Jaroslav Duma OAM PHF, Honorary Consul of Ukraine, shared an update on the situation in Ukraine as at 6 July 2023.
Thank you for your very kind invitation to provide an update of the situation in Ukraine following Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable full scale invasion of a democratic and sovereign country some 498 days ago , and also to give you some insight to the Displaced People from Ukraine that have landed on Australia’s shores in the last 16 months. The 498 days does not include, of course, the incursion by Russia into Ukraine and the subsequent annexation of Crimea in 2014 – now just over 9 years has passed. This is in fact, when the war began – and this is when Ukrainians were already being killed and displaced.
It probably pays to note that Ukraine has never invaded another country – it has over the centuries – and moreover in the last century only DEFENDED itself against many invaders – the most brutal being both Communist Russia and Nazi Germany – both of these, whilst being opposing ideologies – one cannot but notice that their modus operandi then and now are no different…
Today, 6 July 2023, marks just over 16 months when we bore witness to a full-scale terrorist invasion by a foreign power, on a sovereign country – something not seen in the world since Poland was invaded by Hitler’s Nazi Germany in 1939 causing the outbreak of World War 2…
For almost 500 days now, the world continues to witness daily the horrific atrocities – the continued abuse of basic Human Rights – perpetrated by Putin’s regime in bombing residential buildings, kindergartens, schools, maternity and children’s hospitals, nuclear plants…
And whilst we use the word “terrorism” to aptly call out what Russia is doing in Ukraine – I’d like to perhaps use a phrase which is much more analogous to the reality of this war. Only last October we remembered the 202 innocent holiday makers (including 88 Australians) murdered in Bali in 2002, therefore it is perhaps most apt to use the words of the then PM John Howard, who said – “The word terrorism anesthetises the reality of what happened… this is, barbaric brutal mass murder without justification…”.
Well, these barbarians kill women, they kill children, they kill the elderly and, they kill little babies…
We have become witnesses to the horrific murder – the intentional killing of innocent men, women and children in many cities like Bucha just to name one – where those just walking the street – were singled out, bound and then callously shot “just because they were Ukrainian…”.
And let us not forget the total destruction of Mariupol – a city about the size of Canberra, which until the war was home to some 430,000 inhabitants… Today, Mariupol is effectively no more… It has been razed to the ground…
We saw the intentional bombing of a secluded area of the POW camp at Olenivka – where some 53 prisoners were executed by bombing an outlying building after they had been horrifically tortured and mutilated – and yes, even in some cases the mutilation of their private parts whilst these men were still alive, followed by just shooting them in the head, and at least in one case one of the prisoners was beheaded… – the bombing of the building was to cover the “tracks of this barbarism”…
We are told that at the very least hundreds more, if not thousands have been killed – murdered by this killing machine in their hastened retreat from cities in Ukraine… We only need to hear the names of cities like Izyum, Lyman, Kherson, Kharkiv, Bakhmut, Uman, and only last week we witnessed the bombing of Kramatorsk (including a McDonalds Restaurant with many children inside, enjoying what all of our very own grandchildren love, and not having a care in the world) – well these all have suffered no differently than Bucha, Irpin or Mariupol…
For another statistical foray into the unbelievable cruelty and harm that this war has brought about on so many – it pays to look at Bakhmut, a city in the Donetsk region (and in fact where my close friend Oleh Yurchenko was killed in January this year and, who left behind a young wife and 5 children between the ages of 5 to 18). The Russians claimed this city as “strategic”… – a city which once housed about 75,000 inhabitants. It had 17 schools (with about 12,00 school children), 29 Early Learnin centres or kindergartens (for about 3,500 children), 3 Tertiary colleges and 2 Technical colleges, several Music schools, 5 Cultural buildings, and 12 libraries… One can now say – there was once a city of Bakhmut… today it is no more!
And again, the bombing of the city of Zaporizhzhia – which houses Europe’s biggest nuclear plant has had apartments bombed – killing several people, and wounding some 100 or so innocent men, women and children. And in the last week or so, our very reliable international sources advise that Russia has called back its soldiers from the Zaporizhzhian Nuclear Plant (the largest of its kind in Europe)… One has to wonder why, but most reports give rise to the insinuation that the plant may have been ”booby trapped” – set up for a nuclear disaster accident sometime in the near future – and that this is not any different that that of the callous destruction of the Khakhovka Dam in Kherson, which has caused a massive ecological disaster in eastern Ukraine.
On a more tragic and sombre note, we hear of the 13 young Ukrainian girls in a suburb of Kyiv – they were raped by some 70 Russian soldiers – as they were laid out in a circle… And only 3 of these girls were left alive…
We hear of Mother’s being raped in front of their small children in all parts of Ukraine wherever the Russian army has been.
We bear witness to the account by an emergency trauma doctor at a local hospital in Kyiv, where he tends to a 10-year-old girl, brutally raped by countless Russian soldiers, who has had her private parts so badly torn and damaged, and this is something she now also must bear notwithstanding the horrific nightmare’s that she will now recount for the rest of her life…
We hear the intercepted telephone message of the wife of a Russian soldier who condones him raping Ukrainian women, because – “we don’t want any more Ukrainian children in the world…”
This is the horrific reality of a barbaric brutal terrorist nation!
There is no regard for human life!
There is no humanity!
It is time we think, to call out Russia as the true epitome of the barbaric State that it is – it is the sponsor of terrorism internationally – but more so, it is implementing its terror tactics on a neighbouring sovereign State – on Ukraine…
Putin does not want peace! Whilst he has been effectively defeated by “David” in this ‘David and Goliath’ war – he will not walk away unless the “world” really shows that they mean business. Putin’s aim is to systemically and systematically raze Ukraine to the ground. He aims to murder its people – to ethnically cleanse the world of all Ukrainians…
One has to ask why? As Putin’s cronies would have it – Ukraine (with its Jewish President and until recently a Jewish PM), is home to Nazi hideouts… Judge for yourself – which country has maintained the fascist mentality – which country has little or no regard for human life… which country is committing genocide?
Another more obvious reason and perhaps more so the real reason is that Putin needs to prove a point – more specifically to prove to NATO and to the UN that he will continue to bomb and destroy Ukraine, kill its (innocent) people, and you – “NATO and the UN will do nothing to stop me… you will succumb and give up Ukraine as you did to Stalin, and I will rebuild the “empire”!
One can only hope that at the upcoming NATO summit in Lithuania next week, the reality of what the future may hold for the rest of Europe (should Ukraine be overrun again) comes to the fore and some of the leaders of the Free World will take note of the voices of the leaders of those countries which having been previously occupied by the Soviet regime and who understand Moscow’s brutality and total disregard for human rights and democracy – thereby, not just providing the weaponry for Ukraine alone to tackle the might of Russia – but to do more, and to really provide the support to stop the “bear in its tracks”…
Stalin also tried to do the same – he too was on a mission to destroy Ukraine and to rid the world of Ukrainians through starvation by hunger in the Holodomor in 1932!
As did Hitler when he tried to eliminate the Jews in the Holocaust during WW2!
Pol Pot tried it in Cambodia in the Killing Fields in the latter half of the 1970s!
Now Putin the Barbarian – is repeating history, by trying to rid the world of Ukraine and Ukrainians – because, in his eyes, as in the mind of Stalin, such a nation and, such a people do not exist and have no right to exist!
This is further amplified by the very fact of the reaction of ordinary Russians – mother’s whose sons are fighting in the war… Another intercepted phone call from a Russian soldier details the atrocity – not just of those in power, but even down to the ordinary citizen.
This, from a young Russian soldier telling his mother about the torture he witnessed when his comrades cut the fingers off Ukrainian fighters:
“Mum, I think I’m going crazy, we’re killing people.” He added, “I wanted to be a good person.”
“That’s OK, that’s OK,” his mother replied. “Those Ukrainians are not human.”
And of course, in the last few months, the world has witnessed the issuance of warrants by the International Criminal Court, again Vladimir Putin and his equally war criminal Commissioner for Children’s Rights – Maria Lvova-Belova, for the mass deportation of almost 20,000 children from Ukraine into Russia – now one can also say that Ukraine too, has it’s very own version of the “stolen generation” of children…
Australia is playing a central part in documenting the war crimes through a joint project – called “Project Sunflower”, which is headed by some high-profile legal people and experienced investigators… Let’s all hope that true justice will be served, and together with those responsible for the murder of 38 Australians on MH17, they too will be brought to the International War Crimes Tribunal or the International Criminal Court to face the penalty for their atrocities upon innocent people.
I’d like to now talk about the effect that support in Australia for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people including those Displaced People who have landed on our shores, has had on the Ukrainian community and effectively on all Ukrainians.
To say that we Ukrainians are absolutely overwhelmed by the display of support from around the world this last 16 months would be one of the greatest understatements most likely ever uttered.
We are and will always be eternally grateful for the support shown by Australia – and in Australia by the Australian people and the numerous communities that make up this beautiful multicultural society which allows all of us to live in harmony as one…
Especially overwhelming has been the support by government bodies at all levels – local, State and Federal, as well as communities around Australia – all of whom are standing shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainian people to try and prevent the atrocities that we are witnessing daily, perpetrated by the world’s most barbaric dictator.
As you may be aware, and according to Caritas Australia over 12 million Displaced Persons have fled Ukraine to find a new home. And that doesn’t include the many more millions who have fled their homes mostly from eastern Ukraine to what is considered a little safer place in western Ukraine, albeit it doesn’t stop from the occasional bombings in those regions as we have seen over the last few months.
Locally here in Australia, we have seen the Federal Government of both persuasions punch way above its weight providing support for the defence of Ukraine by way of lethal and non-lethal aid.
Community after community, many schools, local councils, Rotary clubs, as well as just ordinary individual people provide massive support both for the war effort in Ukraine, for those still needing humanitarian aid in Ukraine and of course for those that have landed in Australia as Displaced People with little or nothing – only the clothes on their back and maybe a small suitcase or bag of personal belonging for a family of sometimes 3 – 4 – or 5 people.
To date with the magnificent efforts of Ukrainian Community volunteers, over the last 12 months, close to $9Million has been raised directly through the Ukraine Crisis Appeal – a joint fund being undertaken between the umbrella body of Ukrainians in Australia (AFUO – Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations), Rotary Australia (through its RAWCS programme), and through Caritas Ukraine.
The director of this fund Diahanna Senko has tirelessly led the campaign to ensure that much needed funds are raised and directed through the right channels to people most needing help. RAWCS was selected for a number of reasons – primarily for its tax-deductibility status and, of course that its “administration fee” is substantially less than any other of the charities that exist in Australia, with only, 2.75% of the amount funded through RAWCS being retained by RAWCS for its charity work – (as you may be aware some ‘charities’ can take upwards of 10-60%).
I am advised that some $8Million of the funds raised have been through the RAWCS programme – meaning RAWCS has also received a benefit of over $220,000 directly from community funds. My Rotary Club (Holroyd) together with Sydney Cove Rotary are co-sponsors of this Humanitarian Aid fund. Information from RAWCS indicates that over 260 donations from about 160 clubs in 18 (of 21) districts in all States and Territories have donated close to $1Million to this fund. The fund now also includes the ability to support Displaced People arriving from the war zone through its Resettlement Fund.
Further, the community with Rotary through its Medishare programme sourced Medical Aid locally throughout Australia to the value of in excess of $5Million, which has been worked on by a myriad of volunteers (Rotarians and community members) to sort and pack prior to shipment, and further medical aid & equipment has also been sourced through this programme – I am told that over 100 pallets have already been sent and that this was valued at some $15Million, bringing the total value at the moment in excess of $20Million. Medishare (which until recently was part of the RARE/DIK/HEERA programme) is now a stand-alone programme being headed by PDG Keith Roffey, and he together with the community’s Dr Liz Paslawski have done an absolutely marvellous job in sourcing and providing Medical Aid and Equipment to Ukraine.
From our perspective, people like Liz, Diahanna, Keith and the many Rotarians and the co-ordinated community teams of some 100+ volunteers just nationally alone, devoting their time so that others can live a life of freedom, democracy and peace is really the mainstay of what we Rotarians call “Service Above Self”.
And from a Rotary International perspective, a further $20+Million USD has been raised to also provide the people of Ukraine with essential items such as food, shelter, medicine and clothing… We truly are just one big family!
We cannot ignore the multitude of church and community groups, similar to yours, who have also been instrumental in providing much need aid and material support to Ukraine and to Ukrainians – be they still in their homeland or to those who have arrived in another country (including Australia) as displaced people… From my perspective this support in the last 16 or so months has for the Ukrainian community been unprecedented – Ukrainian world wide are just as overwhelmed as I am for the kindness, generosity and support provided by so many…
As mentioned earlier we must not forget the most generous help by the Australian Federal government, providing support through its Visa programs, through humanitarian aid, and of course its aid by way of both lethal and non-lethal defence mechanisms. Everyone in Kyiv these days – in fact throughout Ukraine – now talk about Bushmaster Vehicles whenever Australia is mentioned… and of course now that PM Albanese has been in Ukraine and witnessed the horrors – he is acutely aware that more defence aid is needed to quell these horrific atrocities. And in recent months we have seen both the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Penny Wong) and the Minister of Defence (Richard Marles) come to an agreement with their French counterparts to manufacture and provide artillery shells for the Ukrainian forces and visit the training facilities in southern England where Australian troops are training Ukrainian soldiers on various warfare techniques. Australia was until very recently the largest non-NATO supporter providing lethal and non-lethal aid in defence of Ukraine. But if we are to seriously stop this war progressing – then much more is needed… Apart from the 90 Bushmasters, Ukraine is now hoping that Australia will supply it with the Hawkei vehicle…
From a State Government perspective, we now have four States – WA, Queensland, Victoria and NSW – each providing $500,000 toward directly supporting Ukraine and Ukrainians…
And I guess, that notwithstanding the overwhelming support already shown to Ukraine by nearly every local, state, and national government which promote democracy and sovereignty, and practise the right for the individual to be free and, for their right to live in peace and harmony – unfortunately and even more so sadly, there is another angle, … and perhaps just one more question that needs to be asked…
What is it going to take?
What does the world, and what do the sovereign powers and states which promote democratic values, which promote peace and goodwill – what more do they now need to ensure a stable Europe, and in fact a stable world?
In 1939 at the outbreak of World War 2, following the invasion of Poland, it took some nations of the world 2 years to join in the fight – more so to put soldiers on the ground – to rid the world of Hitler’s Nazi regime…
By that time, some 10Million innocent men, women and children had perished at the hands of Hitler.
By the end of the war, in the German mills of death, more than 20Million people – Jews, Gypsies, Ukrainians, Poles, members of the Baltic nations, and many other nationalities had been murdered – exterminated by this killing machine…
It took the world (not just one country defending itself) – but the actual world alliance of combatants on the ground, 6 years to stop the killing!
I ask again – what will it now take? – 10Million, 20Million, or maybe even 30Million Ukrainians to be systematically murdered before the powers to be decide that enough is enough and the world “STOPS THE BOMBS”, and not just with words, but in a real way STOPS RUSSIA!
This world war won’t take 6 years! In a very much shorter time frame – Putin will continue to bomb the apartment blocks and the schools and hospitals – thereby effectively destroying Ukraine and murdering up to 40Million people who live in a democratic and sovereign country – and that is before he starts on Ukraine’s neighbours – on Poland, on the Baltic states, Romania, the Czech Republic – just so that Putin the megalomaniac can rebuild the prison of nations, formerly known as the USSR.
So now again! JUST WHAT WILL IT TAKE?
I ask each and every one of you to promote the message to all governments:
STOP THE KILLING!
STOP THE MURDER!
STOP THE BOMBS!
PLEASE, just PLEASE – do whatever is in your power to influence whomever you must, to stop this illegal, and unjustifiable action by a barbaric terrorist regime…
And just one more request – we need to seek the immediate expulsion of the representatives of this terrorist regime that perpetuates the lies, and mounts the campaigns of the continuous mistruths and heinous propaganda… – These Goebelesk pundits should not have a place in this country – our country – our beautiful Australian multicultural society which promotes democracy and the rights of the individual to live in peace and harmony… There should be no room for those that just do not understand nor follow the realms of democratic values.
What that means – is that there is no room in Australia for the likes of the Ambassador of the Russian Federation (Alexey Pavlovsky) nor the Consul-General in Sydney (Ihor Arzhaev) who together with their minions unreservedly support the blatant lies and the propaganda of Putin.
They should and must be expelled now! We must call on Prime Minister Albanese to honour his pledge in the lead up to the election, that these manipulators of the truth, these puppets of Putin be expelled from this country… Now is not a time to rescind such an undertaking – now is the time when Australia must continue its powerful support for a free and democratic world.
Furthermore, we must also influence the Australian Olympic Committee to also condemn and vote against Russia’s and the Belarus participation in the Paris Olympics – anyone who says that sport is non-political does not recall the 1936 Olympics, the 1980 Olympics, nor more recently the Sochi Winter Olympics – all used as a powerful political showpiece for their nations and their respective despotic leadership.
There is a need for international condemnation and shame upon a nation that has absolutely no regard for human life or democratic values!
There is a need for the world to get involved to stop this killing machine – not next year or the year after, – the need is NOW!
I thank you all for listening! And again, I thank you all for your overwhelming support!
Slava Ukraini! Glory to Ukraine! Jaroslav Duma OAM – Honorary Consul