Friday, August 26, 2016

Ukraine Unspun

Russia's April 1 Claim That Ukraine Violated Its Own Territorial Integrity

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's ministry updated its Facebook page with what, in hindsight, seems to have been a warning: "Happy April 1, 2014! The jokes are over :) "
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's ministry updated its Facebook page with what, in hindsight, seems to have been a warning: "Happy April 1, 2014! The jokes are over :) "
Early on April 1, the Russian Foreign Ministry updated its Facebook page with what, in hindsight, seems to have been a warning.

"Happy April 1, 2014! The jokes are over :)," it said.

A few hours later, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing Ukraine of violating its own territorial integrity and claiming Russia had fully complied with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum.

The Budapest Memorandum, signed by the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom, guaranteed Ukrainian territorial integrity in exchange for Kyiv agreeing to eliminate its entire nuclear arsenal.

In what appeared to be a clear violation of the agreement, Moscow sent thousands of Russian soldiers into Crimea and then annexed the territory after the passage of a hastily arranged referendum on union with Russia.

But the Foreign Ministry statement -- an impressive feat of diplomatic contortion for even the most seasoned diplomat -- attempts to flip the prevailing logic on its head. 

Here are its chief claims along with context:

-- The current government in Kyiv came to power in a coup and, due to its ultranationalist policies, it in essence "blew up" Ukrainian unity and "pushed" Crimea away.

The government in Kyiv came to power following a week in which nearly 100 people died in clashes with security forces associated with former President Viktor Yanukovych, who himself fled the capital -- first to eastern Ukraine and then to Russia. At the time, RFE/RL wrote about whether the transfer of power was "constitutional."

In claiming that Kyiv pushed Crimea out of its orbit, Moscow appears to be implying that a supposed ultranationalist threat forced Crimeans to break away. But despite Russian claims, Crimea's ethnic Russian majority never appeared to be under threat. And after Russian and pro-Russian forces seized Crimea's parliament, the de facto government in Crimea rejected visits from emissaries in Kyiv hoping to defuse the situation. Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) were also refused entry at the border.

-- The loss of Ukraine's territorial integrity is the result of "complex internal processes to which Russia and its obligations under the Budapest Memorandum have no relationship."

The Budapest Memorandum obligates signatories to "refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine." 

In contravention of this agreement, thousands of armed Russian soldiers arrived in Crimea in late February and early March. Moscow, however, has still not acknowledged the incursion, claiming the troops, who were wearing uniforms without insignia, were locally armed "defense forces." 

Also, Russia annexed Crimea.

-- Russia has respected the sovereignty of Ukraine, while the West clearly interfered during the Maidan protests.

Moscow has recognized neither the government in Kyiv nor the upcoming early presidential election. It also annexed Ukrainian territory. 

Both Moscow and the West are invested in the future of Ukraine, and both have made efforts to sway the country toward their competing sides. Western powers prefer a path toward European integration, while Russia wants Ukraine to remain in its orbit. 

To that end, Western leaders were supportive of antigovernment protesters in Kyiv after Yanukovych backed out of initialing an EU Association Agreement, but they also worked, at the invitation of the former president, toward finding a compromise between his government and the protesters.

Russia, for its part, offered Ukraine a $15 billion bailout late last year to stave off a coming default and also dampen protests in Kyiv. And last summer, when it appeared Ukraine was on the path to signing an Association Agreement, Moscow imposed trade barriers and threatened further sanctions if Kyiv went ahead with the deal.

-- Russia has not violated the concept of "negative security assurances," which guarantees a nuclear state will never threaten to use a nuclear weapon against a nonnuclear state. 

The Budapest Memorandum does say that no nuclear party should threaten nuclear force against a nonnuclear state that has signed on to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. And indeed, Moscow has not threatened Ukraine with a nuclear attack. 

But as mentioned above, the memorandum also precludes the use of force -- or threatened use -- with conventional weapons against Ukraine. This is critical to the agreement because by giving up its nuclear weapons, Kyiv became an inherently weaker military power with less ability to deter attack.

This inability to defend itself has been on stark display as Russia has sent troops into Ukrainian territory, annexed Crimea, and massed troops near Ukraine's eastern borders -- all in apparent violation of the Budapest Memorandum.

-- Glenn Kates
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: American Tolerast
April 02, 2014 16:05
With multiple violent revolutions in less than a century pulling the "country" between diametrically opposed militant ideologies (from global leftist/atheist vanguardism to its current Orthodox/Slav exceptionalism), Russia is clearly a failed state and has violated its own territorial integrity.

Germany, Japan and China expect the return of Koenigsberg, the Kuriles, and Northeast Manchuria by month's end. Failure to comply will result in all Russian accounts denominated in euros, yen, and RMB being seized as assets of a criminal enterprise. The remaining rump of Russian territory will then hold a referendum on whether to cede sovereignty to Ulaanbaatar or Kazan. The transition will be eased by widespread distribution of Japanese-subsidized free vodka, Chinese-made cheap plastic Orthodox iconography, and German sausage. This process will be assisted by any Russian conscripts deemed to have sufficiently low blood/alcohol levels and high T cell levels.

Please note America's complete and total non-involvement in this Byzantine process given the reality that anything involving the Russian wastes, by definition, cannot matter beyond inner Eurasia and the tribal societies unfortunate enough to exist there.

by: Maurits from: London
April 02, 2014 17:41
What a bunch of propaganda rubbish. Radio Free Europe Indeed.
RT, but the opposite
In Response

by: Eugahnimous from: New York
April 02, 2014 19:30
This is an excellent piece. Its an antidote to propaganda. There is no free media anymore in Russia. We are back to reading VOA and RFE for objective in depth accounts of what is going on there. I am sure RFE/RL's Russian language subscriber base is growing like tospy.
In Response

by: StopCorruption from: US
April 04, 2014 13:29
I get my news from my wife's parents who live in Crimea. Their news match exactly with Russian media.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
April 03, 2014 12:10
FRE, in this case, need not propaganda.
Just look at the picture of Lavrov. What an impression!
Speaking of the devil, maybe you don't recognize facial
impressions of the "Tribal Societies" (meaning genuine
nations), being "Western Societies" (meaning uniform
provinces of Roman Empire) - in this case:
Lavrov's face, typical Russian expression, said:
- "You claim I stole your wallet and green like devil?
I claim it was my wallet that you stole from me before
and if you think I green like devil, you are devil yourself!
How about that?
In Response

by: Billy Vohnwinkle from: USA
April 04, 2014 23:36
I've always got the best updates from news sites but my friends who reside in Russia always gave me updates about it.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 04, 2014 06:06
Here is a funny April 1st AUDIO of two Russian ambassadors conspiring to take over Alaska and Miamiland in the near future :-)):

by: Jack from: US
April 04, 2014 15:07
the whole and the only mission of RFERL is anti-Russian propaganda, funded by US government

by: Ainhoa from: New York
April 05, 2014 22:54
The Budapest Memorandum was negotiated as a political agreement for promises made by three nations. It is not an international treaty. It refers to assurances not defined, with no guarantees to non intervention. Moreover, it gives signatories justification if they take action, but it does not force anyone to act in Ukraine. The New York Times published an article today disclosing that the U.S. had finally admitted that the Budapest Memorandum is nonbind:

"But now, as American officials have distanced themselves from the Budapest Memorandum in light of Russia’s takeover of Crimea, calling promises made in Budapest “nonbinding,” the United States is being forced at the same time to make reassurances in Asia. Japanese officials, a senior American military official said, “keep asking, ‘Are you going to do the same thing to us when something happens?’ "

You can read the entire article here:

About #UkraineUnspun

The information war is in full swing in the tense standoff between Ukraine and Russia. In an attempt to present a clearer picture, #UkraineUnspun will unravel information coming from Russian and Ukrainian media, politicians and activists. Written by Glenn Kates and contributors from RFE/RL.

Follow the hashtag #UkraineUnspun on Twitter and let us know what we should be covering -- or to weigh in on any of our stories. Or write us at

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