By Ted Belman
What should take precedence, sovereignty or self-determination in Ukraine? That’s a good question, perhaps the ultimate question.
The West, consisting of US, EU and NATO, answers, sovereignty, of course, while they demonize Putin and provoke him.
They cite the Budapest Memorandum, of 1994 in which signatories, including Russia and the US, committed to ““refrain from threatening or using military force or economic coercion against Ukraine and undertook to respect Ukrainian independence and sovereignty in the existing (1994) borders.”, They claim the 2022 Russian invasion violated this fundamental commitment.
They ignore the fact that the CIA orchestrated coup disrespected the sovereignty of Ukraine, employed coercive actions against the political independence of Ukraine, and subordinated the economic interests of Ukraine to that of the EU, and thereby violated the provisions 1, 2 and 3 of the Bucharest Memorandum, respectively, and, these actions, each of which preceded Russia’s invasion of Crimea, actually triggered Russia’s occupation of the Crimea..
The 2014 CIA masterminded coup, sometimes referred to as the Maiden uprising, which removed the pro-Russian head of state, Viktor Yanukovych and installed a pro-West head of state is not mentioned. That’s OK in their book, but best forgotten. They take no responsibility for the bombardment by Ukrainian Army of the citizens of the Donbass since then, killing over 10,000. Nor do they acknowledge the role of the Nazi Azov Battalion which Ukraine made part of their army and which did most of the killing.
“The February 2014 “Maidan Revolution” in Ukraine led to former President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing the country and a pro-Western government coming to power.
“This was followed by Russia illegally annexing the Crimea region and separatists declaring independence in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Donbas in eastern Ukraine, both of which have large ethnic Russian populations.
“Almost eight years after the annexation of Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin in February recognized Ukraine’s breakaway regions as “independent states” and launched a war on its neighbor.’
Whether the annexation was illegal or not is open to dispute. See Annexation and International Law
In 2017, The NATION published Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are On the March in Ukraine;
“Five years ago, Ukraine’s Maidan uprising ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, to the cheers and support of the West. Politicians and analysts in the United States and Europe not only celebrated the uprising as a triumph of democracy, but denied reports of Maidan’s ultra-nationalism, smearing those who warned about the dark side of the uprising as Moscow puppets and useful idiots. Freedom was on the march in Ukraine.”
What are the Minsk agreements? Published on Feb 9, 2022
“Ukraine and the Russia-backed separatists agreed on a 12-point ceasefire deal in September 2014. However, the agreement quickly broke down, with violations by both sides.”
“Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the leaders of separatist-held regions Donetsk and Luhansk signed a 13-point agreement in February 2015.”
Russia was not a party to this agreement. It was never implemented because of a difference of opinion as to what had been agreed upon.
“It (Ukraine) wants a ceasefire, control of the Russia-Ukraine border, elections in the Donbas, and a limited devolution of power to the separatists – in that order.
“Russia views the deal as obliging Ukraine to grant rebel authorities in Donbas comprehensive autonomy and representation in the central government, effectively giving Moscow the power to veto Kyiv’s foreign policy choices.”
Fast forward to Feb 2022,
“Moscow may see Minsk II as a way to guarantee its central security demand – that Ukraine is never allowed to join NATO. Washington and NATO have already rejected that demand.”
Because of this rejection, Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence and Russia, after recognizing their independence, began what it called, a “special military operation.” The West called it an invasion.
Eight months later and over 200,000 dead or injured, the war rages on and Russia has formally annexed Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. All because the West refused to agree to Russia’s demand that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO.
“an army trained and equipped according to NATO standards. And our army is basically a NATO army, our military is trained according to NATO standards, we have NATO command chains.”
The fact that the West is now heavily involved in the supply of weapons and money to Ukraine, even though Ukraine‘s application to join NATO has been rejected, suggests the Russia’s fears were well founded. Russia didn’t imagine that NATO would attack her even if Ukraine wasn’t a member of NATO.
Now, back to the ultimate question: Does the right of self-determination supersede sovereignty?
“The Charter of the United Nations came into force in 1945, in which Article 1 includes reference to self-determination. This meant, for the first time, self-determination was recognised in an official international legal document, affirming that it was an existing right. However, the lack of definition and detail as to what self-determination entails provided in the Charter left little ability for the right to be applied, particularly in relation to secession. But, the 1966 International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) transformed that by providing a substantive definition about what is encompassed in the right to self-determination;
The ICCPR was ratified by Ukraine on Oct 12, 1973 so it is bound by it.
This right of self-determination therefor supersedes the sanctity of sovereignty.
Surely, the residents of the four provinces and the Crimea have the right of self-determination as legalized by this Treaty. They speak Russian as their mother-tongue and think of themselves as Russian.
These residents have not only overwhelmingly voted “yes” in their respective referendums recently held, they also voted “yes” in the 2014 referendum. They previously voted overwhelmingly for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian candidate for the presidency in 2010.
The West called these referenda “shams” and said they were “unconstitutional” and “lacked legitimacy”. The above noted right of self-determination was not conditional on whether or not it was “constitutional”. Thus it is ipso facto, legal.
In calling the referenda shams, the West is in fact, recognizing the right of self- determination providing the referenda are properly held.
The West also supported the right of Kosovo to secede from Serbia. So they can’t argue that there is no such right.
If the West was prepared to recognize the right of self-determination of the four provinces and the Crimea, they could save face by supporting the referenda or calling for a revote. This would enable it to end the war on a high note.