The Paladins statement on the catastrophes in Kharkiv and Mariupol
Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city of some 1.5 million people, on the border with Russia and under siege by the Red Army, has critical shortages of food, and in particular critical shortages of baby food. If something is not done about this, then tens of thousands of infants, as well as countless other civilians, are going to starve to death. Mariupol has an estimated 15,000+ infants under the age of one year. They are going to die unless urgent food relief is arranged for them.
There are two ways this could happen. One is western air drops. But no western airforce is ready to undertake such a measure, for fear of confusion by Russian air defence systems between aeroplanes with a purely civilian purpose and those with military intentions. Hence to send an air drop would surely be regarded as an escalation, particularly given the virtual complete absence of civilised diplomatic relations between Russia and the West. So this will not happen.
The other is that a convoy of food aid is urgently delivered to Kharkiv by land. We have established the logistics to achieve this, from a country that shares a border with western Ukraine. To protect the safety of our personnel, we will not reveal our plans except to government agencies (something we have already done). But government is dilly-dallying in find the modest, even minuscule, level of funds necessary to support our operation, which is estimated at USD30,000.
We have established a crowdfunding campaign for private individuals and companies to contribute. We need your contributions and we need them now. We do not need them tomorrow, or on Monday, or at some point next week. We have complex logistics to arrange to travel with food through a war zone and we need money to achieve this with even a modicum of safety. The people undertaking this are true heroes. Yet they are unsung, because this crisis is unknown to the foreign journalists in Ukraine who are mostly based in Kyiv. Are you there to support our heroes? Here is the funding link:
If you pass over this link, then you are acting in wanton disregard of the imminent deaths of tens of thousands of children. Your failure to contribute money may lead to the deaths of young children through malnutrition. Are you willing to do anything about it? Can you cope with that on your conscience? Remember: the reason you are morally obliged to pay is because you do not want to depart your comfortable lives yourselves, where your children are catered for, you have pleasant jobs and amenable lifestyles. But the price of living well is that you have an obligation to support the profoundly less fortunate in Europe, here on our doorstep.
But do not think that you can isolate your own comfortable lives from the agonies, crisis, war and death taking place in Ukraine. The conflict will spread if we collectively do not act. Yesterday the Serbian President had to concede, under pressure from Europe, to applying Serbian sanctions against Russia. Whatever the merits of forcing him to do this, the consequence will surely be that Russian interests are removed from Serbia and hence Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, will take advantage of the power vacuum from Russian interests leaving Serbia and will invade North Kosovo, a hitherto autonomous majority-Serb region of Kosovo. This will generate a regional war in the Balkans, as Serbs from Serbia fight to protect their Serbian cousins in North Kosovo.
With Europe spiralling down into one regional conflict after another, do you really think that western economies, already laden with inconceivable debt after the Covid crisis, will not suffer as a result? Europe's economic strength and political stability since the end of World War II in 1945 has been premised upon regional peace. And now the greatest European conflict since World War II threatens everything we have come to take for granted in a wealthy modern Europe. The idea that this conflict will not spread if we ignore it is facile. Poland, the country due to take the most refugees from Ukraine (a country of 44 million people; recall that in the Bosnian war 50% of the population were ultimately made refugees so by analogy we could be looking at 22 million refugees in Europe), has neither the economy, the political stability nor the infrastructure to absorb all the people who will be fleeing from Ukraine. Poland may become destabilised as a result, with unforeseeable consequences. Everyone will end up paying for the costs of a high toll in refugees, in increased taxes, social disharmony and incalculable political results.
If just 1,000 people read this post and donate US$30 each, then we will have reached our goal to send urgent humanitarian food aid to Kharkiv and cause a temporary - we emphasise temporary - respite, preventing infants from dying and a civilian population suffering from massive malnourishment. If people do not pay, then the cost to their economies and their tax burdens will be vastly more than US$30 per person. We beg you to act now, both to prevent mindless human suffering and to protect yourselves.
The city of Kherson, just northwest of Crimea, has fallen to the Russians who now control it. Kherson has a population of about 290,000 people. Do not believe that the Red Army does not intend to take by force every city in Ukraine. It does.
The next city that is to fall is Mariupol, a town of some 446,000 people northeast of Crimea and on the strategically important Sea of Azov. Mariupol is currently encircled by Russian troops, that are advancing on the centre of the city and in the meantime using shelling to reduce the town to rubble.
There has been a rumour that the Mayor of Mariupol fled just a few hours ago under Russian cover. The Azov Brigade, part of the Ukrainian army that has been defending Mariupol, appears determined to fight to the last person. That will entail total destruction of the city, that will end up looking like Berlin in May 1945, with every building destroyed. Mariupol is likely to be razed to the ground.
This is not a problem The Paladins can solve. Instead diplomats and politicians must be pressed to solve the problem - and immediately. There are three ways the battle for Mariupol can work out:
The Azov Brigade ceases to defend the city and an orderly entrance of Russian armour and troops takes place.
Foreign powers parachute Special Forces into the city to resist the Russian onslaught and to turn around the Russian advances.
Mariupol is razed to the ground.
Which of these is most likely? The answer is probably the third; this will presumably cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and/or create an acute refugee crisis in this relatively inaccessible corner of southeastern Ukraine. Can either options 1 or 2 be achieved? That is where you need to apply pressure on your politicians. The Paladins do not need your money to resolve this problem; we need your political activism. Something must be done by western politicians immediately, if the historical city of Mariupol that dates at least from 1779 is to be saved and its population spared from annihalation. The Paladins do not have an army or a brigade of Special Forces. Nor can we influence what the Azov Brigade, a tribe of fighters not from the region (that is predominantly Russophone), do in their last-ditch attempts to defend the city from a Russian onslaught. The fact is that Ukrainian troops cannot defend a city such as Mariupol, because the Red Army is simply too big and has limitless ground capacity. Only foreign airborne forces, placing themselves in harm's way, can prevent what otherwise appears to be the imminent total destruction of the city.
One way or another, we call upon you to express your political voice on this issue. Something must be done - either calling off the Azov Brigade or foreign forces counter-attacking the Russian invaders - to avert catastrophe. Whatever the result you consider preferable, we urge you to contact your politicians and to prioritise the preservation of Mariupol and the prevention of mass murder of its citizens. Please act now.