DAVID C. SPEEDIE, dspeedie at cceia.org
Director of the U.S. Global Engagement Program at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, Speedie has been interviewing experts in Ukraine. He said today: “In simple terms, half the people in Ukraine look to Russia and the other half look to the West.
“Putin’s show of force is just that — a show of displeasure at the de facto banning of the Russian language in the Ukraine, threats to Russian Orthodox churches and other things we’ve seen threatening to the Russian-speaking people there. It is not on Putin’s agenda to get into any rash military action.
“Unfortunately things are getting white-hot in Crimea with the reported occupation of a regional government building in Simferopol by pro-Russian protesters. Of course, you could say that this is a tit-for-tat for the similar occupations by pro-Europe protesters in Kiev, and obviously Russia has legitimate concerns about the status and security of its Black Sea Fleet, which has a faithfully negotiated lease to be in Crimea until 2042, and on which there is the threat to renege.
“Now is the time for serious political compromise, not for ratcheting up the rhetoric. I don’t think Secretary Kerry’s remarks about ‘Rocky IV’ are helpful. We need to get out of this zero sum thinking of Russia vs the West and navigate these shark infested waters and allow cooler heads to prevail and achieve an interim political accommodation.”
FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press: 1999). He said today: “While talking about storming the parliament in Simferopol and Russian war maneuvers, [Christiane] Amanpour on CNN this morning invoked the Budapest Agreement saying that Russia must stay out, they have a legal obligation. This is noteworthy because the Budapest Agreement also states that the U.S., Russia, Ukraine, and UK need to immediately jointly ‘consult’ — meaning meet at least at the foreign minister level. [Text below; see Financial Times “Ukraine’s new premier invokes treaty in bid to resist Russia.”
“These mechanisms of international law are critical because the First World War started this way in 1914 — exactly a century ago. The Serbian terrorist [Gavrilo] Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the heir to the throne of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The Austrian-Hungarian emperor got the backing of the German Kaiser for an ultimatum to Serbia over it. Serbia offered to submit the dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, which was rejected by Austria-Hungary. Serbia’s ally the Russian Tsar mobilized the Russian army. Then the Kaiser gave the order to execute their Schleifen Plan, attacking both to their east and west. Ten million people died for nothing.”
BEN ARIS, editor at bne.eu, Skype: bpnaris
Based in Moscow, Aris is editor of Business New Europe. He said today: “The situation in Ukraine is staring to unravel in an alarming way. The deep divisions in the country are now coming to the fore as the so-called Euromaidan protests in the capital Kiev only reflect the desire of half the country. While analysts believe the chances of a break up of the country remain unlikely, the violent overthrow of the [Viktor] Yanukovych regime has opened old wounds and driven a wedge in the already fragile union of east and west.
“Economically, Ukraine is on the verge of collapse. The national currency has already fallen 20 percent since the start of the year. However, the EU is not going to be able to bail out the country alone. The only long-term solution will be for the Russians to be included in any rescue. Ukraine remains strategically tied to Russia; both in the form of its gas pipelines that deliver Russian gas to European customers, but at a deeper level thanks to the legacy issues that continue to tie much of Ukraine’s industry to Russia’s. Doing a three-way deal will not be easy, but the alternative is to build a new wall in the middle of Europe, reminiscent of the Cold War divide.”
NICOLAI PETRO, [in Ukraine] nnpetro at gmail.com, Skype: nicolaipetro
Professor of politics at the University of Rhode Island, Petro is currently a Fulbright research scholar in Ukraine. He recently wrote the piece “Ukraine’s Culture War” for the National Interest. He said today: “Ironically, the Ukrainian parliament now faces the same choice that Yanukovych faced before his ouster: to use force against those whom it considers criminals and separatists, or to enter into negotiations to cede more political authority to the protesters. For now the regions in the south and east that opposed the Maidan are not demanding separation. What they want is greater, and more formal, recognition of the Russian component of Ukrainian national identity. Being ‘pro-Russian’ in this context does not mean wanting to join Russia. It means speaking, worshiping, and going to school in your own language, in your own country — Ukraine.
“In the long run, both major cultural components of Ukrainian identity, Ukrainian and Russian, need to be granted equal status if the country is to survive. Only this can finally provide the basis for a common vision for the future shared across the entire land. An important step in that direction was recently taken by a member of the Lvov intelligentsia, who appealed the parliament to respect the culture and language of the people of eastern and southern Ukraine, and not to make them feel like second-class citizens.”
The Budapest Agreement (Signed in 1994 upon Ukraine getting rid of its nuclear weapons and entering the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear power):
3. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind;
4. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used;
5. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm, in the case of Ukraine, their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories or dependent territories, their armed forces, or their allies, by such a State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State;
6. Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America will consult in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning these commitments.