Chamber: Senate on 25/10/2022
Item: ADJOURNMENT – Ukraine
Senator RENNICK (Queensland) (12:23): If the carnage and human tragedy of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have taught us anything, it’s that everyday people are made to suffer at the hands of elites who lack the empathy to understand the true horror of war. Rather than learn from the failure of the Middle East occupations, it seems we are doomed to repeat them.
The origins of the war in Ukraine didn’t start this year but in late 2013, with the decision by the then Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, to suspend an association agreement with the EU. As stated by Yanukovych, parts of the EU deal were inadequate, and Ukraine did not have the money to upgrade to European standards. To quote an MP from the Party of Regions, the governing party:
If we had signed, we would have opened our borders and killed our own manufacturers.
The decision to delay this decision led to riots and the eventual overthrow of the democratically elected president in the early months of 2014. The Party of Regions represented Ukrainians from eastern Ukraine, where significant manufacturing took place. It was quite within the governing party’s right to act in the best interests of their constituents. This, however, wasn’t enough for the antigovernment protesters, who spent the next four months protesting outside the Ukrainian parliament. The protests turned violent, and many members of the governing party fled the capital and even the country.
Liberal democracies should change via the ballot box and not by a small minority of protesters. What was particularly concerning about the overthrow was that it was supported by the then US administration under Barack Obama. Indeed, a leaked phone call between Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State, and the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, revealed US officials discussing who should move into the new administration. John Kerry also held meetings with the soon-to-be-installed president in the month prior to the overthrow. After the overthrow Nuland was filmed at a dinner sponsored by Chevron, boasting about spending $5 billion to promote democracy, misinformation if ever I heard it. Rather than promote democracy, she was aiding and overthrowing it.
How can the West pretend to support democracy when it engages in activities like this? How can the West pretend to uphold good government when, just months after installing a new regime, Hunter Biden, the son of the then vice-president, now president, was employed by a Ukrainian oil company, even though he couldn’t speak Ukrainian and had never worked in the oil industry. The first action of the incoming regime was to overthrow the law that allowed the use of Russian, Hungarian, Romanian and Moldovan languages in courts, schools and other government institutions in cities and provinces where minorities exceeded 10 per cent—so much for free speech and diversity. However, these actions were just the start of what was to become a brutal civil war between pro-Russian forces in the east and pro-nationalists in western Ukraine. It is estimated that over 14,000 people died in the eight-year war. The BBC has reported that Russian-speaking Ukrainians were even beheaded. Most casualties have been incurred by the Russian-speaking Ukrainians. Is it any wonder that many of the Russian-speaking minority in eastern Ukraine want autonomy, when their own party was overthrown with the help of the US government and then persecuted by the installed regime?
An often overlooked aspect of the question as to whether or not Ukraine should join the EU is the fact that no-one has asked Europeans whether or not they want Ukraine to be a part of Europe. The one exception to this was a Dutch referendum on an association agreement with Ukraine, held in late 2016, where they voted again Ukraine joining the EU, 62 per cent to 38 per cent. Before the elites try to move any more pieces on the chessboard of Europe, the technocrats and politicians should ask the Europeans what they want via a referendum, rather than orchestrating a violent coup. To do otherwise is to override democracy. This conflict is not aimed at upholding freedom or democracy; it’s about protecting the interests of the elites. Multinationals will get access to Ukrainian markets, while the EU taxpayer picks up the tab for developing Ukraine. At the same time, Western oil companies cut Russian energy supplies out of the European market.
These measures will push Russia and its resources into China’s orbit. How is providing cheap energy for China, while increasing the price of energy to Europeans, in the interests of the West? The Chinese mustn’t be able to believe their luck at the stupidity of the Biden-NATO administration in undermining European security. What about the Monroe Doctrine? No-one would think it’s okay for the Russian government to interfere in Canadian politics or for the Chinese to interfere in Mexico. The US quite rightly vigorously opposed Russia putting missiles in Cuba back in the sixties.
Furthermore, we need to look at the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline. Like the origins of coronavirus or vaccine injuries, it has next to no media coverage. One would think that an act of international sabotage on private property in international waters would warrant further attention. Surely radar activity could reveal who was in the area at the time of the attack? Why doesn’t the media pursue this issue? The warmongers will immediately run from the chamber screaming that I am pro Putin. This is not true. This is about being pro peace, pro democracy and anti corruption. The Russian invasion was unjustified, just as the initial coup by the US was unjustified. The mainstream media propaganda blanket has been laid on so thick regarding the Ukraine war that only continual escalation is acceptable.
Public calls for de-escalation and detente are met with accusations of Kremlin loyalty. This is unsustainable.
America’s greatest strengths are its people and its political process. Two of its biggest political commentators, Joe Rogan and Tucker Carlson, are both anti war in Ukraine. What does that tell you about the will of the American people? They do not want to get entrapped in a war that has nothing to do with them. The American system of government was formed by patriots, people who opposed foreign oppression and the unelected ruling class and instead sought to protect the liberties of the individual. There is no greater manifestation of the Enlightenment period than the American Revolution. Unfortunately, despite the warnings of Eisenhower and the efforts of Kennedy, the elites have infiltrated the centre of power in the US, Washington, DC, and turned it into a swamp that desperately needs to be drained. The founding fathers must be turning in their graves.
The only way out of this bloodshed is for the eastern provinces of Ukraine to be given the choice of self-determination. In 2010, the International Court of Justice concluded that the declaration of independence of Kosovo, adopted on 17 February 2008, did not violate international law. This decision was backed by western countries. The provinces in eastern Ukraine should be given the same rights, subject to a vote. Australia backed East Timor’s right to self-determination in 1999. We should not forget Northern Ireland’s wish to remain part of the United Kingdom. Provided that voting is conducted fairly, then surely a democratic outcome in Ukraine is better than continuing the bloodshed, is it not? The only people who are suffering here are the Ukrainians. The escalation needs to end. It is time to use diplomacy, not weapons. In the words of Ronald Reagan when he started a detente with the Soviet Union in 1984: ‘We seek genuine cooperation. We seek progress for peace. Cooperation begins with communication.’