Illia Ponomarenko: Ukraine’s Friend & Foe of the Week
Editor’s Note: This feature separates Ukraine’s friends from its enemies. The Order of Yaroslav the Wise has been given since 1995 for distinguished service to the nation. It is named after the Kyivan Rus leader from 1019-1054, when the medieval empire reached its zenith. The Order of Lenin was the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union, whose demise Russian President Vladimir Putin mourns. It is named after Vladimir Lenin, whose corpse still rots on the Kremlin’s Red Square, more than 100 years after the October Revolution he led.
Friend of the Week: Marco Mendicino, Canada’s minister of immigration
In this huge world full of opportunities, you can never have too much freedom to travel.
The 2017 agreement to abolish the visa regime with 30 European countries was a leap towards Ukraine’s stronger integration with the West. One can’t underestimate how important it is for Ukrainians to be able to travel to Europe easily and cheaply for a short vacation, meeting with friends, sightseeing or hitchhiking.
Not all Western nations are ready to open up to Ukraine. This week we saw Kyiv extend its visa-free regime for the United Kingdom and unfortunately getting nothing in return — Ukrainians still need to apply for visas to see the white cliffs of Dover with their own eyes.
But good news came from across the Atlantic instead.
On Jan. 27, it was reported that Ukraine and Canada established a working group on mobility and migration between the two countries.
According to Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, this group is going to work on simplifying travel for Ukrainians and Canadians. This includes travel for investment or recruitment purposes.
It is also expected to finalize an agreement to provide Canadian and Ukrainian youth with travel opportunities once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
“Through generations of Ukrainians who have made Canada their home, the Ukrainian-Canadian community continues to make outstanding contributions to Canada’s economy, our society and our diverse cultural fabric,” Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said on Jan. 27.
“The unique partnership that we are announcing today will serve to further strengthen the deep-rooted, people-to-people ties between our two countries,” the minister said.
We at the Kyiv Post strongly welcome moving Ukrainians’ everyday lives closer to the West.
As over a million Canadians have Ukrainian origins, simplified travel between our countries is long overdue. Hopefully, this initiative finally establishes a visa-free regime between us.
That’s why we declare minister Mendicino to be Ukraine’s friend of the week.
Foe of the Week: Klaus Schwab, executive chairman World Economic Forum
The latest World Economic Forum (WEF), held annually in Davos, Switzerland, lived up to its reputation as an advocacy platform for the most notorious heavy hitters.
No wonder that President Vladimir Putin of Russia loves it so much and gets a chair there almost every year.
This spineless, mawkishly diplomatic and apologetic platform is always eager to go sweet on him and ask no tough questions no matter what happens beyond the walls of this luxurious mountain resort.
The latest round was no exemption. In his Jan. 27 address, broadcast online due to COVID-19 restrictions, Putin came out with another ominous message of war and peace.
He said the world is diving into chaos due to the pandemic, social stratification, populism and radicalism, which could lead to a battle of “all against all.”
He compared the present situation with the eve of World War II and even with the Cold War-style wait for human civilization to end with a snap.
He presented himself as the only voice of reason amid the mayhem, the champion of “traditional values” and “fundamental freedoms.” He called for “common responsibility today to avoid a dystopic future for mankind.”
His humble contribution to the global mayhem seems to have slipped his mind.
We’re talking about wars in Ukraine, Syria, Central Africa, Libya, Sudan, of global disinformation campaigns and election meddling, and of political assassinations using chemical weapons in Russia and beyond. No one brought this up at the forum.
In his own style, WEF executive chairman Klaus Schwab again barraged Putin with an avalanche of courtesies and complimentary descriptions, calling Russia “an important global power” and a “long-standing participant” of the forum.
He did not see fit to even mention the recent assassination attempt of Putin’s top critic Alexey Navalny or his detention upon return to Russia following a ground-breaking investigation into Putin’s multi-billion corruption scheme.
But Schwab managed to see “a unique and short window of opportunity to move from an age of confrontation to an age of cooperation,” and the need to hear the Russian president’s voice.
What’s interesting is that Putin’s speech was not even scheduled in the forum’s agenda — he simply popped up, presenting himself in the best possible light while the outside world condemned him for his latest crimes.
Many critics, such as Russian dissident Garry Kasparov, accused Schwab of being eager to help Putin “reassure his cronies he’s still acceptable in the West despite his brutal crackdown” against protesting citizens.
We agree with this conclusion — and eagerly declare Schwab Ukraine’s foe of the week for his apologetic stance towards the Russian dictator.