Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
Ukraine has begun the process of discarding agreements with Russia that have allowed the Kremlin to keep official Kyiv on a “short leash.”
The agreement on military cooperation cancelled by the Ukrainian parliament on Thursday, May 21, is a vivid example of Ukrainian society’s indifference to the decisions of its own institutions. It also exposes the myth that it was Putin who changed Russian policy and decided to turn Ukraine into a colony. No, Putin is only the diligent follower of the expansionist course set by his predecessors. If Russia had a strategically astute politician commanding the country now instead of a petty tyrant, we would definitely find ourselves in the Kremlin’s yoke.
I remember some of the cancelled documents very well. Most of them were signed almost immediately after the victory of Leonid Kuchma in the 1994 presidential elections in Ukraine. Kuchma, in fact, made no secret of his intent to change the relationship with Moscow. In this he was supported by the majority of my compatriots, who believed for some reason that Russia would supply the practically free gas simply out of benevolence. However, Kuchma’s allies in the struggle for power — both those that ended up in the Party of Regions camp as well as the ones who are now posing as democrats and exploding in anger on talk shows — had no such illusions. They all moved together to surrender their country.
However, even in this capitulation Kuchma was true to himself. He signed the necessary documents for Yeltsin but was in no hurry to ratify them, leaving himself room to maneuver, as usual. Actually, it was this feature of Kuchma — not to capitulate but to maneuver — that allowed us to gain time.
Well, let’s look at the dates. Most of these documents were ratified in parliament after Kuchma’s victory in the parliamentary elections of 1999 and the beginning of the “Ukraine without Kuchma” campaign. Then in December 2000, one of the most dangerous of these agreements was signed — the intergovernmental agreement on the mutual protection of classified information. This agreement, which transformed Ukraine into a thoroughfare for Russian special services, was signed a few days after the revelation in parliament of the “Melnychenko tapes” by Oleksandr Moroz (secret tapes allegedly implicating Kuchma in the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze — Ed.). Quite a coincidence. Russia’s special services during the Yeltsin era knew what they were doing.
Therefore, all the explosive mechanisms that allowed for the dismantling of the Ukrainian state during the reign of Yanukovych were set in motion by the Kremlin watchmakers much earlier — and with the criminal connivance of Ukrainian society and the political elite. The Maidan simply interrupted this process and forced Putin to pull the trigger early. And now, stunned but alive, we have another chance to rebuild our state.
Note: On Thursday, May 21, the Verkhovna Rade voted to cancel five military agreements with Russia: the agreement on the transit of Russian troops through Ukraine to Transnistria (the unrecognized Moldovan republic), the interstate organization of troop transportation out of Russia, and agreements on mutual protection of classified information, cooperation in military intelligence and general military cooperation. According to Radical Party leader Oleh Liashko, Ukraine has more than 30 agreements with Russia that should have been cancelled a year ago.