Ukraine leader mocks Russia’s call for anti-terrorism coalition

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Tuesday derided Russia's call for the creation of an international antiterrorism coalition, saying the Russians inspire terrorism on their own doorstep and back bellicose puppet governments.

Russian President Putin on Monday called for the creation of a broad international coalition to fight Islamic State and other militant extremist groups.

Poroshenko used his speech at the annual gathering of world leaders for the United Nations General Assembly to blast Russia and suggest its call for global action against terrorist threats was hypocritical.

“Over the last few days we have heard conciliatory statements form the Russian side,” he told the 193-nation assembly. “Cool story, but really hard to believe. How can you urge an antiterrorist coalition if you inspire terrorism right in front of your door?

“How can you talk about peace and legitimacy if your policy is war via puppet governments?” he added. “The Gospel of John teaches us, 'In the beginning was the word.' But what kind of a gospel do you bring to the world if all your words are double-tongued like that?”

He referred to the fact that Russia is accelerating military support to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which has been locked in a civil war with rebel forces seeking to oust Assad for 4-1/2 years.

“These days the Russian 'men in green' tread on Syrian land,” he said. “What or who is next?”

Poroshenko renewed accusations that Russia finances, trains and supplies pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, while sending heavy weapons and Russian troops, with insignias removed from their uniforms, to help battle Ukrainian forces loyal to the Kiev government.

Speaking later at Columbia University, Poroshenko called on countries that support Kiev to help his government secure modern weapons to defend itself.

Moscow denies the allegations and accuses the United States of having orchestrated the ouster of Ukraine's former pro-Kremlin president early last year.

“For over 20 months, Russia's aggression against my country has been continuing through financing of terrorists and mercenaries, and supplies of arms and military equipment to the illegal armed groups,” Poroshenko told the General Assembly.

All but one member of Russia's delegation left the assembly hall while Poroshenko spoke. The full delegation returned after he finished his speech.

The United States and European Union support the Kiev government and have imposed economic sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Poroshenko said that if Russia does not implement the Minsk peace deal reached last year, under which both sides were to hold fire and withdraw heavy weapons, international sanctions of Moscow should remain in place.

Poroshenko and Putin will meet with the leaders of France and Germany in Paris on Friday to discuss the fragile Minsk ceasefire agreement.

A representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said earlier that Ukraine and the separatists have now agreed, in talks in Minsk, Belarus, to extend a pullback of weapons in east Ukraine to include tanks and smaller weapons systems.

Violence Strikes Home

Whether you live in Colorado, Georgia or California, one thing is certain about life in America today: The violence that seems to be forever happening somewhere else will eventually strike home. You might have thought the shootings and bombings and beatings were always, thankfully, taking place elsewhere. But what they have really been doing is circling closer.

As we go to press, there is one child critically wounded. An adult, a teen-ager and two other children escaped with less severe wounds. The scenes on television are so familiar by now that they unspool like summer reruns: the helicopters circling overhead, victims fleeing the scene, SWAT teams, ambulances, the tidbit-by-tidbit babble of the news anchors. It is familiar, but it is always worse with children. Always.

The rest of the world should understand the setting of this latest attack. A Jewish community center in the summer is alive with noisy kids, enthusiastic young counselors and hovering older staff. It smells of sunscreen and pizza. Parents come and go, waving as they tug their overexcited children through the ruckus. I know this because, at the time of the North Valley JCC shooting, my son, aged 6, was at his day camp at the Westside JCC. We parents find thousands of things to worry about in any given day. It never occurred to me to worry about him at the JCC. Now that joins the list. Repeat the new American mantra: No place is safe. No place is safe.

Five years ago, during the Gulf War, LAPD anti-terrorism experts visited area synagogues and other Jewish institutions and encouraged them to beef up security. Some places took the advice. Those that didn’t will now face complex and expensive issues of how to, in Police Chief Bernard Parks’ words, “harden the target” against the violence out there. JCCs have long functioned as campuses for preschools and camps, but have likely neglected the security responsibility that comes with being a school in today’s world.

But will any security measures they now take make us worry less? No. The damage has been done; the circle has drawn tight.

An hour after the shooting, long before Buford O. Furrow turned himself in, we received word that federal and local law enforcement officials were already investigating the attack as a hate crime. It didn’t surprise us. Last year, The Journal reported on a series of white supremacist-linked vandalism in Granada Hills and other Valley communities. Hindsight is 20/20, but experts from the Wiesenthal Center to the ADL have long warned that the step from a swastika to a gun is not as great as we’d like to believe.

But hate isn’t the end of the story. At a press conference shortly after the shooting, Jeffrey L. Rouss, executive vice president of the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles, departed from his written comments to add a plea for gun control. So did the Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier and the ADL’s David Lehrer. These men risked politicizing the moment, but it was a noble risk. Evidently, it can’t be said often enough or loudly enough by enough sane people for our representatives to understand: Hate and psychosis are not unique to our country, but easy access to firearms is. Perhaps it is time for Jews from across the religious and political spectrums to join in lobbying for saner gun laws. Suddenly, assault rifles are a Jewish issue.

The Jewish community is stunned, outraged, anxious and grieving. We feel for the injured and their parents even more because we have walked those same halls, with our own children. “I’m in shock,” one of our reporters on the scene of the story told me by cell phone. “My kid’s Jewish day school is 10 minutes away. It’s all so arbitrary.”

She’s right to be in shock. But she’s wrong that these sorts of attacks, in America, in 1999, are all so arbitrary. On the contrary, they are beginning to feel inevitable. — Rob Eshman, Managing Editor

Gene Lichtenstein is on vacation.