'CRIMEAN DIPLOMACY': SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER
"European officials were preparing sanctions against Russia and additional aid for Ukraine as diplomats acknowledged their efforts had not only failed in persuading Russia to calm the conflict but had seen the Kremlin tighten its grip on Crimea. A German-led effort to establish a “contact group” to negotiate a Russian stand-down in the occupied region – which the EU has set as a prerequisite for Moscow to avoid travel bans and asset freezes on top officials – was foundering, with Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, saying western proposals “did not fully satisfy us”. In a meeting with Vladimir Putin, Russian president, Mr Lavrov laid blame for the diplomatic stalemate at the feet of John Kerry, saying the US secretary of state had cancelled a trip to Moscow at the weekend and was insisting Russia recognise the new government in Kiev. A Russian foreign policy official said Moscow did not reject the contact group in principle but refused to tie any start of talks to the question of the Ukrainian government’s legitimacy. “Any attempt at addressing the problems in Ukraine must involve a return to constitutional order in that country,” said the official. With little movement on western demands for de-escalation in Crimea, even officials in Germany, long the most resistant to taking a hard line against Russia, acknowledged sanctions appeared inevitable. “The Russian side has not shown readiness to participate in such a process,” said a spokesman for Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. “We appeal to them to change this position in the near future. The time for a conversation and rapprochement is short....” ".Peter Spiegel, Jeevan Vasagar & Kathrin Hille, "Europe prepares sanctions against Russia." The Financial Times. 9 March 2014, in www.ft.com.
My task as minister of foreign affairs was to expand the borders of our Fatherland. It seems that Stalin and I coped with this task quite well".V. M. Molotov in conversation with Felix Chuev, 29 November 1974, in Molotov Remembers: Inside Kremlin Politics. Edited by Albert Resis. (1993), p. 8.
"Don't talk to me about 'socialism.' What we have we hold."Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev to Alexander Dubček circa July 1968, quoted in Robert Tucker, "Swollen State, Spent Society: Stalin's Legacy to Brezhnev's Russia". Foreign Affairs. (Winter 1981/1982), p. 429. It would appear that the European powers are slowly, gradually coming to their senses as per what has occurred in Ukraine and why 1. Not one should add that they are entirely au courant as to the reasoning behind Grazhdanin Putin's policies in the past few months, simply that they cannot avoid noticing that the Moskva is no longer interested in playing by the diplomatic rulebook that it appears our good, little, European Union diplomats and politicians swear by. Au fond, the Russian intervention in Crimea is about several things and has several rationales, but none of these can be said to concern Human Rights of Russian language speakers and or Russian passport holders in Ukraine. If that were the case, then Moskva would have intervened in say Kazakhstan or other locations in Central Asia many years ago. Putin's policies are inspired by two intermingled objects: i) a fear that a Democratic, European oriented Ukraine will act like negative reflection as per Putin's own regime in the eyes of his people. Many of course asking: 'if the people of Ukraine can overthrow their corrupt regime, why cannot we do the same to ours'? This was a very, very noticeable aspect of the Russian reaction to the Orange Revolution and Putin's policies in the past few months show no signs that his reactions has changed in the least; ii) a European oriented Ukraine puts paid to the so-called 'Eurasian bloc' which has become Putin's primary foreign policy objective of late. Sans Ukrainian participation the entire project gives the appearance of nothing more than a damp squib. With all that in mind, everything else becomes very simple and understandable as per Moskva's policy in this matter. Correctly anticipating that Western (European and American, especially the former) would be weak and limp at the very best, it is not surprising that Putin decided to recreate on a larger scale his intervention against Georgia in 2008. Accordingly, as we now know, all was laid in readiness for the appropriate time when the Winter Olympics were over to proceed and voila 'take-over', almost by stealth of the Crimea began. The fact that the ostensible cause of this intervention was ludicrously non-existent, did not prevent Moskva from proceeding with its action. Nor for that matter Putin, Lavrov, et al., to concoct and enunciate in public the same specious arguments about 'Fascists' being in power in Kyiv and thousands of Russian-speaking Ukrainians seeking refuge in the Russian Federation. Accordingly, the following needs to be remembered facts need to be remembered and repeated until all and sundry are blue in the face as it pertains to 'Crimean Diplomacy': i) there are no 'Russian interests' which per se require that Russian intervene and as now appears to be the case, establish a puppet regime in Crimea. Prior to Russia's military intervention, no one in Kyiv was seriously considering denouncing the treaty which allows Russia access to its bases in the Black Sea for another thirty years; ii) there were and are no persecutions of Russian-speaking Ukrainians which necessitated Russia's intervention in Crimea; iii) that the diplomatic version of 'sweet reason', which it would appear from the Financial Times , the German government holds greatly too, has had and will have absolutely no point and no effect in this crisis. Grazhdanin Putin understands a good many things, but the force of 'sweet reason' and empty-handed diplomacy is not something he understands much less acts upon. The current case is very much one of facta non verba; iv) And that accordingly, the only means at all of forcing Russia out of Crimea and certainly the only means of preventing Putin from invading the rest of Ukraine is consistent and forceful economic pressure. The seizure of the assets in the USA and in Europe of both Russian businesses and Russian individuals. The curtailment of visa access to the West by regime-connected Russian businessmen and officials. Actions along those lines in conjunction with economic and other assistance to Ukraine will immeasurably assist in ending this crisis without a shot being fired. But this will only occur if the Western powers have the fortitude to proceed along the above lines. As Eugene Chausovksy of the American intelligence outfit, Stratfor has cogently put it:
"As the Ukraine crisis moves into the diplomatic realm, a major test of U.S. willingness and ability to truly stand up to Russia is emerging. Certainly, Washington has been quite vocal during the current Ukrainian crisis and has shown signs of getting further involved elsewhere in the region, such as in Poland and the Baltic states. But concrete action from the United States with sufficient backing from the Europeans will be the true test of how committed the West is to standing up to Moscow. Maneuvering around Ukraine's deep divisions and Russian countermoves will be no easy task. But nothing short of concerted efforts by a united Western front will suffice to pull Ukraine and the rest of the borderlands toward the West 2".1. See: Carlo Morello & Pamela Constable, "West pledges to impose sanctions on Moscow as Russia tightens hold on Crimea." The Washington Post. 11 March 2014 in www.washingtonpost.com. See also: Chatham House Expert Group, "Western Responses to the Ukraine Crisis: Policy Options". The Royal Institute of International Affairs. 6 March 2014 in www.chathamhouse.org. 2. Eugene Chausovsky. "Ukraine's Increasing Polarization and the Western Challenge." Stratfor: Global Intelligence. 11 March 2014, in www.stratfor.com. The Chatham House group has similar arguments which are equally persuasive, see: Chatham House, op. cit.