Fanning Ukraine crisis, exporting refugees expose UK's hypocrisy
Published: Apr 17, 2022 11:04 PM
Ukrainian refugees camp out in the main railway station in Krakow, Poland on March 10, 2022. Photo: VCG

Ukrainian refugees camp out in the main railway station in Krakow, Poland on March 10, 2022. Photo: VCG

The UK, a major power in Europe that has been one of the most hostile forces in its efforts to target Russia since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, is now being sanctioned by Russia with a blacklist that includes senior British officials including the prime minister, while London has also been criticized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) due to its problematic treatment toward refugees. 

Analysts said the UK is playing a role to instigate and extend the Russia-Ukraine conflict for as long as possible to maximize damage upon Russia, unlike other major powers in Europe such as France and Germany that prefer to end the crisis as soon as possible, and the UK is hypocritically unwilling to pay the price caused by the conflict, especially in terms of refugees.

The UK government is acting like a "trouble maker" that can benefit from the bloodshed in Ukraine, and won't change its selfish and racist nature despite the criticism from the UNHCR, experts said.

Russia is set to further expand its list of blacklisted British politicians and members of parliament, who continue to support the so-called "wave of anti-Russian hysteria," the Russian Foreign Ministry stated on Saturday, TASS reported.

"This list will be expanded shortly by including more of British politicians and members of the Parliament in it, who keep inflaming the anti-Russian hysteria, push the collective West towards the use of the language of threats with Moscow and are engaged in a dishonest encouragement of Kiev's Neo-Nazist regime," the ministry stated.

Russia has blacklisted a number of British state officials, barring them from entering the country in response to sanctions imposed against the Russian Federation, the Foreign Ministry said. Among the barred UK top senior officials are British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Raab, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, and former British Prime Minister Theresa May, TASS reported. 

Experts said that due to the low interdependency between Russia and the UK, the sanctions are mainly a show of political determination and will have no further impact on Russia-UK ties, as the relations between them have always been hostile and with little trust. 

The UK had previously imposed sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin's two adult daughters, following in the footsteps of the US in another symbolic move to put pressure on Russia over its military operation in Ukraine, the Guardian reported on April. It also followed the US in sanctioning Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in February. 

Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said that the UK's sanctions against Russia and its support for Ukraine are all based on its hostile view and policy toward Russia, and now their mutual sanctions have targeted national leaders, which means that the recovery of their ties will be extremely difficult in the future.

The UK has positioned itself as the second most influential player after the US on the Ukraine issue and has illustrated the special relationship between the two countries through formulating relevant policies, including maximizing damage upon Russia and keeping the conflict from ending, Cui said, noting that London also wants to remain influential among the major powers in Europe after Brexit, which means it needs to act differently from France and Germany on the issue.  

The UK is being high-profile in showing off its connections with Ukraine's leaders, as UK Prime Minister Johnson made a surprise visit to Kiev earlier this month and continues to encourage Kiev to solve its problems through military measures, "but makes almost no efforts to promote mediation," said a Beijing-based expert on international relations who asked for anonymity.

"If the UK really wants to help Ukraine to end the conflict, it should at least act like France and Germany or Turkey to encourage negotiations, and mediate between Moscow and Kiev to solve the problem through talks, not encourage one side to fight another with force and provide it with weapons. Obviously, London is just like Washington - they pretend to be friends of Ukraine but in fact benefit from the daily tragedy in Ukraine," the expert told the Global Times.

Criticism from UN

The politicians and military industrial giants of the US and UK are enjoying huge profits brought by the war in Europe and the fear that comes along with it, but they refuse to take responsibility to at least take care of the refugees who have suffered from the wars or chaos they created worldwide, said analysts. 

Following public announcements made Thursday, the UNHCR expressed strong opposition and concerns about the UK's plan to export its asylum obligations and urged the UK to refrain from transferring asylum seekers and refugees to Rwanda for processing.

"UNHCR remains firmly opposed to arrangements that seek to transfer refugees and asylum seekers to third countries in the absence of sufficient safeguards and standards. Such arrangements simply shift asylum responsibilities, evade international obligations, and are contrary to the letter and spirit of the Refugee Convention," said UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs.

"People fleeing war, conflict and persecution deserve compassion and empathy. They should not be traded like commodities and transferred abroad for processing."

The UK government unveiled a controversial plan to send asylum seekers on a one-way ticket to Rwanda as more Ukrainian refugees keep arriving in the UK since Russia-Ukraine conflict. 

Analysts said if the UK's plan is implemented, those fleeing from Africa and the Middle East are most likely be transported to Rwanda so more Ukraine refugees could be taken in, which is an irresponsible act driven by racism.

But for those Ukrainian refugees, the UK is not an ideal haven at all.

The UNHCR has called on the UK government to intervene to stop single British men from being matched up with lone Ukrainian women seeking refuge from war because of fears of sexual exploitation, the Guardian reported on Wednesday.

Following claims that predatory men are using the Homes for Ukraine scheme to target the vulnerable, the UNHCR told the Guardian "a more appropriate matching process" could be put in place to ensure women and women with children are matched with families or couples.

The suggestion follows reports that Ukrainian refugees, predominantly women and sometimes those accompanied by children, are at risk in the UK of sexual exploitation, according to the Guardian.

"The Western countries regard the acceptance of Ukrainian refugees as a political issue, not simply a refugee problem," Cui said.

Some Western countries used to believe refugees could become a cheap labor force to benefit their economy, but they found that it is difficult to integrate those from the non-Western world into their societies, so now they may want to use those from Ukraine to replace the ones from the non-Western world, and shift the responsibility to those undeveloped African countries. 

"This is unfair to those refugees from the non-Western world who seek protection from the West and is also dangerous to the women and children from Ukraine, as the UK media reported that they could suffer from sexual exploitation by Western citizens who accept them in local families," he noted.

If the UK government finds that those Ukrainian refugees cannot contribute to the UK's economy but instead bring more problems and burdens, under London's refugee plan, they could also kick them out of the country and send them to Africa, said analysts.