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How to justify a war: Putin’s arguments for invading Ukraine | International

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks about authorising a special military operation, on February 24.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks about authorising a special military operation, on February 24.RUSSIAN POOL (via REUTERS)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has attempted to justify Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine by constructing a narrative showing a military operation was unavoidable. According to this false and twisted reasoning, Moscow is seeking to protect Ukrainian citizens with “blood ties” to Russia from the policies of the Ukrainian government, which Kremlin propaganda labels a “neo-Nazi regime.” Putin also claims he is trying to defend Russia from the threat of Ukraine itself, which he terms an “artificial” state supported by NATO and the West.

These are some of the false arguments the Kremlin uses to justify its ongoing incursion into Ukraine:

1. Ukraine is a threat to Russia

In the days before the invasion began, the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics and the Russian authorities denounced attacks by Ukrainian forces. However, many of these appear to be false flag attacks, i.e. simulated offensives to fabricate an excuse against the enemy, according to EUvsDinsinfo, a European Union team specialized in combating Russian disinformation. On February 21, Russian security services reported alleged shelling by Ukrainian forces against a Russian border checkpoint in the Rostov region, according to Russian news agency TASS. An accompanying 37-second video showed a hut destroyed in a remote location, but it did not appear to be a military installation.

On the same day, Russian Telegram accounts were distributing another video allegedly showing Ukrainian saboteurs entering Russian territory, and the destruction of two armored vehicles. An analysis of both sets of footage by the Center for Information Resilience shows they occurred on the border between Russia and the Donetsk area under the command of pro-Russian separatists, not in an area controlled by Ukrainian forces.

With such “absurd” and easily dismantled narratives, there is a possibility that Putin intends “to laugh at Westerners” and caricature their hypocrisy in the Kosovo or Iraq conflicts, according to Russia expert Eric Pardo, professor of International Relations at the University of Deusto. Putin’s goal, he believes, may be to show off his power and “demonstrate that he too can do and say whatever he wants.”

2. Ukraine is committing genocide in Donbas

During the February 22 speech in which he announced the invasion of Ukraine, Putin denounced the alleged “genocide” being carried out by Kiev in the Ukrainian separatist territories of Donetsk and Lugansk. While not new, this narrative draws on the language of international human rights to portray Kiev as the worst of villains. According to an analysis by EUvsDisinfo, the accusations of genocide leveled against Ukraine by the pro-Kremlin media in the days leading up to the invasion have increased fivefold compared to the last six months.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch alleged in a 2016 report called You Don’t Exist that both Ukrainian authorities and separatist forces had illegally and arbitrarily detained civilians during the 2014 conflict and subjected them to torture and ill-treatment. However, although these crimes amount to a violation of human rights, they do not constitute a genocide, i.e. the systematic extermination of a specific population. There is no mention of genocide in either the Ukraine reports of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or those of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Special Mission to the Ukrainian separatist region of Donbas.

3. Ukraine is a neo-Nazi regime

This Kremlin favorite has its origins in the involvement of violent right-wing extremist groups in the Ukrainian Maidan protests in 2014 and in the early days of the Donbas war. Putin avoids mentioning that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is a Russian speaker and himself Jewish, and that his party promotes policies including a woman’s right to choose.

That said, the Ukrainian government does have historical ties with the far right. “To give an example, the G7 went so far as to address Ukraine during the 2019 presidential elections by denouncing the closeness of the then Minister of the Interior, Arsen Avakov, to the far-right Azov Battalion,” explained Pardo. Although Ukraine’s democracy is not the strongest in world — The Economist index rates the country with a score of 5.57 out of 10, where 10 would mean a perfect democracy — the former Soviet republic is far from being a Nazi regime.

Given Nazism’s place in Russia’s collective memory, it is very useful “to win over Russian citizens,” the expert added. “It is very easy to see Russia as a bully, but, from their point of view, the defense against a Nazi regime appeals to the suffering of the citizens of the former USSR against Nazi Germany, which caused the death of between 22 and 29 million [Russian] people” in World War II.

4. Ukrainians are our relatives

Putin has emphasized the historical ties between Ukraine and Russia on several occasions, although in his speech last Tuesday he was particularly explicit: “Ukraine is not just a neighboring country, it is an inalienable part of our history, culture and spiritual space. They are our comrades, friends and … moreover, relatives, people united by blood ties.” He went on: “Modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia or, to be more precise, by the Bolsheviks, communist Russia.” From Putin’s perspective, not intervening in Ukraine would be like abandoning one’s own family.

Pardo explains that while Putin is trying to “defend the Russians in Ukraine,” he simultaneously stresses it is “a sister nation.” The Russian leader could tolerate Ukraine being a separate nation, he said, “as long as it does not lean too far towards the West, the European Union or worse, NATO.” He added: “One could enter into debates on the solidity of the historical arguments that each nationalist narrative expounds, but a nation is real as soon as a certain narrative is shared. This is clearly the case in Ukraine.”

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The US, Japan and the Philippines close ranks against Beijing’s pressure in the South China Sea | U.S.

China was not present, but it was the main protagonist. The first trilateral meeting between the leaders of the United States, Japan and the Philippines on Thursday at the White House sought to provide a show of unity in the face of China’s increasingly intense pressure on Manila in the South China Sea, where the Asian giant claims sovereignty over almost all of the area and maintains a bitter territorial dispute with the archipelago. Washington has described Beijing’s tactics as “intimidation.”

The Philippine and Chinese vessels have engaged in increasingly frequent and hostile skirmishes in an area of the South China Sea that the United States calls the Second Thomas Atoll, and which the Philippines know as the Ayungin Shoal. There, Manila maintains a military garrison in an old, rusty warship — which it intentionally ran aground in the reef — to reinforce its territorial claims in the reef. Chinese ships patrol the area and try to stop the vessels that come to supply it with water cannons and lasers.

The most serious incident in recent weeks took place at the end of March, when Chinese ships fired a water cannon at a Philippine logistics ship that was trying to bring supplies to the military personnel stationed in the shoal, which is located within 200 miles of the Philippines exclusive economic zone. That episode sparked loud protests in Manila, which were backed by Washington. For the United States, Beijing’s tactics amount to coercion and violate international law in waters that are considered one of the most volatile areas on the planet. U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the issue during his telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 2.

At the start of the trilateral meeting on Thursday, Biden warned that any attack against Philippine forces in the South China Sea would be grounds to apply the mutual defense treaty between Washington and Manila, which was signed in 1951. He said that U.S. forces would come to support its ally.

“I want to be clear, the United States’ defense commitments to Japan and to the Philippines are ironclad. They’re ironclad. Any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels or armed forces in the South China Sea would invoke our mutual defense treaty,” said Biden.

The president met separately with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. shortly before the trilateral meeting. The previous day, he received Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who was on a semi-official visit to the White House. The three countries share deep distrust over China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia Pacific and the Asian giant’s territorial claims, which an international court deemed baseless in 2016.

The Philippines and China are in dispute over the South China Sea, while Japan and China have conflicting claims in the East China Sea over islands Japan knows as Senkaku and China identifies as Diaoyu. Manila — which during Rodrigo Duterte’s mandate tried to get closer to Beijing — has resolutely aligned itself with Washington since Marcos’ election. The Philippine president is completing his second official visit to Washington in just over a year.

Tokyo, meanwhile, is investing rapidly in building up its defense in a bid to transform its army into the third most powerful in the world. In their bilateral meeting on Wednesday, Kishida and Biden announced the biggest upgrade to the Japan-U.S. security alliance in more than 60 years. The plan includes greater coordination between their commands and the joint development of cutting-edge military technologies.

“The United States, Japan, and the Philippines are three closely-aligned maritime democracies with increasingly convergent strategic objectives and interests,” White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday.

At the end of the meeting, the leaders said they will announce a Coast Guard patrol in the Indo-Pacific region. The U.S. Coast Guard will also admit members of the Philippine and Japanese corps on these patrols for training, according to senior U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. Biden also announced the establishment of a new economic corridor in the Philippines for infrastructure development and agricultural projects, among other investments.

This week’s bilateral and trilateral meetings are part of the Biden administration’s efforts to develop a network of economic and security alliances in the Indo-Pacific to respond to China.

“Today’s summit is an opportunity to define the future that we want, and how we intend to achieve it together,” Marcos told the press on Thursday. “This meeting can be just a beginning. Facing the complex challenges of our time requires concerted efforts on everyone’s part, a dedication to a common purpose and an unwavering commitment to the rules-based international order.”

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The worst version of Nicaragua against the best version of Germany | International

It may be a noble cause, but its champion couldn’t be worse. The Nicaraguan dictatorship, recently censured by the United Nations for severe human rights abuses akin to crimes against humanity, has criticized Germany for arming Israel, and especially for elevating Israel’s security and right to exist to a “matter of state,” as defined by former German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her historic 2008 address to the Knesset (Israeli Parliament).

Nicaragua and Germany signed the 1948 Genocide Convention, which commits both nations to preventing and punishing genocide, as well as arbitration by the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ). Much like an earlier ICJ case brought by South Africa against Israel, Nicaragua is accusing Germany of facilitating breaches of the Genocide Convention by providing arms and other support to Israel. Nicaragua wants Berlin to stop weapon supplies and prevent weapons already given from being used in Gaza, and resume financing UNRWA, the U.N. relief agency in Gaza that has been accused of infiltration by Hamas.

Nicaragua filed the case against Germany because it was unable to do so against the United States, a long-time adversary of the Sandinista regime. Forty years ago, Nicaragua filed an ICJ case against the U.S. over its support of guerrillas fighting the Sandinista regime. Washington is a key weapons supplier to Israel and a signatory of the Convention. However, the U.S. took 40 years to ratify it, and only after significant amendments that gave the U.S. power of approval over any charges against the nation. Samantha Power, the current chief of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and former ambassador to the U.N., once likened this scenario to granting an accused murderer the authority to approve any charges brought against him.

This is the third case brought to the ICJ during the Gaza war. The first one, initiated by South Africa, resulted in two warnings for Israel to ensure humanitarian aid and civilian security. The second case, focusing on the consequences of the occupation, highlighted international support for the Palestinian State. The ICJ is not expected to quickly rule on the genocide case, but it adds to increasing U.N. and global pressure on Netanyahu for a lasting ceasefire.

Germany today is at its finest, driven by its sense of responsibility stemming from a tragic history. It stands as a staunch advocate for multilateralism and the international rule of law. Germany’s defense against Nicaragua’s charges is solid and its legitimacy as a democratic state is unassailable. Unlike the United States, it fully acknowledges the ICJ’s jurisdiction and the binding nature of its rulings. And all it needs to reverse the increasing polarization between the global south and the liberal West is full recognition of the Palestinian State’s right to exist.

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How Entrepreneurial Mindset Is Necessary For Startup Triumph

Entrepreneurial Mindset & Startup Triumph

The Voice Of EU | In today’s dynamic world of startups, achieving exceptional growth isn’t a one-shot endeavor. It demands more than a stroke of luck or a hidden formula; it requires an unwavering entrepreneurial mindset, a steadfast commitment, and consistent, sustained effort.

How Entrepreneurial Mindset Is Necessary For Startup Triumph

Picture Credits: PS Vault

In the subsequent sections, I’ll dissect five crucial factors to high-performance growth psychology that can steer your startup towards unprecedented success.

1. The Primacy of Communication

In the quest for growth, it’s commonplace for companies to prioritize feature development over precise language. Yet, this approach is fundamentally misguided. Language should precede all else.

The words you choose to articulate your product and company not only define your identity but also establish user expectations. Your choice of language wields significant influence, shaping how users perceive and engage with your offering. For example, a ridesharing service becomes exponentially more appealing when it promises a ride in four minutes or less.

User-Centric Empathy

Successful Founders distinguish themselves by their ability to think beyond their product and focus on the users. It’s imperative to understand how users think and feel, considering the intricate web of their lives.

To truly stand out, you must ask, “What does my product mean to them, and how does it fit into their world?” Behind every thriving tech company lies a profound insight into human psychology, a key that resonates with users’ needs and desires.

Perpetual Motion

In a landscape dominated by industry giants, speed emerges as your greatest ally. Much like the ancient shrew that thrived through ceaseless motion, startups must embrace a similar philosophy, “be creative, be dynamic.”.

To navigate the whirlwind of rapid changes and outmaneuver larger competitors, you must be in perpetual motion. Swift experimentation, rapid iteration, and an unwavering forward momentum are the cornerstones of sustained growth.

The Embrace of Data

Commitment to measurement is the engine driving growth. Being truly data-driven is not merely a buzzword, but a fundamental philosophy. Devoting substantial engineering resources to measurement, up to half of your total, demonstrates a genuine love for data. It should be an integral part of your company culture, displayed prominently for all to see. Your daily stats should be a source of pride and a testament to your dedication to growth.

Resilience in the Face of Setbacks

Failure is a constant companion on the path to growth. Embracing a mindset that can endure these setbacks is crucial. Most initiatives will yield negative outcomes, and being able to move forward despite this is paramount.

It’s a psychology of resilience, encapsulated in the saying, ‘Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm‘. This grit and determination are the keys to achieving substantial growth.

Implementing Growth Psychology

To instill these growth-oriented mindsets in your team, consider the following steps:

1. Teach the mentality, particularly the willingness to endure repeated small failures.

2. Clarify that every member is directly responsible for growth, regardless of their official role.

3. Provide your team with the authority to drive product changes and allocate resources for growth.

4. Encourage your team to be more aggressive in pushing growth boundaries.

5. Keep taking big swings and be open to creative, high-risk strategies.

Ultimately, growth is a collective effort, but it hinges on the psychology of the CEO. Founders shape their startups through consistent actions and decisions.

Cultivating the right growth psychology can be the difference between sluggish progress and exponential success. It empowers your company with data-driven visibility, constant momentum, and the audacity to aim for 1000% growth.

If you’re in the latter camp, reach out to us to explore further opportunities for growth.

We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

— By Raza Qadri | Business, Science & Technology Contributor “The Voice Of EU

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