DAVOS: Accusations of double standards over the West’s approach to the Ukraine conflict and its refugee influx compared to conflicts elsewhere in the world are fair, said the director general of the Royal United Services Institute, a British defense and security think tank.
The crucial difference in the Ukraine conflict, however, is that it involves Russia, a nuclear power and one of the world’s biggest energy suppliers, Karin von Hippel added.
“I think it’s a fair criticism (of the West), and certainly Afghans, Syrians, these big groups of refugees, were not treated the same way,” she told Arab News at the World Economic Forum.
“Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey welcomed Syrian refugees, but now you have Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia all doing the same with Ukrainians. It’s the normal way things happen, but the added dimension is Russia has nuclear weapons, and also has so much fuel that so many countries rely on,” she added.
“(Nuclear weapons) could cause huge damage, so it’s a conflict for Europe, and Europe is dealing with it as best it can.”
While the EU, the US and Canada have actively supported and armed Ukraine, von Hippel said there should be more global pressure put on the Kremlin to cease hostilities.
“I think there could be more of a global effort to put pressure on Russia, (including) countries in the Middle East that have influence with Russia, to end this war, to also let Russians know that killing civilians in this way is not the way you can behave in the 21st century, just like (the world) did on Syria,” she added.
“Countries pushed very hard on (Syrian President Bashar) Assad. While it didn’t work with Assad, they did isolate him.
“What I worry about after this is how does (Russian President Vladimir) Putin get reintegrated? I’d hope he could remain an international pariah, and he’s going to be in a similar position (to Assad). He’s gone too far, just as Assad went way too far.”
Von Hippel drew similarities between eventual reconstruction in Ukraine and the cycle of rebuilding in Lebanon.
She also expressed hope that levels of corruption seen in Afghanistan’s rebuilding efforts could be avoided in Ukraine.
“If you look at Lebanon, I was there in 2007 when the Israelis bombed the Hezbollah areas, and so much of that has already been rebuilt. Lebanon has been rebuilt several times,” she said.
“It will be a healthy injection into the (Ukrainian) economy. The question will be about corruption, especially with a rush to get the money in.
“The world will be watching, but it isn’t just governments that spend the money. All sorts of companies get awarded contracts.
“You saw it in Afghanistan — all these American companies spent way more money than they knew how to spend and didn’t really achieve anything.”