IT is with utmost interest that I read the article by esteemed Ambassador Juanito P. Jarasa, “Pivot in multipolar world”, in the Manila Times(August 12, 2017). Nevertheless, I feel obliged to comment on some of the points raised by the author.
First of all, I have to remind that diplomats and journalists both use the same tool of word. It should be operated in a well-balanced and reasonable manner. Otherwise, analytical writing turns to a propaganda, a manipulating public opinion with a view to averting attention from real problems, as is the case with the Western mainstream media.
It was Crimean people who ‘annexed’ region
Speaking of Crimea’s so called “annexation,” I would like to stress that it is the Crimean people themselves, who actually “annexed” the region. After the West backed anti-constitutional armed coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 led by those who made their first act to proclaim a fight against the Russian language and Russians in Crimea, the Crimean people refused to stay within one state with the new nationalist authorities of Ukraine. I can quote the leader of the Right Sector, Dmitry Yarosh, who openly said many times that “Russians should be driven out of Crimea or exterminated”. No official in Kiev and from the West has condemned or even expressed any kind of disagreement with that outrageous appeal to ethnic cleansing. So, we cherish no illusions regarding the world we have to live in.
As a consequence, Crimea was reunited with Russia through popular vote in full compliance with international law. More than 150 foreign observers from around the world were present at the referendum. Its results are convincing and undisputable: around 96.77 percent (including Crimean Tatars) with a turnout of 83.1 percent voted for the reunification of Crimea with the Russian Federation. The will of 2.5 million Crimean people must be fully respected by everyone. Even Ukrainian military units deployed in the peninsula at that time refused to defend the Ukrainian sovereignty. Moreover, about 80 percent of Ukrainian servicemen in Crimea renounced Ukrainian citizenship and acquired the Russian one.
The assumptions on “Russian intervention” in Georgia and Ukraine war have definitely no ground either.
Ukraine is suffering from a bloody civil war waged by Kiev government against its own people. After the said coup d’etat in Kiev, the Donbas region started to seek legalizing the status of their native Russian language (predominantly spoken in most of regions in Ukraine), right to elect their regional and municipal authorities (as it is practiced in the Philippines), and fair allocation of budget funds. Which one of these aspirations is not legitimate? Which one is not in compliance with international human rights principles and norms? Instead of launching a civilized dialogue and satisfying their own citizens’ constitutional claims, the Kiev regime labeled several millions of their compatriots living in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions “terrorists” and sent army and air force to oppress them. That was for the Ukrainian Prime Minister Mr. A. Yatsenyuk, who publicly called Donbas residents “underpeople”, exactly the way Adolf Hitler called Slavic people “Untermenschen” back in times of World War 2, and no reaction from Western human rights defenders either. Since that time, about 10,000 people, including women and children, were killed.
There are no Russian troops in Ukraine
Russia has never sent its regular troops to Ukraine. Nobody has been able to produce at least one good evidence of the Russian military presence there until now. Only gossip and speculations have been disseminating by Ukrainian and Western officials and mass media. Those Russian nationals, who volunteered to join the Donetsk and Lugansk forces, did it on their own decision defending their relatives and family members in the Eastern Ukraine. By the way, bulks of foreign mercenaries fight on the side of the Ukrainian army.
According to the Minsk agreements, Russia is not a party to the Ukrainian conflict. Accusing our country of an intervention or invasion, the government of Ukraine did not even bother to declare a war or at least sever diplomatic relations with Russia. Instead, the Kiev authorities continue bargaining for a better discount for Russian gas supplies and have increased the import from “the Russian aggressor” by 60 percent last year. The number of Ukrainians, who preferred to flee to Russia, has reached 3.5 million people. Notably, only 1.5 million came from the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as refugees, while the 2 million people came from the rest of the country.
For your better understanding of what’s happening in Ukraine and around Crimea reunified with Russia let me just ask one rhetorical question. Why are there ongoing hostilities in the Eastern Ukraine but peace and stability in Crimea? The answer is very simple. Russian regular troops are deployed in Crimea but not in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. That’s why the Ukrainian army everyday kills civilians in the East but has never dared attack Crimea.
The 2014 referendum in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions voted for separation from Ukraine, but not reuniting with Russia. So Russia’s official position on the East of Ukraine has always been transparent and consistent—reconciliation within the single Ukrainian state through political reforms and respect for the rights of minorities. The only side which doesn’t want that is the Ukrainian authorities.
Russian army acted to ‘force Georgia to peace’
As for the Russian “intervention” in Georgia, Ambassador Jarasa should know that even an ad hoc Commission of the European Union established beyond doubt that the war in Georgia was started by then President of this country Mikhail Saakashvili who on the night of August 8 (on the eve of the Olympic Games in Beijing) ordered an offensive against the city of Tskhinval. He unleashed the attack of Georgian military on the peaceful sleeping town and a battalion of Russian peacekeepers who were stationed there in accordance with the relevant Russia Georgia agreement approved by the OSCE.
Brave Georgian Army using heavy artillery and tanks attacked peacekeepers having only small arms and light weapons. Sixty-four Russian soldiers and hundreds of citizens of Tskhinval died because of the Georgian attacks. What was Russia to do? Russia could not ignore the killing of its own nationals. Such actions could not go unpunished. In the aftermath, it took only a few days to defeat Georgians trained and equipped by NATO member-states.
For many hours while Russia was trying to solve the situation by political and diplomatic means through Georgia’s Western allies, the Western mainstream media never uttered a word about what was going on in the Caucasus region. Mr. Vladimir Putin who was Prime Minister of Russia that time was attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing. He asked Mr. George W. Bush, then President of the USA, about the situation in Georgia. But President Bush pretended he did not know about it though Georgian government offices and Armed Forces did not have a shortage of American advisers.
It was only when the Russian Armed Forces had to act to force Georgia to peace and stop the Georgian bloodbath [that]the Western media took notice and accused Russia of aggression. Such hypocrisy! Besides, no foreign government leader or representative expressed condolences over the loss of lives in South Ossetia either in the UN or other multilateral venue.
The honorable author of the article is correct in saying that Russia “has proven that it is a power to be reckoned with”. My country showed that it would no longer tolerate such a blatant violation of internationally accepted norms of conduct. Mikhail Saakashvili is a war criminal for us and I believe justice will be served sooner or later.
Russia and China are not allies
It is also necessary to clarify that the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China are not allies. Russia and China enjoy highly dynamic and active relations. The two countries coordinate their efforts on the international arena, in the area of security and in the fight against modern challenges and threats. Trade and investment ties are always one of the top issues on the bilateral agenda. Successful interaction led to the establishment of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation between Russia and China. But Moscow and Beijing never formed any kind of military union, block or alliance which implies military commitments.
I would like to ease any concerns that the author may have about the military activities that Russia is engaged in the region and anywhere in the world. They are in strict compliance with international law. They are not against any third party and follow the well-established norms and practices for transparency in this sphere.
It is no secret even for a casual observer that the international relations are a much more complex and difficult matter than ballet. So, I think that drawing comparisons between these two fields cannot give us a clear understanding of regional realities. Anyway, being part of ballet dance duet or tango is better than a soldier automatically marching under orders of and depending on a big foreign ally.
Ideas of military alliances in the region go against the cornerstone of the Russian foreign policy. We have no military alliances in the Asia Pacific region and have no intention to create them. My country speaks in favor of equal security for all countries not for the selected few. In the current interdependent world the security for the selected few can be actually provided only at the cost of others.
Moscow is always open to working with everyone who shows willingness to efficiently deal with key challenges to global development. Our approach to support collective multilateral efforts aimed at strengthening security and establishing broad-based equitable mutually beneficial cooperation is shared by most members of the international community.
As President Vladimir Putin, addressing the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum not long ago, pointed out, we must not, have no right to, waste our efforts and time on squabbles, feuds and geopolitical games. What we need is wise and balanced approaches, without stakes on unilateral global domination and a vicious practice of “double standards”.
Russia does not have ambition for global or any other supremacy. We promote a peaceful, positive and forward-looking agenda in international affairs that is in harmony with the modern trend for multipolar world. In this multipolarity new emerging centers of power are assuming responsibility for security and stability in their regions and in the world arena as a whole. It is impossible to stop this process because by and large it reflects the truly existing cultural and civilizational diversity of the modern world, and, of course, the desire of nations to determine their destinies themselves and a striving to establish justice. In this context, the UN Charter that contains all the fundamental principles of international life remain topical today.
I guess it is clear enough that this new world order is not compatible with global domination of one state. They cannot coexist together. There can be no middle course here. It is either yes or no, like being married or single. It is not possible to be both simultaneously.
On a different note, I would like to assure Mr. Jarasa that Prime Minister Evgeniy Primakov was fired not because of his close ties with [the]Communist Party. It was only a pretext. The real reason was his enormous popularity with the Russians (about 80 percent of them supported his actions). It could not compare with the ratings of Mr. Boris Yeltsin, former high-ranking Communist Party official, who as President of the Russian Federation was supported by a meager 5 percent of the people.
Hopefully my arguments are clear enough to dispel fears of the esteemed Ambassador Jarasa that the Philippines can be caught by Russia in some kind of games or intrigues on its way to global domination. There is no reason for him for being curious.
The time has come to get rid of incoherent views and prejudice and to separate seeds from weeds, to distinguish analysis (a case followed by a thorough fact-based study) from propaganda (a fiction interpretation supported by carefully selected “comfortable” facts).
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