Countries collaborating with Vladimir Putin's regime are endorsing his war crimes – Scotsman comment

Sixteen people are killed in the latest Russian missile attack on a civilian target in Ukraine

When Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Johannesburg for a summit of the ‘Brics’ countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – he smiled and clapped along as traditional dancers provided a warm welcome. And it was all smiles again when Lavrov and the leaders of the four other countries, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping, and Cyril Ramaphosa, joined hands for a photo op. If the ongoing slaughter of innocent people by Russian forces in Ukraine was on their minds at all, they did not show it.

For them, deliberate attacks on civilian targets – like the Russian missile strike that killed 40 people in Dnipro in January or the attack on an apartment block in Uman in April that killed 23 – posed no barrier to friendly relations with the Kremlin. Did they raise any concerns at all? If they did, it made no difference. In the latest flagrant breach of the rules of war, at least 16 people, including a child, were killed when a Russian missile hit a market in Kostiantynivka, eastern Ukraine.

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President Volodymyr Zelensky made a point that should be obvious to all by now: “When someone in the world still attempts to deal with anything Russian, it means turning a blind eye to this reality. The audacity of evil. The brazenness of wickedness. Utter inhumanity.”

When Silva, Modi, Xi and Ramaphosa chose to celebrate with Lavrov, they made a deliberate decision to associate with a war criminal, a key member of Putin’s murderous regime. The message they sent was horrific and unconscionable: realpolitik matters more than human lives. And they aren’t just turning a blind eye to Russia’s crimes – in Ukraine and Syria – they all know what is happening. Instead, they are looking at the bodies, the grief and the suffering, and then turning away with a shrug to crack jokes with the killers.

We must never lose our sense of outrage at what is happening or allow such callous disregard for human life to be normalised. If this becomes the way of the world, we are doomed.



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