See you in court, Russia
So, here came the New Year, and the Ukraine-EU Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area was finally introduced. At the same time, Russia suspended the free trade zone with Ukraine within the CIS framework and imposed an embargo against the Ukrainian foodstuffs.
The first event was long-awaited by the Ukrainians, while the second one was quite predictable. They both bear huge risks for the Ukrainian economy. Having overcome this difficult period, our manufacturers are now becoming world-class players, and will no longer be dependent on the capricious neighbor, who uses to open and then close again the doors of its markets solely for political reasons.
What will happen to the relations between Ukraine and Russia in the future? There is little to no economic cooperation, and it would be ridiculous to talk about any political dialogue. The talk about the "friendship of fraternal peoples" is nauseating for the Ukrainians. The only thing left is the war in Donbas, the annexation of Crimea, and the international courts. That's about it.
On March 4, 2014, President Putin, searching for justification of stealing the Ukrainian peninsula and seriously considering the possibility of a full-fledged invasion of eastern Ukraine at the request of "legitimate" Yanukovych, said that the Budapest Memorandum does not concern Russia. He hinted that, after the revolution, a new state emerged, and Russia did not sign any documents with it and had no relations whatsoever.
The talk about the "friendship of fraternal peoples" is nauseating for the Ukrainians. The only thing left is the war in Donbas, the annexation of Crimea, and the international courts. That's about it.
"If this is a revolution, what does that mean? In this case, it’s difficult for me to disagree with some of our experts, who believe that a new state emerges in this territory. Just as it was after the collapse of the Russian Empire after the revolution of 1917. So, with this state, and in respect of this state, we have not signed any binding documents," Putin said at the time.
Later came the explanations for the popular masses of the country “rising from its knees”: the Budapest Memorandum was signed by Boris the Drunk [a hint for Boris Yeltsyn], so the signature of the President of the Russian Federation costs nothing, at all.
However, the tone of the Kremlin’s statements and actions against Ukraine has changed after the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian military to the undeclared Russian invasion. As a result, the Novorossiya project was closed. And then Moscow immediately recalled the "unshakable gas contract," and now it intends to go to court to get a repayment of a $3 billion bribe given to Yanukovych. The Kremlin wants to collect the money, and not from the "legitimate" president, but from the “new” state, with which no binding documents were signed, according to Putin. But Moscow is dead serious in seeking to return its money in international courts.
It is worth noting that Moscow has been implementing its classic double standard policy toward these courts, just like to anything else. It only agrees with something that is profitable to the Russian Federation. For example, Moscow chose to recognize not in line with the Russian constitution the ruling on $50 billion compensation in the Yukos case. At the same time, the Kremlin is crying out for Ukraine to fulfill bilateral documents signed before the Maidan events.
The Kremlin wants to collect the money, and not from the "legitimate" president, but from the “new” state, with which no binding documents were signed, according to Putin.
This year, we will witness the international arbitration consider a gas dispute between Ukraine and Russia. And in this case, Ukraine has all chances to win. It is worth recalling that the Kharkiv agreements of 2010 envisage a 30% discount for gas in exchange for the prolongation of the stay of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Ukrainian Crimea. It was sealed in the intergovernmental agreements. So, the Russian gas today should cost not $230, but $160 per 1,000 cubic meters. However, Russia believes that, since the Crimea is occupied, all the agreements unfavorable to the Kremlin are void. No matter how much the Russians may yell "krymnash" [Crimea is ours], it is still a blatant annexation for the civilized world, including for the judges in Stockholm.
Kremlin's policy toward Ukraine is like a bulldozer. For it not to crush us, the Ukrainian authorities will have to prepare for litigation with all seriousness. We'll have to finally decide on our position regarding our own claims in international courts both for the annexation of Crimea, and the occupation of parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. We should also remember about the outspoken robbery of Ukraine’s resources in its exclusive maritime economic zone, unwarranted trade restrictions and so on. The question of who owes what will remain on top agenda of the coming years.
If you see a bulldozer coming, it's time to build a concrete wall and not just scream about violations. Documents for the court must be drafted thoroughly.
... Sooner or later, the courts' rulings will be fulfilled.
Roman Tsymbaliuk, Moscow