Two years ago, on January 11, 2015, more than 40 global leaders, along with more than a million people in Paris (more than 3 million people across France), took part in the March of Unity. President Petro Poroshenko represented Ukraine in an act of solidarity to pay tribute to the murdered journalists of Charlie Hebdo in Paris and four people who were killed at Hyper Cacher, a Jewish supermarket, on January 7. The violence was the result of Charlie Hebdo publishing a cartoon image of the prophet Mohammed. Also attending the march were Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Francois Hollande of France, Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain, King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan, EU President Donald Tusk of Poland, Prime Minister Victor Orban of Hungary, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov, officials of the European Parliament and the European Commission. U.S. Ambassador to France Jane D. Hartley represented the United States during the march.
Seventy-five years ago, on December 30, 1942, widely known newspaper columnist and radio commentator Boake Carter had one of his columns appear in various newspapers throughout the United States. Mr. Carter noted:
“I have had drawn to my attention a matter which is of considerable importance when contemplating the European picture as a whole, the matter of Ukraine. “The average American, I would venture to say 99½ percent of all Americans consider Ukraine as a Russian province. The truth is quite the opposite. And it is worth noting a few facts about Ukraina (as the citizens of this territory prefer their land to be known and called), inasmuch as it is the bone of contention in this conflict between Germany and Russia…
“The language of Ukraina is not a Russian dialect.
Two years ago, on December 21, 2015, Russia issued a warning to the European Union that any move to cancel the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline that would connect from Russia’s Baltic coast to Germany would only hurt Europe. “The sides have reached considerable progress in terms of legal, technical, economic and financial aspects of this agreement,” Russian Economy Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev said on that day in Brussels. “Failing to implement it now would be a shot in one’s foot from the side of whoever would want to do it,” he said. “This is about Europe’s energy balance, safeguarding security of supplies, these are most important questions.”
The Nord Stream-2 project involves German and Dutch companies, as well as Russia’s Gazprom. The project fell into question during the previous week in December 2015 after Italy raised it as an issue during debate over extending Russian economic sanctions. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Berlin’s plans to turn Germany into a hub for the distribution of Russian gas through the project was intended to bypass Ukraine, and “left a dubious taste,” especially after a similar South Stream project that would have benefitted Italy was blocked by sanctions in 2014.
Thirty years ago, on December 10, 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation declaring Human Rights Day. He did so during an official ceremony in the Oval Office, where human rights representatives from 10 countries were thanked for their work. Mr. Reagan expressed to them all that Americans admire and honor them for their heroic efforts on behalf of mankind. On hand were: Armando Valladares, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, High Commission on Human Rights; Rebecca Range, deputy assistant to the president and director of public liaison; Ambassador Richard Schifter, assistant secretary of state for human rights. Also present were: Rebecca Asrate, Ethiopian; Anatoly Koryagin, Russian; Danylo Shumuk, Ukrainian; Vyatautas Skuodis, Lithuanian; George Calciu, Romanian; Minh Khuc, Vietnamese; Marta Baltodano, Nicaraguan; Chaw Ku, Loatian; Aldo Zuccolillo, Paraguayan; and Maximo Pacheco, Chilean.
Last year, on December 1, 2016, President Vladimir Putin endorsed a new foreign policy doctrine that accused the United States and its allies of undermining “global stability” by trying to “contain” Russia. The doctrine was published by the Russian government and continued a steady ratcheting up of rhetoric toward the West in official policy documents amid a sharp deterioration in Moscow’s relations with the U.S. and the European Union in recent years. Mr. Putin said that Moscow “does not accept attempts to apply military, political, economic or other pressure and reserves the right to react harshly to unfriendly actions, including by strengthening national defenses and adopting tit-for-tat or asymmetrical measures.” The previous doctrine, released in 2013, had much of the same language as the one released in 2016 and mirrored his national security strategy that was published in December 2015. The new doctrine raised the stakes when it comes to pressure on Moscow by the U.S. and its allies, which have targeted Russia with sanctions over its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its military support for militants in the occupied regions of eastern Ukraine. “The policy of the United States and its allies to contain Russia and apply political, economic, informational and other pressure undermines regional and global stability,” the 2016 document said.
Last year, on November 29, 2016, the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure over Chornobyl’s reactor No. 4 was moved into final position. The year 2017 marks the site’s transformation into an environmentally safe and secure state, as noted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti hailed the shelter as “a testament to the lasting international solidarity with Ukraine and the commitment to nuclear safety.”
Chornobyl was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident on April 26, 1986, and the NSC, built by Novarka – a consortium of the French construction firms VINCI Construction and Bouygues Construction – is hoped to keep the earth safe from the radioactive contaminants within the nuclear power plant for the next 100 years. Work began in 2010 with a cost of 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion U.S.).
Seventy years ago, on November 23, 1947, the Chicago Tribune Press Service’s correspondent Hal Foust, reported about a 21-year-old Ukrainian partisan fighter named Olga, who with a small troop of seven male fighters had recently surrendered to the U.S. authorities in the occupied zone of Germany. She did not want to identify herself further because her relatives in Ukraine would be likely enslaved or killed by the Reds because of her deeds. “Her five-foot figure may lack that ‘new look’ but it has the old-fashioned charm of sturdy capabilities. Olga, the daughter of the Kozaks, is an unwilling citizen of Russia, detained by the United States occupation army for possible repatriation. If sent back home, executed as a rebel probably would be her fate. She has been a combatant in the little-publicized guerrilla fighting behind the Iron Curtain which she and her thousands of co-belligerent describe as their war for Ukraine independence from the Kremlin,” Mr. Foust wrote.
Three years ago, on November 20, 2014, Oleh Tsariov, a former national deputy with the Party of Regions faction in Parliament, requested that Ukrainian authorities take measures to stop and prevent representatives of foreign countries from interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine. Mr. Tsariov was specifically targeting the United States rather than Russia, claiming that the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv was promoting preparations for inciting a civil war in Ukraine. “Activists of the Volia public organization addressed me as a national deputy of Ukraine and provided strong evidence that the TechCamp project is being implemented in our state with the support and direct participation of the U.S. Embassy, as part of which preparations for inciting a civil war in Ukraine are under way. The TechCamp project is aimed at training information war experts and potential revolutionaries to organize protests and overthrow the regime. The project is being implemented under the patronage of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt,” Mr. Tsariov claimed.
Thirty-five years ago, at approximately 8 a.m. on November 10, 1982, Soviet President Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, who led the Soviet Union for 18 years, died suddenly at the age of 75. The official announcement of Brezhnev’s death was not made until the next day at 11 a.m.
On that day, Soviet television programming was abruptly replaced with classical music, a common practice when a member of the leadership had died. Brezhnev had consolidated his power by the late 1970s and served simultaneously as president of the Politburo, chairman of the Council of Ministers, in addition to general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Because of this, there was uncertainty as to who would succeed to these positions. Brezhnev’s death also signaled the end of a period of Soviet history that was marked by both stability and stagnation.
Fifty years ago, on October 28, 1967, Sen. Paul Yuzyk of Canada delivered an address at a commemorative banquet on the 50th anniversary of the Ukrainian National Revolution. The event, held at the Sheraton Carlton Hotel, was sponsored by the Washington Metropolitan Branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. Sen. Yuzyk began: “Fifty years ago in March 1917, the tsarist regime of the vast Russian Empire, the largest continental empire in the world, came crumbling down before the forces of revolution. This downfall and ignominious end of Russian tsarism was inevitable, for it had been the bulwark of autocracy, Russian imperialism and colonialism, oppression and reaction, appropriately called the ‘prison of nations,’ which was the very negation of freedom, democracy, national self-determination and justice, the principles which characterized the Western world and civilization.”
Sen. Yuzyk recalled the actions of Ukrainian regiments from Volyn and Izmayil, who were called to disperse a crowd of protesters in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) by firing into the crowd.