Peace Is the Highest Value for Everyone

The world is preparing to unite to meet the anniversary of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine. For almost a year, the courageous Ukrainian people have been fighting for freedom and independence. And not only their own, because it is thanks to the heroism of the Ukrainians and the consolidated support of the civilized world it is possible to counter the wild Russian threat, which can grow to a pan-European scale if Russian terror is not stopped here and now.

These days are full of events, landmark meetings and strong support for Ukraine from the international community. Let us recall the meetings in the Ramstein format, the Munich Security Conference — the world’s leading forum for debate on international security. It was in Munich this week that one of the world leaders, French President Macron, suggested that Russia should be excluded from the UN Security Council. This is not surprising, because the Russian Federation continues to shamelessly exploit its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, covering up its crimes, ignoring the norms of the UN Charter and using the main UN body as a platform for promoting its criminal intentions thanks to the veto right. Russia is lobbying for its own interests, effectively covering its war crimes. But much more is at stake in Russia’s terrorist war on the territory of independent and unconquered Ukraine than the security and sovereignty of one country.

In February 2022, the Kremlin challenged the security of many nations and peoples, because the open invasion of the Russian Federation, numerous war crimes and threats of nuclear blackmail are clearly markers of a wider threat to the whole world. All this is urgently needed to be stopped today, by joint efforts and actions, because tomorrow it may be too late.

As you know, next week the UN General Assembly will vote for a draft resolution calling for restoration of peace in Ukraine as soon as possible, and the European Union plans to time a new, already tenth, package of sanctions against the Russian Federation. Therefore, the world is changing, as is the attitude towards the formation of a common security architecture.

Significant events took place at the beginning of the year within Cyprus-Ukraine relations and its support as one of the components of this architecture. For example, recently it became known that Cyprus extended the right to temporary protection to Ukrainians for another year, once again demonstrating friendly relations and support at the level of countries and peoples. It is known that there are about 20 thousand Ukrainians in Cyprus, who are under the protection of the republic’s legislation. Such gestures of support have a special weight and meaning. This once again confirms the strong support of Ukraine from Cyprus, not only on political platforms, but also at the level of the people. Recently, the new Cypriot Ambassador began a diplomatic mission in Ukraine, which was also a manifestation of solidarity and support, especially as Ukraine continues to be under regular massive rocket attacks from the Russian Federation, the No. 1 terrorist state in the world. Significant humanitarian assistance from the Republic of Cyprus since the beginning of the large-scale Russian invasion, support for Ukraine on international platforms, support for the Ukrainian peace formula, readiness to work together with Ukraine to stop Russian aggression — all this is the key to the further successful development of friendly and mutually beneficial relations between the two states, one of which, unfortunately, is at war defending its own independence.
At the same time, there is still a serious Russian lobby in Cyprus, which is trying to keep the country in the orbit of its influence and manipulate economic levers or traditional values, such as the unity of cultures and Orthodoxy. There is a large Russian diaspora lives in Cyprus. Even before the start of the war, over the past years, Russians have been quite actively buying up real estate, often along with citizenship. But Europe no longer wants and cannot depend on the Kremlin’s influence, and therefore cannot allow Putin’s friends to have passports, bypassing the generally accepted security system. Cyprus is a full member of the EU and fulfills all international obligations, both within the EU and many other global financial institutions in matters relating to money laundering, banking supervision and other things that are important today in terms of maintaining sanctions regime against the Russian Federation. Many Russians still have Cypriot passports, although the process of revoking citizenship of the republic is gaining momentum. Thus, in January, it became known that the Cypriot government had revoked the citizenship of another 222 wealthy investors and members of their families who received the so-called golden passports. The decision to deprive citizenship applies, in particular, to Russians and members of their families. All these persons are included in the EU sanctions list due to Russian aggression in Ukraine. Unfortunately, in 13 years of its existence, the once lucrative, now defunct Citizenship by Investment Program has frequently violated of the law, granting Cypriot passports to investors who do not qualify for citizenship. Hundreds, if not thousands, of passports under this program have been issued to wealthy Russians, some of whom have been openly breaking the law or hiding from sanctions. It is known that from 2007 to 2020, Cyprus granted citizenship to 2,886 Russians, including investors and their families. Since November 2020, “golden passports” program has been finally suspended, and since the imposition of sanctions against the Russian Federation, a rather noticeable outflow of Russian financial resources from the territory of Cyprus can be seen. It remains to be believed that this process will intensify even more, and Russian influence on the Cypriot economy and life in general will significantly weaken, since getting rid of Russian dependence. The derussification of Europe is impossible without the derussification of Cyprus. Europe, first of all, is a territory of rights and freedoms, universal values, and not consumer measurements or needs. European unification should contribute to the restoration of peace on the continent. It will not be possible to obtain peace without the end of the war, either.
Cyprus can bring closer and help the Ukrainians win the desired victory by providing its weapons of Soviet and Russian production. The lifting of the US embargo last fall, which lasted 35 years, allows Cyprus to buy modern American weapons and become a potential arms supplier to Ukraine. It is known that Cyprus has at least 10 Tor and Buk launchers capable of shooting down Russian aircraft, drones, and cruise missiles. For Cyprus today they do not have such importance and significance, and over time they will become unnecessary and uncompetitive rubbish, but for the Ukrainian army it has a high priority and is a real treasure. It is Cyprus that can become a necessary and important link in the chain of Ukrainian strength and victory, since it has the systems that Ukraine needs to support its counter-offensive and defensive actions, namely its Russian-made rocket launchers, surface-to-air missiles, helicopters, tanks and armored vehicles. It is essential here to act swiftly and in time, up to the end, in the name of victory and peace in Europe. There is and was no doubt which side is right. Sixty-one percent of the EU inhabitants are confident in the victory of Ukraine over the Russian Federation. This is evidenced, in particular, in the Eupinions survey at the end of last year among citizens of the EU countries. None of the EU member states supported the Kremlin in this matter. Almost 70 % of respondents said “yes” answering whether the attack on Ukraine is an attack on Europe and whether it is true that Ukraine is currently fighting for their common freedom and well-being. Such results cannot but rejoice, they are able to inspire hope and optimism.
At the same time, we should not forget that each new day of the war adds more and more grief and trials to Ukrainians, because the war continues, taking the lives of civilians, destroying cities and villages, destroying destinies and dreams. The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine has recorded numerous crimes committed by the Russian army during the large-scale war unleashed by Russia on February 24, 2022. This sad list contains a huge number of Russian crimes: murder, torture, violence, rape. And, unfortunately, they were also committed against children. The Russian military does not stop shelling Ukrainian cities and villages, the number of dead civilians, in particular children, is also increasing. If on December 17 it was known about 450 killed Ukrainian minors, now, as of February 5, it is already 460 dead children. So, Ukrainian children are still dying from Russian weapons, and the Kremlin is still building new plans of terror and aggression, new crimes against humanity. Therefore, it is necessary to further consolidate all efforts both at the level of the European Union and at the level of individual countries in order to stop this war and obtain such a desired peace — the highest value for everyone. Here we should not forget that Cyprus has extremely powerful instruments of influence on Russian society. The democratic world cannot be on the side of evil, but must stop Russian terror in the center of Europe before this evil spreads to a large territory. The full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation into the territory of Ukraine almost a year ago became an indication that hybrid threats are not limited to standard blackmail and provocations, but are becoming a real war, mixed with blood and lies. For all these crimes, the Kremlin, of course, will answer in the International Court of Justice. But so far, the only effective method of confronting the aggressor country is the courage and heroism of Ukrainian soldiers and the support of the civilized world in the fight against the terrorist state of the Russian Federation. Every element is important in this unified system.