"No to capitulation" march in Kyiv, 14 October 2019. Image via radiosvoboda.org
Since the very moment when Ukraine and Russia signed the Donbas peace plan known as the Minsk Protocol (September 2014) followed by the Package of Measures to revive it (early 2015), Ukrainian leaders have consistently expressed their commitments to this deal, presented as a no-alternative way to settle down the conflict. Formally, the opposite way would be solving it by military force which may become suicidal for Ukraine given the Russian military capabilities.
Both Ukraine’s Western partners and its enemy, Russia, fully support Ukraine’s declared intentions to fulfill these documents, which lack any official status and were signed under Russian military pressure.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian civil society has started its attempts to formulate a peaceful alternative to the Minsk only now, the sixth year into the war. The emerging proposal is unlikely to be embraced any time soon by the current Ukrainian leadership, which leans to freezing the conflict at any price, but at least the doctrine will enunciate the interests of Ukraine as a state.
How do experts evaluate such proposals and what are the advantages of this document?
Participants of the “No Capitulation” protests against the signing of the so-called “Steinmeier Formula” by Ukraine in the framework of the Minsk Agreements announced the creation of the Capitulation Resistance Movement (Rukh Oporu Kapituliatsii, ROK) on 3 October 2019.
The statement was signed by:
- former Kremlin’s political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh,
- honorary president of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Viacheslav Briukhovetskyi,
- volunteer Myroslav Hai,
- Soviet dissident and current executive vice-president of Ukraine’s Congress of National Communities Yosyp Zisels,
- international lawyer Volodymyr Vasylenko,
- former leader of the Right Sector Dmytro Yarosh,
- head of the Free People NGO Andriy Levus,
- spokesperson of the international volunteer community InformNapalm Mykhailo Makaruk,
- politician Roman Bezsertnyi [one of the Ukrainian representatives in the Minsk talks group who resigned condemning Zelenskyy’s plans for the negotiations – Ed.],
ROK created its Strategic Council and on 4 November brought up an alternative plan of achieving peace titled “Ukrainian Doctrine of Security and Peace” (hereinafter referred to as the Doctrine) to public discussion.
“Such a doctrine should have been developed back in 2014, but it’s better later than never,” according to the drafters.
Key takeaways of the Doctrine
The key points of the Doctrine were presented by international lawyer Volodymyr Vasylenko, former judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia [and also former Foreign Minister] Volodymyr Ogryzko, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Danylo Lubkivskyi, former deputy FM Serhiy Kvit, and others.
“Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine: Positions of the parties:
- the greatest immediate threat to Ukraine’s national security is the armed aggression of Russia, which has been ongoing since 20 February 2014;
- Russia is an aggressor, therefore it can neither be a mediator, nor a peacemaker, nor a guarantor;
- created by Russian aggression, the armed Ukraine-Russia confrontation is an international, not internal conflict;
- the Russian Federation has committed a grave international crime, and is, therefore, obliged to cease hostilities, return the annexed and occupied territories without any conditions to Ukraine, compensate for losses, punish the perpetrators;
- the Minsk agreements were signed under the pressure of armed aggression, therefore, from a legal point of view, they are void;
- Russia does not fulfill the demands of the Minsk Process.”
“The Ukrainian plan for a just peace is:
- the immediate release by the Russian side of all Ukrainian civilians and the rapid exchange of prisoners of war on an all-for-all basis;
- complete withdrawal of units of the Russian armed forces and dismantling Russian occupation structures of the ‘LNR/DPR” under the control of independent peacekeeping forces;
- the immediate deployment of the border troops of Ukraine along the Ukraine-Russia border;
- the deployment of independent peacekeeping observation posts along the border;
- peaceful restoration of functioning of the Ukrainian authority bodies in the occupied territories of the Donbas and Crimea, and holding free elections there.”
- in the wake of the Russian leadership’s official denial of their aggression against Ukraine and the refusal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to use the capabilities of the International Court of Justice for establishing the facts related to the armed assault on Ukraine, there is a need to create a central executive body with a special status, responsible for the preparation of the consolidated claim of Ukraine as the victim of aggression against the Russian Federation as an aggressor state in order to implement in practice bringing Russia to international legal responsibility for military aggression against Ukraine.
- the creation of such a body is envisaged by the 18 January 2018 Law of Ukraine #2268-VIII “On peculiarities of state policies for securing the national sovereignty of Ukraine over the temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts;
- the consolidated claim should become an official document outlining Ukraine’s legal position on Russia’s responsibility for armed aggression.”
- Until the complete de-occupation of all Ukrainian territories, Russia as an aggressor state should continue to be subjected to sanctions executed by Ukraine and members of the international community at national and international levels;
- The Ukrainian leadership should ensure the development and implementation of a systematic and consistent sanctions policy against Russia;
- Ukraine’s application of sanctions against Russia should be synchronized with those of the international community;
- One of Ukrainian diplomacy priority tasks should be promoting and maintaining sanctions against Russia by the international community.”
Cherishing Ukraine’s national security, one should reason from Russia’s desire to destroy Ukraine as an independent country.
Regardless of the course of events, Ukraine should:
- ensure the irreversibility of Ukraine’s civilizational choice of EU and NATO membership;
- build up Ukraine’s Armed Forces in conformity with NATO standards;
- implement systemic Ukraine-centric humanitarian policies;
- achieve energy independence;
- create a multi-layered territorial defense, in the first place and in particular at the borders with the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus;
- upgrade the defense-industrial complex;
- develop new weapons with an emphasis on the creation of high-precision missile weapons, including the means of missile and air defense;
- reform the special services;
- improve the regulatory frameworks of national security policies in the light of present-day security challenges.
The above-mentioned strategies should mutually complement each other and be applied in systemic unity. Their goal is to create a reliable and effective mechanism for ensuring Ukraine’s national security.”
What do the experts say?
Radio Liberty interviewed experts from various fields who read “The Ukrainian Doctrine of Security and Peace” proposed by the Capitulation Resistance Movement.
The most critical arguments resolve into the following:
- [the Doctrine] is unrealistic;
- has no practical value;
- may lead to the loss of allies who are unwilling [to increase strain] and afraid of increased tensions with Russia;
- leads the negotiation process to a gridlock;
- leads to the continuation of constant shellings in the Donbas;
- will freeze the conflict in its current state;
- provokes the Kremlin;
- is politically manipulative;
- pursues the political goal of undermining support for Zelenskyy’s course.
Other comments include:
- it is an alternative to the Steinmeier formula which is, in fact, Putin’s;
- it may help President Volodymyr Zelenskyy achieve peace without capitulation;
- the Capitulation Resistance Movement and the Doctrine it formulated is the reason for the President of Ukraine to escape the “trap called Steinmeier’s formula”;
- it is an argument for Western partners, especially for France and Germany, that pushing Ukrainian authorities towards concessions to the Kremlin is dangerous;
- it is an argument that Zelenskyy can refer to at negotiations;
- it is a chance for Zelenskyy to reach a social accord and stabilize the country’s domestic situation;
- it is an opportunity to protect domestic politics from the destructive impacts of the aggressor;
- it is an opportunity to attract greater and more effective international support;
- it is an opportunity to demand boosted sanctions.
About the positive
Hochar believes that the previous Ukrainian authorities committed mistakes when they declined to clearly define the situation and supported the idea that the Minsk process had no alternatives, as well as when they agreed to separate the issues of the liberation of the Donbas and the liberation of Crimea.
The “Ukrainian Doctrine of Security and Peace” clearly calls Russia an aggressor, denies the existence of civil conflict, doesn’t split the issue of the occupation of both Donbas and Crimea, and shows that there is an alternative to the Minsk process, he adds.
“This is an attempt to bring the problem out of the Kremlin’s way of settlement and achieving peace,” says Mykhailo Honchar.
“The Doctrine shows that one shouldn’t follow the Minsk path, because it is a road to capitulation, that the Steinmeier formula is Putin’s disguised plan to start a large-scale civil conflict in the Donbas to prove his narrative of Ukraine as a ‘failed state,” to chaotize the country, and deprive it of any [foreign] economic and political support,” contends Honchar.
So far, in Honchar’s opinion, the “negotiator” countries, France and Germany, are content with [the opportunity of] quick settlement under “Steinmeier’s Formula” because they want to rather focus on their [domestic] issues and gain revenues after lifting sanctions off economic projects with Russia. But they need to see that there is another plan, a better one.
The question is, says Honchar, whether Zelenskyy wants to consider the plan, “the question is which path he is going to choose – stabilization and consolidation, or the ‘Yanukovych path'” [i.e. the path of confrontation with the civil society that had landed ex-President Yanukovych in exile].
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