Confronting Revisionism: A Call for Respect of Sovereignty and International Law at the University of Antwerp

Yesterday, many classical Russian narratives were spread during a lecture by Prof. Tom Sauer at the University of Antwerp. I organized a conference on human rights in Crimea with the professor in 2015. His ideas of peace with Great Russia have not changed a bit since then: appeasement is a solution—no matter that appeasement has not previously worked. 

I took a microphone and responded to the indoctrination attempt by the professor:

In such discussions where Ukrainians are not considered, you talk about Ukraine as some object, neglecting the will and sovereignty of the whole nation that chose Europe over Russia.

Putin says that the Ukrainian nation does not exist. By objectifying Ukraine, you side with Putin on one decisive point: for you, Ukraine does not exist either. 

Even though the argument is that people should not die, in fact, “praying” to Europe for peace without the action of defense ultimately proves readiness to sacrifice the whole nation for illusionary peace. 

But geopolitical games have geopolitical rules—they are international law. You owe all the peace and prosperity you have here to international law, which foresees equality in international relations and the right to self-defense. 

Whatever you hear about the hierarchy among states is full-speed realism without a perspective of international law. At the same time, “the realists” speak about protecting human rights. But what safeguards human rights better than international law? 

When you compare Russia’s war on Ukraine with wars on other continents, you lose sight of the fact that one principle on the European continent does not exist on the other ones—borders cannot be forcefully changed in Europe. That is the outcome of WW2.

Suppose you compare the Russian war on Ukraine to historical peace congresses. In that case, you may lose sight of the fact that many of them took place before human rights were established as the ultimate priority on the European continent.

And then, you remembered Kosovo and compared it to Crimea… It was unfair to the audience of yours to not mention the huge difference – such as genocide that forced Kosovo to secession. 

Ukrainian Crimea has had complete autonomy. The indigenous people of Crimea, Crimean Tatars, live in worse human rights conditions today, under occupation, than they had lived in an imperfect but free Ukraine.

Then you said that it is not only Putin who made “errors,” strikingly calling war crimes and crimes against humanity, kidnapping kids, and mass murders – “errors”? 

“NATO promised not to expand” – is blackmail with a void argument, seeing that two years into the bloody full-scale war, NATO is still not there! 50% of promised aid has not been delivered. This means that NATO was not only not ready to attack Russia but also not ready even to defend itself! 

And then you blamed Ukraine for mobilization, saying that it sends its young men to death. 

Ukrainian patriots have been on the frontline since 2014. Tens of thousands of them have been killed or injured, but they have seen no other Ukraine than free Ukraine. Their freedom and dignity are values WORTH dying. Do you feel the spirit? Today, going to the frontline is going to death because, with no air defense, manpower does not matter. 

But Ukrainians have no choice. Occupation is death not only for them but for generations to come. 

Do you believe that Putin would join NATO and that we would all live in peace forever? A person with a KGB past whose policy is blackmailing and killing, who used a terrorist attack in 1999 to come to power – would he bring peace to NATO? 

Putin, who came to power by blowing up buildings, is a criminal on a massive scale – having him in your system is blowing up your system from the inside. 

If you are an unbiased professor who considers all sides of the story, ask yourself what you are missing in all the narratives you are convincing your audience about!

“Russia feeling humiliated” is not the reason to smash in blood millions of people. If Russia was a human being, it would go to prison or in countries with death penalties – to death. But it is not a human being; it exists in the landscape of geopolitical games: politics and law! 

For Russia, “realism” is dear – using power for its benefits. 

For Europe – liberalism is dear – using the law for its benefit. 


You fought for it! 

You won it! 

Save it!


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