Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Ukraine Must Seek Restoration Not of Its 1991 Borders but Those of 2003, Osavolyuk Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Aug. 10 – Ukrainian officials routinely say that the recover all the territory recognized as part of Ukraine in 1991 but in fact, Leonid Osavolyuk says, Kyiv’s goal must be the recovery of all the territory that Ukraine and the Russian Federation agreed was Ukrainian in the 2003 border treaty.

            The former Ukrainian diplomat who was involved in talks with Moscow about border delimitation in the 1990s and early 2000s says that in 1991, the two countries simply declared that Soviet administrative borders would continue while in 2003, they signed a border agreement (novayagazeta.eu/articles/2023/08/10/nado-govorit-o-vykhode-na-granitsy-ukrainy-ne-1991-go-a-2003-goda).

            That accord is on deposit at the United Nations and is the more authoritative as it takes the form of international agreements on borders in the world today. The earlier declaration is just that, a declaration, and as such does not have the authority of the latter, Osavolyuk, now an academic specialist on borders, says.

            Ukraine began insisting on the need for such an accord in 1992 but Moscow dragged its feet, routinely declaring that there was no need for such talks because the Russians and Ukrainians are two “fraternal” peoples. Finally, however, in 1998, Moscow agreed to border delimitation talks

            Those bilateral talks finally led to an accord which Leonid Kuchma and Vladimir Putin signed in Kyiv on January 28, 2003. Ukraine ratified the accord almost immediately but Russia did so only in April 2004. But Russia continued to drag its feet on this issue, and talks about demarcation of the border did not begin until 2007.

            Russia in February 2023 denounced a bilateral accord on the Sea of Azov, but the 2003 border agreement contains provisions for the restoration of the recognition of the division of that sea and other water areas. And that is yet another reason, why it is important that Kyiv talk about the 2003 agreement rather than the 1991 declarations, Osavolyuk says.

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