Article by: Bohdana Kostiuk
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is optimistic – he is convinced that Kyiv will manage to return Crimea thanks to the improvement of the socio-economic situation in continental Ukraine. He stated this during his speech at the 11th annual Yalta European Strategy conference in Kyiv. According to Poroshenko, Ukraine will win ‘the battle for Crimea,’ when the level of life grows on its continental part.
“We have a significant problem. They say we lost Crimea. No. We have an invasion in Crimea, but Crimea will be with us again. Not necessarily by military means. I am convinced that we will win the economic, democratic, liberal competition for the minds, for the moods of Crimean citizens, as we will be effective, not corrupt, democratic, we will be free,” said he.
Kyiv also entertains the possibility of returning Crimea within the context of the collective security and relations system with the Ukraine-Russia-the EU triangle. The future system and relations in Europe depend, amongst other things, on the solution to the Crimean issue, thinks deputy head of the President’s Administration Valery Chaly. He ties the issue of Crimea’s return with international law and hopes that the West’s lack of acknowledgement of Crimea’s annex by Russians will help Kyiv win the ‘battle for Crimea’ in the legislative field.
“The normalization of the relations between Ukraine and Russia in the future and between the European Union and Russia is impossible without the half to the illegal annex of Crimea. We (Kyiv) will not cast a shadow on this problem, and Ukraine’s official position is that Crimea was, is and will remain Ukrainian. It will take time, but we are working on a juridical package which will make this decision possible in the future,” Chaly told the press.
Expert: Crimea will return to Ukraine without bloodshed
Independent experts recommend that official Kyiv address already approved international legislation. As such, in Helsinkin in 1975, the act guaranteeing integrity of European borders was approved. In 1995, the Budapest Memorandum was signed, according to which guarantee countries support territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine, and Kyiv, on their part, refused nuclear weapons.
According to former Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko, taking into account the international support for Ukraine and problems within Russia itself, currently international legislative norms allow to slowly return the Autonomous Republic of Crimea without significant losses.
“I think we will return Crimea much quicker and without bloody consequences. Because Russia is forced to choose by the joint effort made by Ukraine and the global community. The Russian choice is quite obvious – the sanctions enacted on September 12 allow to make very serious steps for the Russian economy to feel it very soon. So I hope that everything with Crimea will occur without weapons or victims,” Ohryzko told Radio Liberty.
According to Kyiv-Mohyla academy professor Mykhaylo Kirsenko, at the moment the socio-political processes in the world are happening faster than 20 years ago, the level and quality of threats to international security are bigger and more unpredictable than before. This will force NATO members states to, on one hand, come together in order to rebuke potential enemies, which do not only include Islamic radicalism, but Russian imperial chauvinism, notes Kirsenko. As a result, according to him, “Crimea will fall onto Ukrainian soil, as soon as it matures and breaks with the branch.”
Meanwhile Kirsenko advises to involve the international community more actively in the process of returning Crimea under Kyiv’s jurisdiction – for this, amongst other things, Ukrainian diplomats, politicians, civic activists should work more actively. According to the expert, this includes regular meetings between Ukrainian diplomats and civil activists with officials in their country of residence, as well as cooperation with local media.
Kyiv-based political expert, historian Olexandr Paliy thinks that Ukraine will return Crimea if it carries out deep socio-economical reforms within the country and with the West’s military and technical support. According to him, at the moment the West has every opportunity to help Ukrainians in this process.
“Two things are necessary: for the U.S. and the NATO to draw a ‘red line,’ which they will not allow Russia to cross. Second, it is necessary for the countries of the Alliance to hold several serious training sessions on Ukrainian territory,” notes Paliy.
Lanovy: a complex of deep reform is necessary in Ukraine
As of today, Russia is unable to withstand the new loops within the arms race, as not much western sanctions, but objective processes on the global energy level and the decrease of industry in the Russian ‘outback’ are sucking its economy dry. In case serious reforms are carried out in Ukraine, Kyiv’s economic advantage over Moscow will if not return Crimea, then at least change the attitude of many Crimean citizens towards the Ukrainian state, thinks economist Volodymyr Lanovy.
According to him, at the moment the situation in the Ukrainian economy is not beneficial, and the lack of reform and postponement of the free-trade zone with the European Union only serve to deepen the crisis. Before life level grows on continental Ukraine, before investments come and start working, Ukraine will be of no interest to Crimeans, the expert noted.
“Our economy doesn’t and will not grow very fast. Besides, the delay of the Ukraine-EU agreement, in particular, the delay of the free-trade zone, delays investments into Ukraine,” Lanovy explained to Radio Liberty.
He noted that only economic or diplomatic and legal means are unlikely to help Ukraine return annexed Crimea – a complex of deep reforms is necessary within Ukraine itself. And then the West will help.