Ministry of Foreign Affairs Daily Briefing
Concerning today’s address by RF President V. Putin
Today’s events in Moscow are inconsistent with democracy, law or common sense. It is difficult to comment on these events after they forced many of us, Ukrainians, and the civilized world, to shudder upon comprehending the reality in which Russia lives today.
I do not mean the similarity with the XXV Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the «universal approval» that dominated the mood in the session hall.
The world winced as it witnessed the real rebirth of Russian imperialism for which nothing is sacred: neither the established borders of a sovereign state, nor human rights and freedoms, nor international obligations.
Today’s address by Vladimir Putin shows the real threat the Russian Federation poses to the entire civilized world and international security.
V. Putin’s speech was based on outright lies and distortion of historical facts. Particularly cynical was his premise that the majority of Crimean Tatars supported Crimea’s union with Russia in the so-called “referendum.” It is well known that the Crimean Tatars openly, and on multiple occasions, stated that they consider the referendum illegal.
Another outright lie was the assertion that Russia “did not lead its armies into Crimea” and that it did not exceed the maximum number of soldiers allowed. In contravention of Ukrainian-Russian agreements, these armed forces entered Crimea by all available means and moved around the entire territory of Crimea without any approval.
These actions on the part of Russia, which, at one time, purported to be a guarantor of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, clearly show the real face of Russia’s current regime, open the way to the revision of international borders by use of force, change the regime of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cancel international guarantees and cause chaos in international relations.
Unfortunately, Ukraine became the first victim of the Kremlin’s aggressive and imperialistic policies. We should, also unfortunately, realize the fact that he is unlikely to stop at Ukraine.
We appeal to the entire international community to consider the lessons of history which show that indulging such actions, attempting to appease the aggressor, as the Russian Federation openly acts today, leads to global conflicts that inevitably result in colossal human and material losses. Thus we appeal to all responsible states and international organizations with the urgent call to employ truly effective measures against the aggressor.
We will never recognize the Agreement on accepting the Crimean peninsula into the Russian Federation and will use all available international legal means for restoring the status quo.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expresses its strong and categorical protest against the Russian Federation’s recognition of the self-proclaimed Crimean Republic as a subject of international law.
These actions by the Russian side do not correspond to the Russian Federation’s international obligations that arise from multilateral and bilateral agreements which guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity, inviolability and stability of Ukraine’s borders and non-intervention into our state’s internal affairs.
The independence of this entity was proclaimed by an illegitimate body based on the results of an anti-Constitutional referendum that was conducted with flagrant violations of the democratic standards for holding referenda that were developed by the OSCE and Council of Europe and represent an integral part of the principles and values of these international organizations. By recognizing the self-proclaimed Crimean Republic as a «sovereign and independent state», the Russian Federation is in gross violation of its duties and obligations arising from its membership in these international organizations.
Russia's recognition of the self-proclaimed Crimean Republic has one single goal: to create the quasi-legal conditions for the annexation this part of Ukraine’s and incorporating it into the Russian Federation.
The legality of this act is made void by the unprovoked military aggression of Russia against Ukraine and the Russian military occupation of the Crimea. Current international law does not recognize the annexation of another state’s territory by use of force as legitimate.
Ukraine and the entire civilized world will never recognize the illegitimately-declared independence of Crimea and its violent separation from our state’s territory.
Concerning the RF MFA’s statement on the “Support group for Ukraine” from March 17, 2014 року. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine sees it as an overt manifestation of interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine, which is contrary to the fundamental norms of international law and the generally-recognized principles of coexistence states. As previously noted by the Ukrainian side, this practice is absolutely unacceptable, it should not be used either in Ukrainian-Russian relations nor in multilateral relations towards Ukraine. Both the letter and spirit of the Russian proposal are in flagrant violation of Article 2, Paragraph 7 of the Charter of the United Nations, which proscribes intervention «in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.»
Further expounding this point of the UN Charter, the 1970 “Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations” declares that «No State may use or encourage the use of economic political or any other type of measures to coerce another State in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights and to secure from it advantages of any kind.»
Explaining the meaning of the principle of non-interference, the International Court of Justice in its 1986 decision in the Case concerning military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua, pointed out that «in view of the generally accepted formulations, the principle forbids all States or groups of States to intervene directly or indirectly in internal or external affairs of other States. A prohibited intervention must accordingly be one bearing on matters in which each State is permitted, by the principle of State sovereignty, to decide freely. One of these is the choice of a political, economic, social and cultural system, and the formulation of foreign policy. Intervention is wrongful when it uses methods of coercion in regard to such choices, which must remain free ones. The element of coercion, which defines, and indeed forms the very essence of, prohibited intervention, is particularly obvious in the case of an intervention which uses force, either in the direct form of military action, or in the indirect form of support for subversive or terrorist armed activities within another State». (ICJ, Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America). Judgment of 27 June 1986, I.C.J. Reports 1986, p. 108).
In view of the fact that the «settlement plan» proposed by the Russian side includes imposing elements upon Ukraine which are alien to Ukrainian statehood (federalization, state bilingualism, divisibility national territory), and that a prerequisite of its implementation is the recognition pseudo-referendum held on March 16, 2014 in Crimea, as well as the de facto annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russia. This document cannot be considered by the Ukrainian side as anything other than another attempt by the Russian Federation to undermine Ukraine in the realization of its sovereign rights, to use the «l'état de faiblesse» of the Ukrainian State and illegally expand its territory. In applying coercion by occupying Ukrainian territory, providing political and economic support to Crimean separatists, undermining the foundations of Ukrainian statehood, the Russian side is preventing Ukraine from choosing its own political, economic, social and cultural system of coordinates within which Ukrainian society should be allowed to operate, and to determine its own foreign policy priorities.
Exceptional outrage is evoked by the fact that, by completely ignoring its obligations to cooperate in the prevention and settlement of conflicts and situations that affect the interests of both sides set forth in Article 4 of the Treaty on friendly relations, cooperation and partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation from May 31, 1997, the Russian side purports to «support the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis» without Ukraine’s participation and behind its back. Demonstrably refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the Government of Ukraine, the Russian Federation wants to renew the methods of the «Holy Alliance» and «Concert of Europe», whereby «great states» decided the fates of «small states», by changing the forms of their statehood, governance, political, economic and cultural organization, as they see fit and in accordance with their own interests. In light of this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine reminded the Russian Federation, that in accordance with UN Charter, all states are, in the 21st century, legally equal, and, as equal members of the international community have the right not only to determine their own systems of government and foreign policy, but also to fully and effectively participate in the international decision-making process. The one-sided decision to exclude Ukraine from these processes is inadmissible and unacceptable.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has serious doubts about the Russian Federation’s further ability to live up to its rights and obligations as a guarantor of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. By flagrantly violating the principles of all international legal acts that guaranteed Ukraine’s security, including the UN Charter, the Final Act of the CSCE from 1975, the Bilovezha Agreement from December 10, 1991, the Memorandum on Security Assurances relating to Ukraine's accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons from December 5, 1994, and by vetoing the UN Security Council resolution on Ukraine, the Russian side has utterly discredited itself and has no moral rights to propose its role in this regard.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine reaffirmed its openness and willingness to take part in bilateral and multilateral negotiations to resolve of the situation that has arisen in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. However, such negotiations can only take place with Ukraine’s full participation and be based on respect for the principles of territorial integrity, inviolability and stability of Ukraine’s state borders and non-interference in its internal affairs.
Concerning the so-called “zero option” treaty
First of all, it should be noted that the Agreement between Ukraine and Russia on the succession of external debt and assets of the former Soviet Union (FSU) from 1994 is not in force because Ukraine has not ratified it. The said agreement proposed an alternative approach to the distribution of assets and liabilities of the former Soviet Union on the basis of the so-called "zero option," which would mean the following for Ukraine:
- Ukraine would transfer and the Russian Federation would assume the responsibility to pay Ukraine’s share of the FSU’s foreign state debt as it stood on December 1, 1991;
- to pay Ukraine’s share of the FSU’s foreign state debt, Ukraine would transfer and the Russian Federation would assume Ukraine’s share of FSU assets as of stood on December 1, 1991.
Thus the purpose of the Agreement on the “zero option” was to replace the fundamental concept for the division of assets and liabilities of the FSU that was agreed upon by all participants and based on the Agreement on succession of external debt and assets of the former Soviet Union from December 4, 1991 (hereinafter “the 1991 Agreement”).
According to the 1991 Agreement, the parties guaranteed each other’s rights to a share of USSR assets, which included immovable and movable property owned by the Soviet Union abroad, the USSR’s gold and foreign exchange reserves, overseas investments the financial liabilities of other states, international organization and other foreign debtors owed to Soviet states. Ukraine’s share in the total amount of assets and liabilities was calculated to be 16.37% based on a single aggregate indicator.
Thus, each state-signatory’s right to its share of FSU assets under the 1991 Agreement was subject to its participation in repaying the FSU’s external debt.
Taking into account the acknowledgment by the RF MFA concerning Ukraine’s payment to the Russian Federation of its share of the FSU external state debt, Ukraine reserves the right to demand laying claim to its rightful share of FSU assets, including USSR gold and foreign exchanges reserves, movable and immovable USSR state property, the USSR diamond fund, and the return of bank deposits in Oshchadbank (Sberbank) and Zovnisheconombank (Vnesheconombank).
Ukraine – OSCE
OSCE member-states continue to conduct consultations in response to Ukraine’s request to send an OSCE monitoring mission to observe developments in several regions of our state.
The Ukrainian side is pursuing the speedy approval of the necessary decision by the OSCE Permanent Council and the commencement of activities of the OSCE mission in the regions of Ukraine where the situation deserves careful monitoring by the international community.
Ukraine - UN
Assistant UN Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic was in Ukraine from March 6 to 18.
Talks on concrete steps took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine concerning a short term mission of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor the human rights situation in Ukraine, particularly in the eastern and southern regions, primarily the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, in connection with the military aggression of the Russian Federation in the ARC. The Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatseniuk and the General Secretary of the United Nation Ban Ki-moon agreed to this during the Head of the Ukrainian Government’s recent visit to New York.
The mission will be led by OHCHR representative Armen Harutyunyan, will include around 30 people and last approximately three months. Its purpose will be to document human rights violations, including those caused by the presence of Russian armed forces on Ukrainian territory, and support for the investigation of the tragic events that took place between November 2013 and February 2004 during mass actions of protest. The mission will work closely with other human rights bodies, including OSCE representatives.
Ukraine - EU
On March 16 and 17, 2o14, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrii Deshchytsia was in Brussels for a working visit for a meeting of foreign ministers within the framework of “Ukraine + Ukraine’s Group of Friends in the EU.”
During the visit, Andrii Deshchytsia also conducted separate bilateral meetings with European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia Miroslav Lajcak, and also with General Secretary of NATO Anders Fogh.
During the meetings, EU member states unanimously expressed support for conducting international monitoring in Ukraine, foremost in the southern and eastern oblasts, by initiating an OSCE Mission.
The European Union reconfirmed its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity. EU member states unanimously underscored the illegitimate and illegal nature of the so-called “referendum” that took place in AR Crimea in March 16, 2014 and condemned RF’s intention to annex the region.
In addition, intentions were reconfirmed for Ukraine and the EU to sign “the political section” of the Association Agreement on March 21, 2014 in Brussels during a meeting of the European Commission. The European Commission expressed its readiness to begin immediate consultations with Ukraine on the implementation of the entire Association Agreement that will provide the foundation for signing the remaining sections of the document in the near future.
The signing of the “political section” of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union is scheduled for March 21 in Brussels during an extraordinary Summit between Ukraine and the European Union and its member states.
Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatseniuk will sign the political provisions of the Association Agreement on behalf of the Ukrainian side. The EU side will be represented by the Heads of EU institutions and Heads of State or Heads of Government of EU member states.
The “political section” will include the Preamble and Title І (“General Principles”), Title ІІ (“Political Dialogue and Reform, Political Association, Cooperation and Convergence in the Field of Foreign and Security Policy”) and Title VII (“Institutional, General and Final Provisions”).
The signing and implementation of the political section of the Agreement will be an important factor in maintaining Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity. In particular, this section involves close collaboration in maintaining security and stability in the region, including the use of all available diplomatic and military channels.
In addition, a new structure of bilateral bodies will be established between the parties, foremost the Association Council and Association Committee, which will approve, by mutual agreement, legally-binding decisions. The parties have also agreed to maintain the integrity of the Agreement as a single document.
Dates for the signing of the remaining sections (Justice, Freedom and Security, Sector and Economic Cooperation, Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement) will be determined at a later stage.
Postponing the signing of sections on Sector cooperation and Free Trade is necessitated by the need to prepare for their proper implementation, as these sections contain the most extensive responsibilities on Ukraine’s part to implement reforms and the adoption of European principles and standards. In addition, all existing risks and challenges associated with the establishment of the functioning of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Zone, including trade with Ukraine’s other key trading partners, must be taken into account.
The EU also approved a decision on the possibility of unilaterally enacting certain provisions of the Agreement on Free Trade Zone in relation to Ukrainian exporters, i.e. “autonomous trade measures.” This reduction of tariffs and loosening of tariff quotas for trade in goods to levels specified in the previously-initialed Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Zone. We expect that this will have a rapid and positive effect in the substantial increase of the export of Ukrainian goods to the EU and will generate additional government revenues due to increased profits of domestic exporters.