Friday, April 18, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Betrayal of Ukraine in Geneva ‘Worse than Munich,’ Illarionov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 18 – What the US, the EU and Ukraine itself agreed to in Geneva is “worse than Munich” because Kyiv joined in giving international sanction to actions of the Russian aggressor and opening the way for the transformation of the internal arrangements of Ukraine regardless of what Ukrainians want, according to Andrey Illarionov.

            As bad as the Munich accord of 1938 was – and it has long been a synonym for the appeasement of an aggressor -- the Russian commentator continues, at least the Czechoslovaks at that time were not forced to participate in it and agree to the dismemberment and redesign of their country  (

            And because Czechoslovakia was not invited to Munich, its people considered that they had been betrayed. Now, Illarionov suggests, Ukrainians must “wake up” to the horrible reality that they have been betrayed not just by the West but by their own government and are now very much on their own.

            In his words, the accord shows that “Putin has received everything he wanted” or “even more,” the commentator says, and then outlines his reasons for that devastating conclusion.

            First, he says, “Ukraine has de facto agree to ‘foreign administration’” because it has agreed that outside forces, the West and Russia, even though both have failed to fulfill their obligations under the Budapest Memorandum, the West by backing away from insisting that Russia respect it and Russia by openly violating it. 

            Second, the Geneva accord says nothing about the removal from the territory of Ukraine “Russian forces, including the special forces of the GRU, FSB, Special Operations Forces and others.” The silence of the agreement on that point “de facto” legalizes their presence; they will certainly remain.

            Third, Illarionov points out, the document “says nothing about Russian aggression,” “not a word about the war that has been conducted by the Putin regime against Ukraine.”  Moscow and perhaps others will treat that as a legalization and legitimation of Russian aggression, and that in turn may open the way to more of it.

            Fourth, the Geneva agreement says nothing about the preservation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.  Given that Russia has already annexed Crimea, Moscow’s violation of the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine has been “legalized” not just by the West but by Kyiv as well.

            Fifth, Illarionov continues, there is “not a word” in the document about Crimea, a shortcoming that Moscow will see as a legitimation of its annexation. Sixth, the accord’s words about the participation of Ukraine’s regions in the constitutional development of the country in effect “gives a legal basis for the separatists to block the unitary character of the Ukrainian state.”

            Seventh, the accord gives “all the separatists” an amnesty. Eighth, its call for the liberation of all building and institutions and the disarming of “’self-defense’” forces should have been done anyway, but now those who seized these buildings will walk away unpunished and invited to take part in the political process.

            Ninth, Illarionov continues, the accord presupposes that Ukraine will become a federal state  -- even though such a development “does not enjoy any significant public support in any region of Ukraine” but only reflects what Moscow wants. Tenth, that sets the stage for more Crimeas and the creeping dismemberment of Ukraine.

            Eleventh, “the result of the process of federalization” will not be a federal Ukraine but rather the creation of a “Novorossiya (‘from Kharkhiv to Odessa’) about which Putin spoke so inspiringly” the same day this accord was being signed.

            Twelfth, the agreement does not guarantee the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections, a fact that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed and one that means that “the Russian powers will continue to undermine them ... and say that the authorities in Kyiv are illegitimate, as Putin said” again on the same day the accord was signed.

            Thirteenth, “according to the document,” Illarionov says, all “serious organized forces capable of opposing Russian aggression” such as the Maidan Self-Defense groups and the Right Sector will be disarmed and disbanded, leaving Ukraine without anyone to defend it given the weakness of the Ukrainian army and militia.

            Fourteenth, because the document requires the disbanding of such units, any use of force by pro-Moscow groups against them, an action that was a violation of national and international law before Geneva has now become “perfectly legal” and thus can be expected.

            Fifteenth, there is no reason to think that Russia will live up to the provisions of this accord any more than it did the Budapest Memorandum but both Russia and the West will insist that Ukraine do, something that will further unbalance the playing field against Ukraine and Ukrainians.

            Sixteenth, despite polls showing that a majority of Ukrainians favor having their country become a member of NATO, the Geneva accord specifies that Ukraine will remain outside of that “bloc” and thus face Russian power on its own.

            And seventeenth, Illarionov says, Ukrainians must now recognize that they have not only lost Crimea to Russia but may lose far more, that their state is at risk of dismemberment, and that those on whom they had hoped to rely to defend their position have betrayed them.

            The Russian commentator concludes with two extremely disturbing comments.  On the one hand, he says, what has now happened is that a major European country has been seized “without the use of tanks” because its own rulers have been “traitors” and that this seizure has been legitimated by the West.   And on the other, while Esau exchanged his birthright of a bowl of food, Ukraine has given up something essential without getting even that in return.

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