The best and simplest answer to why the Kyiv Post is hosting a conference on June 18 to discuss wars in Ukraine and Syria is this: Russia. The Kremlin's military has dismembered and tried to destroy two nations in this world: Ukraine and Syria.
Yet, as we discovered in organizing the conference at the request of Kyiv Post publisher Adnan Kivan, a Syrian native, there are precious few alliances between Ukraine and Syria.
So our gathering is a great opportunity for Ukraine to become less isolated and examine the suffering that is happening in Syria.
Every person's death diminishes us all. Ukraine has lost 10,300 lives out of 42 million people in the war. But imagine Syria's suffering, after losing 500,000 lives out of 24 million people. Russia's war has displaced 1.5 million Ukrainians, a tragedy. But the exodus of 6 million Syrians, and the internal displacement of another 6 million Syrians, is a global catastrophe. In both nations, Russia plays a purely destructive role. Ukraine knows the Kremlin's game: To create the impression that Ukraine is in a civil war. It is not. Vladimir Putin doesn't consider Ukraine to be an independent state and, like his Kremlin predecessors before him, wants to crush Ukraine into submission. Heartbreakingly, too much of the world refuses to take severe actions against Russia -- to the contrary, calls to boycott the World Cup games hosted in Russia or adopt tougher boycotts and sanctions are mostly ignored.
In Syria, Russia's military intervention came at an awful time in 2015. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's regime was on the verge of collapse despite Iranian help. Enter Russia with a savage, sustained and inhumane aerial bombardment campaigns. The Kremlin helped Assad kill hundreds of thousands of people, mainly civilians, and created a refugee crisis. He did so not only to prop up Assad, but weaken the European Union and inflict political damage on leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who accepted nearly 1 million refugees.
Emboldening Assad turned him against any negotiated settlement and prompted him to use chemical weapons on his own citizens.
In such dire times, Ukrainians and Syrians need all the friends they can get. This first-of-its-kind conference is a good place to start building those relationships.