Since Russia invaded Ukraine, last month, many are asking how it can remain a member state of the United Nations, whose Charter (Article 2, Section 3) requires that “all Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” Besides its current invasion of Ukraine, Russia, under Vladimir Putin attacked Chechnya in 1999, invaded the Republic of Georgia in 2008, militarily intervened in the Syrian civil war in September of 2015 and violated the U.N. arms embargo of Libya, by sending military supplies and expertise to Khalifa Haftar, Supreme Commander of the Libyan National Army. More recently, since January of 2021, Russian supported mercenaries and military instructors engaged in combat operations in the Central African Republic, again in violation of an embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council. Russian mercenaries have similarly participated in the conflict in Sudan.
Furthermore, how can Russia sit as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, who “has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,” while regularly using its veto to prevent the Council and General Assembly from fulfilling their responsibilities and acting in areas contrary to the interests of Russia itself?
Congress Asks if Russia Can Be Expelled from the United Nations…
These questions have led some, including many members of the U.S. Congress, to ask if Russia can be expelled from the Security Council and even the United Nations itself.
Article 6 of the U.N. Charter states that “a member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” Skeptics argue that Russia, since it has veto power, as a permanent member of the Security Council, can prevent the passage of such a resolution and thus its expulsion. But, as we recently saw on March 2nd of this year, the General Assembly may intervene and take action in a situation where there has been aggression, or a breach of peace, due to a veto by a permanent member of UNSC (Uniting For Peace Resolution of 1950).
Not only is there legal authority, but a precedent for expelling a member of the U.N. General Assembly and from the Security Council itself!
There is precedent for expelling a member of the UN…
The Republic of China was a founding member of the United Nations, after World War II, and sat as a permanent member of the Security Council. In 1949, after a long civil war, the Chinese Communist Party defeated the ROC in mainland China and forced their nationalist forces to retreat to the island of Taiwan. Yet, the Republic of China remained the representative of the Chinese people at the United Nations until 1971.
In July of that year, 17 member states, led by Albania, requested that a question of the “Restoration of the Lawful Rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations” be placed on the agenda of the 26th session of the U.N. General Assembly. They argued that the ROC represented unlawful authorities on the island of Taiwan and were not the legitimate representatives of mainland China. After several amendments and counter-proposals, aimed at keeping the ROC (Taiwan) a member state, while also approving the membership of the People’s Republic of China, the General Assembly voted to expel the ROC (Taiwan) and instate the PRC (Communist China) as a permanent member of the Security Council and the lawful representative of the Chinese nation. During the period of final voting, Great Britain and the USSR argued that they were not expelling the Republic of China, but recognizing the credentials of the People’s Republic of China as the rightful representatives of the Chinese nation. This same argument can now be used in the case of Russia, as there are valid concerns about the legitimacy of its own participation in the General Assembly and on the Security Council.
Russia’s membership in the UN may be illegitimate…
On February 24, 2022, just two days after Russia invaded his country, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations Serhiy Kyslytsia challenged the U.N. Security Council to “instruct the Secretariat to circulate to the members of the General Assembly the decision of the Security Council of December 1991, which recommends that the Russian Federation be a member of this organization; as well as the decision of the U.N. General Assembly of 1991, where the GA welcomes the Russian Federation as a member of this organization.”
His reasoning is that Article 4, Paragraph 2 of the U.N. Charter states that “the admission of any such State to membership of the United Nations shall be by decision of the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council.”
So, where is the documentation of a vote by either the Security Council, or the General Assembly, to approve Russia’s membership after the fall of the Soviet Union? To date, the U.N. has been unable to produce it.
“The U.N. Charter was signed by 51 founding member states, among which were the Ukrainian SSR, the Belarusian SSR and the USSR,” Kyslytsia said. “Yet, the RSFSR, i.e. Soviet Russia, didn’t sign it, although at that time Russia had its Ministry of Foreign Affairs separate from the Soviet Union’s one.”
According the the Soviet Constitution each republic was considered independent and separate from the USSR itself, so this lack of signature is important. As a part of the Soviet Union, Russia cannot assume the role of the USSR, itself, within the United Nations. Similarly, when Yugoslavia dissolved into multiple states, each one of them had to reapply for membership within the United Nations. Furthermore, as Kyslytsia pointed out, “there is nothing in the U.N. Charter about continuity as an insidious way to get to the members of the organization.”
Removing the Republic of China (Taiwan) from the United Nations Security Council, as well as the General Assembly, required the passage of Resolution 2758. The People’s Republic of China could not claim to be a continuing member, as Russia claims to be. Neither could the Czech Republic or Slovakia, after the break up of Czechoslovakia, nor the above mentioned successor states of Yugoslavia. Each of them had to reapply for membership in the United Nations.
Yes, Russia can be expelled from the United Nations…
Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has repeatedly violated the principles upon which the United Nations was founded and interfered with its mission of maintaining peace among its members. Valid concerns have been raised about the legitimacy of its membership in both the U.N. and on the Security Council. So, can Russia be expelled from the United Nations? Legal precedent would seem to say YES! At least its membership should be suspended until it has been found to be in compliance with U.N. Charter. Pursuing such an effort would put Russia on the defensive and illustrate the potential serious consequences of its flagrant violations of the values of the United Nations. Additionally, it would serve as a warning to other members of the U.N., especially some permanent members of the Security Council, who believe they can pursue an aggressive agenda against other nations and escape punishment. Only then can the United Nations truly be a force for peace and stability in the world.
President Zelensky of Ukraine has been compared to Winston Churchill and King David, but should we now also compare him to Judah Maccabee?
Recent reports claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin is recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine. Apparently, he feels they are going to be more effective that the nearly 200,000 Russian troops he already has in Ukraine. Or, maybe he figures that hired terrorists will be more loyal and brutal than young Russian conscripts being asked to fight neighbors and fellow Slavs. So, I ask again, does this make Vlodomir Zelensky, Ukraine's Jewish president, today's Judah Maccabee? For those who don't know the story of Hanukkah, let me explain.
Putin is recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine...
Following the death of Alexander the Great, his empire was divided between his three top generals. Seleucus Nicator came to rule the area around Syria, Lebanon and Israel, founding the Seleucid Empire. One of his successors, King Antiochus IV, ascended the throne in 175 B.C. Fearing the rising power of Rome, he decided to pursue the conquest of Egypt, in the hope that by increasing the size and power of his kingdom, he might be able to resist Rome. This sounds very similar to Vladimir Putin trying to conquer Ukraine due to fear of an expanding NATO. Antiochus was also called a madman and Putin's current sanity has been questioned too.
Before Antiochus could invade Egypt, he would have to first unite the diverse cultural and religious elements of his kingdom in order to consolidate political support for his cause. Under Alexander, Hellenization had been inclusive and allowed for cultural variation. But, for Antiochus, it became forced assimilation and a form of totalitarian rule with him at its helm. His interests and those of the nation were seen as the same. One could argue that this was a form of proto-fascism. Again, we see similarities with Putin, who sees his interests as one with those of Russia and does not recognize Ukrainians as culturally, or historically, distinct from Russians.
Hellenization became a form of totalitarian rule...
To succeed in his plan of annexing Egypt, Antiochus knew he would need to assimilate and reduce the influence of the Jews in his realm. As neighbors with shared history, the Jews had a loyalty to Egypt and would potentially fight on their behalf. Marching his army into Jerusalem, he forced out the Jewish High Priest, Onias III, and installed his brother, Joshua, who was loyal to Antiochus. Upon becoming High Priest, himself, Joshua changed his name to the more Hellenized name of Jason and began implementing Antiochus' will. Jewish cultural and religious practices were subjugated to those of the Greek mainstream society around them. Jews were forced to conform to the totalitarian vision of Antiochus. The Seleucid king also got access to the temple treasury to help fund his war efforts.
Although restless, the population was not at rebellion stage until Antiochus decided to sell the role of High Priest to Menelaus, who was not in the hereditary line of Moses' brother, Aaron. As a condition of his appointment, Menelaus promised to raise tax revenue. When he failed, he was summoned to Syria to appear before the king. While he was away, Jason seized control of the priesthood and attempted to gain control of government. Upon failing, he fled, and Antiochus reinstated Menelaus, as High Priest, and slaughtered thousands of rebellious Jews. The people revolted again, after the king had returned home to Syria, and he came back with his army to suppress them. He also outlawed the practice of Judaism altogether. This led to a three year rebellion, led by Judah Maccabee (known as The Hammer), that drove Antiochus from the Kingdom of Judah and created the first independent Jewish state in more than 400 years.
Putin wants to subjugate Ukrainians to a dominant Russian culture...
Again, we see similarities with Vladimir Putin, who wishes to subjugate Ukrainians to a dominant Russian culture, including repressing their Catholic faith in favor of his preferred Russian Orthodox Church. It's Ukraine's Jewish President, Vlodomir Zelensky, of the Servant of the People Party, that is uniting his people and standing strong against Russian aggression.
Some might argue with comparing Zelensky to Judah Maccabee. He is not just a hero to Jews, but a modern day hero of humanity. But, Jews everywhere can and should take pride that it is one of our own that is leading the battle for freedom against the onslaught of fascist totalitarianism.
We've all watched in horror, as the unnecessary war in Ukraine unfolds. The humanitarian crisis has grown daily, as Ukrainian civilians- men, women, and children- are caught in the path of destruction caused by Russian missiles, bombs and artillery. But there appears to be a slim chance for peace. Over the past week, some points of agreement have emerged that could lead to a plan for disengagement and withdrawal of Russian troops, as long as both sides are sincere in their proposals.
Some points of agreement have emerged...
On Monday, March 7th, Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov declared the following Russian demands that must be met before Russian troop withdrawal...
1) Ukraine must cease military action (one would assume this includes their efforts against Russian-speaking separatists in the disputed Donbas region)
2)Ukraine must change its constitution to enshrine neutrality (no membership in NATO, or likely the European Union)
"They should make amendments to the constitution according to which Ukraine would reject any aims to enter any bloc," Peskov said.
3) Ukraine must recognize Crimea (seized from Ukraine in 2014) as Russian territory
4) Ukraine must recognize Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics
If Ukraine commits to all of these conditions, "all of this can be stopped in a moment, " Peskov said.
An unnoticed, but interesting comment stated by Peskov is, "Ukraine is an independent state that will live as it wants, but under conditions of neutrality." This statement appears to contradict, or at least step back, previous claims made by Vladimir Putin, in his July 2021 letter, "On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians," and during his televised speech just before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where he argued that Ukraine was an artificial country and that "the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russian and Ukraine, between parts of what essentially is the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy." Perhaps the fierce resistance of the Ukrainian military and people has caused Putin and his government to reconsider this unity!
Zelensky suggested an alternative to NATO membership...
On Tuesday, March 8th, Ukrainian President Vlodomir Zelensky's "Servant of the People Party," responded with a proposal of its own.
In it, they suggested a new security agreement, as an alternative to NATO, with the United States, Turkey, and neighboring countries (possibly including Russia) as guarantors with specific penalties for violation. This agreement would create legal obligations for Russia to recognize Ukrainian nationhood and refrain from threatening the Ukrainian people and government.
"The (NATO) alliance is not ready to accept Ukraine for at least 15 years," a party spokesman said. "We cannot use only the lines of our constitution (expressing Ukrainian desire to join NATO)... to defend our country."
With regards to Russia's demands of recognition of its sovereignty over Crimea and the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the spokesman stated, "It is clear that we will not do that. But we need to decide how the lives of people in these territories will be regulated within our integral state."
The last part of this statement is revealing in that is suggests some kind of federal, or confederal, arrangement, with local autonomy and constitutional protections for residents.
This is very similar to what I proposed in my article for Fighting Fascism, "Putin Follows Path of Hitler," published on February 22, 2022. There I wrote, "Constitutional federalism, with local autonomy, is the solution." Stating that self-determination is key, I called for carefully monitored elections, with international observers, to insure a fair vote. "Possible choices include full union with Ukraine, incorporation with Russia, constitutional federation with Ukraine, confederation with Ukraine, or full independence," I said.
We should not ignore a diplomatic opportunity to save lives...
It is clear that the situation in Ukraine is likely to get far worse, before it improves. As Ukrainian resistance prevents a Russian victory, Putin's desperation and wrath is getting worse. We should continue to strongly stand with the Ukrainian people and provide al means necessary for them to defend themselves. We must also hold the Russian government, including Putin himself, for their actions and likely war crimes. But, we should not ignore a diplomatic opportunity to save lives. This past week has revealed the possible beginnings of a plan for peace, centered around the core elements of Ukrainian political and military neutrality and constitutional federalism for Russian-speaking regions in the east of the country. Chances of such a plan succeeding are still far fetched, but it may offer enough for Vladimir Putin to save face, both domestically and around the world, to cause him to withdraw his troops from Ukrainian soil. The alternative for him is a long and expensive war and international isolation and humiliation. For Ukrainians, it is the tragic loss of many more lives and the destruction of their country. So, we must try.
With his unprovoked attack on Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin of Russia has shown himself to be untrustworthy as a world leader and a threat to the international order established after World War II.
As his troops advance towards the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, the United States, Europe and the United Nations are seeking ways to halt the invasion and/or make the cost of occupying Ukraine too high for him to continue.
Some of the better suggestions have included:
1) Sending in lethal aid, so Ukrainians can continue to defend their county... Impressed by the strength and capability of the Ukrainian army and citizens to resist Russia, a growing number of countries have promised to supply them with weapons. We, as defenders of democracy, must keep the pressure on them to do so.
2) Removal of Russia from the SWIFT banking system, in order to cripple their economy and ability to trade... Some European nations, at first, resisted this move out of fear for the impact upon their own economies and peoples. But, under public pressure, they seem to be softening their stance and bans on some Russian banks to participate in SWIFT have now been announced.
3) Increasing U.S. oil and gas production and restoring American energy independence... Almost half of the Russian economy is based upon oil production, so increasing world supplies would reduce Putin's profits and ability to sustain an occupation of Ukraine. It would also lower Europe's dependence on Russian oil and natural gas, allowing leaders to stand up to Putin without fear of him cutting off the energy supplies they need.
Other suggestions have been made to thwart Russia's aggression, but there is an option, that I have not heard discussed, that comes right out of the Putin playbook. It is the classic move of all fascists, who justify military aggression as defending their ethnic countrymen, living abroad, from persecution. Both Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler used this tactic to explain their military expansion, as did Putin during his 2008 attack on Georgia, 2014 annexation of Crimea, and his current invasion of Ukraine. He falsely claimed to be protecting ethnic Russians from persecution and supporting their goal of self-determination. America and our European allies, too, can borrow this tactic and support separatist movements within Russia itself.
Borrow from Putin's playbook...
Many think of Russia as a homogenous nation inhabited primarily by ethnic Russians. But, this is not the case. The Russian Federation is a geographically broad country with a long history of imperialist annexation and absorption of a neighboring peoples. As such, there are many, ruled by Moscow, who yearn for freedom.
It is beyond the scope of this article to include all separatist movements within the borders of Russia, but here are a few examples.
1) Kaliningrad... If one looks at a map of Eastern Europe, they will see an oddly isolated Russian enclave, surrounded by Lithuania and Poland, and separated from the Russian heartland. This is the former East Prussian area of Konigsberg that was annexed and absorbed into the Soviet Union after World War II. The region does not share a long history with Russia, and its citizens identify more with Europe. They don't even refer to their enclave by its Russian name, but as the "amber country," in reference to its major natural resource. While 80% of Russian citizenry have never traveled outside of their country, 60% of Kaliningrad residents hold international passports and 25% of them have European Union visas. Local parents prefer to send their children to study at high schools and colleges in neighboring countries such as Poland and Lithuania. The Baltic Republican Party was founded after the collapse of the Soviet Union, before it was disbanded by Russian authorities and its leaders imprisoned. This has not eased the desire of local residents for federal autonomy and/or outright independence. Most citizens, including some local authorities, want to restore the regions historic name of Konigsberg. The constituent congress of the Kaliningrad Public Movement, which replaced the Baltic Republican Party, took place in February of 2005. An internet movement urging support for annexation by Lithuania launched in 2014.
2) "Stop Feeding Moscow!" is the recent slogan of separatists in Siberia, who want strong local autonomy and/or independence. The movement dates back to the mid-1800's, when the Society for Siberian Independence was formed. Following the arrest of its leaders, the movement was disbanded in 1865. Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, a local Siberian legislature adopted the "On the Autonomous Region of Siberia" proposal, reviving the independence movement. The white and green flag of Siberia was created at this time.
3) Circassian nationalists with to see federal autonomy and/or independence within their historic homeland, located along the Black Sea, just north of the Republic of Georgia. The modern movement rose during the Soviet glasnost and perestroika eras of the 1990's, with nationalists pressing local authorities and forcing them to accept many of their demands. With the ascension of President Putin to power, the International Circassian Association was taken over and turned into a puppet organization of the Russian government. Those who opposed were imprisoned, or assassinated. Circassian nationalism faded, as a result, until 2010 when it was reborn and grew over the next few years. The movement saw growth in 2014, when the international Olympics competition was held in Sochi, Russia, where the Circassian genocide began. Today, Circassian nationalism is extremely popular among younger generations, both in their homeland and abroad. Youth study their language and history with devotion and make up the core of Circassian activists around the world.
Other regions where separatist sentiments thrive include...
The self-declared Kuban Republic, of south Russia, with its own flag and internet declaration of independence...
The Karelia Republic, in northwest Russia, that held a referendum to join Finland...
The Kuril Islands that circulated a petition to join neighboring Japan...
and Ivangorad, which collected signatures in support of joining neighboring Estonia.
The north Caucasus regions of Tatarstan, Bashkiria, Tuva, Buryatia and Chechnya, which fought two civil wars with Russia, all yearn for more freedom from Moscow too.
Many of these regions would be better supported
within a truly federalized Russia...
It is the belief of Fighting Fascism that all peoples have the right of self-determination. They deserve the right to determine their own destiny and not be dominated by a more powerful neighbor. But, this does not always mean independent nationhood, or merger with neighboring countries. Many of these regions would be better supported within a truly federalized Russia, with constitutional guarantees of their political and individual rights. Boris Yeltsin, the first president of post-Soviet Russia, told the republics to take on as much power and responsibility as they can handle.
Besides defending the right of self-determination for all peoples, support of these separatist groups would aid in bring down the fascist dictatorship of Vladimir Putin. A core component of fascist political philosophy is strongly centralized government and rule by an elite few. Constitutional federalism devolves power to local administration where citizens can have greater control of their lives.
Putin's stated goal is to restore the historic Russian empire, of 1922, with him as its ruler. That is the legacy he seeks. Forcing him to defend against separatism within his borders would reduce his ability to invade and annex other countries and loosen his control over Russia itself. By coordinating their efforts towards a common goal of federalizing Russia, with truly protected constitutional guarantees for both regions and residents, they can form a strong civil rights movement that Putin can't control, or stop. This would transform Russia and bring down his regime. It would be the end of Putin-land!
Samuel Griswold is a lifelong student of history and politics, whose studies have given him unique insights into the true nature of totalitarianism in all of its aspects... Fascism, Communism and Socialism. As an American Jew, who lost relatives in the Holocaust, he's lived by the pledges "Never Forget" and "Never Again." But, for him, these pledges mean to never let the policies that led to the Holocaust happen again. To prevent fascism from thriving, we must know how to see and define it. That is the purpose of FightingFascism.com, to draw attention and rally opposition to current fascist policies and governments.