Ukraine crisis: Communism victims organization calls Russia's invasion 'illegal' and 'a wake-up call'

Organization says Russia is destabilizing Europe, seeking to undercut U.S. power

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The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to "commemorating the more than 100 million victims of communism around the world," on Friday called Russia's invasion of Ukraine "illegal" and "a wake-up to the West."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has emphasized how he wants to "denazify" Ukraine, despite the fact that Ukraine helped Russia fight Nazi Germany in World War II and its current president, Volodyomyr,Zelenskyy, is a Jewish president whose family members survived the Holocaust.

"The ongoing unprovoked and unjustified attacks on Ukraine by Russian military forces, described by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a ‘special military operation,’ are illegal and contravene international law," the VOC said in a Friday statement. "This groundless aggression has significant long-term ramifications for the U.S. and the West."

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Russian state media outlets have repeated accusations of "genocide" by Ukrainian troops against Russians in Luhansk and Donetsk, the regions Putin declared "independent" while Russian troops were supposedly securing them last week as part of a "peacekeeping" mission, which VOC declared "an outright lie."

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"The implications of this unlawful action are manifold. Most immediately, it is profoundly threatening not only to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity but also to the lives and futures of Ukraine’s people, especially those fighting Russian troops. Some rhetoric by Russian leadership suggests that Moscow may seek to remove Ukraine’s government by force and even to act against specific politicians that the Kremlin dislikes," VOC said. "[U]kraine will suffer greatly."

Medical specialists transport a woman, who was wounded in the shelling of an apartment building, to an ambulance as her husband stands nearby in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 26, 2022.

Medical specialists transport a woman, who was wounded in the shelling of an apartment building, to an ambulance as her husband stands nearby in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 26, 2022. (REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)

The memorial foundation accused the Kremlin of breaking international law, including the Helsinki Accords on European security and the Budapest Memorandum, which prompted Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons in return for its sovereignty. 

VOC went on to call the invasion a "wake-up call to the West."

Ukrainian troops inspect the site following a Russian airstrike in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. 

Ukrainian troops inspect the site following a Russian airstrike in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022.  (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

"The attack on Ukraine is a clear wake-up call to all those who have argued that America is not confronting dangerous great power competition with not only China but also Russia," VOC continued. "Russia is destabilizing Europe, seeking to undercut U.S. power and influence globally and to fragment our close alliances and partnerships. And Moscow is threatening implicitly and explicitly to use its massive nuclear arsenal against any who resist. These events will shape the international system and American foreign and security policy for years to come."

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How the U.S. responds will shape the way foreign governments perceive the United States and its commitment to global stability, particularly in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, the nonprofit said in its statement. 

A humanitarian center for refugees coming from Ukraine at the Moldovan-Ukrainian border in Palalanca, Moldova, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. 

A humanitarian center for refugees coming from Ukraine at the Moldovan-Ukrainian border in Palalanca, Moldova, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022.  (AP Photo/Aurel Obreja)

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The Biden administration earlier this week announced sanctions against Russian banks, oligarchs and the owner of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Putin said the crisis could be resolved if Kyiv recognizes Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed after seizing it from Ukraine in 2014, renounces its bid to join NATO and partially demilitarizes. The West has decried the annexation of Crimea as a violation of international law and has previously flatly rejected permanently barring Ukraine from NATO.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.