Archive 2014

  • From Revolution to ExternalL Aggression


    February 2014 will be named in the history of Ukraine as the time of the most dramatic confrontation between the most active and conscious part of society and government characterized by the largest number of casualties in the history of independent Ukraine. In order to stop the bloodshed and prevent the escalation of the civil conflict Ukrainian political opposition and President Viktor Yanukovych signed a political agreement to resolve the crisis. This agreement envisages the return to the Constitution of 2004, early presidential elections in 2014, formation of coalition government and investigation of events of the last days in Kiev in cooperation with the Council of Europe. This agreement was attested by the officials from Germany, Poland and France, but Russian representative Vladimir Lukin who participated in the talks refused to do it. Shortly after the conclusion of the agreement Viktor Yanukovych left for Russia secretly and officially refused to meet respective commitments.

    While in Kiev the new bodies of central government were in the process of formation, Crimea and a number of regional centers saw the activation of the political forces, which declared that they did not recognize new Government in Kiev, came up with the slogan of federalization of the country and demanded to hold referendums on joining Russia. It should be noted that the media have found sufficient amount of evidence that the active role in these disturbances played Russian citizens.

    But the most dramatic developments took place in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea where during February 27-28 the new government was formed in rather questionable way and decision was taken to hold a May 25 referendum on granting Crimean autonomy state independence. At the same time, troops without any recognition signs blocked the objects of the Military forces of Ukraine, locations of ships and infrastructure of Ukraine's Black Sea Fleet and later attempted to seize military facilities of Ukrainian army. Crimean authorities and the leaders of the Russian Federation stated that the abovementioned actions have been done by the "self-defense forces of the Crimea", but in fact armed "militia" turned out to be regular Russian troops. Thus, Russia committed an act of unprovoked aggression in order to annex the Crimea. The scope and nature of such actions means in practice the beginning of the actual occupation of Ukraine. Official Kyiv declared the inadmissibility of such intervention and appealed to the international community for help, including parties to the Budapest Memorandum, which guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine in exchange for giving up nuclear weapons.

    On March 1, the Russian Federation Council gave consent to President Putin to bring troops to Crimea. Ukraine perceived this decision as a declaration of war, although Russian President Vladimir Putin said that sending troops Ukraine is not considered.

    On March 6, Crimean parliament during closed special session adopted a decision on accession to Russia and sent request to the Russian President, State Duma and Federal Council to start "all procedures necessary to accept Crimea as subject of Russian Federation." Crimean Parliament also adopted decision to schedule referendum on the status of the peninsula on March 16 in order to back up decisions to join the Russian Federation.

    Kiev officials condemned the actions of Crimean authorities, declared appeal to Russian Federation and decision to hold referendum to be illegal and requested political support from international community.

    The situation in Crimea and Ukraine virtually resulted in global political crisis with Russia on one side and all international community on the other as overwhelming majority of the countries, members of UN Security Council, UN, OSCE, EU directly condemned Russian policy or (as China) called all parties engaged to political settlement of the conflict.

    The position of Russia can be summarized as follows:

    1. Non-recognition of the new Government in Kiev. Russia believes that in fact military non-constitutional coup took place in Ukraine, while the formation of the new Government and adoption of relevant decisions took place under pressure of nationalistically-minded extremists. That is why Russia declared that it has no obligations to the new Government in Kyiv according to the Budapest memorandum, while the legitimacy of new Ukrainian authorities has not been disputed by the international community in principle.
    2. Russia has the right to protect its compatriots especially on the territory of the former USSR and in case of necessity will exercise this right. Russia denies presence of Russian military forces in Crimea. According to Russia one can see in Crimea the so-called local self-defense forces maintaining order. At the same time, international community explicitly declares that the Russian military forces are directly engaged in the conflict on Ukrainian territory and urge Russia to withdraw them.
    3. Russia believes that the Western policy has been traditionally based on double standards; the West does not understand what is going in Ukraine and has no grounds to threaten Russia.

    Russia’s actions and declarations in fact have put into question modern system of international security and have exposed Russia to the risk of global political isolation, because international community has unanimously condemned Russian policy, declared its full and unconditional support to Ukraine in its pursuit to secure territorial integrity as well as readiness to introduce political and economic sanctions against Russia. In fact, for the first time since the Second World War international community has faced the dangerous situation when one country strongly intends to annex territory of another country with all subsequent non-predictable political, military and economic implications for the entire world.

    Authors:  Burakovsky Igor
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