November 1, 2022

by Oksana Bashuk Hepburn

The Kyiv Independent


Like other good friends and allies of Ukraine, Canada has contributed considerably to military and humanitarian aid.

While the nearly 600 million dollars and 30,000-some temporary resident visas are peanuts compared to the overall price of Russia’s full-scale war, they help. So do the Ukraine Sovereignty Bonds issued by the Canadian government, the proceeds from which will help the Ukrainian government provide essential services to Ukrainians ahead of winter.

All democracies can contribute more significantly to another vital necessity: countering Russia’s propaganda by championing Ukraine and democracy’s victory.

Russia is a con artist. Moscow sows disinformation aimed at confusing reality and dragging out the war to delay the inevitable: punishment for its madness. The barrage of propaganda and fearmongering is a severe threat to Ukraine and the victory of freedom worldwide.

The nuclear threat is one of Russia’s key weapons designed to terrorize the West into submission. However, this threat may be neutralized by understanding the reasons that Russia will not use nuclear weapons.

To begin, the U.S. has told Russia in very clear terms that any use of nuclear warfare will have “catastrophic consequences” for Russia. This is not news – Russia has long known that the U.S.’s nuclear capability is more powerful. But as long as Russia’s blustering and fearmongering rhetoric works, it will be used.

Next, it is essential to remember that neither China nor India, Russia’s allies, support Moscow’s nuclear engagement. Russia would not dare to act against them at a time when it faces military disaster both domestically and in Ukraine.

Russian experts also note that Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to engage a long chain of command before hitting the nuclear button. Many believe that Russia’s military will never allow him to gain access to a nuclear Armageddon.

Equally convincing is that Putin and most of his entourage have family members living in the West. Russia is apparently unsuitable for its warmongering elite.

The threat of a nuclear strike is Russia’s premier bogeyman. The West repeatedly caves to it, and if not eradicated, it will continue to harm us.

Consider the following.

Soon after the demise of the Soviet Union, the West was conned into giving Russia complete control of the former Soviet nuclear capacity, which had been divided across Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine for security purposes.

Emboldened by such unexpected success, Russia again conned the West into making it a global economic power by enlarging the G7. Russia’s economy is comparable to Italy’s – Moscow got undeserved access and power free of charge.

Recently, Russia also tricked most of Europe with its Nord Stream 2 pipeline, designed to control Europe’s energy supply and thus hold it hostage. Much damage has already been done.

In the past, lies propagated about Russia’s “mighty army” led the West to make significant mistakes. Ukraine was dissuaded from militarily countering Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Now Russia’s bogeyman is its nuclear threat.

All democracies, including Canada, need to counter the Kremlin’s devastating fakes, which are disseminated at rapid speed via social media. Friends and allies of Ukraine need to champion a badly needed global pro-peace agenda.

To this end, the most vital message is to believe, state, and repeat that Ukraine must win Russia’s war.

Ukraine’s victory is non-negotiable because Russia’s victory means a catastrophic change in the world order. It will give rise to an era of global despots who will shift from the rule of law to the rule of force on a whim.

To advance the “victory of Ukraine” mindset, democratically-oriented countries must join Poland, Scandinavia, and the Baltics in declaring Russia a terrorist state. They must recognize Russia’s actions as “criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public,” or the UN’s definition of terrorist acts.

Ukraine’s allies need to support the creation of a special tribunal at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague – to prosecute Russia’s political and military leaders for invading Ukraine and to deal with its war crimes and genocide.

Another means is to close Russian embassies in democratic states. Send Moscow’s diplomats home – they don’t practice diplomacy; they employ threats and disinformation in our media.

Finally, democracies and global institutions like the UN, G20, and PACE need to exclude Russia from their deliberations. The Kremlin uses the fora to promote its criminal ends, and its bombs and lies disqualify it from membership.

Start by disinviting Russia from the G20 next month or boycott the summit. Rumors already abound that Putin will use the occasion to manipulate the global food crisis, Russia’s energy, and Ukraine’s grain for his purposes.

Let’s not give Putin another platform to con the world with global hunger as he has done with Russia’s war and nukes.


Oksana Bashuk Hepburn is the former Director of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and President of U*Can Ukraine Canada Inc., a management firm specializing in democratization projects for Ukraine. Bashuk Hepburn has been commenting on international issues in global media for decades.