Analysts: By declaring Russia an aggressor, Ukraine has gained a great deal

An unarmed Ukrainian man stands in protest in front of spetsnaz soldiers of Putin's occupation force capturing Crimea, February 2014.

An unarmed Ukrainian man stands in protest in front of spetsnaz soldiers of Putin's occupation force capturing Crimea, February 2014. 


The decision of the Verkhovna Rada to declare Russian an aggressor country in the wake of the attacks on Mariupol and to appeal to the international community to do the same is important for Kyiv both internationally and domestically and thus a significant albeit formal defeat for Moscow.

That is the judgment of Lyudmia Balabay, a commentator for Kyiv’s “Obozrevatel” site, and of the experts she surveys in a new article on that portal.

Leaving aside the question of why Ukraine waited so long, Balabay says, the new document is nonetheless a very important step forward. “A great part of the document is devoted to the description of the situation” rather than the decision itself, but that too is important for the future both abroad and at home.

The Ukrainian deputies, she points out, “stressed the systematic violations by Russia of the basic norms of international law and human rights, including the right to life, the Kremlin’s support of terrorists (with arms and forces), its involvement with the downing of the Malaysian jetliner, and its unwillingness to fulfill international agreements it has signed.”

From one perspective, of course, this measure does no more than repeat “what everyone already knows,” but from another, this is a major advance because it does all this “in an official document” which can be distributed to others and which will be “not unimportant” for any investigations diplomatic or criminal “after the conclusion of the conflict.”

Having declared Russia an aggressor, Kyiv calls on other countries and international bodies to ensure that those guilty of crimes against humanity will be punished, to declare the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk “republics” terrorist organizations and the Russian Federation “a country which supports terrorism,” to increase pressure on Moscow with new sanctions and limitations, and to provide military and humanitarian help to Ukraine to resist Russian aggression.

Some commentators have suggested that Ukraine gains very little from this declaration and unnecessarily complicates its relations with Western powers that want negotiations to start between Ukraine and Russia, but many Ukrainian analysts argue that such a view misses the point of just how important that declaration is both internationally and at home.

Oleksii Horan, the director of the School of Political Analysis at the Kyiv-Mohylev Academy says that by taking this step, Ukraine has made it far easier for the West to impose additional sanctions on Russia. At the very least, he argues, it gives Ukraine “the right to demand sanctions” against Russia from the EU and the US.

That alone, he argues, makes this “a very important formal decision” and not just a “populist” ploy as some have suggested.

Taras Chonovil, a former member of the Verkhova Rada, agrees, pointing out that the new identification of Russia as an aggressor allows the West to “punish him with a clear conscience” because his actions have now been categorized in this way officially by Ukraine’s parliament.


He adds that this declaration opens the way for Ukraine to introduce limits on its relations with Russia, including abrogating agreements, without risking the accusation that it and not Moscow is violating those accords or that it and not Moscow is acting in some kind of “undemocratic” fashion.

But Ukrainian diplomat Bohdan Yaremenko offers a somewhat different conclusion. As important as the document is internationally, he says, it is “more important for the domestic politics of Ukraine” given that “de facto the majority of countries have already recognized that Russia is an aggressor.”

With this declaration, the diplomat continues, Ukraine has formally entered into a state of war, one that opens a broad path “for the adoption of other important state decisions” such as the introduction of martial law, breaking diplomatic ties with Russia, and the introduction of Ukrainian sanctions of various kinds against Russia.

And in addition, Yaremenko says, it will “play a consolidating role in Ukrainian society which is very important given the need to unite for opposing terrorists and Russian Federation forces” on Ukrainian soil. Those are all very concrete consequences and thus the declaration of Russia as an aggressor is no small thing at all.

Edited by: A. N.


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  1. Avatar Mike Kostelny says:

    To call a bully-nation a bully is simply to call a spade, a spade! All this talk that abused victims should not aggravate their abusers (as if to acknowledge abuse somehow continues the cycle of abuse) is hogwash!

    Ukraine–as an abused nation–has kept a low-profile on Russia (initially labeling this ‘dirty war’ as a pro-separatist movement) not only because it had no money (thanks to the Interpol criminal, Yanukovych and his sons et al) but because it had an unprecedented 5th column movement within it’s own ranks–from corrupt politicians to traitorous military officers all loyal to Mother Russia over the best interests of their own country.

    Today, in 2015, there is a serious attempt to jump off the back of this tiger through legal, political, and military changes, but there has been a horrendous price to pay: in the blood, tears, and sweat (not to mention lives!) of Ukraine’s volunteers and front-line soldiers in the trenches. What these brave men and women tell the world is that FREEDOM’s not just another word ‘for nothing left to lose’ but that it is an ideal still worth fighting for, still worth dying for!

    Yes, not all Ukrainian youth are willing or able to fight for their country, but then to enlist in this conflict has a high likelihood of injury or death as this past year has indicated. For not everyone living in Ukraine (especially, Russian citizens and there are about 6 million of them including those in the Crimea?!) is convinced that Russia is the root cause of this conflict. Hence, the importance of this legal declaration by the Ukrainian Rada!

    Now, if only the Ukrainian Rada could go one step further: and remove all trace of Russian influence, including the Russian Embassy, all Russian trade (gas, oil, coal, electricity, supplying Russia with military armaments, food, and all other staples!), Russian citizens living in Ukraine (who are anti-Ukrainian or who see Russia as a benevolent nation), etc. that action in itself would clearly reinforce the emotional and symbolic “Iron Curtain” between these two countries as well as the literal demarcation wall now being built (as I speak!).

    Psychologically, I don’t think Ukraine is really ready to break completely from it’s “Aggressor” neighbor, or bully-nation (although arguably it has made a few baby steps in the right direction?!). Given time, my hope and prayer is that Ukraine would set the stage for the rest of the civilized world to follow: to stand up to Putin and his restless regime of renegades and reprobates, even if to do so would be to stand alone!

    For to do so, admittedly, is akin to a belief in angels and their miracles, AND it would be a MIRACLE if Ukraine could really separate from Russia and all it’s forms of abuse. But then the fact that Ukraine is still alive today is in itself a veritable miracle, is it not?!

    1. Avatar Thomas Alan says:

      If any country to country relationship could be called co-dependent, it would be the Ukrainian, Russian relationship.

      1. Avatar Vlad Pufagtinenko says:

        I guess spousal abuse can be seen as a co-dependent relationship also

        1. Avatar Thomas Alan says:

          Only if the one being abused stays in the marriage and Ukraine is staying in the marriage.

          1. Avatar Vlad Pufagtinenko says:

            That’s your Pro Putin opinion

          2. Avatar Thomas Alan says:

            No, the opposite. No more Ukraine commerce with Russia. No more selling Ukrainian guidance electronics to Russia, no more taking Russian gas. I other words Ukraine needs a “divorce” from Russia.

        2. Avatar Doug Retter says:

          At this point, it’s pretty clear that Ukraine is out of the marraige!!!

          1. Avatar Vlad Pufagtinenko says:

            Is it shocking that russia behaves this way? Putin’s wife divorced him because he was a sadistic abuser.

      2. Avatar Doug Retter says:

        Hey Stupid! Does it look to you like Ukraine is staying in the marraige? Are you that daft? They’ve killed thousands of your invasion troops and you think they want to stay in the marraige. Your problem is that you are a stalker!!! At some point you are going to get what is coming to you! Stalker!!!

        1. Avatar Thomas Alan says:

          Nobody is that stupid. I unlocked my account just so you can read my posts to see where I stand. Then come back at me.

          1. Avatar Doug Retter says:

            Tom, I don’t care. I don’t have time to read the stuff I write, much less yours. I just scan! 🙂

          2. Avatar Thomas Alan says:

            OK, then read the bottom of the page of my posts. You completely misunderstood my meaning. Attacking a compatriot in the information war against Russia is a waste or your time and mine.

  2. Avatar Fred Hernandez says:

    I am disappointed at the slow, half-hearted pace of reform. An aggressive and real open, liberal pro-EU and Western policy and real change would accomplish more than this.

    1. Avatar Doug Retter says:

      Pay attention, Fred. They are doing a lot in a short amount of time. The people are demanding it!

  3. Avatar Murf says:

    Now when Russia calls in it’s 3 billion marker Ukraine can just say; “when hostilities are over we would be glad to.” with out hurting their perceived financial stability.
    Nobody expects somebody to debts to their attacker.

  4. Avatar Rods says:

    Long overdue. I hope the human rights abuses by Russian troops and terrorists won’t go unpunished with the perpetrators being sought out and brought to justice wherever they try to hide for the rest of their lives.

    1. Avatar Doug Retter says:

      What kind of idiots murder innocent POWs in a war zone and post the evidence (videos) on the Internet!?

  5. Avatar Thomas Alan says:

    Where are the Russian Trolls? I have never seen a page that covers Russia and Ukraine completely clean of trolls. I am in shock.

    1. Avatar catonine says:

      Funds must have dried up..

      1. Avatar Thomas Alan says:

        Putin is crazy. He is pouring lives and billions into control of two Oblasts in Ukraine, that in itself is just crazy.

        1. Avatar Doug Retter says:

          Wonder what his ROI is going to be. Can’t much, Tom. Right now he has to be operating in the hole.

        2. Avatar Doug Retter says:

          Putin is a sociopath with other serious psychosis’. He’s past making any sense, now that he’s had his ass wirebrushed. For him, it’s a matter of time; his world is crumbling around him. If he pushes too hard to hurry things along, the West is going to say, “ALRIGHT, YOU GDMF! WE”RE TIRED OF THIS BULLSH*T AND WE’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE! YOU’RE TOAST, YOU KGB FREAK!!! Possibly, by that time, the news he is burning 60-70 bodies of his fallen soldiers every day. Russians will probably frown on that! It won’t be goodl! They won’t accept that as a cost-cutting measure.

      2. Avatar Doug Retter says:

        Actually, Murf and I have been here for awhile. Are you guys the “good guys?”

  6. Avatar Handyman1 says:

    I am afraid that the importance of this report is very limited. I haven’t heard from only one European country that its parliament wants to endorse this report. I think that says enough but who knows, maybe Ukraine should ask the leaders of all parties in all parliaments in Europe to ask for a vote in their parliament to officially endorse the report.

  7. Avatar John Ireland says:

    So Many Russian Trolls on here, Might break the Russian budget! Russia is the aggressor! Ukraine did not ask for this, Russia stepped in and just took Crimea during a lull. then backs or fronts the separatist movement. Sends arms and men with some supplies. Then denies it, By the way Spousal abuse in Russia is a family matter, no jail no courts.

    1. Avatar Doug Retter says:

      Where!? I want to meet them!!! 😀