Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
June 28th is Constitution Day in Ukraine. The Constitution that Ukraine pledged to change, having transformed, according to the Minsk agreements, from a unitary state in a federal one. In Ukraine it is assumed to call federalization by the politically correct name decentralization (in order to not traumatize the sensitive mentality of “patriots”), but it doesn’t change the main point.
Officially in Ukraine several different versions of the Constitution acted. Initially, until 1996, it was the Constitution of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic that acted in those parts where it didn’t contradict the newly adopted laws. Then the Constitution of 1996 was adopted, but it didn’t immediately take effect – during the first two years it was limited to transitional provisions.
At the beginning of 2000, Kuchma made an attempt to change the Constitution, having turned Ukraine from a presidential Republic in a parliamentary one, but then these changes were broken by parliamentary opposition — at the last moment the new basic law didn’t collect the demanded 300 votes of Deputies. Nevertheless, following the results of the first Maidan in 2005 the same opposition agreed with the transformations that were earlier offered by Kuchma. However, the Constitution of 2005 only took effect in 2006.
In 2010, Yanukovych achieved from the Constitutional court the cancellation of the Constitution of 2005. Until 2014 the Constitution of 1996 was in effect. After the coup the parliament, having violated the regulations, returned to the Constitution of 2005, having made minor changes to it.
However, the basic law isn’t implemented all the same (in any of the main or intermediate versions). Anti-constitutional mobilizations, without the announcement of martial law, are carried out. The army is used inside the country against its own people. The provision on support of the Russian language isn’t observed — the sphere of its application is limited by legislative sub-laws and even simply by “initiative groups”. The State anti-constitutionally interferes with the affairs of various faiths, especially the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which is being forced to merge with non-canonical dissenters. Generally, it is possible to go on and on.
Nevertheless our western “partners” don’t react at all to the Ukrainian constitutional crisis. Or to be more precise, their reaction consists in the preservation of the anti-Russian sanctions (by the way, also illegal from the point of view of international law and the rules of the WTO). The pretext is the demand to Russia to “observe the Minsk Agreements”. The base moment of these agreements is the pledge of Ukraine to change the Constitution, it turns out that the West considers the adoption of a new Ukrainian basic law as a prerogative of Russia.
However, in this case it is unclear why the Minister of Defence of Great Britain accuses Russia of aggression against Ukraine. After all, those who write the Constitution also read it. If, according to the West, Russia must create the Constitutional basis of the new Ukrainian statehood (having implemented in such a way the Minsk Agreements), then Moscow can’t at all be accused of aggression. Any of its actions are no more than arranging constitutional order in the territories of Ukraine.
However, as it became known, Russia is responsible not only for the Ukrainian constitutional crisis. Recently the EU extended for half a year the anti-Russian sanctions in connection with the situation in Ukraine. The US Congress nearly adopted it, although at the last moment it delayed the adoption of a new package of anti-Russian sanctions. But Senators immediately started discussing and preparing for adoption a package of sanctions against Russia because of the situation in Syria.
Indeed, the government in Damascus today can’t provide the acting of constitutional norms in all the territory of the country. Simply because the considerable part of Syria was captured by terrorists, on some territories also the expeditionary forces of several countries of NATO, including the US, operate.
Indeed, upon the termination of civil war Syria will almost inevitably be obliged to change its Constitution, having provided wide autonomy to several national and religious groups. But, unlike the situation in Ukraine, at the moment nobody assumed such an obligation. While Russia only provides military and other aid in Syria to the legitimate government, it is still too early to speak about any guarantees of a peace process.
It would be too daring to assume that the West has such great respect for Russian international authority and constitutional right that it could consider only the will of Moscow is enough for the termination of all civil wars in the world and providing new ideal constitutions to all states enduring a constitutional crisis. It is obvious that a sudden surge in anti-Russian activity is caused by other, grounded reasons.
I think that we won’t be mistaken if we determine this reason (both for Ukraine and Syria) as the passage of the corresponding crises past the bifurcation point.
In Syria the end of civil war looms. Thus, it is clear that Assad’s government wins war and will appear one of the main players in peace process. It follows from this that also the role of Russia in a future settlement will be prominent, and its influence in the region during the post-war period will become stronger and can even become defining.
Here the West has its own interests, and it doesn’t plan to refuse them just like that. A strong position is necessary for negotiations. During military operations the West lost this strong position and doesn’t have any chance to take it back. Only political and diplomatic maneuvers remain.
In turn, in Ukraine the internal political crisis becomes aggravated. The legal, parliamentary opposition consisting of parties of Maidan tries to compel President Poroshenko to give real power, and in an ideal scenario — seeks to send him to early resignation.
The sides become more radicalized, the situation is fraught with explosion. Whoever wins in this confrontation – Poroshenko, his systemic political opponents, or the third force consisting of non-systemic, but leaning on the solid power resource of nationalist radicals – a new political situation in Ukraine will develop. It will demand new decisions, even in the event the Minsk and Normandy formats will be preserved. After these new decisions Russia also has good chances to strengthen its influence in Ukraine — or in a considerable part of Ukrainian territories if the unity of the State will be impossible to preserve.
The interest of the West isn’t as big in Ukraine as it is in Syria. But at the moment it is still situated in the western sphere of influence, and the West doesn’t intend to share it just like that.
I.e. we have two prospective negotiation platforms on which rigid negotiations for volumes and limits of future influence is expected. Following the results of these negotiations, someone’s geopolitical weight will increase, and someone else’s will weaken.
As it was already said, the military-political and diplomatic efforts of the West in both cases didn’t lead to the result they had hoped for. Like a good dealer, the collective West before the final round of the fight tries to find arguments in its own favor. Since practical arguments, in reality, no longer remain, it resorts to a traditional psychological attack, which almost everyone has faced in the market – up to a sharp raising of the starting position.
If you want to sell your tomatoes at two hundred rubles, ask for at least five hundred, and during the bargaining gradually lower the price. Showing the determination to strengthen the sanctions pressure on Russia, the West forms its starting position (from which it will lower the price). But at the same time, by formulating the reasons for the imposition of sanctions, it shows what geopolitical points are the most painful for them, and allows Moscow to effectively use this knowledge against them.
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