Sunday, February 25, 2024

REVANCHIST KULAKS
European farmers challenge green policies, causing economic turmoil

The farmers' protests disrupted daily life across the 27-nation bloc, resulting in transportation delays that cost businesses tens of millions of euros, prompting immediate responses from politicians at both national and EU levels.



A dog sits in a tractor of a French farmer during a protest over pesticide restrictions and other environmental regulations they say are threatening agricultural production, near the Invalides in Paris, France / Photo: Reuters Archive

It was the puddles of green sludge left by the tires of massive tractors in western Belgium’s industrial farmlands that drew the attention of biological engineer Ineke Maes.

The slime was destructive algae, the result of the excess of chemicals used by farmers to boost their crops, but at a high cost to nature.

Maes had hoped the European Union’s environmental policies would start to make a fundamental difference by improving exhausted soils.

In recent weeks, some of those tractors moved off the land and onto the roads, blocking major cities and economic lifelines from Warsaw to Madrid and from Athens to Brussels.

Farmers were demanding the reversal of some of the most progressive measures in the world to counter climate change and protect biodiversity, arguing that the rules were harming their livelihoods and strangling them with red tape.


And the impact has been stunning.

Having own tractors

The farmers' protests affected the daily lives of people across the 27-nation bloc, costing businesses tens of millions of euros in transportation delays.

The disruption triggered knee-jerk reactions from politicians at the national and EU level: they committed to rolling back policies, some of them years in the making, on everything from the use of pesticides to limiting the amount of manure that could be spread on fields.


To environmentalists like Maes, who works for the Belgian Better Environment Federation umbrella group, it would almost be laughable if it were not so depressing.

“In the environmental movement, we joke that we should get tractors ourselves to make a point. Then we would be competing fair and square.

The purpose should be that we get negotiations and that we get a deal through a democratic process — the rules, you know," she said.


Reasoned arguments, she says, have been drowned out by the rumble of tractor engines. And there's no end in sight.

After hundreds of tractors disrupted the EU summit in Brussels early this month at a volume that kept some leaders awake at night, farmers plan to return on Monday.

They intend to be there when agriculture ministers discuss an emergency item on the agenda — the simplification of agricultural rules and a decrease in checks at farms that environmentalists fear could amount to a further weakening of standards.



EU under pressure

The political noise level from the tractors — not to mention the loads of manure dumped outside official buildings — does get through, officials said.

“That puts a bit more pressure on the ministers inside. So I would believe that ministers will be a bit more — insisting to have concrete results,” said a high-level EU official, who asked not to be identified because the meeting has yet to take place.

It is this attitude that drives the environmental lobby and NGOs to distraction: knowing that scientific arguments are too often no match for the rule of the street.

As a result, the EU's flagship Green Deal, that aims to make the continent carbon-neutral by 2050, is under threat.

“You really should not lose that long-term view, that vision of the future when you are working on policy,” said Maes.

“You should not respond to the issues of the day by simply scrapping very important rules that have been seriously discussed, considered, that have been included in environmental impact reports and so on — and that have also been democratically approved in that way.”

Yet ahead of Monday's farm protest and meeting of agriculture ministers, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, for many the most powerful EU politician, insisted that she “remains fully committed to delivering solutions to ease the pressure currently felt by our hard-working farming women and men.”

Von der Leyen's change in emphasis comes ahead of the June 6-9 elections, when a good showing by her Christian Democrat group, the European People's Party, will be key to keeping her at the helm of the all-powerful Commission.


As her party has swayed toward putting farmers and industry first, so has she.

“It is a bit difficult putting a pin on Mrs. von der Leyen,” said Jutta Paulus, a Green member of the European Parliament.

"She started off in 2019 being a climate and environment champion, more or less saying, ‘We don’t need the Greens anymore, we are green ourselves.’ And now she says: ‘Well industry called me and they are worried. So I have to do something.’”
SOURCE: AP
Why Aid Groups Are Warning of New Humanitarian Crisis in Eastern DR Congo

February 25, 2024 
By Associated Press
Residents flee fighting between M23 rebels and Congolese forces
 near Kibumba, some 20 kilometers north of Goma, Democratic
 Republic of Congo, on Oct. 29, 2022.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA —

Aid organizations fear a new humanitarian crisis in the restive eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the armed rebel group M23 is in the midst of a new advance that threatens to cut off a major city and leave millions of people struggling for food and medical help.

Eastern Congo has been beset by conflict for years, with M23 among more than 100 armed groups vying for a foothold in the mineral-rich area near the border with Rwanda. Some have been accused of carrying out mass killings.

There's been an upsurge in fighting in recent weeks between M23 rebels and Congo army forces, and it comes as the United Nations plans to withdraw peacekeepers from the region by the end of the year.

Tensions are also rising between Congo and Rwanda, with them blaming each other for supporting various armed groups. Congo accuses Rwanda of backing M23.

This weekend, the U.S. State Department condemned what it called the "worsening violence." A group of aid agencies has estimated that 1 million people have already been displaced by fighting in the last three months.

Who are M23?

The March 23 Movement, or M23, is a rebel military group mainly made up of ethnic Tutsis that broke away from the Congolese army just over a decade ago. They staged a large offensive in 2012 and took over the provincial capital of Goma near the border with Rwanda, the same city they are threatening again.

The conflict has regional complications, with neighboring Rwanda also accused by the U.S. and U.N. experts of giving military aid to M23. Rwanda denies that but effectively admitted on Monday that it has troops and missile systems in eastern Congo. Rwanda said that is to safeguard its own security because of what it claims is a buildup of Congo army forces near the border. Rwanda has rejected calls from the U.S. to withdraw.

There are also ties to the Rwandan genocide of 30 years ago, with M23 and Rwanda saying separately that they are fighting a threat from a Congolese rebel group that is connected to the Congo army and partly made up of ethnic Hutus who were perpetrators of the 1994 genocide.

M23 rebels load a pickup truck in Kibumba, in the eastern of Democratic Republic of Congo, Dec. 23, 2022.

Congo-Rwanda tensions

Relations between Congo and its eastern neighbor have been fraught for decades. Hundreds of thousands of Rwandan Hutu refugees had fled to Congo, then Zaire, in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Among them were soldiers and militiamen responsible for the slaughter of 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Two years after the genocide, Rwanda and Uganda invaded eastern Congo to try and root out what remained of those genocide perpetrators, which led to the toppling of then Congo President Mobutu Sese Seko.

Tensions between Congo and Rwanda escalated in 2021 with the resurgence of M23 attacks on Congolese soldiers after nearly a decade of relative inactivity due to a 2013 peace deal. The presence of so many armed groups is believed to be connected to illegal mining, with eastern Congo rich in gold and other minerals.

What's happened in recent weeks?

M23 launched new attacks late last year and has ramped them up in recent weeks. The group is now threatening to take the key town of Sake, about 27 kilometersmwest of Goma. That could cause food and aid supplies to be cut off from Goma, which had a population of around 600,000 a few years ago, but now holds more than 2 million people, according to aid agencies, as people flee violence in surrounding towns and villages.

The advance of rebels on Sake "poses an imminent threat to the entire aid system" in eastern Congo, the Norwegian Refugee Council said. It said 135,000 people were displaced in just five days in early February.

The violence has also sparked protests from the capital, Kinshasa, to Goma, with angry demonstrators saying the international community is not doing enough to push back against M23 and not taking a hard enough stance against Rwanda.

What's at stake?

The new fighting could lead to an escalation of regional tensions and involve more countries. As the U.N. winds down its 25-year peacekeeping mission in eastern Congo, a multi-national force under the southern African regional bloc is set to step in. That force will include soldiers from regional power South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania. They will help the Congo army forces, but it might put them in direct conflict with Rwanda.

There's also the humanitarian cost. The International NGO Forum in Congo, a group of non-governmental organizations working in the region, said the escalation in fighting has involved artillery attacks on civilian settlements, causing a heavy toll and forcing many health and aid workers to withdraw.

Eastern Congo already had one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, with nearly 6 million people previously displaced because of conflict, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.

There are concerns a new disaster could largely go unnoticed because of the attention on the war in Gaza and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
South Korea junior doctors’ walkout enters fifth day; health services affected


By Newsroom Odisha Network On Feb 24, 2024


Seoul: Health services were affected in South Korea as thousands of trainee doctors remained off their jobs for the fifth consecutive day on Saturday to protest against the government’s plan to raise the medical school enrollment quota.

According to the health ministry, till Thursday night, 8,897, or 78.5 per cent, of the 13,000 trainee doctors from 96 major teaching hospitals in Seoul and elsewhere have submitted their resignations, with 7,863 of them not reporting for work, Yonhap news agency reported.

Chungnam National University Hospital on Saturday turned away some patients seeking emergency care due to a limited number of available physicians to handle urgent cases, such as cardiac arrest.

The government has also advised patients with mild symptoms to utilise nearby clinics instead of general hospitals.

Doctors and medical students have voiced opposition to the government’s plan to admit 2,000 more students to medical schools next year from the current 3,058 seats to address a shortage of doctors.

Despite authorities repeatedly warning of police investigations or even arrests of physicians participating in the walkout in the case of patient deaths, the Korean Medical Association has large-scale rallies planned to be held in Seoul on Sunday and March 3.

–IANS

South Korea health alert raised to 'severe' over doctors walkout

AA International Desk


South Korea raised its health alert to the highest level on Friday after a mass walkout by trainee doctors this week, while the prime minister said public hospitals would extend working hours to respond to growing strains on the medical system.

Almost two-thirds of the country's young doctors have walked off the job to protest a government plan to admit more students to medical schools, forcing hospitals to turn away patients and cancel procedures, and raising fears about further disruption to the medical system should the dispute drag on, Reuters reports.

"The operation of public medical institutions will be raised to the maximum level," Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said at the opening of a disaster management meeting.

Public hospitals will extend operating hours and will also open on weekends and holidays, he said.
So far, more than 8,400 doctors have joined the walkout, the health ministry said, equivalent to about 64 percent of the entire number of resident and intern doctors in South Korea.

While they represent a far smaller fraction of the country's 100,000 doctors overall, trainee doctors make up a big portion of the staff at teaching hospitals, more than 40 percent in some cases, and play a key role in the daily operations.

Their role is especially pronounced in emergency rooms, intensive care units and operating rooms at the large hospitals, which are visited by patients referred to them by secondary hospitals and private practice clinics. Larger hospitals rely excessively on trainee doctors in part for cost reasons.
The growing pressure on hospitals prompted the government to raise its health alert to "severe" from "cautious" as of Friday.

Emergency departments in South Korea's biggest hospitals have been squeezed since trainee doctors began leaving the job this week in protest at the government plan.

The doctors taking part in the protest say the real issue is pay and working conditions, not the number of physicians.

Senior doctors and members of the Korean Medical Association, which represents physicians in private practice, have not joined the trainee doctors in the walkout but held rallies demanding the government scrap its plan.

A large rally is expected in Seoul on Sunday.

The prime minister again pleaded with young doctors to not make the wrong choice that would forever tarnish the sacrifice and dedication they showed during the COVID-19 pandemic that had earned them the respect of the public.

He also called on the medical community to stop "pushing young doctors" and said the government is always open to dialogue.

Many Koreans support the government's plan to increase medical school admissions, with a recent Gallup Korea poll showing about 76 percent of respondents in favour, regardless of political affiliation.

Hospitals experience disruptions on extended doctors' walkout

 2024-02-25 




A patient is transported to the emergency room at Chungnam National University Hospital, Feb. 24, amid a walkout by trainee doctors protesting the government's plan to increase the medical school enrollment quota. Yonhap

Major hospitals across the country continued to experience disruptions Saturday as thousands of trainee doctors remained off their jobs for the fifth consecutive day in protest against the government's plan to raise the medical school enrollment quota.

Nearly 100 general hospitals have canceled or postponed nonessential procedures and turned away non-emergency patients, prioritizing service for severe emergency cases to minimize the growing strain on the medical system.

As of Thursday night, 8,897, or 78.5 percent, of the 13,000 trainee doctors from 96 major teaching hospitals in Seoul and elsewhere have submitted their resignations, with 7,863 of them not reporting for work, according to the health ministry.

More junior doctors are expected to join the protest, raising concerns as they play a vital role in assisting with surgeries and emergency services.

One hospital, Chungnam National University Hospital, located in the central city of Daejeon, turned away some patients seeking emergency care Saturday due to a limited number of available physicians to handle urgent cases, such as cardiac arrest.

"A grandmother came to the emergency room alone this morning, but (the hospital) says it can only accommodate critical patients, making treatment impossible," said a paramedic, noting that the patient would be transported to a smaller hospital nearby.

Hospitals have struggled to maintain their operations by enlisting the help of doctors in fellowship programs, professors and nurses to fill the void.

Since raising its four-scale health care service crisis gauge to the highest level of "serious" from "cautious," the government has also advised patients with mild symptoms to utilize nearby clinics instead of general hospitals.

Furthermore, the government has temporarily extended telemedicine services, such as consultations and prescriptions, at all hospitals and clinics until the end of the walkout.



A notice at the entrance of the emergency room inside Chungnam National University Hospital, Feb. 24, informs people that the hospital is being operated in an emergency mode due to the absence of many trainee doctors. Yonhap

The telemedicine services had been partially available since 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic under strict regulations.


Imminent expiration of striking junior doctors' contracts fuels concerns
2024-02-23 

Additionally, military hospitals nationwide have fully opened their emergency rooms to the public since Tuesday to address public health concerns over emergency services.

According to the defense ministry, a total of 32 civilians had received treatment at military hospitals as of noon Saturday.

Doctors and medical students have voiced opposition to the government's plan to admit 2,000 more students to medical schools next year from the current 3,058 seats to address a shortage of doctors.

The government plans to remedy a shortfall of 15,000 physicians expected by 2035.

The Korean Medical Association (KMA), a main lobby group for doctors, argues that there are already sufficient physicians and that simply increasing the quota of medical students would lead to unnecessary medical costs.

Furthermore, the KMA argues that the plan fails to address issues, such as overburdening and the lack of incentives for doctors who specialize in essential health care services, including pediatrics, obstetrics and emergency medicine.

In contrast, the government said that the country should begin training more new doctors to address the challenges posed by a rapidly aging society, citing examples of other major developed countries facing shortages of physicians.

The number of doctors in South Korea relative to the size of the population is among the lowest in the developed world, according to health authorities.

Despite authorities repeatedly warning of police investigations or even arrests of physicians participating in the walkout in the case of patient deaths, the KMA plans to hold large-scale rallies in Seoul on Sunday and March 3.

In a statement released late Saturday, the Medical Professors Association of Korea said it will make utmost efforts to help resolve the current medical crisis and serve as arbitrator in the disputes between the government and the doctors' group for a breakthrough.

On Friday, the government raised its health alert to "severe" from "cautious" after emergency departments at major hospitals have been squeezed since the walkout began Tuesday.

Early this week, President Yoon Suk Yeol said the government won't surrender to the doctors' collective action this time as it did in 2014 and 2020, when it failed to adopt telemedicine services and to increase the medical school enrollment quota, respectively.

A recent Gallop Korea poll shows about 76 percent of respondents were in favor of the government's plan, regardless of political affiliation.

 (Yonhap)
The crisis of Soviet Ukraine

The Maidan Revolution didn’t free my people




Volodymyr Ishchenko
FEBRUARY 24, 2024 


“Whichever way this war ends,” thought Volodymyr Ishchenko on 24 February 2022, “I will no longer have a homeland.” In the preface to his new book, Towards The Abyss, the iconoclastic sociologist outlines his Soviet-Ukrainian identity as distinct from Ukraine’s Russian-speakers or the population of its south-eastern regions. Instead of ethnicity, these people were shaped by the forces of social revolution, class and modernisation. Looking back at the post-Soviet decades, Ishchenko argues that the political fragmentation of Soviet Ukrainians and the fragility of the “Eastern” (misleadingly called “pro-Russian”) camp in Ukrainian politics, as opposed to the politically stronger “Western” (“pro-European”) camp, is an underestimated cause of the ongoing war.

Below, we republish the second half of the preface, a blend of family memoir and national history:

***


For over 30 years, the Ukrainian nationalist intelligentsia advanced a very specific project of Ukrainian modernity. Its two main components were a rejection of Soviet modernisation and an anti-Russian articulation of Ukrainian national identity. These intellectuals sought to draw an equivalence between everything Ukrainian (in their specific articulation) and everything modern, while on the other hand they hoped to associate everything backward with everything Soviet and Russian.

In effect, they sought to reverse the symbolic hierarchy that identified Ukrainian with backwardness, which they feared existed behind the screen of the Soviet internationalist project. “Ukrainian” was to be seen as young, metropolitan, cosmopolitan, fluent in English, stylish, mobile, liberal, well-educated, successful. The “Soviet” and “Russian”, on the other hand, had to become old, conservative, provincial, rigid, clinging to dying industries, poorly or inadequately educated, in bad taste, losers.

This polarisation did not require complete homogeneity. After all, modernity is also about free rational debate. The fulfilment of Ukrainian modernity required “Ukrainian feminists”, “Ukrainian liberals”, “Ukrainian Leftists” — as well as Ukrainian Rightists. Of course there should be discussion of the nationalist crimes of the Second World War (with the obligatory disclaimer that the Soviets were worse). Of course there should be concern about Right-wing violence today (with obligatory disclaimers that it benefited Putin). And so on and so on. But at the critical moments when these discussions could really matter politically, and not just appease the “enlightened” conscience, all the red lines were strictly enforced, and you had to get back in line. Or get in trouble.

I was so much like these people. We had so much in common in our biographies. We went through the same universities, the same scholarships, the same programmes, the same civil-society institutions, the same conferences. We spoke the same languages. But I had not begun to think like them. My peer group often reacted to this with hatred. In one trashing of me by nationalist intellectuals, I was portrayed as a danger to the dear cause of the “Ukrainian nation-building project”. It was not because of what I wrote: they typically did not engage in any substantive discussion. And regardless of what I could possibly write, there were so much stronger forces in the media and politics that any imaginable “threat” I posed was negligible. No, it was certainly not what I did that threatened the nationalist cause, but, I think, simply the existence of people like me. We could challenge the national-liberals as social equals in forums. We were an unwanted nuisance to their monopoly. Not really traitors to an imagined community, but traitors to a real existing social group. Class traitors, not national traitors.

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Here was the real hatred. We were Ukrainian and modern, but not like them. Soviet Ukrainians who could have become comprador intellectuals in a peripheralising country, but refused this role. We resisted their collective gaslighting. That is why there was no rational engagement, only denial, silence, rejection, cancellation. One could write thousands of words against Russian imperialism and yet still be called a “troubadour of the empire”. One could literally say “I hate Putin” and still be accused of spreading Russian propaganda. Our intellectuals were not rated as intellectuals. Our scholarship was not scholarship but “political activism”. The political repression against us was not political repression, because threats and violence allegedly never occurred. We were simply not allowed to exist, because, if we did exist, the specific articulation of modernity and backwardness in Ukraine would no longer work. Whatever we did, we could not simply be.

We were potential embryos of an alternative Ukrainian modernity, one that could build an “organic” representation for Soviet Ukrainians — for what they were, not for what they were “supposed” to become in the view of nationalist intellectuals; that is, to become like them or to disappear altogether (at least from Ukraine’s public sphere). We could offer an alternative for Ukraine that could also be more appealing globally and in line with future trends, or at least with what more and more young people around the world would prefer as their future.

Why didn’t it work out this way? Many have compared the post-Soviet conflicts with the collapse of empires of the past: new contested borders were drawn; ethnonational groups that were part of the imperial majority became minorities in the new states; groups that were formerly oppressed minorities were given opportunities for revenge. These comparisons are typically blind to social class and revolutionary dynamics, which provide a very different perspective.

For example, the political crises and conflicts that followed the collapse of the great European empires after the First World War were fundamentally different to those that followed the demise of the multinational Soviet Union. The post-Soviet crisis was the terminal crisis of a social revolution, not an ancien régime. The new nationalisms of a century ago blossomed in the context of modernisation, not de-modernisation. The Twenties and Thirties were a period of intense politicisation, when organised revolutionary workers fought against no less committed and organised fascist counter-revolutionaries. The post-Soviet years, by contrast, were a period of atomisation, of general apathy, disturbed only by short-term maidan mobilisations. In sum, the post-WW1 crisis was a stalemate of strengthening social forces, while the post-Soviet crisis was a stalemate of mutual weakness.

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As noted above, the pro-Western intellectual and civic elites in post-Soviet Ukraine could offer nothing comparable to Soviet modernisation. The majority of Ukrainians did not buy their dubious promises that they too could join the global middle class. But the Russian elite’s offer was even less attractive. They typically compensated for their weakness in soft power with hard power. But even when they resorted to escalating coercion, they exposed their profound weaknesses.


There were three critical moments when the Ukrainian majority broke away from Russia, ending up further removed from its orbit on each occasion. Each of these was related to the failure or mid-course correction of military coercion initiated by the Russian elite. Ukrainians responded to the failed coup in Moscow in August 1991 by voting for independence, only eight months after having voted to preserve the Soviet Union. In response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the start of the war in Donbas in 2014, support for Russia-led reintegration projects became limited to a small minority in Ukraine, whereas they had previously been able to claim a majority or at least a plurality. The full-scale invasion in 2022 provoked the strongest anti-Russian consolidation in Ukraine ’s history.

These massive reactions to Russian coercion were purely negative in nature — rejections of what Russia was doing, rather than support for the West or for Ukrainian ethnonationalism. However, it was the “Western” camp that was able to seize the opportunity of these negative shocks to advance the positive substance of its agenda. This happened because of the profound class and political asymmetries between the “Western” and “Eastern” camps. The political capitalists of the “Eastern” camp did not develop their own civil society and Soviet Ukrainians remained too atomised to build their organic representation from below. Their plebeian “anti-maidans” were never a match for the maidan protests they were responding to. If Volodymyr Zelensky’s landslide victory over Petro Poroshenko in 2019 — after the incumbent ran on an aggressive nationalist programme — offered a last hope, this was dashed by the 2022 invasion.

As a result of the failure to develop and defend a pluralist nation-building project that would “organically” grow from the Soviet Ukraine, a large group of Ukrainians is now becoming the object of assimilation policies, squeezed between the “Western” nation-building projects of Ukrainian bourgeois civil society and Putin’s nostrum of “one and the same people”. In his notorious 2021 essay “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians”, Putin articulated the Ukrainian-Russian distinction as a difference of regional-cultural variety within the same “people” as a political unit. However, there is in fact less of a cultural difference between the population of the urbanised and mostly Russian-speaking south-eastern Ukraine and the Russians, and more of a political difference.

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The urban culture of the late Soviet period, with its largely homogeneous cuisine throughout the USSR, typical references and jokes from literature and cinema, rituals and holidays, is far more relevant to them than the pre-modern ethnic traditions of Ukrainian and Russian villages. If some of the previously Russian-speaking Ukrainians switched to Ukrainian as a reaction to the invasion, it was clearly a political choice for them, not determined by their ethnic identity. The people feel more connected to the national imagined community of Ukraine, and less to Putin’s, even if they have a different vision of the nation than the speakers of the “Western” camp. In 2016, only 26% of Ukrainians agreed with the statement that Ukrainians and Russians are “one and the same people”, although 51% agreed that Ukrainians and Russians are different but “brotherly people”.1 Both figures are likely to have fallen dramatically after 2022.

For the “Western” camp, the weak cultural difference of some Ukrainians from Russians has always been a political threat. It was seen not only as legitimising Russian expansionism, but also as a threat to their elitist ersatz-modernisation project. Quite early after the Russian missiles hit Ukrainian soil and Russian troops crossed the border, the national-liberal intellectuals understood that this was not only a threat, but also an opportunity for “knife solutions” — a radical, uncompromising transformation of the whole country in their image and likeness on a scale that was impossible before: the war helps to silence the voices of discontent.2 The substance of “decolonisation” was not the building of a stronger sovereign state with a robust public sector — one that would contradict transnational capital, their crucial partner.

Rather, it was the eradication of anything related to Russia or the Soviet Union from the Ukrainian public sphere, including the removal of Russian-language books from libraries, the ban on teaching Russian in schools, even in predominantly Russian-speaking cities like Odessa, and even a ridiculously obscurantist attempt (which passed the first reading in the Ukrainian parliament) to ban the citation of Russian and Russian-language sources in science and education. Add to this the banning of political parties, including some of Ukraine’s oldest, such as the Socialist and Communist parties, which have represented the “Eastern” camp for decades, and further repression of popular opposition media and bloggers stigmatised as “pro-Russian”, even when they expressed no sympathy for the invasion. Ironically, the result is similar to the situation of Ukrainians in the pre-revolutionary Russian Empire: not so much discriminated against as individuals, but prohibited from expressing a distinct collective identity that would be seen as treasonous and repressed.

In Ukraine, we can’t be Soviet anymore. In Russia, it does not look like we can be Ukrainians. Soviet Ukrainians were the product of a social revolution; its degradation destroyed them as a political community. First, the late Soviet and post-Soviet leadership became seen as nothing more than a corrupt, self-serving elite. The atomised masses responded with frequent but poorly organised and amorphous protests that, when successful, only reproduced and intensified the underlying crisis. Unlike social revolutions, the maidans did not bring radical transformations in favour of the popular classes; they typically only increased social inequality. The maidan revolutions did not even build a stronger state but only destabilised the existing one, allowing domestic and transnational elite rivals to seize the opportunity to advance their interests and agendas. The post-Soviet elite responded only with more coercion, which eventually escalated into war (see how it worked out with the successful repression of the 2020 uprising in Belarus). This set the stage for the flourishing not of developmental national ideologies but of regressive neo-tribalist identities. There was no strong force from below to counteract this dynamic. The processes of the escalating crisis of hegemony are universal, but their manifestations in the post-Soviet space are of a rather unique magnitude.
“In Ukraine, we can’t be Soviet anymore. In Russia, it does not look like we can be Ukrainians.”

The decomposition of a political community is the ultimate endpoint of these crisis trends. Divided by frontlines and borders, some volunteering, some being mobilised by force, some collaborating, some fleeing abroad, some trying to maintain a normal life and work in their hometowns, some simply trying to survive, taking different positions on the war (who even cares what “Ukrainian voices” who speak from Donetsk or Sevastopol think?), lacking our political and public representatives, with limited space for expression, with broken ties and suppressed discussions — is there even a common name, a claimed identity for all of us now? It is easy to pretend that we have never even existed, at most a dead-end branch from the main line of Ukrainian nation-building. But one can be sure that without a new cycle of modernising development in Ukraine, Soviet Ukrainians will not be fully assimilated. The political communication required to define our common identity, interests and collective actions in relation to Ukraine, and the states where we will end up, may start again.

The revolutionary project initiated by the Bolsheviks a century ago is no longer embedded in the national communities where it once took root. For the contemporary Left, this should mean not a break with the project of progress, rationality and universal emancipation, but rather the search for a political (and perhaps no longer national) community in which our efforts could be more effectively applied. Any new social revolution would learn from the Soviet one as much as the Bolsheviks learned from the French Revolution of 1789 — understanding its limits and acknowledging its (sometimes unjustifiable) mistakes, but also registering and building on its achievements.

Could Ukraine again be a core part of a social-revolutionary movement? The extent of the ethnonationalist and anti-communist reformatting of the country’s politics, society and ideology may leave no hope for this in the foreseeable future. But consider how dramatically the memory of the Second World War has changed over time. Who could have imagined in 1945, after the Nazi war of extermination and enslavement on the Eastern Front, which murdered between one-sixth and one-quarter of the entire civilian population of Ukraine, that the descendants of the survivors would fight using German tanks against Russians on the very same battlefields where they had fought in the Red Army against German tanks, and would do so while demolishing the remaining monuments to their heroic ancestors? It is unlikely to be the final ironic twist of Ukrainian history.

FOOTNOTES
“Konsolidatsiia ukrainskoho suspilstva: shliakhy, vyklyky, perspektyvy” (Consolidation of Ukrainian society: Paths, challenges, prospects), Razumkov Centre, 2016, p. 71.

S. Rudenko, ‘Spetsoperatsiaa “Derusyfikatsiia.” Interviu z holovnym redaktorom Istorychnoi pravdy Vakhtanhom Kipiani’ (Special operation ‘Derussification’: Interview with the editor-in-chief of Istorychna pravda Vakhtang Kipiani), Ukrainska Pravda, 25 April 2022.


Volodymyr Ishchenko taught sociology at Kyiv universities, and is now a researcher at the Freie Universität in Berlin. His first book, TOWARDS THE ABYSS: UKRAINE FROM MAIDAN TO WAR, is out now from Verso.






 

Two years after Russian invasion, Ukrainians continue to arrive in Manitoba



With Saturday marking two years since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, nearly 29,000 Ukrainians have arrived at the province’s reception centre. Teagan Rasche looks at how Ukrainians are settling in Manitoba and where the challenges still lie.


Saturday marks two years since Russia invaded Ukraine, and many Ukrainians continue to seek refuge in Canada.

Manitoba alone has welcomed thousands of people forced to leave their war-torn homeland. Nearly 29,000 Ukrainians have arrived at the province’s reception centre in the Winnipeg airport, and more than 23,600 provincial health cards issued.

They include people like Mila Shykota, who decided to move to Winnipeg and call Canada ‘home’ in August 2022.

“When several fragments attacked several houses near us and destroyed people’s homes, we decided to leave Ukraine to avoid the threat to our lives,” she said.

Moving here was an easy choice because her husband used to go to the University of Manitoba almost a decade ago, she said. “I knew everything about the winters in Manitoba and we had friends here.”

The family also moved to an area with a dense Ukrainian population. “When I just came to Canada I was impressed by how big the Ukrainian community in Manitoba is, and how Canadians support Ukraine and Ukrainians,” Shykota said.

Joanne Lewandoski, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Manitoba Provincial Council said, per capita, Winnipeg has the most Ukrainians in Canada.

Lewandoski has helped Shykota — along with thousands of others fleeing war — settle in Manitoba over the last two years. “By the end of March, we expect 7,000 people to the province of Manitoba. Daily, we are getting between 25 and 35 people coming in at the airport and these are families,” she said.

Statistics from the Ukrainian Refugee Task Force show that since Russia invaded Ukraine, around 10 per cent of arrivals come to Manitoba. Of those newcomers, around 16 per cent settled outside of Winnipeg in more rural communities.

“I want to say it is a pleasure to work for our brothers and sisters who’ve chosen to come to Manitoba but it’s not an easy voyage,” Lewandoski said, something newcomers like Shykota can confirm. Escaping a violent war just to start over in a new country halfway across the world isn’t a slice of pie.

Now Shykota is waiting for her mom to make the same journey.

“Every time I see the news feed and I read that the Russian missiles attacked Ukraine, I text my mom and ask her ‘How are you?’ ‘Where are you?’ ‘Go to the safety place.’ We are keeping in touch with her,” she said.

“A couple of days ago we received confirmation of her Canadian visa. So hopefully this summer she will be able to come to me.”

Her sister and niece joined here just a few days ago.

–with files from Global’s Teagan Rasche 

Ukraine Rallies Across Europe on War Anniversary

Throughout Europe, on Saturday thousands of protesters came out to condemn Russi'as war against Ukraine on its second anniversary.


by AFP | February 25, 2024, 
People hold signs and flags at a rally to mark the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and ten years since it annexed Crimea at Boston Common in Boston, Massachusetts on February 24, 2024. Joseph Prezioso / AFP

Protesters rallied across Europe Saturday in support of Ukraine on the second anniversary of Moscow's invasion, urging greater Western backing as fears mount about Kyiv's ability to fend off an emboldened Russia.

Crowds gathered in Berlin, London, Paris and other European cities, waving the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag and demanding that Russian President Vladimir Putin put an end to the war.

When Putin sent his forces into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, it brought conflict back to Europe for the first time in decades, a geopolitical earthquake that sent shockwaves across the world.

With concerns growing about waning support from Ukraine's allies as an emboldened Moscow makes battlefield gains, there were calls at a protest at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate for accelerated arms deliveries.

Addressing thousands of supporters, some waving banners that read "arm Ukraine now", Berlin mayor Kai Wegner decried Putin's "brutal war of aggression".

"He wants to wipe out Ukraine, he wants to wipe out the identities of Ukrainians," he told the crowd, which organizers estimated at 10,000-strong while police gave a figure of 5,000.

"But we won't let that happen."

He called on Berlin to deliver long-range Taurus missiles long sought by Kyiv, a demand the German government has so far refused for fears they could also strike inside Russia.

Valeria Zhylenko, a 32-year-old Ukrainian at the rally, recognized it was "more difficult now to support only Ukraine" due to other crises happening around the world.


Two-Year Anniversary of the Full-Scale Invasion of Ukraine
Initially, Ukraine surprised the world with its stalwart defence and managed to regain some of its territory, also thanks to Western military aid. What are the prospects now?


But she added: "I want to remind the world that we are still here, we are resisting... we still need this support."

In London, thousands of protesters marched to Trafalgar Square, waving banners that read "world support Ukraine", and "Russia is a terrorist state".

"Every single day people are dying, and the West is not supplying enough... weaponry, unfortunately," said Tania Zubashenko, a 54-year-old Ukrainian.

"They promise, but sometimes it's only words. We need real actions."

- 'Ukraine defending values' -


Protests took place across France, with several thousand joining a march in central Paris, with shouts of "Putin murderer" and "Russia out of Ukraine" ringing out from the crowd.

In the city of Rouen, mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol told a crowd of several hundred that "Ukraine is defending its sovereignty but also its values and ideals, which are those of Europe.

"Europe is at war -- we cannot remain on the sidelines of this battle."

More than 1,000 protesters gathered in Warsaw -- the capital of Poland, Ukraine's neighbour and a key ally -- in front of the Russian embassy, waving Ukrainian flags.

The demonstrators put up crosses with the names of victims of Russia's war, as well as models of buildings destroyed in Russian bombings.

Demonstrations took place in numerous other cities across Europe, including Dublin, Athens, Barcelon, Budapest, Stockholm and Milan.

At the Stockholm rally, Maryana Kostiv, a 22-year-old Ukrainian from Lviv, told AFP that she hoped for Ukraine to "win the war".

"Everything will end and all the Ukrainians can go back to Ukraine and start to live their normal lives again. That's all that I hope for," she told AFP.

Despite the show of support across the continent on Saturday, Europeans are becoming increasingly worried about Ukraine's faltering efforts to fend off Moscow.

According to a survey released last week, only 10 percent of Europeans believe Ukraine can defeat Russia on the battlefield.

The survey conducted last month across 12 EU countries showed that on average 20 percent of those asked believed Russia could win, and 37 percent thought the conflict would end in a compromise settlement.
3 Myanmar brigadier-generals sentenced to death for surrendering town: Military sources

A sentry from an ethnic armed group fighting Myanmar’s ruling junta stands guard in a town in northern Shan state. 
PHOTO: AFP

UPDATED
FEB 19, 2024,

YANGON – Myanmar’s junta has sentenced to death three brigadier-generals who surrendered with hundreds of troops and handed over a strategic town on the Chinese border to ethnic minority fighters in January, military sources said on Feb 19.

Hundreds of soldiers put down their weapons and handed over the town of Laukkai in Shan state to the so-called Three Brotherhood Alliance after months of fighting that saw the military lose swathes of territory.

The surrender was one of the biggest single losses for the military in decades, and sparked further criticism of the junta leadership by its supporters.

After the surrender, the officers and their troops were allowed by the alliance to leave the area.

“Three brigadier-generals, including the commander of Laukkai town, were given the death sentence,” a military source told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorised to talk to the media.

Another military source confirmed the sentencing.

Three other brigadier-generals were given life sentences for their role in the surrender of Laukkai, the two sources said.

Laukkai is the largest town seized by the Three Brotherhood Alliance – made up of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Arakan Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.

The alliance launched a surprise offensive across a swathe of northern Myanmar in late October and has seized several towns and lucrative trade hubs along the border with China.

Sex, drugs and scams


Current junta chief Min Aung Hlaing made a name for himself in 2009 when, as a regional commander, he expelled the MNDAA from Laukkai.

The army then installed a militia that enriched itself by producing drugs and selling gambling and sex to visitors from across the Chinese border.

Laukkai later became notorious for online scam operations in which thousands of Chinese and other foreign nationals – many of them trafficked and working under duress – defraud their compatriots over the Internet.

A source close to the MNDAA recently said the group was working to install a new administration in the town, without giving details.

Analysts say the onslaught has put the embattled junta in its most vulnerable position since it seized power.

It announced in February that it would begin conscripting young men and women into its ranks due to the “current situation”.

No details have been given about how those called up would be expected to serve, but many young people are not keen to wait and find out.

Last week, local media images showed hundreds of people queueing outside the passport office in Mandalay.

And in commercial hub Yangon, thousands of young men and women queued outside the Thai embassy seeking visas to get out of Myanmar last week. AFP

Young Indian protesters determined to secure agrarian reforms from Modi govt










SHAMBHU, India - Farmers in India's northern Punjab state demanding higher prices for their crops from the national government are relying on young students to ensure the agitation's momentum does not fizzle out.

Eighteen-year-old Simranjeet Singh Mathada is one of thousands of college students who have been waking up at 3am for almost two weeks to help cook meals at community kitchens, fill tankers with potable water and load tractor trailers with supplies before heading to the protest site some 200km from the capital, New Delhi.

"The protests are now about safeguarding the country's agrarian economy and farmers of Punjab are determined to bring this reform at all costs," said Mr Mathada.

Protester demands are centred around guaranteed floor prices which will allow Mr Mathada's parents and millions of other farmers to sell their produce at fixed rates.

Even as negotiations between farmer unions and government have been under way, protests have sometimes turned violent.

On several occasions, scores of farmers have suffered injuries trying to force their way through concrete blocks and barbed wires installed by police to prevent them from marching on the capital.

Some police officials were also injured in these sporadic clashes.

"Our determination to bring about the change helps face the police every day," said Mr Mathada, who is studying for a degree in Arts.

Mr Mathada and his father have been using swimming goggles and a metal shield to protect themselves from thick clouds of smoke and tear gas shells lobbed via drones by the police.

"It has been a shocking experience to see how the police can use force to stop farmers from marching towards Delhi...it has shown me how democracy can fade so quickly," said Mr Mathada.

Before the protests, Mr Mathada helped his family cultivate crops on their ancestral land and manage a hardware shop.

"For now, the main occupation is to make sure Modi government accepts our demands," he said, adding that attending college lectures has become secondary for him and some of his classmates.

The protests come just months before elections in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party is seeking a third consecutive term.

Last week, Mr Modi said his government is committed to the welfare of farmers and is on a mission to make them entrepreneurs and exporters.

Mr Mathada will be eligible to vote for the first time but is having doubts.

"I think about democracy and feel a bit disillusioned; I may not even cast my vote this time." REUTERS

POSTMODERN NEO COLONIALISM
Under new general, Russia’s Wagner makes deeper inroads into Libya

Using a new avatar of the paramilitary group, Putin is strengthening Russia’s presence in the North African country.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) welcomes General Khalifa Haftar (L), commander in the Libyan National Army (LNA), during a meeting in Moscow, Russia [FILE: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters]

By Simon Speakman Cordall
Published On 25 Feb 2024

With the gaze of much of the world fixed on the carnage unfolding in Gaza, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin continues to expand his country’s reach in Africa.

Russia, in the form of the private military contractor (PMC) Wagner, has been a growing presence in Libya since at least 2018, when the group was first reported to be training troops under renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army, forces belonging to the eastern of the country’s two parliaments.

But, following the death of Wagner’s founder and former Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, after his failed coup in Russia last year, the fate of the paramilitary force in Libya and Africa seemed uncertain.

Russia operates several PMCs. However, none is said to be as close to the Kremlin or to have been deployed as extensively as that founded by Prigozhin. At little cost to the Kremlin, Wagner has gained Russia financial, military and political influence across swaths of Libya and Africa.

Given the stakes, the Kremlin was never likely to disband Wagner, despite its active rebellion last year. Instead, following Prigozhin’s much-predicted demise, his commercial and military interests were divided between Russia’s various intelligence services, a report by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) released this week claims.

Like other PMCs, like the United States’ Constellis (formerly Blackwater), Wagner allowed its government to operate in overseas conflicts at arm’s length: projecting power while maintaining a degree of deniability. That distance also allows PMCs to operate outside the typical bounds of state warfare, engaging in campaigns of terror and disinformation in a way that conventional forces cannot.

Command of Wagner’s overseas presence has been assigned to Russia’s military intelligence (GRU), specifically General Andrei Averyanov. Through a series of intermediate PMCs like Convoy, established in Russian-occupied Crimea in 2022, and Redut, active in Ukraine, but established in 2008 to protect Russian commercial interests, maintaining legal deniability, Wagner’s Ukrainian operation is being retitled the Volunteer Corps, with other operations becoming the Expeditionary Corps.

That its ambition remained undimmed was evidenced by its initial instruction to build a fighting force across Africa of some 40,000 contractors – since reduced to 20,000 but far larger than its current footprint.

Some measure of General Averyanov’s intent can perhaps be gained from looking at past command of Unit 29155, the wing of Russian military intelligence reported to be responsible for overseeing foreign assassinations and destabilising European countries.
African dreams

Africa, one of the richest continents in terms of minerals and energy, is undergoing a “youth boom” that stands to change the demographics of the world.

Within Africa, Libya boasts the largest oil reserves and gold deposits estimated to rank among the world’s top 50. In addition, its geographic location, linking Niger, Chad and Sudan to North Africa and Europe, makes it of vital strategic importance.

Already Averyanov has been busy, travelling to meet with Field Marshall Haftar in September of last year, followed by trips to Mali, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Niger.

In all cases, the offer was largely the same: resources for security.

Only in Libya did that rubric break. Russia’s lucrative oil extraction plants operate under the auspices of Libya’s other, internationally recognised government in Tripoli, meaning Haftar and his allies, claimed by the US Department of Defence to include the United Arab Emirates, would have to pay for the Expeditionary Corps’ deployment themselves.

“Haftar needs Wagner,” Tarek Megerisi, a senior fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations said, using the better-known name for the group. “Furthermore, while he’s hosting them in Libya, [Wagner] can use its position to prop up operations in Syria, Sudan and elsewhere.

“It’s a network,” he continued, citing reports. “It’s not just military support, either. They’re using their position in eastern Libya to transport [illegal narcotic] Captagon from Syria, shift gold to evade sanctions, as well as help traffic migrants from southern Africa and as far away as Bangladesh.

“Libya is a hugely profitable area for Wagner,” he said.

Presence

By current estimates, the Expeditionary Corps is thought to have some 800 contractors deployed in Libya, with a further 4,600 dispersed across sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to its fighters, the Expeditionary Corps maintains three air bases – one in the oil basin of Sirte, one in al-Jufra in the interior, and one in Brak al-Shati – which analysts say allows both groups, (Haftar’s Libyan National Army and the PMC) to move goods between allies in Sudan and other sub-Saharan locations.

In addition to its presence on the ground, talks are under way to give Russian warships docking rights at the port of Tobruk in exchange for air defence systems and training for LNA pilots.

“The Central and Eastern Mediterranean is an incredibly important area for Europe and, by extension, NATO,” Ivan Klyszcz, an authority on Russian foreign policy at the International Centre for Defence and Security at Tallinn, said. “Russia already has a Mediterranean port at Tartous in Syria, a port at Tobruk would deepen that presence and potentially bring them into competition with Europe, not least the British, who maintain a large naval presence at Cyprus.”

That the Expeditionary Corps could increase its footfall to 20,000, referenced in the RUSI report and widely discussed by military bloggers, already appears to be within sight.

“That doesn’t sound unachievable, if you consider where they are now,” Jalel Harchaoui of RUSI said. “After all, we’re not talking about purely Russian recruitment, so much as ongoing recruitment across Africa,” he said, recalling Wagner’s transplanting of fighters from Syria to Libya in 2020.

“Eventually, what we may be seeing is a PMC where local troops from one African state can be deployed to another, where they’ll be free to operate to whatever rules they see fit. For instance, in one state, it could simply be a case of providing security to a head of government or a facility. In another, they may be called upon to resort to rape, torture and anti-personnel mines.

“The business model allows them to accomplish all of this, to build alliances … at little cost to what is, at the end of the day, Russia’s relatively small economy,” he said.
End game

However, while a significant player, Wagner is far from alone in a shifting and occasionally crowded Libyan battleground. In addition to the Tripoli-allied militias are the Turkish forces who allied with local commanders to counter and repel the Wagner-backed Haftar, when he attempted to take and hold the capital in 2020 and end the political deadlock in his favour.

Moreover, with Russia’s extensive investment in Libyan energy protected and governed by the Turks’ allies in Tripoli, there are no guarantees that Moscow’s alliance with Haftar may not also fall victim to the cold pragmatism that has been constant amid the chaos in Libya since its revolution.

“There is nothing to suggest that Russia is pledged to Haftar,” Klyszcz continued, “Haftar is important because of where he is, not who he is. It’s as much a marriage of convenience as it is anything else,” he said.

“Likewise with Turkey. There is nothing to suggest that the PMC can’t cooperate with Turkey, as they have in other parts of the world.

“You need to remember that Russia is engaged upon a global strategy with regional implications,” Klszcz said. “Putin’s intention is to create a multipolar world, with India and China all exerting power, rather than just the West as we have at present,” he said.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
Türkiye to make statement at ICJ on legal consequences of Israeli acts in occupied Palestinian land

Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmet Yildiz to make oral statement at International Court of Justice on Monday

Merve Berker | 25.02.2024



ANKARA

Türkiye’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmet Yildiz will make on Monday an oral statement at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) during a hearing on the legal consequences of Israeli actions in occupied Palestinian land.

The public hearings started last Monday in The Hague following the UN General Assembly's request for an advisory opinion on the legal consequences arising from policies and the practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

More than 50 countries are presenting arguments.

“At the end of this process, legal findings regarding the oppression of Palestinians will be presented,” Oncu Keceli, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said on X.

The ICJ had announced the calendar of oral presentations in the advisory opinion to be given on the legal consequences of Israel's acts in the Palestinian territories it has occupied, including East Jerusalem.

Accordingly, 52 states, including Türkiye, as well as the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the African Union, have begun to make 30-minute oral presentations on Feb. 19, starting with Palestine on the very first day, and will continue to do so until Feb. 26, which will be concluded with the Maldives on the afternoon.


Advisory opinions not binding

The main duties of the ICJ include resolving legal disputes that arise between states in line with international law and providing advisory opinions on legal issues referred to it.

The UN court, at the request of the UN General Assembly, will issue a non-binding advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel's policies and acts in occupied Palestine on this issue.

The public hearings of the court at the Hague Peace Palace are broadcast live.

This is the first time such a large number of states made written and oral statements to an advisory opinion before the court, while Israel, which made written statements, did not take part in the oral hearings.

The ICJ’s advisory opinion is not related to a disputed case between two states, unlike the case filed by South Africa at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israel for violation of the Genocide Convention, but only Israel.

It contains the world court’s non-binding legal opinion on the legal liability of Israel's occupation of Palestine.

World court opinion

In its resolution dated Dec. 30, 2022, the Special Political and Decolonization Committee of the UN General Assembly asked: "What are the legal consequences arising from Israel's continuous violation of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination, its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territories it has occupied since 1967, including measures to change the demographic structure, character and status of Jerusalem, and its adoption of relevant discriminatory legislation and measures?"

The second question that the ICJ was asked to provide an advisory opinion on was: "How do the above-mentioned Israeli policies and actions affect the legal status of the occupation and what are the legal consequences of this status for all states and the UN?"

Countries and international institutions, including Türkiye, submitted written statements to the court giving their views on the questions on which advisory opinions would be given.

Headquartered in The Hague, the administrative capital of the Netherlands, the ICJ hears contentious cases between multiple states, as well as gives non-binding advisory opinions on questions posed by UN bodies and other special institutions.

In an advisory opinion in 2004, the court said the wall built by Israel on the occupied territories of Palestine violates international law.

Genocide case

South Africa brought a genocide case against Israel to the ICJ in late December and asked it to grant emergency measures to end the bloodshed in Gaza, where more than 29,600 Palestinians have been killed since Oct. 7.

The court also ordered Israel to take "immediate and effective" measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip but fell short of ordering a cease-fire.

The UN court on Jan. 26 found South Africa's claim that Israel is committing genocide plausible. The court issued an interim order urging Israel to stop obstructing aid deliveries into Gaza and to improve the humanitarian situation.

The statement said an international team was formed to follow Israeli crimes committed in Gaza.

Despite the International Court of Justice’s provisional ruling, Israel continues its onslaught on the Gaza Strip, where at least 29,600 Palestinians have been killed, mostly women and children, and 69,737 injured since Oct. 7, according to Palestinian health authorities.

Less than 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.