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  • 28 Dec 2015 1:54 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    VOLYA Institute for Contemporary Law and Society


    This report was prepared under the auspices of Razom, Inc., in collaboration with NYU School of Law LLM program (including Matheus de Moura Sena, VOLYA Institute’s Co-Founder and Board Member). In June 2015, the legal group of Razom, led by attorney Ivanna Bilych (Co-Founder and President of VOLYA Institute), presented the first edition of the report in Ukraine (June 15-19 in Lviv and Kyiv) and Europe (June 21-25 in Strasbourg, Brussels and Antwerp), eliciting feedback and distributing the report to Crimeans, Ukrainian civil society organizations, representatives of the Ukrainian government, as well as members of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. In November 2015, Ivanna Bilych and Bohdan Pechenyak, both former Razom Board members, were joined by three other Co-Founders in launching VOLYA Institute for Contemporary Law and Society and releasing the second edition of the report in cooperation with Razom.

     Human Rights in Occupied Territory: Case of Crimea analyzes economic, social and cultural rights of Crimeans, and examines their systemic violations within the current context of occupation.  Based on the analysis, the document provides a comprehensive list of recommendations for addressing the situation. The recommendations are addressed to the governments of Ukraine and the Russian Federation, as well as the international community and civil society actors.

    A crucial part of report is a Human Rights Protection Guide (“the Manual”). The people in Crimea are economically deprived and legally undeserved, often knowing little about their rights and being unable to demand their application. The Manual provide Crimeans of all ethnic and religious backgrounds with access to justice by explaining their fundamental rights. It lists fundamental rights that apply to Crimea, according to international human rights treaties, as well as pursuant to the articles of the Constitutions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The Manual also includes a directory of Ukrainian and international human rights protection organizations and advocacy groups, so that Crimeans know where to report violations and seek advice or explanation.

    Both editions of the report, including exhaustive citations and the Manual, are available for download below.

    Download Report (print version)
    Download Manual (print version)
    Download Report 2nd Edition (print version)
    Download Manual 2nd Edition (print version)

    In addition, Manual has been translated into various languages, and is available for download below:

    Download Manual (in Ukrainian)
    Download Manual (in Russian)
    Download Manual (in Crimean Tatar)


  • 18 Dec 2015 7:10 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

    Friday Night at the Ukrainian Museum
    UABA Reception
    (New York City)
    October 23, 2015

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


    Friday Night at the Ukrainian Museum
    UABA Reception
    (New York City)
    October 23, 2015

    On October 23, 2015, the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA) hosted a reception at the Ukrainian Museum (222 East 6th Street, New York, NY 10003) as part of the UABA 38th Annual Convention (October 23-25, 2015 in New York City).

     The evening commenced with the opening remarks by Maria Shust, director of the Ukrainian Museum. The Ukrainian Museum, founded in 1976 by the Ukrainian National Women's League of America, is one of the largest museums in the U.S. committed to acquiring, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting articles of artistic or historic significance to the rich cultural heritage of the people of Ukraine.  The Ukrainian Museum's collection falls into three primary groupings: (i) "folk art", which includes festive and ritual attire and other items of clothing, ceramics, metalwork and carved wood items, as well as Ukrainian Easter eggs (pysanky), (ii) "fine arts", including paintings, drawings, sculptures and graphic works by noted Ukrainian artists, and (ii) the archives, including photographs, personal correspondence, posters, flyers and playbills, stamps and coins, documenting the life, history, and cultural legacy of the Ukrainian people. 


    Ms. Shust’s remarks were followed by a presentation on the rule of law by J. Truman Bidwell, Jr., a partner at Sullivan & Worcester LLP.  Mr. Bidwell’s practice is focused in the areas of international asset financing, banking, structured finance and insolvency, and he is also the co-chair of the firm’s Opinions Committee. Mr. Bidwell stressed that establishing respect for the rule of law, the principle that no one is above the law, is intended to be a safeguard against arbitrary governance and is fundamental to achieving the sustained economic progress and development in any country.  Ukraine has vast natural resources and highly-educated and skilled human capital, but it needs to establish a trustworthy transparent legal system which is vital to attract more foreign investment. 

    The evening concluded with the networking reception at the Ukrainian Museum.


     Special thanks to the Law Offices of Peter Piddoubny& Oksana Pelekh (25-84 Steinway Street, Astoria, NY 11103) for sponsoring the reception.

    This report was authored by Iryna Ivashchuk
    Berger Singerman LLP
    350 East Las Olas Boulevard, Suite 1000
    Fort Lauderdale,  Florida 33301


  • 11 Sep 2015 1:53 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

     Minsk II -- Simply Another Form of Russian Aggression

    Bohdan Vitvitsky: Resident Legal Advisor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine in 2007-09

    as printed in the Huffington Post

    The recent violence in Kyiv in connection with protests over Ukrainian parliamentary consideration of some sort of special status for the separatist part of the Donbas is unforgivable. But Minsk II, the hastily cobbled together peace treaty engineered by Germany and France under Russian pressure, is no less forgivable for having placed Ukraine in a near impossible situation.

    Countries may have numerous interests, whether security, political or economic. But there is only one set of rights, the related rights to exist, not be attacked and, with respect to these rights, the right to be treated equally with all other nations regardless of size, power or influence. Those are the rights presupposed by all of the formal treaties into which European countries have entered in the post-war era, each of which treaties was signed by Germany, France and Russia's predecessor, the Soviet Union. Thus the Preamble to the foundational United Nations Charter of 1945, also signed by Ukraine, explicitly provides a reaffirmation of the "equal rights" of "nations large and small." The signatories of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 pledged to "respect each other's sovereign equality. . . as well as all the rights inherent in and encompassed by its sovereignty, including in particular the right of every State to juridical equality, to territorial integrity. . ." And the Charter of Paris for a New Europe of 1990 provides for "equal security for all our countries." This principle of equality of nations is the moral underpinning of the entire post-war order, an order built on the ruins of World War II with its fantasies of ubermenschen and untermenschen.

    It is also a matter of common sense, as also reflected in legal principles, that the perpetrator of a violent assault does not, on the basis of said assault, get to extract concessions from the victim of that assault. And yet such concessions are exactly what Germany and France forced Ukraine, the victim, to accept.

    The so-called separatists in Donbas have never had any legitimate basis for their separatism -- legitimate in the sense of real. When it was still possible to take public opinion polls, many of the polls taken showed that the majority of the population in Luhansk and Donetsk provinces wished to continue to remain part of Ukraine. There was no action by the new Ukrainian central government that in any way caused the inhabitants of those two provinces to do or not do anything differently. There is no controversy that the separatism was manufactured and led by Russia. That some locals have participated in the insurrection is of no moment. Furthermore, although as a general proposition decentralization is desirable and has been planned by Ukraine for a year, the concocted, albeit ambiguous, demands for special decentralization for parts of Luhansk and Donetsk in Minsk II are perverse in light of two facts. First, it was the inhabitants of Luhansk and Donetsk that voted for the previous Ukrainian regime of Viktor Yanukovych in greatest numbers, the same regime that centralized Ukraine as never before. Second, it is the separatists' sponsor, Putinist Russia, that completely reversed the decentralization efforts undertaken after 1991 and has now completely centralized Russia. 

    So why at Minsk did Germany and France surrender to Russia's demands against Ukraine, violate the central moral and legal principle of all of the post-war treaties that less powerful countries have the same rights as the more powerful countries, and, therefore, that the interests of the more powerful certainly do not trump the rights of the less powerful, and in effect reward the perpetrator of an assault? The off the cuff nature of the arranged talks, the somewhat surprising inclusion of France and the mystifying exclusion of Poland and/or Sweden, the two countries that have led the European Union's Eastern Europe policy, suggest either a complete absence of preparation, despite the earlier Russian occupation of Crimea, or amnesia about what it is that has produced generations of unparalleled peace and prosperity in Europe.

    Where should Europe go from here? If additional rounds of negotiations take place, such negotiations should, for multiple reasons, include Poland. In addition to its leading role in implementing EU's policy in Ukraine, it is Ukraine's neighbor and would most directly be affected by renewed fighting in Ukraine because such fighting would likely cause new migrations, and, of course, Poland would directly be affected by Russian aggression against NATO's eastern flank. In terms of speaking about, conceptualizing and developing strategies for dealing with what has been happening in Ukraine, Europe should liberate itself from the miasma of pretending that what has been going on is anything other than Russian aggression. European countries should at long last begin spending the money they have failed to spend on maintaining their armed forces. And, Germany should lift its apparent opposition to Ukraine receiving lethal defensive weapons from the West.







  • 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)

    Click here to view in PDF format

    CLICK HERE TO VIEW IN:  Ukrainian     Russian     German       Polish
    Українською  по-русски   auf Deutsch    po polsku

         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)


    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.

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

    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.


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