Before entering into the details of the plan, a discussion needs to be conducted on the principles of action in international relations that are currently legitimate in keeping with the inter-country agreements. Here are two comments made by readers on ‘The Atlantic’ article regarding a possible agreement between Russian and US experts that could have been the basis for such a secret deal: ‘Unless the Ukrainian state is to be considered a not-quite legitimate nation-state, any decisions regarding its own alignment status (including any reconsideration of decisions already made) should be determined by way of the democratic processes allowed for it by the current system of Ukrainian government’. The second one, also a bit longer, contradicts the theory supported by the first, and addresses a matter that needs to be discussed here: ‘All these well-meaning political-diplomatic ‘solutions’ don’t address the fundamental issue, which is that Moscow has needed either to have strong hegemony over the Ukraine, or, once that has been lost, as has been the case since the Maidan Square revolution, to keep the Ukraine weak and destabilized.
That has been the Russian strategic calculus ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. An economically prosperous Ukraine oriented towards the West is a strategic threat to Russia’s geopolitical interests because of that very long Russian Ukrainian border that can be the scene /…/many staging areas for covert military activity against Russia, not even necessarily sanctioned by the Ukrainian government/…/. Just like what’s facing the U.S. with the Mexican drug cartels on the U.S.-Mexico border.’
The first comment establishes a cardinal principles of international relations, enshrined by quite a few recognised acts ranging from the Charter of the United Nations to the Act of Helsinki of 1st August 1975 and 1990 Charter for a New Europe or EU principles (1994) – the principle of sovereign decision of states regarding their future, without external interference. Such principle collides with any kind of agreement between third parties at the expense of other international actor(s), such as – this is also the reason why it is so often recalled – the one concluded between Germany and the USSR in August 1939 (the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact) which, among other things, was removing Poland from the map and allowed the incorporation of the Baltic States. Or the annexation of Crimea is believed to have violated that principle, as it did not consider the freely expressed will not of the citizens of the peninsula, but of the concerned state., Ukraine, whose will was disregarded (the referendum organised there on March 15, under the supervision/control of ‘green little men’/’polite persons’ was not legitimised by the Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev.) It’s also the main reason for which Western states and not only they not only do not recognise the annexation of Crimea by Russia, but also find it to be illegal and demand the observance of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
The second comment invokes a strategic imperative that pertains to the national security of Russia. According to such a point of view, Russia needs its hegemonic domination or a weak Ukraine (therefore some sort of ‘droit de regard’ over the internal situation of Ukraine) in order for it not to feel threatened at the European border. In support of such a theory one evokes the situation along the US border with Mexico, where Washington makes considerable effort in order to avoid uncontrolled situations (massive immigration waves or organised crime, which are not at all organised by the neighbouring state).
It is from this second stand point that another position draws attention – the one of Henri Kissinger, the American statesman nowadays regarded as the ‘father of realism’ in international relations, expressed in an article published on 5th March 2014, therefore prior to the annexation of Crimea. He proposed a solution to the Ukrainian crisis detailing four principles: ‘1. Ukraine should have the right to choose freely its economic and political associations, including with Europe.;2. Ukraine should not join NATO/../ ; 3. Ukraine should be free to create any government compatible with the expressed will of its people. /…/Internationally, they should pursue a posture comparable to that of Finland. /…/4. It is incompatible with the rules of the existing world order for Russia to annex Crimea. But it should be possible to put Crimea’s relationship to Ukraine on a less fraught basis. /…/ Russia would recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea. Ukraine should reinforce Crimea’s autonomy /…/”.
Therefore a buffer-state between Russia and the West (NATO), enjoying sovereignty and systemic independence, but banned from NATO, a restriction transformed into a systemic principle designed to spare Russian security susceptibilities.
Which of the two points of view was adopted for the official closure (Minsk agreement of 5th September 2014 between Presidents Poroshenko and Putin) of fighting in Ukraine?