Poroshenko and the impossible dream

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Karine Bechet-Golovko
In Russie Politics, January 15, 2016

Translated from French by Tom Winter

At his press conference yesterday, the President of Ukraine announced his intention to implement a plan of “disoccupation” of the Crimea involving Western “partners.” So the “return” of the Crimea, obviously against the will of the population, is a Ukrainian political priority for the new year.

Announcing a fight for the return of Crimea to Ukraine is not new, it’s habitual with Poroshenko. What is more original is the format, where one feels the paw of Western advisers.

Thus, the idea is to get the international community back to the issue of Crimea as part of a new Geneva+ conference, with the participation of the US, the EU. He also invites the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum. This is Britain, the United States, Ukraine and Russia. So the invitation is launched discreetly to Russia without naming it, the other countries having been been directly targeted.

The interest is obviously to integrate Russia, otherwise this plan is of no interest at all. The interest of Russia is obviously to ignore such negotiations, and not legitimize the process by participating. The game of diplomatic pressure will therefore begin if the initiative comes from “outside.”

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The position of Poroshenko, even more on the legal side, is very feeble. There was a coup in Kiev in February 2014, following which the elected President Yanukovich, had to flee; the normal functioning of institutions was suspended; and individuals took by force the direction of the country. The Constitutional Court was suspended so as not to disrupt; and justice was a matter of cleaning up, a triage between “patriots” and others.

The Crimean population revolted against the seizure of power by force and refused to legitimize the process. By referendum, the population chose autonomy, and to enter the Russian Federation. In other words, following the coup, the Ukrainian state as such did not exist, state structures no longer existed because the structures were those of the revolution. The components of the former Ukrainian political pact were then free to make their choice, and they did. And the inhabitants of Crimea chose at a rate of 90%.

For more analysis on the legal status of Crimea, see our text here

In legal terms, the issue is closed, Crimea is Russian. No international political process can challenge the expressed popular will. Although it does not please the international community, even if it confronts the international community with its fundamental hypocrisy and the limits of its policy. Because ultimately the lesson is simple. If you organize a revolution, by definition you question the existing state structures, otherwise it is not a revolution. But for that very reason you open the door to separatism, because people do not have to endure the vagaries of international interest, and can decide their future. It will be necessary to consider the next revolution … Meanwhile, the Crimea is Russian. Historically. Culturally. Politically. Legally.

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