Staunton, September 7 – President Petro Poroshenko said in a Voice of America interview on Friday that Russia should lose its veto power in the UN Security Council because of its aggressive actions against Ukraine, arguing that the world would be a safer place if Moscow could not veto resolutions it doesn’t like.
At the same time, Poroshenko, whose government has just modified its national security doctrine to identify Russia as an enemy and to declare Kyiv’s intention of seeking NATO membership, said that Russia as a major power should retain its permanent seat on that body (voanews.com/content/exclusive-poroshenko-wants-russia-stripped-of-un-veto-power/2948981.html).
The Ukrainian leader said that “the world has a right to know who’s responsible for [the] disastrous terrorist attack” on the Malaysian airliner in July 2014 and that “if only one country, especially Russia as a permanent UN Security Council member uses its veto” to block the investigation, “this is self-explanatory.”
Poroshenko added that “with its aggression in eastern Ukraine and Crimea,” “Russia ruined the post-World War II global security system,” and that aggression must be repelled and the conditions which have allowed Russia to engage in it must be identified and overcome by the international community.
Many in both Moscow and the West will dismiss Poroshenko’s proposal out of hand either because they are convinced that none of the other permanent members of the UN Security Council will agree or because they believe that raising this issue now will only make the current situation more explosive.
But that is a mistake: it has been 70 years since the post-World War II “global security system” was established, and Poroshenko is absolutely right to say that Russia and its aggressive actions have not so much called that system into question as shattered it. Consequently, the world needs to begin thinking about organizational changes for the future.
Depriving aggressors of their veto power in the Security Council is likely to be an important part of the debate: at the very least, it should be discussed.
The current author raised this possibility in his Lennart Meri lecture in April 2015(youtube.com/watch?v=EJkQmCU5jVM) and provided what he believes is the reason it must be considered in an article for a special issue of Estonia’s “Diplomaatia” journal (diplomaatia.ee/en/article/responding-to-the-new-russian-challenge/).
The relevant passage of that article follows:
“There is no possibility that the world can return to the status quo ante, even if Putin backs down everywhere—something he will not do or, even if he is overthrown, something which no one can count on. The current international order and all its institutions were created at the end or immediately after World War II. These institutions reflected both the power relations, military and economic, that existed at the time and, equally, expectations about what the allies of the end of that conflict would do in the future.
“Those power relations have shifted, and the expectations have not been fulfilled. But now, by his actions in Ukraine, Putin has made a return to the old order impossible, however much those in the quest for “stabil’nost’ über alles” may think otherwise. There needs to be an international organisation in which no rogue state can veto any judgement against itself, no matter how many nuclear weapons it may possess. There need to be political and financial arrangements that reflect the shifting balance in the world between the US, Europe and Asia. And all of those things will require new organisations and a new generation of wise men—and now wise women, as well.
“Putin and Russia must pay a price for what the Kremlin has done, and that price will not be paid just by having them stop doing it. The world needs to remember the 1957 Krokodil cartoon in which a student complains that he has been given a failing grade even though he has admitted all his mistakes. The way ahead is going to be far more difficult than almost anyone now imagines. But the longer these intellectual and political tasks are put off, the more damage Putin will do, and the harder it will be for the West to defend its values and itself in the future.”