(Presentation of the Ambassador Borys Bazylevskyi, Leading Expert of the Center for Russian Studies on March 20, 2015, in Belgrade (Serbia) at the international conference "Ukrainian crisis - views from Ukraine, Germany and Serbia” organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Center for International and Security Affairs of Serbia.)
The long confrontation in Ukraine stems from a decision last year by former Ukrainian president, Victor Yanukovych, not to proceed with the ‘Association Agreement’ with the European Union.
The mass demonstrations that filled Independence Square from December 2013 onwards expressed a deep-felt desire to get rid of the corrupt rule of oligarchs and establish a ‘clean’ government. Over a hundred people were killed in Independence Square in the bloody clashes that were seen live on television across the world.
Once Yanukovych was forced to flee from office and from the country his resignation had most likely not entered into the calculations of Russia’s president Putin, who saw Russia’s interests in the region immediately threatened.
Immediately after that by using the situation when the newly established government in Kyiv was not able to grasp its full volume of power, Putin sends his so called “green men” to Crimea that together with the Russian Black Sea Fleet forces and with the weapons, as Putin stated bought at stores, managed to suppress the detachments of the Ukrainian Army. Might I add that they have been ruined with the help of Yanukovich and Russian agents in the Yanukovich Government. With the help of Russian bayonets a fake meeting of the local Council was held which carried a fake referendum on unification with Russia. Thus the so called “hybrid” war started with the annexation of Crimea.
Those Putin actions sparked huge manifestations in the main Ukrainian cities, and Donetsk including, in favor of the unity of Ukraine.
But Putin’s next step was to send a number of terrorist groups led by Russian officers from the KGB/FSB/GRU structures to adjacent to Russia regions in Donbas. And those managed to capture administrative buildings in a number of Donbas cities.
After Mr. Poroshenko was elected with the overwhelming majority of voters and after the Ukrainian Army accumulated and consolidated some strength, three forth of the territory held by terrorists in Donbas was freed in August last year. It seemed that the crisis would come to an end soon.
Facing the complete defeat of his mercenaries in Donbas Putin starts attacks from the Russian territory and then sends to the territory of Ukraine over the border an increasing number of his troops without insignias and with heavy weapons, that as he again mentioned were bought at some stores in Donbas.
As Dr. Stephen Blank, a senior fellow at the American Council on Foreign Relations, stated during a hearing in the US Senate now the number of Russian regular forces and armed groups established during the conflict in Donbas are more than 43 thousand.
He stressed that these units are armed with battle tanks of the latest development, armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, plus hundreds of rocket-launching artillery. They also actively use modern electronic warfare.
Despite the two called Minsk understandings and limited economic sanctions by the EU and by the US the war in Donbas is far from the end.
Anyway we are thankful to the EU and the US for their consolidated support of Ukraine, but though the intensity of fire has relatively decreased today, the Russian terrorist groups withdraw heavy artillery in daytime and return them back by night. The concentration of the Russian Armed Forces against the seaport of Mariupol is going on with the purpose to break through the Land Way for Russia to Crimea.
The legal qualification of such Russian actions are completely within the definition of aggression, given by the UN General Assembly on December 14, 1974 in its Resolution 3314.
In fact, the Russian Federation has announced the annexation of our territory and continues the undeclared war against Ukraine. In a cynical way the Kremlin leadership is trying to spread worldwide false information that allegedly Russia has nothing to do “with this internal conflict”.
But as it has been stated the other day by Ms. Zelenkova a reporter of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe there is no civil war in Ukraine and there are no religious or ethnic reasons for the conflict similar to those that are in other hot spots in the world. In fact it is a war between Ukraine and Russia, a war between Russia and the West on the territory of Ukraine. And I would add the war between those who stand for democracy and those in the Kremlin who do not accept democratic values and want like Hitler Nazis from the last century to impose on the rest of the world the rule of war.
“Those are not right who are right but those are right who have more rights.” This slogan once used by Gromyko, the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs of Khrushchev and Brezhnev era is now adopted by Putin regime.
The war in Ukraine shows that in Donbas not only the future of Ukraine but the future of all Europe and of the whole world order is being questioned. Events in Ukraine have become a clear indicator that Putin’s task is to change the world order to his own benefits, to rebuild Russia as a new “super power” and a new Empire which the whole world will be afraid of.
Now the Russian military aircrafts are flying close to the Baltics, Ireland and the Great Britain, and, despite the crisis gripping the economy, 40 per cent of the Russian budget is to be spent for the military needs.
On March 5, 1946, the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Churchill identified the two great dangers that menace the world; what he called “the two giant marauders, war and tyranny.” War, he stated, often results from “the designs of wicked men” and “the aggressive urge of mighty states.” Tyranny reigns when “the power of the State is exercised without restraint, either by dictators or by compact oligarchies operating through a privileged party and a political police.”
The Russians, he said, admire strength but have no respect for weakness, “especially military weakness.” “If the Western Democracies stand together in strict adherence to the principles of the United Nations charter, their influence for furthering those principles will be immense and no one is likely to molest them.” But he warned that if the West becomes divided or falters, “then indeed catastrophe may overwhelm us all.”
The end of the global confrontation of superpowers, the collapse of the bi-polar world, has not resulted, according to the Russian elite, in the termination of interstate conflicts and rivalries. Nor has it led to the “solution" of Russian national interests. So the Kremlin makes a serious bid to increase the role of the military factor in international affairs, increase the degree of regional instability and uncertainty in order to establish a New World Order according to their own understanding.
As a main tool of achieving its goals, Putin’s regime adopted a primarily military-political force, including methods of terror that Putin and his closest circle of advisers learned during their enlistment in the Soviet Secret Service and were trained to use.
The main ideological references used by the Kremlin in fact are: supremacy of the Russian people that even have a special genome (resembles Nazi ideas), Anti Westernizm up to open confrontation with the US and the EU, specific way of development of Russia as a closed society, antidemocratic and autocratic rule of Russia, reintegration of the Soviet space and if possible of the former “Socialist Camp” space, interference into internal affairs of other countries up to intervention under the pretext of defending the rights of so called Russian speaking population, rule while dividing the democratic world, expansion as far as possible. Unfortunately such Nazi-like crazy ideas of dominating the world are still living in the majority of Russian minds. Recently 65% of Muscovites who watched one Moscow TV channel voted in favor of unleashing the nuclear war if it is so decided by Putin. Recently a propaganda clip was spread in Internet in which Russian ideologists state that “We Russians are born to be occupants, we are proud to be occupants and we shall bring our civilization to the rest of the world.
To realize the motives of the ruling elite of modern Russia, important features of this regime should be highlighted: 1) their ideological and moral weakness, and 2) the desire to stay in power at any cost. A major risk factor for the surrounding world is a very low level of general political and legal culture on the part of modern Russia's ruling elite, which contributes to the violation of democratic norms, corruption, and a nihilistic attitude towards the needs and demands of society.
The international community is now facing the challenges of a new type, the answers to which have not yet been found.
The current crisis was the natural result of the gradual proliferation of destructive processes within existing international security system built on the basis of the Yalta-Helsinki agreements. The system cannot work to prevent threats - the more modern, often asymmetric.
Veto of the aggressor country at the UN Security Council decision prevents constructive solutions to resolve the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. OSCE does not have sufficient leverage over Russia that violates the basic principles of its activities and openly defying decisions not for the first time. Harassment by Russia against Ukraine not only undermines regional stability in countries from the Baltics to the Black Sea and the Caspian Basin, but also can have a dramatic effect on a global scale. After all, according to current Russian leadership, Ukraine is not the only country whose statehood is questioned.
In this regard, the international community should reform institutions designed to ensure international security.
The first step in this direction should be the removal or at least the limit of the right of veto of aggressor state in the Security Council.
To increase the effectiveness of the OSCE it is desirable to move away from consensus when making binding decisions to support regional stability in case of abuse.
It is desirable for NATO to return to its original function - collective defense, which in the post "Cold War" was somewhat blurred.
The present behavior of nuclear powers has effectively undermined the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Russian aggression against Ukraine violated its obligations to Ukraine to ensure its sovereignty and territorial integrity, taken under the NPT and recorded in the Budapest Memorandum of December 5, 1994. The issue of implementation by guarantor countries of their obligations under guarantees given to Ukraine in exchange for its accession to the NPT is still open.
If the answer to the question of the validity of the guarantees is not be found in the near future, the developments shall question the non proliferation regime and in foreseeable future the world shall not be able to avoid the uncontrolled expansion of the club of nuclear countries worldwide.
The most important task in this regard is to create the conditions under which it will be possible to return to the framework of the current International Law and to the start of a large-scale dialogue on top issues of global and European security, followed by working out new arrangements.
It is also vital to work out the principles of coordinating actions in combating instruments and methods of a state that is active in sponsoring terrorism abroad.
On July 5, 2006, the State Duma amended laws "On the Federal Security Service," and on “Combating Terrorism” (giving the President the right not to notify the Council of Federation on the timing, number, and type of units, used in special operations.
Other amendments to the legislation on combating "terrorism" provide:
- The right of the President of Russia alone to decide on the use of Special Forces of the FSB abroad;
- The possibility of trial in absentia and passing judgment in absentia for persons accused of grave and especially grave crimes who are inaccessible to Russian law enforcement agencies;
- Permit intelligence agencies to disregard the secrecy of correspondence, telephone conversations and inviolability of the home;
- Prohibit the media to disclose information about tools, techniques and other details of special operations.
At the same time on July 7 the Council of Federation voted unanimously to grant Putin this right indefinitely and without any preconditions.
As one Russian expert emphasized, Islamic terrorism is "of course somewhat more dangerous than the infamous “Solntsevo” criminal group near Moscow, but significantly less of a danger than the Putin regime" that has a nuclear button in its hands.
We could suggest that there are three scenarios of further developments in and around Ukraine.
1.The decreasing – that is unlikely during the Putin rule having in mind that his aim is the complete annihilation of the present day Ukraine;
2.The freezing - which is likely, but for a long period of time it is unlikely because it will not meet the final strategic Kremlin purpose for expansion and to conquer, subordinate and subjugate Ukraine.
3. And at last the increasing –that is very possible.