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Viche 2014 6

6, 2014

Principles of Ukraine Russia Relations: Crimea

The main strategic goals of Russia in the modern world are considered. The author has determined that Russia's key priorities are its interests in the territories of CIS countries. It is proven that, in building relations with Ukraine, Russia is guided solely by its own imperialist goals and does not see our state as an equal partner. The analysis of the signing chronology of bilateral agreements between Ukraine and Russia has shown that the permanence of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea had always been used by Moscow as a factor of influence and political and military pressure on the Ukrainian party. Accordingly, the division of the Black Sea Fleet of the USSR between the states in the mid-1990-s was one-sided because it was made in favour of the Russian party.
Keywords: Crimea, Ukraine, Russia, the Black Sea Fleet

In 1991, Ukraine and the Russian Federation became subjects of international law and leading states of the European and post-Soviet area. That is why, stability not only in the region but also on the continent and the world as a whole, depends on their understanding and partnership.

Russia, as a nuclear power of the 21st century, was afforded the opportunity to focus on strengthening its positions within the territory of the Community of Independent States since the latter had partly been lost during the crisis period [Litska, 2013: 22]. That period was caused, on the one hand, by the default of 1998 which was disastrous for the entire economy; the slump in oil prices which are Russia's main strategic weapon; the Caspian problem (i.e., the distribution of the Caspian Sea wealth), and, on the other hand, by the war in Chechnya and the strengthening of the sovereignties of all the Russian federal republics. Having overcome that period, Russia elaborated a number of methods to renew its positions in the post-Soviet area. In particular, a new National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation conceded it the right to preventive attacks in the cases of any external threats which could easily include the short-term objectives of dominating within the CIS and aims of a larger scale such as having influence outside its borders. We should remember that the Russian Military Doctrine of 1993 did not confirm the states obligation not to be the first party to use nuclear weapons, even though it had been declared by the Soviet Union. Officially, Moscow believes that such an obligation contradicts the principal view according to which these weapons are considered not as a means of warfare but as a method of deterrence for any potential aggressor.

The Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation of 2003 declared the right to preventive attack without the notice and consent of international structures. Amongst the tasks of the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation up to 2020, approved by the Decree of President Dmitry Medvedev in May 2009, there is a paragraph on the possibility of using energy resources as a means to blackmail other countries for achieving Russian strategic goals [10].

It should be noted that the main provisions of the Ukrainian and Russian national security strategies are similar with regard to the protection of national interests by each country by all available means. What are their differences? First of all, they differ in the determination of which possible means to ensure the security of the states. The Russian version also foresees the usage of nuclear weapons. In addition, the strategies have different security system coverage areas and certain tasks to be fulfilled. The main objective determined in the Russian version is to provide Moscow with access to the natural resources of the countries located around the perimeter of Russia's borders, including the CIS participants. Both states also have different relations with third countries. Firstly, Russia would not allow other states to enter the area of its interests and oppose the strengthening of their influence in the former Soviet republics. Secondly, it would try to take control over the entire post-Soviet territory.

The Russian understanding of its national security can be characterized as a great-power (imperial) domination model or, in the case of Ukraine, as Russian centralism.

The Russian party believes that its position does not contradict the principles of bilateral relations, as well as mutual political and military guarantees enshrined in bilateral and multilateral instruments. But it is guided only with the provisions of international law which it recognizes itself.

While improving its military development, Russia has elaborated and implemented a wide range of measures to suspend the process of the reduction of its military and industrial potential, and decay of its power as a whole. Realizing that under modern circumstances the defensive power of any state is not determined by the number of armed forces but rather by high combat effectiveness and the best technical equipment. Russia has closely verged on the creation of a professional army. Although, according to the majority of Russian experts, the reform of the armed forces is far from complete and, thus, far from the
desired result.

The national and state security of all countries is guaranteed at global, transregional and regional levels. Taking part in the formation of various regional and extra-regional structures, playing upon the balance of power (in the times of the USSR) and the balance of threats (while implementing the current policy), Russia realizes its national security interests and contributes to the structurization and maintainence of the world balance of the centres of power. It continues to implement the strategy of equidistance from or equi-approximation to the major world players which excludes  confrontation with any of these centres of influence, as well as dependence on them. Although, it is not always possible in practice.

In this case, the reasoning regarding the asymmetric strategic partnership is inappropriate as the strategic partnership either develops or not. The incomplete steps which have been realized against Ukraine by the Russian party before its aggression were not a partnership in the fullest sense as Ukrainian interests  could not be satisfied.

Ukraine realized that its relations with Russia should be the main priority of its foreign policy. The Key Directions of the Foreign Policy of Ukraine, approved by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on 2 July 1993, prescribes that, pursuant to the specialties of historical development, the geopolitical and geo-economic location of the states, relations with Russia dominate over all the Ukrainian bilateral relations with neighbouring countries.

The priority to develop relations with our northern neighbour is caused by the interdependence of the countries, their geographic location, population affinity, similar economic development models, broad humanitarian ties, and some geopolitical factors.

Ukraine is trying to build relations with Russia under the rules and principles of international law, which are mainly enshrined in the following national documents: the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine, the Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine, the Constitution of Ukraine, the laws of Ukraine On Fundamentals of National Security and On the Foundations of Domestic and Foreign Policy, etc.

The interstate Ukraine Russia relations cover a variety of issues on political and economic cooperation grounded on an extensive legal basis. At the same time, the most urgent issues still include the problems of demarcation of the state border of Ukraine, i.e. the separation of the national territory from Russia's; distribution of the Soviet legacy, including foreign property, a share of which legally belongs to the Ukrainian people; protection of the rights of its citizens in the territory of another state; mutual peace-making activities, in particular, in Georgia and Transnistria; competition in the fields of scientific and technological development, and in the military, industrial complex (struggle for the markets of the third countries and know-how, Russian industrial espionage, etc.). This list can be expanded with a number of problems in the spheres of culture and education: the persecution of Ukraines supporters in Russia, the closure of Ukrainian publishing houses and libraries, the annihilation of all the Ukrainian as opposed to the development of all the Russian and Russian-speaking people in Ukraine, and so on.

The core document of the legal basis of bilateral cooperation between the states is the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation [3]. It was signed on 31 May 1997 in Kyiv by the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma and the President of the RF Boris Yeltsin that was considered to be a significant historical event in Ukraine Russia relations. The legal recognition by the parties of their territorial integrity and inviolability of borders existing between the two sovereign nations is one of the most important provisions of the Treaty. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine ratified the Treaty on 14 January 1998, the lower house of the Russian Parliament the State Duma did it on 25 December 1998, and the upper house of the Russian Parliament the Federation Council on 17 February 1999. Russia had delayed the ratification of this fundamental document of bilateral relations until the Ukrainian parliament agreed to ratify the agreements on the permanence of the military base of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and that paved the way for the Great Treaty to enter into force.

Thus, the main documents of Ukraine Russia relations are this basic Treaty in which Russia recognized the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the Treaty on Economic Cooperation for 1998-2007 of 27 February 1998, the agreements on the Black Sea Fleet of 28 May 1997 [5], the Treaty on the Ukrainian-Russian State Border of 28 January 2003 [2], the Agreement on Demarcation of the Ukrainian-Russian Border on 17 May 2010 [6], the Treaty on Cooperation in the Use of the Sea of Azov and the Strait of Kerch on 24 December 2003 [1], etc.

Ukraine and Russia agreed on border demarcation

This issue is extremely important because a fully-fledged state cannot exist without recognized borders which are assigned by the appropriate international procedures. In addition, the Ukrainian-Russian border problems also include the issue concerning Crimea. So, on 17 May 2010, within the framework of the visit of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev to Ukraine the ministers for foreign affairs of Ukraine and Russia Kostyantyn Gryshchenko and Sergey Lavrov had signed the Agreement on the Demarcation of the Ukrainian-Russian Border. Later, the newspaper Delo reported that Ukraine had agreed to abandon its claims for preserving the border of Soviet times and to transfer a part of the Sea of Azov and the Strait of Kerch to Russia. In turn, the Director of the Information Policy Department of the MFA of Ukraine Oleh Voloshyn assured that Ukraine would not reject its claims. The firmness of the Ukrainian claims was also confirmed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

On 22 July 2010, the President of Ukraine approved the ratification of the Agreement on the Demarcation of the Ukrainian-Russian Border. It came into force on 29 July 2010 when was ratified by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. On 3 August 2010, the MFA of Ukraine received notification from the Russian party on the completion of internal procedures concerning the Agreement ratification. Ukraine and Russia formed the Joint Demarcation Commission which began its practical work on marking the boundary on the ground.

The fundamental documents on the Black Sea Fleet are a range of officially concluded instruments, including agreements, protocols, declarations, etc. The most significant is the Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on the Urgent Measures for Formation of the Navy of the Russian Federation and the Naval Forces of Ukraine on the Basis of the Black Sea Fleet of 17 June 1993 signed in Moscow. Item a) of Article 2 of this document establishes provisions on the division of the Black Sea Fleet (surface ships, submarines, air forces, coastal forces), as well as of all the military technology ... and property between Russia and Ukraine in the ratio of 50 to 50 per cent. Item d) envisages that the Black Sea Fleet shall equally (pursuant to 50/50 split) be financed by the parties before its division [7].

Article 5 of the Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on the Principles of Formation of the Navy of the Russian Federation and the Naval Forces of Ukraine on the Basis of the Black Sea Fleet of the Former USSR of 23 June 1992, signed in Dahomys, establishes the provisions on procurement of the Black Sea Fleet carried out by Ukrainian and Russian recruitees according to a 50/50 split.

However, on 15 April 1994 in Moscow, the President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk and the President of Russia Boris Yeltsin signed the next Agreement which stipulated that Ukraine receives 15-20 per cent of the ships and vessels of the Black Sea Fleet (Article 2 of the Agreement) [8]. But, signing the Agreement of 9 June 1995 in Sochi, the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma confirmed that the Russian Federation obtains 81.7 per cent of the ships and vessels of the Black Sea Fleet, and Ukraine only 18.3 per cent of them (Article 4) [9].

After a while, those decisions also became inappropriate for the Russian party, and the RF representatives began openly suppressing the Ukrainian leadership and blackmailing it with the possible failure to carry out the provisions of the Great Treaty and insisting on a review of the above-mentioned arrangements. As a result, on 28 May 1997 the parties signed three documents concerning the Black Sea Fleet: the Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on the Parameters of Division of the Black Sea Fleet; the Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on the Status and Condition of Permanence of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation in the Territory of Ukraine; the Agreement between the Government of Ukraine and the Government of the Russian Federation on Mutual Settlements Related to the Division of the Black Sea Fleet and the Permanence of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation in the Territory of Ukraine.

Under these agreements, in 1997 the Black Sea Fleet base in Sevastopol was leased to Russia for twenty years, i.e. until 2017. The rent for the permanence of the Russian Navy in Sevastopol was used to amortize Ukraines debt for Russian energy (the debt of the early 1990-s) which reached about USD 4 billion in total.

The constant debate between the Ukrainian and Russian leaderships on the permanence or withdrawal of the Russian Fleet from the territory of Ukraine (Ukrainian territorial waters) had been continued for many years until the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych extended the permanence of the Russian naval base in Crimea up to 2042 while prolonging the preliminary period by 25+5 years. That controversial decision was taken by the Ukrainian authorities fairly quickly. On 21 April 2010, the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev paid a working visit to Ukraine (to the city of Kharkiv) during which the parties concluded a number of bilateral agreements to be called the Kharkiv agreements. In particular, they agreed that the permanence of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation in Ukraine would extend by 25 years with the possibility of an extension of another 5 years [4]. At the same time, Ukraine increased the rent for the permanence of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation in its territory. The chairmen of the NJSC Naftogaz Ukraine and the OJSC Gazprom concluded a Contract of the purchase and sale of natural gas from 2009 to 2019 and the Contract on volumes and terms and conditions of gas transit through the territory of Ukraine for the period from 2009 to 2019 as the annexes to the contracts of 19 January 2009.

The arrangements on the reduction of Russian gas prices for Ukraine over the next 10 years envisaged that Russia would provide Ukraine with a gas discount of USD 100 if the contract gas price equals more than USD 330 per one thousand cubic metres. If the price is lower than USD 330, the discount would be equal to 30 per cent of the contract price. This information gave the media cause to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the gas price for Ukraine and the term of the permanence of the Black Sea Fleet of the RF in Crimea.

So, what was the reason for that decision?

Perhaps, the motives which prompted the President of Ukraine to strengthen the state dependence should be found within the meeting in a narrow format between the Ukrainian and the Russian parties that took place in Kharkiv.

On the other hand, now the rapid political developments have temporarily removed the problem of permanence of the Russian military base in the sovereign territory of Ukraine. According to international law, Ukraine would not be put at threat of being determined as an aggressor because foreign troops (to be deployed within the borders of Ukraine) are not able to destroy the sovereignty of other nations and states.

 

References

1. 24 2003 . [The Treaty on Cooperation in the Use of the Sea of Azov and the Strait of Kerch, 24 December 2003], <http://zakon4.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/643_205>

2. - 28 2003 . [The Treaty on the Ukrainian-Russian State Border, 28 January 2003], <http://zakon4.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/643_157>

3.  , 31 1997 . [The Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, 31 May 1997], <http://zakon4.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/643_006>

4. 21 2010 . [The Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on the Permanence of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation in the Territory of Ukraine, 21 April 2010], <http://zakon4.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/643_359>

5. , ' 28 1997 . [The Agreement between the Government of Ukraine and the Government of the Russian Federation on Mutual Settlements Related to the Division of the Black Sea Fleet and the Permanence of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation in the Territory of Ukraine, 28 May 1997], <http://zakon4.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/643_077>

28 1997 . [The Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on the Parameters of Division of the Black Sea Fleet, 28 May 1997], <http://zakon4.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/643_075?test=XNLMf5x.qwJgwS2wZiKAuQ3OHI4fgs80msh8Ie6>

28 1997 . [The Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on the Status and Condition of Permanence of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation in the Territory of Ukraine, 28 May 1997], <http://zakon4.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/643_076>

6. - 17 2010 . [The Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on the Demarcation of
the Ukrainian-Russian Border, 17 May 2010], <http://zakon4.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/643_365‎>

7. ³- ³- 17 1993 . [The Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on the Urgent Measures for Formation of the Navy of the Russian Federation and the Naval Forces of Ukraine on the Basis of the Black Sea Fleet, 17 June 1993], <http://zakon4.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/643_046>

8. 15 1994 . [The Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation for a phased settlement of the Black Sea Fleet problems, 15 April 1994], <http://zakon4.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/643_128>

9. 9 1995 . [The Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on the Black Sea Fleet, 9 June 1995], <http://zakon4.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/643_082>

10. 2020 . 537 12 2009 . [The National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation up to 2020, approved by the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation 537, 12 May 2009], <http://www.scrf.gov.ru/documents/99.html>

11. Litska O. (2013) Ē [Judicial consequences of conclusion of the CIS FTA Agreement for Ukraine], ³ 12: 20-23.

Liudmyla CHEKALENKO