Ukraine’s interest: A late confession, a stand-off in PACE and Putin’s self-isolation.
The Verkhovna Rada declared Russia to be an aggressor state, based on the U.N. definition. Ukrainian parliament’s delegation to the PACE has received an “A” grade, while their Russian counterparts had to slam the door while leaving. The logic of Vladimir Putin’s actions leads to Russia’s isolation.
MPs responded to the atrocious shelling of Mariupol’s residential areas by holding an emergency meeting, where they adoped an appeal to the world community to recognize Russia as an aggressor state. Perhaps such a decision should have been taken long before, but being a victim in a hybrid war, Ukraine sometimes needs to take its time before acting.
Using the U.N. definitions in the reasoning gives additional weight to this political statement. A clear political position of the Verkhovna Rada should be embroidered by our diplomats at all communication levels. Besides, lawmakers started the process of creating an algorithm of recognition of certain organizations’ actions as terrorist activity, not limiting the range of such organizations to the self-proclaimed DNR and LNR [the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic]. It is hoped that Europe will react, albeit not as rapidly as Kyiv wants it. Still, it seems that the Ukrainian parliament’s position is seeing a response from across the ocean, where the influential Washington Post published an appeal by eight influential persons to provide immediate military aid to Ukraine, including the supply of lethal weapons.
A group of Ukrainian MPs went to PACE, where it managed to get the maximum profit in a rather difficult situation. The Russian delegation shamelessly acted as slave traders and blackmailers, trading on the potential release of Nadia Savchenko in the struggle for the restoration of Russia’s rights in PACE. At the same time Moscow was actively and consistently “handling” various foreign delegations, not only around the halls of the PACE. Even Petro Symonenko, leader of Ukraine’s Communist Party was pulled out of the political closet specifically for this occasion. But Alexei Pushkov, Sergei Naryshkin, and others had to flee from Strasbourg empty-handed: European fellow MPs not only refused to restore the rights of the Russian delegation, but also adopted a quite appropriate resolution on the situation in Ukraine. In response, the Russians threatened to consider withdrawing from the Council of Europe.
The EU leaders also responded to the worsening of the situation in the Donbas. At a meeting of the EU Council, sanctions against Russia were extended until September, 2015, and it was decided to develop a new package of sanctions in the next 10 days. It does not seem to be a matter of disconnecting Russia from SWIFT, but in this situation it is important for the EU to remain united, even after the election of the radical-leftist Syriza government in Greece, which does not hide its admiration for Putin. European politicians have shown solidarity with Ukraine.
As for Russia's position; it’s getting increasingly difficult to comment on the statements by Russia’s top officials. What attitude could there be toward the initiative of the State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin to promote a proposal of a Communist MO to condemn the annexation of the German Democratic Republic by a Federal Republic of Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. And what about the demarche of Russia’s delegation to PACE, when Russian MPs failed to listen to any appropriate and constructive criticism? And how about that statement by Vladimir Putin branding Ukrainian military a “foreign NATO legion”? Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed leaders of the unrecognized Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics are trying to implement a policy of returning the occupied Donbas to Ukraine on the Kremlin's terms.
Russia’s official line is not to be measured on some harmless national scale of tomfoolery. The Kremlin is trying to convince the West of its impotence, while demanding that its fads be treated with due respect. Meanwhile, Ukraine remains at the forefront of the fight against a state whose leader can rightfully claim the status of a master liar. However, this line can lead to serious consequences for Russia, because Minsk and Astana have already become wary of Moscow's behavior. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has perked up considerably, enjoying the loss of his status as “Europe's last dictator,” and assuring all that Belarus will never be part of the “Russian world.” It seems that we will soon hear similar statements also from Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of Kazakhstan, as the country’s economic union with Russia slowly unravels.