Review of my book by Brittany Cripps

It is rare that someone takes the trouble, as Brittany did, to write such a beautiful review of a book.
It is clear she took the time and found the patience to do a first rate job …. Here is the review, which you
can find at:
“A promise kept” is a heart felt, inspiring story of Andriy Semotiuk and his mother Salomea Drozdowska’s life. Andriy’s first person perspective of his life with his mother is creative, well written and inspiring. I must admit when first reading the summary, and first few pages of the novel I summarized the book up quickly to be an uninviting, simplified version of a run of the mill mother’s life events. Although I ignorantly and silently made a conclusion of this story, curiosity got the better of me. I am very glad it did. Mr. Semotiuk taught me the true meaning of ‘never judging a book by it’s cover’. The knowledge and admiration Andriy has for his family is not only conveyed through his skills in writing but with a talent many writer’s lack. Putting life’s trials and tribulations into words with a grace and a dignity that allows the story to relate to many other’s, while remaining completely unique to mother and himself. This incredible story not only teaches us about a strong, beautiful, independent, but stubborn woman, Salomea Drozdowska. It teaches just exactly what a mother facing severe adversities and disabilities can overcome her son and herself. With in such lesson’s we also gain a new and much needed perspective of life in other countries, surviving WWII and how Canada has grown, not only technologically but culturally. Salomea’s life begins in an average family. With little reason’s to for see the trials and tribulations, her family, child, and herself would be dealt. Through personal and political tragedies everywhere she turns, Salomea overcomes and conquers her own fate. From childhood illness, a war torn a plagued country, and physical abuse she never gives up her hope of a successful and safe life. With many loses and setbacks, she survives to see such success and beauty in life. Although life was never easy, she proves determination knows no bounds. The knowledge, the research Andriy put’s into his work leaves you with a craving to learn more. To appreciate all we have and what those whom love us will endure for our well being. Salomea’s life no longer faces the fear of fading away through passing year’s as so many before us have. He keeps her spirit and strength alive through print, through his own personal success, but also through life lesson’s he now passes on to his families new generations. We are lucky enough to have had him share such intimate events with us. Her legacy may now live on through us, his readers. Thank you Mr. Semotiuk for reminding us, life is not always black and white, life is, in any generation what we choose to make of it.

I recommend everyone reads this book, especially mothers!
To buy your own copy please visit the link below.
A Promise Kept, A Tribute to a Mother’s Love

International Security and Ukraine’s Independence

Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the independence of Ukraine following the collapse of the Soviet Union. I remember this day well from 24 years ago. My family and I were on vacation in British Columbia, Canada when we turned on the news to learn of the independence declaration. To say we were surprised would be an understatement. After more than 1000 years of Russian domination of Ukraine, subject only to momentary moments of sovereignty, Ukraine finally had achieved what millions of Ukrainians had dreamed about for centuries.

Commentators then claimed that independence was won without blood shed. But any Ukrainian could tell you that was untrue. Those who wrote such words did not have a good grasp of the history of the nation. During the course of Russian domination, the Ukrainian nation repeatedly was the victim of the Kremlin’s sadistic policies. Chief among them was the 1932-1933 unleashing of an artificial famine, the Holodomor, that left some seven million victims dead. But there were many others. Rebellions were quashed, soldiers were killed and Ukrainian dissidents jailed. The Ukrainian countryside was Russified by Russian colonials who Moscow sent to live there while it resettled Ukrainians to Siberia and other desolate places. In the unforgettable words of former Ukrainian Cardinal Josyf Slipyj, Ukrainian land “was covered by a mountain of corpses and rivers of blood.”

So it is only appropriate to reflect on history in considering this day and the conflict taking place in Eastern Ukraine. In his excellent article recently published in the New York Times on that subject, Paul J. Saunders draws a lesson from history in his analysis of the current situation. The article speaks about the pressures the United States applied against Imperial Japan and the oil embargo that ultimately ended up with an attack by the Japanese fleet at Pearl Harbor in 1941. The point being made was that the sanctions employed by America against the Japanese leadership effectively backfired in that those leaders were backed into a corner that forced them to declare war on the U.S. as part of their struggle to maintain their positions in Imperial Japan.

This is a helpful and insightful analysis. The author speaks of the current proclivity of analysts to compare what is taking place in Eastern Ukraine to the events in Europe that led to the outbreak of World War I. Like this author, I too believe that a more accurate analogy would be to the events that led to the outbreak of World Way II. But unlike this author, I believe there is more to be learned from the events in the pre-World War II European theater than those in the Pacific.

Most writers and viewers of today’s events involving Putin’s gambit in Ukraine see the general similarities to Hitler’s Anschluss with Austria and the later invasion of the Sudetenland. What I believe many readers are not registering is that the dramatic events that are unfolding in Eastern Ukraine portend the heavy costs that will be endured by the West for failing to draw the line earlier with this adventurist Putin behavior.

Like Hitler before him, Putin understands only one response to his initiatives – military strength. Putin is a bully and someone unlikely to be deterred by pious condemnations, declarations of NATO solidarity, nor meaningless sanctions that do not affect him personally nor threaten his grip on power in Russia. Meetings with Putin today to discuss ‘peace’ are identical to the meetings Western leaders held with Hitler as he moved ahead with his plans following Munich. What is there to discuss? Putin has invaded a neighboring sovereign state. He correctly reads that the United Sates and its NATO allies are not ready to confront him. They were not ready to do so about Crimea before, not ready to do so about Eastern Ukraine today and they will not be ready to do so if he steps across the EU border.

Personally the fact that Russia is fully at war with Ukraine today did not really register with me until I read the articles about the former American Ranger, Mark Paslavsky, and his recent death in a battle in Eastern Ukraine. Suddenly for me the fact that Paslavsky died brought home the message that over 2000 people have died in the war between Russia and Ukraine so far. Suddenly the over 200 recent bomb scares in Kyiv and the assassinations of political leaders even in Western Ukraine, became more alarming and menacing to me.

While these events pale in comparison to the deaths in Syria and Iraq, or even in Gaza, they are a signal of future events to come. The battles in Syria Iraq and Gaza, while significant and deserving of our attention and utmost effort to curtail, are the minor leagues compared to what we will face with Putin and his nuclear arsenal down the road. Putin will not be deterred until he directly threatens one of the major European powers, and perhaps not even then. Today’s Ukrainian Independence Day reminds us that Russia has always been a belligerent, plundering, imperial state and Putin is well placed as its leader. The biggest mistake Western leaders are making today is failing to fully and urgently arm and militarily assist Ukraine’s army in fighting the war with this invader.

Ukrainian history teaches us that without Ukraine, Russia will perish as an empire – but with it Russia will remain a power others will be forced to face. Lenin knew this in 1917 and Putin knows this in 2014. As mentioned, the cost for the West grows with each day that the war continues. Beware the future with Putin! He is on the road headed our way.


Russia vs. Ukraine: Let’s Cut to the Chase, Shall We?

In a previous article I talked about the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the key factor being Russia’s ability to securely supply oil and gas through its pipelines to Europe, and in the future to China, given the recent supply agreement reached with that country. I went on to say,Since 70 percent of Russia’s export earnings are from oil and gas exports and 50 percent of Russia’s GDP earnings per year are from energy, a disruption in the flow of oil and gas abroad would be catastrophic … The ensuing economic chaos that such a disruption would cause would be enough to loosen Russia’s grip on Ukraine as Putin’s attention would have to focus internally to mend the problem.”

In an article recently circulated by the APT Group, a reference is made to a Symantec Security white paper that talks about a cyber espionage campaign dubbed Dragonfly (aka Energetic Bear).  According to the white paper, “The attackers … managed to compromise a number of strategically important organizations for spying purposes and could have caused damage or disruption to energy supplies in seven affected countries including the United States. Among the targets of Dragonfly were energy grid operators, major electricity generation firms, petroleum pipeline operators, and Energy industry industrial control system (ICS) equipment manufacturers.” (Emphasis added).

The white paper continues, “This campaign follows in the footsteps of Stuxnet, which was the first known major malware campaign to target ICS systems. While there are parallels between the motivations behind the Stuxnet malware and the Dragonfly attack group, Dragonfly appears to be focused more on espionage, whereas Stuxnet was designed specifically for sabotage.” It is not known who is behind Dragonfly but the white paper seems to think that the effort is state sponsored.(1)

In an article by Dr. Yarno Limnell, the Director of Cyber Security for McAfee, a division of Intel Security, who holds a Doctor of Military Science degree from Finland’s National Defense University, posted on the CBS News web site entitled Why hasn’t Russia unleashed a cyber attack on Ukraine, the author says,Besides the reported tries at election tampering, the Russia-Ukraine conflict featured crude distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on state websites by both sides in the run-up to the March referendum on the fate of Crimea. Propaganda in digital social media is another form of cyber weapon, and the Russians have certainly uncorked that too. But the genie of full-on cyber assault remains firmly in its bottle.” The author then asks, “Why?” He goes on to provide a number of plausible explanations to the effect that once started there is no predictable end to such an attack.

It is my belief that one of the main reasons why Russia has not undertaken such a full frontal cyber attack is because of Russia’s vulnerability in respect to its energy pipelines to Europe as described earlier. One need only view the maps of the network of Russian pipelines depicted at the following two sites to perceive just how vulnerable Russia really is:
Major Russian gas pipelines to Europe
Russia’s Pipelines of Empire

Were any of these pipelines seriously attacked, whether by cyber sabotage or even physically, it would not take long for Russia to descend into economic chaos and political turmoil. Putin surely understands this lesson and it is important for Ukraine’s leadership to pay attention to it as well. In the months ahead it could very well be the deciding factor in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.


(1) The white paper provides the following references for its sources:


Dragonfly: Western Energy Companies Under Sabotage Threat

Dragonfly Threat Against Western Energy Suppliers (Whitepaper)

Dragonfly: the Latest Cyber-Espionage Threat (Webcast)




Key Issue in the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

There is little doubt that the key issue in the Russia-Ukraine conflict is Russia’s capacity to supply oil and gas to Europe and now to China. Since 70 percent of Russia’s export earnings are from oil and gas exports and 50 percent of Russia’s GDP earnings per year are from energy, a disruption in the flow of oil and gas abroad would be catastrophic to Russia. The ensuing economic chaos that such a disruption would cause would be enough to loosen Russia’s grip on Ukraine as Putin’s attention would have to focus internally to mend the problem. Whether there are disgruntled elements in Russia who would be willing to resort to such measures, like the Chechens for example, remains to be seen. However, there is reason to track this concern since it would have far-reaching implications both inside Russia and in Western Europe. After all, the EU as a whole is dependent on Russian oil and gas for 29 percent of its supply, with the Baltic states the most dependent at 100 percent.

Normandy D-Day Celebrations

Andriy J. Semotiuk Author, Speaker, Immigration Lawyer

Andriy J. Semotiuk
Author, Speaker, Immigration Lawyer

Tomorrow, June 6th, 2014, the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy will be commemorated by many Allied Heads of State and hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world. Among those who will be present will be Vladimir Putin, President of Russia.  For the reasons I hope to make clear in this comment, it is indeed ironic that Putin should be present on this occasion.


Western historians and commentators often remind us that World War II was started by Adolf Hitler’s attack on Poland on September 1st, 1939. But that is not quite correct. It was the attack of Hitler and Stalin, following their Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact to divide Poland, that started World War II. Even before that however, the Soviet Union supplied the Nazi war machine with strategic materiel for many years. In addition, for two years following the attack on Poland, Stalin supported  Hitler while Nazi Germany invaded Western Europe including the very fields of Normandy where the celebrations will be held. This joint collaboration ultimately led to the loss of some 50 million lives worldwide.


Today, while we seek to venerate those who laid down their lives for democracy and freedom on the fields of Normandy and elsewhere, Putin laments the loss of Soviet glory calling it the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. Instead of condemning Stalin, Putin ruminates about his past seeking to resurrect Stalin as a respected Western ally. Instead of acknowledging and condemning the U.S.S.R. for the concentration camp of nations that it was, Putin employs Nazi tactics such as “the big lie”-Goebbels-style propaganda, double-talk, duplicity and the use of mercenaries to subvert democracy and sovereignty in neighboring states while he seeks to re-establish the Soviet empire. Instead of supporting democracy and freedom in Russia and in allied states like Syria, his defiant aggressive actions, such as the invasion of Crimea, contravene international law and set precedents that jeopardize world peace everywhere.


On the solemn occasion of the 70th anniversary of Normandy, let us all recall this early Russian history and make it clear to Putin that his actions have not fooled anyone, nor will they be tolerated by world leaders or by those who lost their fathers, brothers, sons and friends on the fields of Normandy on D-day. Let us be mindful of the fact that in Putin’s Russia today, the publication of the words you are now reading would be enough to send this writer to jail as a criminal for “slandering” the Russian state.


Will Sanctions Stop Putin?

I believe the recent Western sanctions imposed on Russia will have the opposite effect from those intended. Briefly, Putin is troubled by internal dissent and cannot tolerate a democracy on his doorstep. As the Russian economy slides to the bottom, to stay in power Putin will need to become even more bellicose externally thus focusing the attention of his countrymen on external problems to keep a lid on internal dissension. His only way of keeping himself
in power is to increase his belligerency on the world stage. As he racks up more
and more ‘victories’ abroad, internal support will ride high until the tide eventually
turns, as it must. But this is a suicidal path that will be costly for all of us. The sooner the West draws a line in the sand and commits to an all-out effort to stop him the less costly the ultimate result will be. Time runs against us in this escalating showdown.

What Lies at the ‘Root’ of the Ukrainian Crisis?

Andriy J. Semotiuk Author, Speaker, Immigration Lawyer

Andriy J. Semotiuk
Author, Speaker, Immigration Lawyer

The international crisis related to Russia’s ongoing slow motion invasion is really not about Ukraine at all. It is about world peace. Russia’s failure to honour Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence has unglued the solidarity of all nations held together under security treaties by demonstrating that redrawing geographic boundaries is a matter of military might and neither the Western World nor anyone else is prepared to do anything about Russia’s adventurism. Every nation on earth whose survival or security has been the subject of a security guarantee today has reason to wonder whether they will be alone if they are threatened. Will NATO really come to the defence of its Eastern European members? Would NATO really declare war with Russia if Putin invaded Estonia? Will the United States really go to war with China if it threatens Taiwan? Will Iran and North Korea even consider abandoning their nuclear ambitions on the strength of Western assurances so easily discarded as in the case of Ukraine? If you think Ukraine is just some weak country “somewhere over there” think again. The cost of protecting Ukraine is infinitesimal in comparison to the escalating cost of upcoming confrontations with Putin once he has settled the Ukrainian “skirmish”. And if you think Canada is immune, consider the riches of Canada’s far north.