On 24 February 2022, Russia began a military operation by invading Ukraine.
Standing firmly in the way of the invaders was Ukraine’s President Zelensky.
Just who is Volodymyr Zelensky? Comedian, Dancing with the Stars winner, Voice of Paddington Bear. Could this man save his country?
A new book by Australian authors Andrew L. Urban and Chris Mcleod, with foreword by Rebeka Koffler (author of Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America) looks at Zelensky the man, his motivation and methods, and how the world reacted when he reached out to it.
A SPECIAL MILITARY
On the day the Russian hierarchy announced its invading forces had completed its first-phase objectives in the Donbas region of Ukraine, the Ukraine Government announced that the Russian bombing of a theatre in Mariupol where civilians had been sheltering had taken 300 lives – mostly women and children.
Such an attack could well qualify for a war crimes charge.
It was widely reported that Russia planned a hit-and-run mission (special military operation) against Ukraine, offering a variety of pretexts for doing so.
But Russia apparently did not expect the resistance offered up by Ukraine’s people and its seemingly fearless leader Volodymyr Zelensky.
There was no quick victory or surrender. Perhaps President Putin thought the comedian/actor who occupied the presidency in Ukraine would be a pushover in a couple of days.
If so, he clearly was wrong.
What was Putin hoping to achieve with his war on Ukraine? Occupy the country and install a puppet government and president; divide the country into whatever parts it wanted, including the Odesa region, having already annexed Crimea in 2014; establish a foothold to recreate the old USSR; or was it out of concern that the US-backed NATO alliance was getting too close and too big for comfort?
Whatever Russia’s objectives were, the killing of civilians did nothing to advance President Putin’s cause and engender much sympathy for it, whatever it was.
The invasion clearly didn’t go to plan, unless its aim was the complete devastation of communities the Russians were claiming to liberate. Days turned into weeks and then months as Ukraine bravely resisted.
President Zelensky refused offers to help him flee his country. “I need ammunition, not a ride,” was his response.
While Western countries baulked at sending in troops for fear of igniting World War III, they responded quickly with sanctions against Russia and its ally, Belarus, and set up supply chains of weaponry.
Russia had few friends in the world (India remained one of the few countries outside communist rule to stay loyal to their trading partner) as President Zelensky undertook a campaign of enlisting support via video hook-ups with the houses of parliament of the major democracies – The UK, the USA, Canada and Australia among them.
The lawmakers universally acknowledged his address with a standing ovation and pledges of continued support.
Many relief agencies were conducting fund-raising efforts to assist the massive refugees crisis that was unfolding, and stand by Ukraine.
An organisation seeking to get refugees to s safe haven via Poland:
ZELENSKY’S ADDRESS TO
THE AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT
This was President Zelensky’s address to the Australian parliament on 31 March 2022
Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, ladies and gentlemen, members of the government, senators and members of the parliament, the people of Australia.
Thank you for this honour to have this address. Today, in May 2016 thousands of Australians came to the city of Perth to see for the first time the Ukrainian plane Mriya – or Dream as we call it. Mriya in English means dream.
Having travelled almost 15,000 kilometres it had brought an urgent cargo – a power generator of 130 tonne – which was very important to one of your companies. If they had to wait for the shipment through the sea it would have taken months and the Ukrainian plane has done it in a couple of days.
We have always been proud of our Dream, not because it was the largest, but because it was helping people in all countries of the world bringing food, water, equipment for humanitarian and peacekeeping missions.
In 2019 after the beginning of the Covid pandemics, Dream was bringing the most urgent medical cargo, things that were saving people’s lives, adults and children, all over the world in different countries.
Dream was bringing life – now this is not possible. This is not possible because there is a country which holds to completely different values. Different from our values, from your values, from the values of the civilised world and this country started a full fledged war against us.
They are shelling our cities and villages, they are killing our civilians and children. They are creating sieges of our cities and holding hostages of hundreds of thousands of people in these cities without water and food. They are abducting thousands of children that they transport to their territories.
On the 27 February as a result of fighting in the city of Hostomel our plane, our Dream, was destroyed. We can say that Russia destroyed our Dream? No they just burnt down a plane – hardware, a shell, but not the essence, not the freedom, not the dignity, nor our independence.
We know that our dream is undefeatable and undestructed especially if we can count on the support of the free world. On your support, on your assistance and like in the history that I just told, we need it not just in a couple of months, but we need it urgently now.
Ladies and gentlemen. The people of Australia. The distance between our countries is big. There’s thousands of kilometres we are separated by oceans, seas and territories of dozens of other countries and time zones. But there is no such thing as distance for the brutality and chaos that Russia brought to the east of Ukraine into the region of our Black Sea and Azov Sea, to our Ukrainian land.
Whatever is happening in our region because of the Russian war is destroying the lives of people. It has become a real threat to your country and to your people as well, because it is the nature of the evil – it can instantly cross any distance, any barriers, destroy lives.
For dozens of years there hasn’t been this threat of nuclear attack as we have now because Russian representatives, officials, official propagandists they are openly discussing the possibility of using nuclear weapons against those who don’t want to subdue to Russian commands.
And for dozens of years it has never been that a country would block the whole sea for other vessels of any country but this is exactly what was done by Russia. Part of the Black and Azov sea is a dead seas these days. Any vessel that will try to come in can simply be destroyed by the Russian navy.
More than hundreds of trade vessels under different flags have been blocked by Russia in our ports.
For dozens of years we haven’t seen this in the world, for a country to start a war against their neighbouring country, openly declaring their enslavement or destruction. Not to leave even the name of that nation, not to have even any opportunity for this nation to live freely.
The worst pages of the 20th Century have been brought back by Russia already the biggest threats of that century came back. The evil that humanity thought they had forgotten about a long time ago.
But the most terrible thing, if we don’t stop Russia now, if we don’t hold Russia accountable, then some other countries of the world who are looking forward to a similar war against their neighbours will decide that such things are possible for them as well.
The fate of the global security is decided now. No one can manage winds or precipitations, it means no one can save any part of the world from radioactive contamination which will come if nuclear weapons are used.
No country in the world should have even the theoretical possibility of blocking trade fleets and block the seas for other countries. There shouldn’t be even theoretical possibility to do so.
No leader of the world can count on being unpunishable if he is thinking about back to war.
Ladies and gentlemen, the nation of Australia. After more than a month of the full-fledged war against Russia we can surely say that there is only one way of bringing the global security as bringing Russia to peace and silence and responsibility and accountability for everything that Russia has done against the global security.
The country which is using the nuclear blackmailing should receive the sanctions which would show that such blackmailing is destructive for the blackmailer itself. There has to be an effect toolkit to hold responsible any country which is blocking the trade navigation, so for no one to have a temptation to close any sea and make a dead sea out of them.
So far we don’t have such instruments, so the leadership of Australia can be paramount for the global security which is now strengthened by our anti-war coalition which is working in bringing peace back to Ukraine.
We need to also enhance the capabilities of the international institutions which were created to hold military war criminals responsible and anyone who would commit such crimes to have them punished by the solidarity of the whole world and not one country.
Had this been done on time, in a timely manner, life on this world would have been more secure and I’m sure that any of you, any of us, remembers the 17 May tragedy, the Malaysian Boeing that was shot down by Russian occupants over the Donbas Sea.
290 people died at that time and my condolences to all those who have lost relatives and their kins.
But did we manage to hold accountable those who caused this tragedy? No, they are hiding in the territory of Russia. Obviously they’ve got security guarantees from Russia.
Has Russia paid the compensation to the dead and their families? No, and they are still denying their fault in this tragedy.
Eight years later the justice was not achieved and we don’t know how much longer it will take for at least one tragedy to have a proper response from an international community, from all of us and how many new tragedies Russia has created or will create.
So the unpunished evil comes back and I would say unpunished evil comes back with inspiration, with the feeling of almightiness. If the world had punished Russia in 2014 for what it did, there wouldn’t be any of this terror of invasion in Ukraine in 2022.
We have to correct such horrible mistakes and correct them now. The bipartisan support of Australia of Ukraine for the support that has been provided we are extremely grateful. 70,000 tonnes of coal for our energy, this is only the beginning, together we can and should do more.
We need new sanctions against Russia – powerful sanctions – until they stop blackmailing other countries with their nuclear missiles and they have to pay the highest price for blocking the sea.
No Russian vessel should be allowed in other international ports. Buying their oil means paying for the destruction of the global security. We have to stop any business activity of Russia. No single dollar should be spent for the destruction of the people.
We have to stop any intention of Russia to bypass the sanctions. So what kind of sanctions are those if you can bypass by using simple, un-cunning schemes?
But most of all we have to keep those who are fighting against this evil armed, for the evil to be looking for peace, and this has to be decided on the battlefield.
For example you have very good armoured personnel vehicle, Bushmaster, that could help Ukraine substantially and other pieces of equipment that could strengthen our position in terms of armament.
If you have an opportunity to share this with us we would be very grateful. In Ukraine they will do much more for our common freedom and our common security than staying parked on your land.
Ukrainian people have demonstrated to the whole world how much we appreciate the freedom and how committed are we to the protection thereof. our heroes are fighting against the army which is considered one of the strongest in the world, but all our people without exception already are thinking about the future, about how we are going to live after the war. About restoring our country, our Black Sea region, and we invite prominent countries of the world, leading companies and the best experts to join the project of restoration of Ukraine. To take the city or the sector under your auspices that would require restoration.
Your country has provided a special status, a like-minded country. And we are like-minded not only in our thoughts but also in our longing for peace.
So I would like to invite and welcome your country to have a look at our southern regions, at the Azov and the Black Sea shore the development of such ports and cities like the city of Kherson which is now fighting for its freedom.
The rebuilding of the naval sector in Ukraine could also be a great contribution in the restoration after the war with the protection of the free naval training would be a big contribution because those who can protect freedom in the sea can protect it in the world.
I’m sure and I believe that you can do it and I am sure that our Ukrainian community will join this common work of ours and that it will support us as strong as they have done it in the past.
Dear friends, the geographical distance between us is huge, thousands of kilometres. but what does this distance mean for tho9se who have common understanding, who see the world with the same vision, for those who are similarly hurting what is happening when the enemy comes, when children are killed and cities are destroyed. When refugees are shot at on the highways. When Ukraine is turned into the burned out territory then any distances disappear. Geography doesn’t matter then.
What matters is humanity and the dream. The dream of bringing back the peaceful life. The dream that we will implement indeed, together.
Thank you Australia.
Standing with Ukraine
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison praised the “incredible courage” of Ukrainians, adding “We stand with you Mr President”.
“And we do not stand with the war criminal of Moscow.
“The people of Australia stand with Ukraine in your fight for survival … yes you have our prayers but you also have our weapons,” Mr Morrison said.
The Australian Government agreed to provide a further $25 million in military support to Ukraine, taking its total military assistance to $116 million.