Why Syria?

Kyiv Post - - Opinion -

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.

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