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Russian ‘enigma’ and Western myths

Apr 10,2014 - Last updated at Apr 10,2014

I would like to express my opinion regarding the allegations put forward recently in The Jordan Times by some Western columnists in connection with events in Crimea.

Referring to Winston Churchill’s comparison of Russia with an enigma, I feel that Europe and the US unfortunately have not really understood our country so far.

Enigma is not the point. Despite all our efforts to engage in an efficient dialogue and cooperation with Western partners on the basis of openness, mutual trust and equity, every now and then we hit a wall.

Moreover, the West deceived us more than once, got its own way behind Russia’s back and presented it with a fait accompli — just as happened with NATO’s expansion to the East, deploying military infrastructure at Russia’s borders.

We saw the same scenario as well in the deployment of a missile defence system which is moving forward despite Russian apprehensions.

While accusing Russia of violating international law, the West itself often interprets this law in a wilful manner, and the Arab people know this quite well. 

Let’s just recall, for instance, how the US, Great Britain and their allies “observed” the international law when they invaded Iraq and interfered militarily in the conflict in Libya, noticeably overstepping the limits of the UN Security Council resolution.

A vivid example of such duplicity is the attitude towards the recent armed coup in Kiev.

The agreement of February 21 to settle the Ukrainian crisis by constitutional means, which was signed through the mediation of three European foreign ministers, became in fact a cover for the deposition of the President Viktor Yanoukovych (though not highly popular among Ukrainians, but legitimate in every way) and seizure of power by force — a virtual coup d’état.

The Western powers rushed immediately to recognise the so-called new power in Ukraine, preferring to disregard an “uncomfortable” fact (acknowledged by a number of honest-minded analysts, namely Andrew Foxall and Oren Kessler) that “a sisable portion of Kiev’s current government — and the protesters who brought it to power — are, indeed, fascists” from Svoboda Party, whose leader, Oleg Tyahnybok, is on record complaining that his country is controlled by a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia”.

Those neo-Nazis promptly managed to obtain a law prohibiting the use of languages other than Ukrainian in government business, thus marginalising the one-third of the Russian-speaking citizens and 60 per cent of Crimeans.

Many people in Ukraine are constantly threatened with attacks by radical armed formations, which are still operating in different regions of the country.

At the same time, the West refuses to recognise the undoubtedly legitimate referendum on Crimea’s status when its people followed the UN Charter principle of the right of nations to self-determination.

By the way, Ukraine did literally the same thing in 1991 on the threshold of seceding from the USSR. Ukraine was allowed to exercise this right, yet the residents of Crimea are denied for some reason. 

This right was proclaimed in Article 1 of the UN Charter and reaffirmed in several UN General Assembly resolutions (Declaration on Principles of International Law of 1970).

In the situation when the people do not have the opportunity to obtain their status and to protect their rights within the framework of a certain state on the territory of their habitation, they have a right to self determination through separation from this state and/or joining another state.

The mentioned Declaration of 1970 has reaffirmed the inviolability of territorial integrity of states “observing the principle of the equal rights and the self-determination of peoples”.

Within Ukraine, the people of Crimea could not exercise their right to self determination due to the policy of the central authorities.

Qualification of the referendum as non-corresponding to the Ukrainian constitution is not essential for its legitimacy in the international law.

Seeking to attain the right to self determination is evidence of the impossibility of implementing it under the national law, for objective reasons.

The US memorandum presented to the International Court of Justice asserting the conformity of Kosovo’s separation to the international law claims that “declarations of independence often violate national law … but it does not mean the violation of the international law”.

The International Court of Justice also stated that unilateral announcement of independence by a part of a state does not violate any provision of international law.

The Crimean referendum on March 16 was fair and transparent, in full compliance with democratic procedures and international norms.

The result was that the Crimean people clearly and unambiguously showed their will to be with Russia.

However, now the West considers the recent Crimean referendum a “mockery of justice” and speaks about “occupation”.

Not a single shot was fired in Crimea, since the result happened to be a deliberate choice of its people. By the way, more than 82 per cent of the electorate took part in the referendum and more than 96 per cent voted for reunion with Russia.

The situation in this region, in contrast with ongoing tension on the “continental” Ukrainian soil, remains stable and calm. There was talk about “voting at gunpoint”, but if these rumours were true, why aren’t there any protests staged by the Crimeans themselves?

They say Kosovo’s independence followed “long years of diplomatic effort”. Well, we have a good memory of this “effort”, which took the form of wide-range bombings of the whole Serbia territory by NATO forces during several weeks and ended up in severe devastation of the country’s infrastructure, injuries and numerous deaths of innocent civilians.

All this horror happened in blatant violation of the international law and in the absence of approval by the international community, the UN in particular.

We have become accustomed to statements about “Russia’s isolation”. One could only wonder why some Western capitals dare to speak on behalf of the entire international community.

The United States and NATO are not in the sole representatives of the world. Nevertheless, they seem reluctant to quit their self-proclaimed role of the “global mentors”, lecturing all other independent states on how to behave.

The latest voting on the UN General Assembly resolution on the situation in Ukraine demonstrated clearly that many influential countries preferred to abstain. The inspirers of this resolution were clearly seeking instigation and confrontation, instead of trying to find a rational settlement to the Ukrainian crisis.

It is encouraging that our Western partners are still talking about their readiness to continue cooperation with Moscow on bringing out viable solutions to a number of issues of mutual concern, namely the situation in Syria, negotiations on Iran’s nuclear file, the dormant Middle East peace process, etc.

Russia is fully committed to play an active and constructive role in diplomatic efforts in order to solve the aforesaid and other urgent problems, including the crisis in Ukraine.

One should be aware, however, that the path of threats, sanctions and “isolation” is not and would never be acceptable in our relations and dialogue. 

The writer is the ambassador of the Russian Federation to Jordan. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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