The subsequent decision of Ukraine’s Rada to modify Ukraine’s Language Law and remove Russian as an official language gave Russia and Ukraine’s Russian speaking population cause for alarm. The Russian Foreign Ministry subsequently claimed that the Eastern regions of Ukraine were now ruled by lawlessness as a result of the actions of fighters of the socalled “Right Sectors” with the full connivance of the interim government. Russia also invoked its right to protect Russian nationals. Russia must have been mindful of previous actions taken by the United States to protect American citizens, particularly the US invasion of Grenada in 1984 and the US intervention in Panama in December 1989. In both these cases, “the level of threat against US citizens was such as to raise serious questions concerning the satisfaction of the requirement of proportionality,” according to British Author and Professor of International Law Malcolm N. Shaw.
As for the presence of Russian troops in Crimea, Russia stated that they were there in accordance with treaty agreements. Russia denied that the military forces surrounding Sevastopol Airport and confronting Ukraine’s soldiers in their military bases in Crimea were Russian forces. They were, according to Russia’s explanation, selfdefense forces of Crimea. Kissinger saw Russia’s denial as positive rather than negative, as it would make a diplomatic solution easier to reach since Putin, Kissinger noted, would not need to issue an order recalling the troops.
As for the decisions taken by Crimea’s parliament, Russia stated that: “The steps taken by the legitimate leadership of Crimea are based on the norms of international law and aim to ensure the legitimate interests of the population of the peninsula.”
Crimea’s parliament has reportedly announced that, if the referendum favored Crimea’s joining the Russian Federation, the parliament would immediately announce Crimea’s independence. Putin then would not be under time pressure to decide on Crimea’s request to join the Russian Federation.
In the meantime, negotiations could continue for a diplomatic solution. Russia had
previously announced that it had no intention to annex Eastern Ukraine or Crimea.
Russia’s most important objective evidently is to secure Sevastopol as the permanent home for Russia’s Navy in the Black Sea. One of the possible options suggested is for Crimea, as part of its broader autonomous powers within Ukraine, to grant Russia a permanent home for the Russian Navy in the Crimea similar to the status of the US base of Guantanamo in Cuba.
Another of Russia’s priority objective is to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and losing Ukraine as a buffer. This has been Russia’s consistent policy since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and is consistent with the Budapest Agreement of 1994 whereby the US, the UK and Russia guaranteed Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in exchange for Ukraine’s surrender of its nuclear weapons.
Kissinger’s suggestion is for Ukraine to follow the example of Finland, which is fiercely independent and cooperates with Europe in most fields but avoids institutional hostility to Russia. Thus, Ukraine, like Finland, should be able to join an economic and political association like the EU but not a military alliance like NATO; or Ukraine could be like Austria, a neutral country, which is also a member of the EU but not of NATO.
For the Philippines, the important result from this crisis is that Europe and the US have taken the position that the referendum is illegal because it violates Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The basis for this assertion is Ukraine’s constitution which mandates that the issue of secession should be voted upon by all the voters in Ukraine.
This principle supports our national interest.
Ambassador Jaime S. Bautista is a Doctor of Laws.
email@example.com ; www.jaimesbautista.com