Crimea and the city of Sevastopol: EU extends sanctions over Russia’s illegal annexation by one year
On 20 June, the Council of the European Union extended the sanctions introduced by the EU in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, until 23 June 2023.
The restrictive measures currently in place were first introduced in June 2014. They include prohibitions targeting the imports of products originating from the illegally annexed Crimea or Sevastopol into the EU, and infrastructural or financial investments and tourism services from the illegally annexed Crimea or Sevastopol. Furthermore, the exports of certain goods and technologies to Crimean companies or for use in illegally annexed Crimea in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors or for the prospection, exploration and production of oil, gas and mineral resources are also subject to EU restrictions.
The EU reminds that it does not recognise and continues to condemn the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula as a serious violation of international law. It also condemns in the strongest possible terms the unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine, started by Russia on 24 February.
The European Union also says it is committed to help Ukraine exercise its inherent right of self-defence against Russian aggression and build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future. It also remains committed to continuing to bolster Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
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On the surface, there is nothing interesting in Ukraine’s fight against coronavirus. Although we don’t know what will happen next, something in Ukraine’s reaction to the virus deserves a second look.
On the surface, there is nothing interesting in Ukraine's fight against coronavirus. At this point, the country has been hit less by the virus than many other countries in Europe have. It does not even enter the top-30 in terms of the number of cases detected; its total death toll just passed 100 (with the daily toll mostly ranging between 5 and 10), compared to over 20,000 in the US, close to 20,000 in Spain, Italy and France, or over 3,000 in Germany.
Although we don't know what will happen next, something in Ukraine's reaction to the virus deserves a second look. The key thing: the country was incredibly fast to introduce a strict quarantine. It was introduced on March 11 when only 1 (!) case was detected. Ukraine closed its borders in mid-March, when the number of reported cases was below 10, with just 1 person dead from the virus.
This early action can be explained simply: Ukrainians are afraid of threats. They are used to them, they face them too often, and understand that sometimes you need to act quickly. Ukrainians enjoy little feeling of protection, a high feeling of a security vacuum and often prefer to act too early instead of too late.
Yevhen Hlibovytskyi, one of Ukraine's most wide-thinking intellectuals, likes to repeat that Ukrainians are perhaps the world's champions in survival. Security and safety values are those which Ukrainians share regardless of their region and which cross language, identity, religion and economic discrepancies.
According to World Values Survey's regular reports, Ukraine remains high in rational values, compared to traditionalist values; but low in terms of self-expression values, and much more inclined towards survival values. This means that Ukrainians, although more rational than we think them to be, will rather choose survival than development.
This is understandable given the peculiarities of Ukraine's history. Ukraine lost about 4 million people in Stalin's artificial famine in 1932-1933; about 1 million died in both the famines of the early 1920s and 1946-47. During World War II its population was reduced by a quarter: about 10 million people, of whom 3-4 million people died as Red Army soldiers; and out of 6 million Holocaust victims, 1 million come from Ukraine. Millions were also victims of the Soviet GULAG, as the Ukrainian intelligentsia was practically annihilated in the 1930s, and many prominent dissidents were sent to the GULAG after Khrushchev's short-lived Ottepel.
Russian occupation of Crimea and parts of Ukrainian Donbas in 2014, and practically everyday news about deaths on the frontline ever since, merely added to this major feeling of insecurity that penetrates Ukrainian society. Add to this not only the coronavirus pandemic, but also recent forest fires in the Chornobyl area, during which Ukrainian society lived in fear that nuclear waste stores in the area would be affected.
The security vacuum is both external and internal. From outside as Ukraine lacks a security umbrella enjoyed (at least theoretically) by NATO member states, and from inside, as a Ukrainian citizen often sees law-enforcement services as an additional threat rather than protection.
There is a Ukrainian proverb that says it is better to overestimate a threat than to underestimate it. This was the logic behind the strict quarantine that was introduced so early.
Curiously, it is religion that could provoke spiraling in the number of coronavirus cases. Even more curiously, it comes from the Russian church in Ukraine (UPC-MP). Earlier, its Archbishop Pavel, head of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, said that "one should not be afraid of" the epidemic and that the faithful should "hurry to church and hug one another". Not surprisingly, Lavra became one of the hot spots of the virus in Kyiv. Just recently, Metropolitan Onufriy, the head of the UPC-MP, said its churches will hold Easter Sunday services on 19 April -- contrary to quarantine measures and to calls made by other churches (including the newly-established Ukrainian autocephalous church) to stay home. If church attendance is not limited, crowds of people will go to churches on Easter Sunday and face huge risks of virus infection.
What happens this Sunday will also be a test as to how rational Ukrainians are, and whether survival instincts are strong enough to keep them at home.
However, if the security mindset succeeds, it might pose a global question for the future. Namely, should security logic dominate over liberty logic? Should "liberal" openness be victimized and blamed for the pandemic?
It is already being blamed by neo-authoritarian actors who see the pandemic as an additional argument to blame democracy and openness. It is increasingly used by Russian propaganda against the democratic world. With the coronavirus pandemic we are entering a new global debate, where liberal democracy will be brutally attacked.
In this situation, it is important that countries and communities make a clear distinction: more security does not mean less democracy. Limitations of freedom are tolerable when necessary for public health and public safety, but not as a tool to solve all other problems.
The need for a balance between security and freedom, which was stressed by many thinkers in Ukraine over recent years, needs to be real. A balance where freedom is the necessary and unavoidable pole, and security is regarded as the tool to protect our lives and our key values -- including freedom itself.
This material was first published by Ukraine Verstehen
Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia regarding the third anniversary of annexation of CrimeaMonday, 20 March 2017 12:55
“Russia annexed Ukraine through military aggression. Moscow supports the separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. Kremlin violated the borders of a sovereign state,”-this statement was made by the head of the NATO mission in Georgia. William Lahue called it the main challenge of NATO.
As he said, Russia has aggressive rhetoric with its neighboring Alliance member states. According to him, NATO is ready to protect its members from any type of aggressive military action
Russia wants to use military force against neighbors Crimea, Ukraine and Georgia-NATO Secretary GeneralThursday, 27 October 2016 11:45
"NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia,"- this statement was made by the Secretary General of NATO. According to him, Alliance doesn’t want a new cold war and doesn't want a new arms race and therefore what NATO does is defensive and it is proportionate.
"At the same tme, NATO has to react when we over a long period of time have seen a substantial military build-up by Russia and we have seen them modernizing their military capabilities and most importantly we have seen them willing to use military force against neighbors Crimea, Ukraine and also Georgia and we also saw a threatening rhetoric from Russia. So NATO has to respond to continue to deliver credible deterrence in a new security environment and we have to remember that the reason why we delivered deterrence, why NATO is strong is not because we want to provoke a conflict, but it is because we want to prevent a conflict; and the best way to do that is to stay strong, united and be firm in our response,"-Jans Stoltenberg said.
Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, or Parliament, on Tuesday passed a resolution on non-recognition of the legitimacy of Russia’s parliamentary elections. The relevant resolution won support from 264 Ukrainian lawmakers whereas 226 votes are needed to pass a bill or a resolution.
"We think that presence in Russia’s seventh State Duma [lower parliament house - TASS] of lawmakers elected as a result of illegal elections in the territory occupied by Russian [obviously meaning Crimea - TASS] make the September 18 elections to the Russian State Duma illegitimate in general," according to the explanatory note to the document.
The resolution says that Rada lawmakers will turn to the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, to parliaments of foreign states, parliamentary assemblies and international organizations with a "call not to recognize legitimacy of the elections to the Russian seventh State Duma." The document was initiated by People’s Front lawmakers.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Opposition Bloc said the resolution on non-recognition of the Russian parliamentary polls is yet another declaration "that has no applied meaning for the country." Moreover, according to the Opposition Bloc, the document "runs counter to the opinion of international organizations" which are rendering assistance to Ukraine.
The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11, 2014. They held a referendum on March 16, 2014, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deals March 18, 2014.
Despite the absolutely convincing results of the referendum, Ukraine has been refusing to recognize Crimea as a part of Russia.
Google changed the names of towns, villages and districts in Russian-occupied Crimea on its Google Maps mapping service in accordance with Ukraine’s decommunization law. But on July 29, after an outcry from Russian officials, it changed them right back again.
The day before, Google had renamed 75 settlements and five districts on its maps of the Russian-annexed Ukrainian territory in line with a list of names approved by Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada on May 12.Most of the renamed settlements acquired Crimean-Tatar names. The town of Krasnoperekopsk was renamed as Yany Kapu, and the district center towns of Krasnohvardiyske and Kirovske were renamed as Kurman and Isliam-Terek respectively.
Although Russian users see Crimea on Google Maps as part of Russia and Ukrainians see the peninsula as Ukrainian, the newly introduced names were displayed to all internet users around the world, including those in Ukraine, Russia and Crimea. But then the Russian authorities started to raise a fuss.
Russian Minister of Communications Nikolay Nikiforov late on July 28 warned the U.S. tech giant it might have problems doing business in Russia.
“If Google so casually ignores Russian legislation on names of settlements, it will be very difficult for the company to conduct business on Russian territory,” Russian News Agency TASS quoted Nikiforov as saying. "I think it's a short-sighted policy," Nikiforov said.
Sergey Aksyonov, who was appointed by Russian Federation as Crimea’s prime minister after Moscow seized the Ukrainian territory, also questioned Google’s decision to make the changes. “It is hard to say why the company (Google) is indulging Kyiv’s Russophobic hysteria,” Aksyonov wrote on his Facebook page on July 28. “But that's not the point. The thing is such decisions made by a foreign state (Ukraine) have nothing to do with Crimean reality and will never be implemented.”
Shortly after, Google reversed all of the name changes. However, it promised to create two different versions of Google maps, one for Russia and one for Ukraine. "We are actively working on giving (localities) their old names in the Russian version of Google Maps," a Google spokesman told the Russian financial daily RBK.Representatives of Google in Ukraine told the Kyiv Post they could not comment on the issue at the moment.