage of Western sanctions.  And what of the opposite dependency?  Western democracies will abandon their petty parochialisms in the interest of stronger, longer lasting and more consequential sanctions?  At the expense of their own economies and opinion polls?  Even with the modest sanctions thus far, we have seen the centrifugal forces at work and growing in Europe; and not only on the economic side, but the political as well. As of this writing, France’s delivery to Russia of its Mistral attack ships is evidently back on track.

    Moreover, there is nothing in the historical experience of Western/Soviet/Russian relations that supports Mr. Altman’s argument. Historically, it was Western technology and capital, with the US in the lead, that laid the economic and financial bases for the Soviet Union, and thereafter periodically supplied it with a life support system of technology and other assistance. In the 1920’s and 30’s it was the American engineer who, after the Great Sun, was god in the Soviet Union.  Ford’s River Rouge Plant became the Gorki Auto Works, manufacturing cars for the NKVD.  U.S. Steel’s Fairless Plant became the Magnitagorsk Iron & Steel Works, and the TVA’s Appalachian Electrification Project became the Dnipro Hydroelectric Complex.  Calvin Coolidge said "the business of American is business," and sooner than later the business and financial lobby will hold sway.

    Third, as to the efficacy of Western sanctions thus far, Mr. Altman asserts that the sanctions "are working" and recites their impact on the Russian economy.  The statistics may scroll impressively across a financial news screen.  But where is the nexus between the sanctions and their effect on the Russian invasion, occupation, annexation, atrocities and terror? We are offered none.  Is the point perhaps that without the sanctions already in effect the situation on the ground would have been even more egregious?  No, that is surmise, speculation and conjecture. The facts are that in the face of sanctions, the horrors not only continue but have accelerated.  How, exactly, will sanctions stop the Kremlin, and then compel Putin to--somehow--undergo an epiphany and go home?  The "somehow" is merely an assumption, a hope, that sanctions will lead to consequential pressure (whatever that means) on Putin.  If so, then what of the very same "pressure" if Putin simply puts on his shirt and puts his horse in reverse?  That pressure was 80% positive when he had it in drive.  

    Fourth, what if sanctions don’t work?  Never mind defining what that means, at a certain point reality intrudes.  Then what?  At that point . . . finally . . .  provide Ukraine with defensive weapons?  Too late.

    Fifth, although once in his article Mr. Altman  mentions  a Russian "pull back", as thus far implemented and as further articulated by Mr. Altman, sanctions address only the sustainability of aggression.  With such a limited formulation, sanctions sanction (read, accept) aggression up to date. The title, after all, of Mr. Altman’s piece is "Stopping Putin", not reversing his conquest.  If, as Mr. Altman writes, sanctions will lead to the epiphany that "further aggression isn’t sustainable," what about the aggression and atrocities up to date?  How, exactly, will sanctions reattach the body parts from Malaysia Flt. MH-17?  

    We shuffle our feet, clear our throats, and with furrowed brow profess concern over renewed Russian treachery and aggression.  But after WWI, the US and Europe ignored Ukraine’s call for assistance as it was invaded by Russia, international treaties be damned.  Thereafter, on November 16, 1933, the US extended diplomatic recognition to the USSR, at the very time that Stalin was forcibly starving millions of Ukrainians death in order, as wrote Oxford’s Norman Davies, to forever inter any notion of statehood.  After WWII, survivors of that horror who had fled to the West were forcibly "repatriated" to the rodina and death.  With the dissolution of the USSR having been triggered by Ukrainian independence, Washington stripped Ukraine of virtually its entire weaponry, destroying it or turning it over to Ukraine’s historic persecutor.  Karl Marx had it right: "The ignorance, the laziness, the pusillanimity, the perpetual fickleness and the credulousness of Western governments enabled Russia to achieve successively every one of her aims."  If we don’t get it straight this time, if the West yet again condemns Ukraine to the coffin air of Lubyanka, then the West will ricochet back to the past, to M(utual)A(ssured)D(estruction) (remember that?), with all its implications.  This time, however, add ISIS, China and North Korea to the brew.
     
    Victor Rud, Esq.

    Chairman, Committee on International Affairs & Foreign Policy
    Ukrainian American Bar Association.
     


    OPINION
    Stopping Putin Without Firing a Shot
    There is a point at which a currency or banking collapse will prevent any major nation from functioning.

    By ROGER C. ALTMAN
    Feb. 10, 2015 7:12 p.m. ET

    The intensified fighting in Ukraine has discouraged and angered the West. Many are concluding that neither economic sanctions nor diplomacy—including last Friday’s emergency visit to Moscow by Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s François Hollande —can deter Russia’s advance there. So there is now a movement toward supplying defensive arms, such as antitank weapons, to Kiev. Even if this might give Moscow a further basis for its historical aggrievement and trigger a wider conflict.

    But there is a better and more powerful strategy available. One which could halt the Ukrainian conflict and prevent further Russian adventurism in the Baltics or elsewhere. That is to recognize Russia’s deepening economic and financial crisis, tighten the financial sanctions further and then let the combination of sanctions and the global capital markets force Moscow to pull back.

    These markets have turned sharply against Russia already, damaging its economic, financial and banking system—and the scale of that harm is just beginning to come into view. Many think that Mr. Putin can ignore these pressures indefinitely. I doubt it.

    I doubt it because these financial markets are now the most powerful force on earth. Far stronger than any army or store of weapons—and capable of inducing changes that diplomacy or arms could never achieve. Remember the collapse of Mexico in 1994 and Thailand 1997. In this age, if the currency of a major nation collapses or its access to borrowing ends, it just can’t function.

    Look at the damage in Russia over just the past three months. According to Bloomberg, the ruble has fallen 50% against the dollar over the past year. Private capital is fleeing the country at a $150 billion annual rate. Local interest rates have soared to 15%. Russian gross domestic product is now projected by the International Monetary Fund to fall 3% this year. The central bank has already infused $33 billion to keep the shaky banking sector afloat.

    In addition, net new direct foreign investment has been zero for a year and new Western financing has evaporated. Oil prices have fallen more than 50%, and this has weakened Russia’s one strong industry and the state budget that depends on it. The oligarch and state-controlled corporate sector is wobbling under heavy, foreign-currency-denominated debt burdens. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Russia’s credit to junk status on Jan. 26.

    Clearly, the current sanctions, which prevent Russia’s state-owned banks and corporations from borrowing in Europe or America, are working. Both explicitly, in forbidding such borrowing, and implicitly, in further turning the capital markets against Russia.

    This was a profoundly weak country to begin with. Russia’s GDP equals that of Italy. Its population is small (140 million) and declining: More than 500,000 citizens have fled over the past three years, and life expectancy is falling. The level of corruption is staggering. Russia’s oil fields are mature and require capital and Western technology even to keep production flat. Neither of these inputs is available now. The liquid portion of Moscow’s foreign-exchange reserves, which the Peterson Institute has estimated at roughly $200 billion, is not large relative to the $33 billion that was spent in December to defend the ruble.

    Many Russia experts note the deep and sad capacity of the Russian people for suffering. They point out that Mr. Putin’s popularity, boosted by the annexation of Crimea and the Ukraine conflict, is nearly 80%. They therefore conclude that he is not sensitive to economic and financial pressures.

    But Russia is not North Korea. It is a full participant in global financial markets. Its currency is traded globally, as is its stock market, and its corporate sector borrows externally in large amounts. There is a point at which a currency or banking collapse will prevent any major nation from functioning.

    That is why the U.S. and the EU should tighten the sanctions further before moving to supply arms. Russia has no method of countering sanctions, unlike its military-response potential. Preventing American and European investors from holding its sovereign debt is a logical next step. If it becomes necessary, barring Russian banks from the Swift system of international payments, for example, would be crippling. 

    More broadly, the more Mr. Putin extends the fighting in eastern Ukraine, the more the financial markets will ratchet up their own pressure on Russia. This may squeeze Russia to the point where its entities cannot borrow abroad, all private capital is leaving, the banking system becomes insolvent and no one wants the currency. At that point foreign aggression isn’t sustainable. Not even for Mr. Putin.

    Mr. Altman is the founder and executive chairman of Evercore, and was deputy U.S. Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, 1993-94.

     

  • 06 Feb 2015 2:39 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

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    A Question for President Obama
    --
    Then What?

    On February 5, 2015, Terry Atlas, writing for Bloomberg News, stated “Washington policy makers are caught up in a debate reminiscent of the Cold War era: Should the U.S. send weapons to help an outgunned country resist Russian-backed aggression?”  According to the article, the indecision of policy makers - as well as that of President Obama - is grounded on the question -- if weapons are supplied to Ukraine, Then What? Would it only anger Russia and make it more aggressive? Would it escalate the warfare and make a political solution more difficult to achieve?

    The question that Washington policy makers and President Obama should be asking is -- if weapons are NOT supplied to Ukraine, Then What ?

    The argument not to supply military aid to Ukraine is based in large part on the naïve assumption that hostilities in the eastern part of Ukraine are somehow not a war of aggression by Russia but are internal rebel activities by Ukrainians of Russian ethnicity and that Russia has good and honorable intentions to find a peaceful solution to this alleged “internal” crisis.  This fallacious notion has been debunked by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary and is not reflective of a rational view of reality.  The alleged “separatist rebels” are mercenaries hired, trained, supplied with weapons, and directed by Russia.  Russian military personnel in the thousands are openly fighting, and many are dying, alongside these "separatist rebels” on Ukrainian soil. 

    There is also an unstated view in Western political circles that Russia would be politically satisfied with holding onto Crimea and that Eastern Ukraine [Luhansk and Donetsk regions] be quasi-independent entities within the sphere of direct influence of the Kremlin.  According to this misguided rationale, if the West were to accept this scenario as the status quo [and convince Ukraine to such draconian terms], Russia would readily enter into a binding international agreement which would guarantee peace on the European continent for the future.  As a reality check to this flawed logic, one only has to recall from recent memory countless historical events to realize that Russia has neverlived up to any of its international agreements including nuclear non-proliferation treaties.  One such glaring example that comes immediately to mind is the 1994 Budapest Memorandum wherein Russia profusely guaranteed that it would not violate Ukrainian sovereignty in exchange for which Ukraine surrendered the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world.  Further, the Kremlin flagrantly continues to violate various other nuclear accords and proudly states that it will be expanding its nuclear armaments as well as its military potential -- and all international covenants to the contrary be damned.  There is a saying “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”

    History is also the best teacher.  To understand Russia and its political and military intentions towards Ukraine, we need to look at history.  Over the centuries, Russian political thought always viewed Ukraine as the linchpin to its imperialistic ambitions and desires.  It has continuously fought to control not only Ukraine’s territory, but also sought to destroy Ukrainian culture and ethos.  As former Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, V. Vassylenko stated in his recent essay, The 2014 War: An Endeavor for a Comprehensive Analysis;

    The restoration of Ukraine’s independence is intertwined with the inevitable revival of its national memory and individual national history, thus stripping Russia of a part of its alleged history, thereby destroying the myth of its millennium-old statehood, European identity and supposedly eternal and natural place of Russia in European civilization. Russian empire-minded chauvinists realize that, unless Ukraine with its territory, resources and human potential, is not subdued once again, Russia’s attempts to restore its status of an empire will be futile…..  p. 4

    Meanwhile, another less obvious goal of the Russian aggression is to test how ready and capable Western democracies are in resisting Russia’s revanchist and expansionist plans to use force to return territories that had been parts of the Russian empire in the past. …..p. 8

    Russia's covert foreign policy objective is to undermine European and Euro-Atlantic unity and to create a Euro-Asian empire, stretching from Vladivostok to Lisbon thereby challenging and threatening the United States. p. 8

    Viewed from the historical perspective, if weapons are not supplied to Ukraine so it can defend itself now, [and thereby,  in essence, protect Western Europe] any “political solution” that does not permanently insure Ukrainian territorial integrity and the inviolability of its borders from Russian incursion by giving Ukraine the unfettered military ability to protect its national boundaries, is only temporary window dressing to appease the gullible conscience of Western leaders and to lull them into an unrealistic sense of security.  If Ukraine is not afforded the necessary means to defend itself, then after a temporary illusionary respite in hostilities and the easing of economic sanctions, Russia will regroup, strengthen itself, and will exponentially continue its assault on Ukraine, thus drastically expanding the existing conflict to the entire European continent in the future.  In the process, Russia will successfully undermine Western and NATO unity, European economic integration and security, greatly jeopardize world peace, and put America’s national interests and security at high risk. 

    Then Washington foreign policy makers and future American Presidents will be asking the question:  NOW WHAT?

    February 6, 2015

    Myroslaw Smorodsky, Esq.
    730 West Saddle River Rd., Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ 07423
    Communications Director of the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA)
    Tel: 201-507-4500; Email;
    myroslaw@smorodsky.com; Website; www.smorodsky.com

     

  • 01 Feb 2015 12:12 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

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    Press Release; February 1, 2014

    UABA Statement in support of H. RES. 50 and S. RES. 52 calling for the release of Ukrainian fighter pilot Nadiya Savchenko

    On January 26, 2015, Congressional Representatives , Ms. Kaptur, Mr. Fitzpatrick, Mr. Quigley, and Mr. Pascrell submitted House Resolution H. RES. 50 “Calling for the release of Ukrainian fighter pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who was captured by Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine and has been held illegally in a Russian prison since July 2014.”  On January 28, 2015, a similar resolution – S. RES. 52 - was introduced in the Senate by Mr. Cardin and Mr. Wicker; both resolutions were referred to the respective Foreign Relations Committees in both chambers of Congress. 

    The Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA) strongly urges that these proposed resolutions be expeditiously reviewed and approved in their respective committees, and placed on the floor for a full vote by the Senate and House.  Swift and affirmative passage of these resolutions will show the world that the United States stands behind its pronouncements in support of international rule of law and respect for human rights.  Speedy adoption of these resolutions will also signal to Russia that its aggression against Ukraine will not go unnoticed, cannot continue, and will be rebuked accordingly by the international community.

    Nadiya Savchenko, a former military pilot in the Ukrainian Air Force, serves as a current member of the Parliament of Ukraine, and a Delegate from Ukraine at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). 

    In the middle of June 2014, she was captured by Russians in the Luhansk region of Ukraine – the area where Russian troops and Russia-supported terrorists and mercenaries are fighting against the Ukrainian army and Ukrainian civilian volunteers.  Russians illegally and forcibly transported Savchenko across the border into Russia, with a bag over her head, while handcuffed.  In Russia she was falsely accused of, and charged with, the alleged killings of two Russian members of the press.  These members of the Russian press appear to have died in shellfire, and not at the hands of Ms. Savchenko as Russian propaganda machine would want the world to believe.  According to Ms. Savchenko and her attorneys, not only was Ms. Savchenko nowhere near the area where the two members of the Russian press died, but they actually died AFTER the Russians had captured Savchenko and brought her over to Russia from Ukraine.

    Ms. Savchenko is being kept in a Russian prison, undoubtedly on direct orders from Putin, without proof of having committed any of the alleged crimes with which she has been charged, without trial and without due process of any kind. According to her attorneys, Messrs. Mark Feygin, and Nikolai Polozov, Ms. Savchenko has an irrefutable alibi that proves her innocence and the falsity of the Russian charges against her.

    She has been held in solitary confinement in prison, with no access to mail. Her two attorneys have had very limited and sporadic access to Ms. Savchenko in prison. Often times her attorneys are not allowed to visit her in prison for several days on end despite repeated requests and attempts. 

    Putin pays no attention to repeated demands for release by Ms. Savchenko’s attorneys, or by various organizations.  Attorney Feygin has recently published his open letter to Putin online, appealing to reason and demanding that Putin release Nadiya Savchenko. The US Department of State has twice called on Russia to release Ms. Savchenko.  Memorial Human Rights Center has declared her to be a political prisoner in Russia. PACE has demanded that Savchenko be released. Needless to say, Ms. Savchenko is still in prison. It is clear that Putin is keeping Savchenko imprisoned as his bargaining chip in his negotiations with the West.

    In protest against her unlawful and groundless detention while Putin ignores International calls for her release, Ms. Savchenko began a hunger strike in prison on December 13, 2014.

    Ms. Savchenko has continued her hunger strike for over 50 days now and is in poor, rapidly deteriorating health.  She has lost catastrophic and life-threatening weight. According to her attorneys, she is facing a virtually certain death in prison very soon, if she is not released from detention immediately. She shows no desire to stop her hunger strike protest against her unlawful detention. Putin will not release her from detention until he has obtained some concessions from Europe.  

    PACE issued emergency request to release Ms. Savchenko, a PACE Delegate from Ukraine who has diplomatic immunity, in order for her to participate in the PACE session that started this week.  On January 28, 2015, PACE issued a resolution to free Savchenko, within 24 hours, and to return her to Ukraine, or to hand her over to a third country.

    Putin continues to ignore PACE.  The Russian delegation at PACE, however, hinted at a possibility of Savchenko’s release in exchange for reactivation of Russia’s voting rights at PACE, which were stripped from it on January 28, 2015 pursuant to PACE’s resolution of the same date. Russia went as far as demanding the removal of all of the Council of Europe’s sanctions against Russia in exchange for Savchenko’s release. These demands by Russia demonstrate that the real reason for detention of Ms. Savchenko is as a bargaining chip by Putin in his negotiations with Europe.

    Last week, the Russian Federal Security Service (the FSB) initiated yet another trumped-up charge against Savchenko.  The new charge alleges Ms. Savchenko illegally crossed the Ukraine-Russia border. Please note, as mentioned above, that Nadiya Savchenko was kidnapped by Russians in Ukraine, and was transported across the border into Russia by force with a bag over her head.  This is yet another attempt by Putin to ensure that Ms. Savchenko will continue to be detained, perhaps realizing that the original false charges against her that were probably concocted in a haste and cannot stand up to scrutiny in light of the timing of the alleged offense and Savchenko’s strong alibi defense to the original charges.

    Please make no mistake that it is Putin, and he alone, who decides the fate of Nadiya Savchenko, not a Russian court.   Thus, the only way Savchenko may be released from the Russian prison is if Putin decides to release her. Putin’s pocket courts in Russia have no say in the matter.  Presumption of innocence does not travel very far in Russia.  The only way Putin may be forced to relent in his unlawful detention of Savchenko, will be if extreme pressure and condemnation is put on him by the civilized world and the international community as a whole.

    The US Congress must forcefully denounce Putin’s unlawful detention of Nadiya Savchenko by passage of H. RES. 50 and S. RES. 52.  We urge you and every progressive citizen of the world to take a stand against Putin by demanding the immediate release of Nadiya Savchenko.

    The United States of America, its European allies, and the international community must stand up together to Putin’s tyranny.  He must be made aware that there is a heavy cost associated with keeping innocent victims as political prisoners for his own gains. We must not remain silent. We must achieve the immediate release of Nadiya Savchenko.

    This statement was authored by Sergei Orel, Esq. a member of the UABA sorel@sergei-orel.com


    For further information, please contact
    Myroslaw Smorodsky, Esq.
    Communications Director of the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA)
    Tel: 201-507-4500; Email;
    myroslaw@smorodsky.com; Website; www.smorodsky.com

     

  • 15 Dec 2014 8:30 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Open letter to President Barack Obama in support of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act,

    On December 11, 2014, the Ukraine Freedom Support Act was passed by both houses of Congress in a swift and decisive manner.  The expedited passage of this bill in a bipartisan way gives clear evidence that the elected representatives of the people of the United States fully recognize that Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine is a direct threat to peace and security in the world and also to the United States itself.  

    Since the cataclysmic events of World War II, the world's nations have attempted to establish basic principles of international law and behavior to be adhered to by the governments of all nations so as to prevent future conflagrations on a global scale.  The UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act [the charter document of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] and the various organic documents of the European Union, have had as their linchpin the principle of territorial integrity and security and the inviolability of borders of independent states.  This month 20 years ago, Ukraine - at the behest of the United States of America, Great Britain, and Russia -- voluntarily surrendered the world’s 3rdlargest nuclear arsenal.  All it asked for in return was that the signatory parties obligate themselves to respect Ukraine’s territorial, political, and economic integrity. 

    It is self-evident that Vladimir Putin has dug in his heels and has made the economic calculation that he can withstand the financial price of a scolding by the West  -- and all international agreements, promises, and pledges Russia had signed in the past don't matter.  He has maliciously put the entire world order and international rule of law into extreme jeopardy.  If he is not restrained by decisive actions by the West, then our children and grandchildren will be condemned to a probable conflagration on the European continent that will be as great or even greater than the horrors of World War II [recall Putin's recent verbal flexing of his nuclear muscle] .....and from which America will have no escape.

    Mr. President, the Ukraine Freedom Support Act is on your desk awaiting your signature.  The Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA) strongly urges that you sign this legislation as soon as possible.  As the leader of the free world, you must take strong and decisive action and reaffirm America’s world leadership position now!  You should not wait for Europe to act.  Once signed into law, the Ukraine Freedom Support Act will be a clear message to Vladimir Putin and to the entire world that America is committed to the international rule of law and that it stands by its international obligations.  But most importantly, it will show that America’s commitment to world peace is bipartisan; supported by both the executive and legislative branches of our government, and represents the moral ideals of the people of our great country.

    For further information, please contact
    Myroslaw Smorodsky, Esq.
    Communications Director of the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA)
    Tel: 201-507-4500; Email; myroslaw@smorodsky.com; Website; www.smorodsky.com

     

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