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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ukraine signs political part of Association Agreement with EU amid ongoing tensions in Crimea and Western pressure on Russia

Ukraine and EU sign Association Agreement
(Image: Arseniy Yatsenyuk Facebook Page)
Tensions in Ukrainian Crimea, occupied by Russian forces and actually annexed by Russia after the illegal “referendum” and Putin’s presidential decree regarding Crimean status as a subject of Russian Federation, remains tense, with no attempts to de-escalate situation from the Russian side and unwillingness to hold negotiations with Ukrainian authorities.

Though, despite the tensions and complicated situation, Ukraine has made an important step towards European integration. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatesenyuk has signed in Brussels on Friday, 21 March, political part of Association Agreement between the countries of EU and Ukraine. The document was signed by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Head of European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, President of European Council Herman Van Rompuy and heads of 28 countries-members of EU and high officials of EU. Economic part of the Agreement is expected to be signed in the nearest future, once as Ukraine and EU will finish cooperation and consultations regarding reforming Ukrainian industry and market, stated Herman Van Rompuy. Ukrainian Minister of Economic Development and Trade Pavlo Sheremeta has stated that economic part of the Association Agreement could be signed within the coming 6 months.

During the meeting after signing the Agreement Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk also declared that Ukraine urgently needs support in order to reform and restore its economy. As for the Russian invasion, the losses caused by it and by nationalization of Ukrainian objects located in Crimea by Russia are about hundreds billion dollars, stated Mr. Yatsenyuk, and officials Ukraine will sue Russia in the international courts.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Head of
European Council Herman Van Rompuy during signing of
Association Agreement between Ukraine and EU
(Image: Xinhua)

Ukrainian newly appointed Head of the National Bank Stepan Kubin in his turn has declared that the talks with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) are ongoing, and their results could be known and revealed till Monday.

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov though has criticized signing of the Agreement between Ukraine and EU claiming, that this step was too early and didn’t correspond to the people’s will in Ukraine. He stated this should be done only after the presidential elections.

European officials in their turn welcomed signing of this historical document, as it will support Ukraine financially and politically on its way towards European integration and European values.

Meanwhile, situation in Crimea, which was annexed to Russia, after Putin has signed his presidential decree and Russian Upper House of Parliament has unanimously supported it, but legally remains Ukrainian territory, as neither Ukraine nor the world’s countries recognized the results of the 16 March “referendum”, is still tense. Ukrainian military bases are still occupied by the Russian troops, attacks and assaults continue, some soldiers leave the armed forces or swear an oath to the Russian military. But most of the soldiers remain faithful to Ukraine and claim they will stand till the end. Ukrainian government and Ministry of Defense in their turn have approved plan of evacuation of Ukrainian citizens from Crimea, including also soldiers and their families, military technique and weapons.

Ukrainian Crimea
(Image: UA Golos)
Though the Deputy Head of Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, Leonid Polyakov, has declared earlier that soldiers should remain in Crimea, until the government will be using all the possible political and diplomatic measures.

Ukrainian Ministry of Defense declared also that an attack of Russian forces against the mainland Ukraine could be expected at any moment, as Russian military presence in Crimea continues to increase, and numerous troops and military technique is deployed along the border with Ukraine. Despite the assurances of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, given by him to US officials, that Russian doesn’t have intentions to invade the mainland Ukraine, Ukrainian military troops are in state of alert.

Meanwhile, international pressure on Russia increases as Russia shows no intentions to de-escalate the conflict, but only deepen it, refusing to withdraw its troops, hold negotiations with Ukraine and violating Ukrainian Constitution and all the international judicial norms and agreements about territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries.

Thus, EU has cancelled its EU-Russia Summit due to Russian annexation of Ukrainian Crimea and “due to absence of de-escalation of crisis”, stated Head of Europe
US President Barack Obama signed decree allowing to impose
additional sanctions against Russian orfficials
(Image: Kyiv Post)
an Council Herman Van Rompuy. 21 high officials and oligarchs close ton Putin have been included in the black list of EU sanctions with ban to enter EU countries and freezing and arresting financial assets. Later this list was extended of other 12 persons. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared during her speech in Bundestag on Thursday, that Russia becomes more and more isolated. German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steimeier, is expected to arrive in Ukraine on Saturday, 22 March, for the talks with Ukrainian government. He plans to meet Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and acting President Oleksandr Turchinov in Kyiv and also authorities in Eastern Donetsk.

EU Venice Commission has also stated that the results of the “referendum” held in Crimea on 16 March and allegedly demonstrated willingness of Crimean people to join Russia cannot be recognized, as the “referendum” was completely illegal, held with the violation of Ukrainian and international law and all the norms of voting process.

USA have also imposed new and harsher sanctions against Russian regime of Putin, after Barack Obama has signed his presidential decree allowing to impose new sanctions to affect key sectors of Russian economy. US black list includes more than 20 people: politicians, high officials, oligarchs and influential businessmen from the closest circle of Putin.
OSCE mission, visited Eastern and Southern Ukrainian regions, stated that it hasn’t find any serious or systematic separatist moods, thus, Crimean scenarios is impossible there. UN mission in its turn has denied Russian accusations of fascism and ultra-nationalism presented in the modern Ukraine.

Ukraine: Euromaidan rallies in Kyiv
(Image: Wikipedia)
UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon has also arrived in Kyiv for the talks with Ukrainian government in order to help to resolve the deepening crisis in Crimea, which threatens not only Ukraine, but also Europe and the whole world. According to his statement, UN is ready to respond to Ukrainian recent request and to consider and recognize Crimea demilitarized zone. UN will also create an international commission for resolving Crimean crisis, and this commission is expected to consist of the representatives of the countries, signed the 1994 Budapest Treaty. Ban Ki-Moon has mentioned the necessity of constructive political dialogue between Ukrainian and Russian authorities and use of diplomatic measures rather than escalating the military conflict.