Russia, Ukraine: What is UN’s relevance?
Exactly ten days after the world marked this year’s Saint Valentine’s Day, a day set aside for lovers to mark their solidarity and friendship, the world was thrown into a warfare that is beginning to be predicted as the commencement of World War III.
Russia under the dictatorial hold of their long term President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine and commanded the armed forces of his nation to bombard Ukraine from land, sea and air in an effort to annex the country and stop it from enlisting into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The opening verbal salvo from the aggressor in chief, was to warn the West to stay off Ukraine and let him achieve his plot to capture Ukraine. The Western democracies have responded with a rash of sanctions and subtle military aids to Ukraine but they can’t physically fight to stop Russia from having its way.
Incidentally, this ongoing invasion of Ukraine is the first real time war in this contemporary epoch that the rest of humanity are watching the military activities on televisions because of the sophistication of the means of broadcasting through cable television and satellite.
What this means is that the war in Ukraine began by Russia is seriously going to affect billions of people in the world just as those who are several thousands of kilometres away are also nursing the fear of this needless war because of the psychological trauma the violence that is being transmitted will unleash on everyone.
For a start, school kids who would also watch the proceedings of this war will even feel the emotional impacts much more than the elders. The President of the USA was the one who alerted that the long predicted military invasion has commenced. This was how some of us got wind of the war that began on February 24, 2022 when President Putin of Russia ordered his troops to bombard, invade and capture eastern Ukraine.
The President of the United States Mr. Joe Biden in a post on the social media wrote: “President Zelenskyy reached out to me tonight and we just finished speaking. I condemned this unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. I briefed him on the steps we are taking to rally international condemnation, including tonight at the United Nations Security Council. He asked me to call on the leaders of the world to speak out clearly against President Putin’s flagrant aggression, and to stand with the people of Ukraine. Tomorrow, I will be meeting with the Leaders of the G7, and the United States and our Allies and partners will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia. We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”
Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom also said his nation and British people are praying for Ukraine. But the truth is that the combatants are right now killing each other inside Ukraine and the videos are actively transmitted to us.
From the publication Psychology Today by Stephanie A. Sarkis, she said watching violent news video can be hazardous to health. She wrote: “When I was an undergrad earning a degree in telecommunication production, I learned of a saying in TV news: “If it bleeds, it leads.” This means the more violent or anxiety-provoking event is, it draws in more viewers.
If you are watching videos of mass shootings or other violent events on TV or online, you are making yourself more prone to developing (or worsening) depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When you watch a violent video of mass shootings and other violence, you increase your chances of developing vicarious traumatization. You are bombarding yourself with violent images while not being able to stop or help. This increases your chances of anxiety, depression, chronic stress, and insomnia. If you have PTSD, viewing these videos can cause an increase of symptoms such as flashbacks.
Repetitive viewing of violent news stories can increase fear and anxiety in viewers, and can even cause people to have increased health issues (Vasterman et al. 2005). In a study by Pfefferbaum, et al. (2014), viewing of disasters on television, particularly terrorism, can increase cases of PTSD, depression, anxiety, perceived stress, and even substance use.
In a study by Ahern et al. (2004), people who watched more television images in the seven days after 9/11 had more PTSD symptoms compared to people who had the least amount of viewing.
The traumatic effects of watching distressing images on the news can have a lasting effect. After the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, adolescents who frequently watched earthquake imagery on the news had a higher rate of probable PTSD at a six-month follow-up (Yeung, et al. 2016)”, she concluded.
The Time Magazine has a comprehensive report of how key nations are responding to the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The magazine said countries across the globe have appealed to Russia to stop its invasion of Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation to protect civilians in the breakaway Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Ukraine’s Embassy in London called Putin’s order an “unprovoked war,” adding that Russia is waging “a war against Europe, a war against the whole world.”
Media reports say that explosions have been heard in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, in Kharkiv and other areas of the country.
The Russian president warned against foreign intervention in the unfolding conflict. “To anyone who would consider interfering from the outside: if you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history. All relevant decisions have been taken. I hope you hear me,” Putin says.
The UN says: “The Russian president’s announcement came as the United Nations Security Council was holding an emergency meeting over the crisis in Ukraine. Ambassadors from countries including the U.S., the UK and Albania denounced the escalation of the conflict in the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine.’’
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attended the meeting, AP reported, and told Russia: “Stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance.”
The Security Council is chaired by Russia. In a broadcast of the meeting, Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN, could be heard demanding Russia relinquish its duties as council chair. “Call Putin. Call (Russian foreign minister Sergey) Lavrov to stop aggression.”
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield also lamented that Putin had “ordered that last step.”
“As we are gathered in the council seeking peace, Putin delivered a message of war in total disdain for the responsibility of the council,” she said. “The council will need to act and we will put a resolution on the table tomorrow.”
As the meeting ended, Ukraine’s Kyslytsya told the Russian envoy: “There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell, ambassador.”
The USA, which has in the last few days provided blow- by- blow intelligence of the plots of Russia against Ukraine has already responded.
In a statement, U.S. President, Joe Biden, called the attack “unprovoked and unjustified,” saying that Russia has chosen a war “that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.”
“Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way,” Biden said.
Biden also tweeted that he had spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “He asked me to call on the leaders of the world to speak out clearly against President Putin’s flagrant aggression, and to stand with the people of Ukraine.”
The U.S. president added he would be monitoring the situation and will meet with his counterparts in other G7 countries and with U.S. allies in NATO to ensure “a strong united response.”
Ukraine has expressed the desire to join NATO, a move that Putin condemns. NATO can’t physically intervene because the application to enlist in it by Ukraine has yet to be approved and this was the immediate trigger.
This war is not just against Ukraine or Europe but against the relevance or otherwise of the United Nations system which is skewed to favour five Nuclear powers including the current aggressor in Ukraine which is Russia. To demonstrate how comical the UN system is, as Russia invaded Ukraine, Russian permanent Representative to the UN is the President of the UN General Assembly. The UN has condemned the invasion but the Security Council can’t take military action because Russia has veto power as well as China, which tacitly backs Putin in his aggression against Ukraine.
Whilst we have asked probing questions about the relevance of the UN when just one country with the might to launch Nuclear war can just decide to annex smaller nations and the UN can’t stop it. Why then are the nations united if just five members can decide to go rogue and the Heavens won’t fall? The bloodshed in Ukraine is needless and must stop forthwith.
Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) and was federal commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission Of Nigeria.