US Think Tank Holds Secretive Meeting on Military Option in Venezuela

By Staff, Agencies

The military option has been discussed at a secret off-the-record meeting organized by Washington-based think tank earlier last week.

A military intervention in Venezuela hs been reportedly discussed at a private roundtable hosted on 10 April by the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), The Gray Zone reported Sunday.

Straightforwardly named “Assessing the Use of Military Force in Venezuela,” the off-the-record meeting involved some 40 figures, including former State Department, National Intelligence Council, and National Security Council officials, as well as Admiral Kurt Tidd who recently left the post of the US SOUTHCOM commander.

Several senior officials from Colombian and Brazilian embassies as well as representatives of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido also participated in the meeting.

The fact that the meeting took place has been confirmed by two unnamed participants, but no other details are available, The Gray Zone reports.

However, the very existence of a meeting named like this suggests Trump administration considers military operation more seriously than before, the report says, adding that such move could have been fueled by frustration that “every other weapon in its arsenal has failed” to oust Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.

The website managed to confirm the existence of the meeting after a check-in list containing names of those invited has been leaked. When The Gray Zone contacted one of the attendees, Sarah Baumunk, a research associate at the CSIS’s Americas Program, she confirmed military options were discussed.

“We talked about military… uh… military options in Venezuela. That was earlier this week though,” she said, referring to the meeting being wrongly dated 20 April in the document. However, when pressed for more details, she refused to talk.

“I’m sorry I don’t feel comfortable answering these questions,” she said.

Another attendee, Santiago Herdoiza, a research associate at Hills&Company strategy and trade consulting agency, also slipped out that the meeting took place.

“I’m sorry, that was a closed meeting. Good evening,” Herdoiza said when contacted by phone.

A military intervention option has repeatedly been hinted at by US officials, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirming earlier this week that “every single tool, every single option remains on table,” despite the Lima Group of Latin American countries rejected such a scenario. The United States also lacks support from the United Nations Security Council.

The US has provided support to opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognizing him as Venezuela’s interim president, while Russia, China, Turkey and a number of other nations consider Maduro as the legitimate leader. Despite Guaido’s efforts to oust legitimate president Nicolas Maduro, he remains in power, controlling the armed forces and the nation’s oil industry. Speaking to Chilean Mega TV, Mike Pompeo admitted that Russian and Chinese support for Maduro makes the president’s leave more difficult, blaming Russia of “intervening without authority,” despite Russia never exceeded terms of earlier military cooperation agreements signed with late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

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US RECOGNITION OF GOLAN HEIGHTS AND COLLAPSE OF PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW

South Front

30.03.2019 

US Recognition Of Golan Heights And Collapse Of Public International Law

The US recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory is another sign of the ongoing collapse of the establsihed system of international relations.

The UN Disengagement Observer Force’s (UNDOF) mandate was renewed on December 21st, 2018 to June 30th, 2019.Thus, it’s peacekeeping operation in the Golan Heights continues despite the recent US move to recignize Israel’s sovereignty over this territory.

The latest UNDOF report was published on February 28th, underlying that there are on-going issues of numerous violations of the Disengagement of Forces Agreement of 1974 and UNDOF’s ability to implement its mandate, including the deployment of appropriate technologies as recommended.

“Given Syria’s reassertion of control over areas of separation and the reopening of the Qunaytirah crossing point, UNDOF may be getting close to an eventual full return to the Bravo side. The return of the situation to pre-2014 conditions may cause the Council to consider requesting the Secretary-General to resume a six-month reporting cycle instead of 90 days, as had been the practice until December 2012.”

The report covers a 90-day period between September 15th and November 20th.

The report noted that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continued to fire across the ceasefire line and into the area of separation. UNDOF personnel also continued to observe crossings by unidentified individuals between Lebanon and the Bravo (Syrian) side and from the Bravo side to the Alpha (Israeli) side on a daily basis. The individuals crossing were usually described in the report as shepherds and farmers. The provided data confirms that Israel is the aggressive party in the situation and no misconduct was noted on Syria’s side.

The most recent data provides details into the period between November 21st, 2018 and March 14th, 2019. It noted that the UNDOF peacekeeping mission could achieve little result in the area:

“On 29 November 2018, UNDOF personnel observed heavy explosions and tracer rounds of heavy and anti-aircraft machine guns in the vicinities of Turunjah, in the area of separation, and Camp Faouar. UNDOF personnel were forced to go into shelters. The Syrian authorities informed UNDOF that the military activity was associated with air defence weapons of the Syrian armed forces directed at “hostile targets”. The Israel Defense Forces informed UNDOF that they “had not engaged any targets in the Syrian Arab Republic” and that the remnants of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile had impacted an area 5 km from Camp Ziouani. An UNDOF team, accompanied by the Israel Defense Forces, visited the scene of the impact on the Alpha side (Israeli-occupied Golan) and saw remnants of an anti-aircraft missile.”

Thus, the UNDOF’s presence in the area appears to be more formal move than anything, since no peacekeeping is being established, the representatives hide in shelters and do not have any actual authority on-site.

The US recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory happened on March 25th, which is in the next 90-day period. So a report elaborating on the results of the action would be presented sometime in June, prior to the expiry of the UNDOF mandate on June 30th, 2019.

The 1,000-strong force was dispatched to a buffer zone between Israel and Syria in 1974 to observe a ceasefire, and it is simply doing that – observing the breaches. It should be reminded that in the overwhelming number of cases Israel is the side that carries out any misconduct.

The US on March 27th said that it wished for the UNDOF peacekeeping force to remain in Golan Heights. US Diplomat Rodney Hunter told a Security Council meeting on the Golan that “this announcement does not affect the 1974 Disengagement Agreement, nor do we believe it undermines UNDOF’s mandate in any way.”

“UNDOF continues to have a vital role to play in preserving stability between Israel and Syria, most importantly by ensuring that the area of separation is a buffer zone free from any military presence or activities other than those of UNDOF,” he added.

The council met at Syria’s request to discuss the US decision, which Damascus said was a “flagrant violation” of UN resolutions.

In total, three UN resolutions call for Israel to withdraw from the occupied Golan Heights. Despite that, the US, the permenent UNSC member, said that the decision would bolster Israel’s security and “can contribute to the stability of the entire Middle East” by keeping Syria and its Iranian ally in check.

The EU said they will continue to view the Golan as Israeli-occupied territory and will not follow in Trump’s footsteps.

At the UNSC meeting, Israel’s Envoy Danny Danon criticized anger over the US decision:

“For 19 years, Syria used the Golan as a forward outpost against Israel, and today it’s Iran that wants to put its soldiers on the shore of the Sea of Galilee,” Danon said in a statement.

“Israel won’t allow such a thing ever, and it’s time the international community recognize the fact that the Golan will remain under Israeli sovereignty forever. The United States and Israel will stand as a united front in the face of the hypocrisy and lies.”

The US recognition of the Golan Heights creates a complicated situation in the UNSC as well, since a permanent member recognized it as Israeli territory, while all UN documents have referred to it as a Israeli-occupied territory since 1974.

It is possible also that the US decision was announced at this moment, since the UN is undergoing deep reforms. It wouldn’t be surprising if it would receive a weaker response, simply due to the changes being introduced in the world body.

At the same time, the decision is a stark reminder that international public law is collapsing, mostly due to US conduct, which is also paving the way for other countries to partake in such misconduct. One of the obvious examples of the US unanimously going against international law is the bombing of Yugoslavia.

The UN and its Security Council managed to establish a somewhat peaceful zone in the Golan Heights, but the US decision threatens it profoundly. Syria had little chance of militarily returning its own territory despite the fact that it has all legal rights to do so. But now, that is questionable, despite Syria claiming that it is prepared to employ all necessary means to take its territory back.

A military escalation in the area has also become more likely. This undermines efforts to de-escalate the Syrian conflict even further. The US already called for Syrian forces to withdrawl from the separation line, but is also unlikely to happen.

For a long period of time, the Golan Heights situation was kept balanced by a large number of internationally recognized documents and mechanisms. However, now, these mechanisms seem to be de-fact destroyed.

The US is, in essence, destroying one of the last standing “pillars of international law,” and is in fact creating a global situation in which the only means of settling conflicts is threat of military power and economic sanctions of individuals, businesses and government bodies.

It’s interesting to note that the US action actually goies in contrary to the US’ won stance twards the Crimea issue. Russia officially, and mostly formally, condemned the US recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. However, in fact, Washington just created a precedent for Crimea to be recognized as an official part of Russia on the highest international level.

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Trump’s Golan Declaration Another Own Goal

Trump’s Golan Declaration Another Own Goal

EDITORIAL | 29.03.2019 | EDITORIAL

Trump’s Golan Declaration Another Own Goal

Hardly a week goes by and the United States falls deeper into global disrepute. This week was a bonanza of own goals for the self-declared “leader of the free world”.

The debacle over the ridiculous “Russiagate” scandal finally imploding was spectacular.

Then there were more horrific reports of US air strikes killing civilians simultaneously in four countries – Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

That was followed by Washington’s ludicrous lecturing to Russia about the US-imposed humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

And then, to top all those own goals, we saw President Donald Trump declaring that Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights is not, in the warped US view, illegal after all. Can you possibly keep score of the mind-boggling inanities and insanities?

Switching metaphors for a moment – because you can hardly just use one when it comes to grappling with American asinine policy – Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova got it right when she likened the US to a “cowboy shooting up the Louvre museum” in its free-wheeling, double-dealing foreign conduct.

Where to begin in dissecting the US and its descent into madness and mafia-style foreign policy? It truly is a brain-wrecking, train-wrecking challenge. Is there a wicked genius to its Mephistophelean madness? Perhaps it is simply down to Washington becoming an absurd circus of incompetence, accelerated under the administration of a former real-estate magnate and reality TV star, President Donald J (for Joker) Trump.

On the Golan issue, Trump’s proclamation this week of recognizing the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights as under Israeli sovereignty is a flagrant subversion of international law and the United Nations Charter. Israel has been forcibly occupying Syrian southern territory since the 1967 Six Day War. It formally annexed the strategic plateau in 1981, which was ruled as illegal by the UN Security Council – including a vote from the US at that time.

Trump’s declaration is thus a brazen repudiation of international law and a glaring green light to aggression. Can anything this president says or does be taken seriously? What’s that about Venezuela, or Ukraine?

His declaration this week undermines gravely the foundation of international law in a shocking, reckless affront. It completely demolishes any pretense the US claims to have as a world leader and upholder of international law.

Washington has been slamming Russia for the past five years over alleged “annexation” of Crimea – and then Trump this week turns around and endorses Israeli theft of Syrian territory.

At a UN Security Council meeting called this week by Syria in protest to Trump’s proclamation, the US was seen as a pariah state. All 14 other members of the council (including non-permanent members) slammed the US policy on Golan. They included US allies Britain and France.

Outside the UNSC, other US allies also condemned Washington’s declaration of complicity in Israeli annexation of Golan.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, among others, all slammed the US for daring to legalize the theft of Syrian territory by Israel.

Russia’s deputy envoy to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov, put it aptly. He said that the US move was not only an audacious violation of international and the UN Charter. “This only exacerbates the situation in Syria and complicates the establishment of a political process, but it also creates serious obstacles to normalizing the relations between Israel and the Arab states.”

We will come back to that profound point in a moment. But first, let’s throw out a few other motives for Trump’s outrageous violation of international law regarding Golan and Israel’s annexation.

Trump is no doubt giving his family friend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a timely electoral boost ahead of Israeli state elections scheduled for April 9.

There is also the issue of American oil interests being pursued by designating the Golan as Israeli territory. The mountainous region overlooking the Jordan Valley is reputed to hold untapped reserves on par with those of Saudi Arabia, which US-based Genie oil company has been exploring for years.

But still a more strategic motive is the objective of keeping the Middle East and Syria in particular in perpetual turmoil. By annexing Syrian territory, the US-Israeli move furthers the objective of controlling the wider Arab region.

Syria’s envoy to the UN, Bashar al Jaafari, made that very point at the UN Security Council meeting this week. He said the US-backed annexation of Golan was a part of the US-sponsored covert war against his country. The move is a way to keep Syria and the region in turmoil, said al Jaafari.

This gets back to what the Russian envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, said. The whole point is for Washington to prevent any political settlement to the eight-year war in Syria and to impede any normalization of relations in the region. The US and its client Israeli regime only stand to benefit from perpetual chaos and conflict in the region.

So far so good, as Washington may calculate – albeit fiendishly. But in the final analysis, the US is ending up looking like a complete rogue state without any respect, even among its supposed allies.

The presumed global leader, Washington, is losing foes and allies alike through its disgraceful duplicity and disregard for any pretense of probity. The Golan Heights is another nail in the coffin for Washington’s over-rated self-regard.

In a week of other American absurdities and own-goals, the Golan debacle may turn out to be the moment when Washington is finally seen in the eyes of the world as the utter laughing stock that it surely has become. It’s a laughing stock, but in the creepiest, macabre sense.

Syria’s Jaafari to US: You Can Give ‘Israel’ North and South Carolina!

 

Source

March 28, 2019Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari

Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari lashed out at US over recognizing ‘Israeli sovereignty’ on Golan Heights, saying Washington has plenty of their own lands to give to Israel instead of other country’s territories.

At a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday, Jaafari said: “You can give them North and South Carolina, for example, why not? South Carolina is a great piece of land… So, give Israel a couple of states if this administration really wants to have Israeli support.”

The Syrian diplomat accused the Trump administration of trying to please the Israeli lobby in the US and boost the chances of incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during upcoming elections amid bribery and fraud allegations against him.

“Don’t be misguided by thinking that one day this land will be yours due to hypocrisy or due to being a pawn in the electoral game where you bring each other support, so the Israeli can succeed in their elections and the Americans can also get support from Israeli lobbying groups in the US”, the Syrian envoy said, noting that the Golan Height will ultimately “come back” to his country.

Jaafari meanwhile, referred to Israeli aggression on Syria, saying: “While we meet to discuss Trump’s illegitimate proclamation regarding the occupied Syrian Golan, the Israeli occupation warplanes launched an air aggression on the industrial region to the east of Aleppo, adding that the Syrian air defenses intercepted the aggression and downed a number of the hostile missiles.”

The Syrian envoy affirmed that the US practices reflect a dangerous and unprecedented inclination towards hindering the international law and a contempt to the UN, dealing a blow to the resolutions of UN Security council and the General Assembly regarding the inevitability of ending the Israeli occupation to the occupied Arab lands and its withdrawal from them until the line of June 4th, 1967.

SourceAgencies

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Jaafari on Golan: Trump Tweet Flagrant Violation, Contempt for International Law

Bashar Jaafari Syria UN Representative Ambassador - UNSC بشار الجعفري مندوب سوريا الدائم لدى الأمم المتحدة - سفير

His Excellency Bashar al Jaafari issued an urgent statement on Syria’s Golan, via a UN stake out, 22 March 2019. While maintaining his immaculate standard of professional diplomat, the Syrian ambassador crushed US President Donald J. Trump’s “irresponsible tweeting.” He laid waste to the escalation of “American arrogance,” and explained the many UN Security Council Resolutions which support Syria’s sovereignty over its Golan, resolutions which call for the end of illegal Israeli occupation.

Golan
Though there were a substantial number of reporters present, at this writing, AFP is the lone MSM service to write an anemic short, ignoring all key points on Trump’s criminal plot to authorize the theft of Syria’s Golan.

Dr. Jaafari explained to his audience there is no “Golan heights,” there is only the Syrian Golan. The word “heights” was affixed by Israeli propagandists as part of its psychological warfare campaign to make its illegal occupation appear more powerful.

Syria’s ambassador read a five-minute statement in Arabic, followed by its English translation, after which he took questions from the reporters.

One reporter said that Syria’s official request for the UNSG to publicly condemn Trump’s aggression was met by a generic response that the SG stands by all resolutions, but is not ready to condemn the US president’s tweet.

Golan
Syria officially called on the UN to put an end to “American arrogance” of Trump’s mafioso-type plan to give that which is not his, but Syria’s, Golan, to its illegal Israeli occupiers.

Here, the author interjects to again remind our readers of the corruption and bias of Antonio Guterres — Guterres, the friend of war criminal Tony Blair, Guterres whose own imperialist arrogance contains putting lies in writing. Consider his claim that the OPCW “fact-finding mission” was “in the Syrian Arab Republic,” despite OPCW’s admission it was too afraid of terrorists to actually send in investigators.

Diplomat Jaafari meticulously explained that Trump’s imperious tweet — “diplomacy now about tweeting, apparently” — was contemptuous of the international community, showed “flagrant violation of international law, the charter of the UN and the simplest…values and ethics,” and demonstrated escalation against member states of the United Nations: It’s “my way or the highway.”

Golan
You can’t declare war with everybody [though that is basically what Trump did when he spoke at UNGA in September]. The 100th year anniversary of the League of Nations is approaching, & Trump is trying to move international law to pre-1918.

Before taking questions, the Syrian diplomat asked everyone to focus exclusively on the Golan. He told them that there would be another “humanitarian meeting” on the 27th, at which time they could ask all questions. His request to “Please let us focus on this important issue” of course fell on deaf western ears, as someone immediately asked about Trump’s statistics on the remaining “Islamic State.”

Excellency Jaafari did respond, however, to educate the reporter that there is no such thing, there is “a bunch of terrorists gathered from all over the world…all kinds of hyenas.”

Golan
“Allies performed records in demolishing infrastructure.” H.E. Jaafari was speaking of the Fascist Coalition of war criminals against Syria.

One English-speaking colonialist whined from a State Department-type script, about these being “different times.” Nu, is it not always different times? Since when does the movement of the planet legitimize theft, authorize a third party to declare theft to be lawful?

Golan
UNSCR 242 (1967). Israel must return the Golan to its legal country, Syria.

Not surprisingly, one of the most fetid collections of questions came from an incel-sounding voice claiming to be of the Middle East Eye. “MEE is the offspring of the inbred relationship of UK’s The Guardian and Qatar’s al-Jazeera, consistently supportive of NATO Spring takfiri in Syria.

“MEE”‘s first question was sheer idiocy, suggesting that a tweet has the power to legalize a crime. The second question was an attempt to propagandize against Syria’s Golan, and to propagandize for future hypothetical victimhood of Israeli occupiers on the Golan which belongs to the SAR.

Syrians on Syria’s Golan fly the Syrian flag.

Dr. Jaafari carefully explained that Syria will regain that which it owns, and that there are no Israeli civilians on Syrian land: “They are settlers, not civilians. They must leave.”

Golan
“What is the alternative to diplomacy? You know the answer.” “When you have no other choice to get back your rights, it’s your duty.”

Multiple attempts were made to provoke Dr. Jaafari into a response to create another wave of anti-Syria hysteria in western media. His character state of professional diplomat is likely the reason his urgent statement on Trump’s criminal tweet in support of Israel’s criminal occupation of the Golan has been ignored by “mainstream media.”

ADDENDA:

Ambassador Jaafari’s statement focused on UNSC Resolutions supporting Syria’s ownership of its Golan.

We remind our readers that both the US and Israel are signatories to the Geneva treaties, which have strict principles governing occupation, which is supposed to be temporary:

golan
Principles governing occupation.

We also remind our readers that Israel has bragged about providing terrorists with state of the art medical care on the Syrian Golan, which it occupies; that Israeli medium reported that Israel is the number one purchaser of oil stolen by terrorists; that Israel breaches all of the principles governing what is supposed to be temporary occupation.

Syria threatens to ‘strike Tel Aviv airport’ unless UNSC acts against israel’s (apartheid state) impunity

Syria threatens to ‘strike Tel Aviv airport’ unless UNSC acts against Israel’s impunity

RT | January 23, 2019

Syria threatens to ‘strike Tel Aviv airport’ unless UNSC acts against Israel’s impunity

Damascus has threatened to exercise its legitimate right for self-defense against Israeli aggression and target Tel Aviv airport in a mirror response, unless the Security Council puts an end to IDF intrusions into Syrian airspace.

Apparently fed up with years of Israeli impunity in the Syrian skies and regular strikes carried out in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport, Syria has threatened to retaliate in explicit terms.

“Isn’t time now for the UN Security Council to stop the Israeli repeated aggressions on the Syrian Arab Republic territories?” Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari wondered Tuesday.

“Or is it required to draw the attention of the war-makers in this Council by exercising our legitimate right to defend ourself and respond to the Israeli aggression on Damascus International Civil Airport in the same way on Tel Aviv Airport?”

Air strikes against alleged ‘Iranian targets’ in close proximity to Syria’s busiest airport have become a norm for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), whose former chief of staff openly confessed last month to running a large-scale bombing campaign in Syria for years. Besides causing casualties and material damage by their “near-daily” strikes, Israeli combat missions into Syria have also repeatedly endangered flights operating over the conflict-torn country.

While the IDF rarely acknowledges striking specific targets in Syria, the Russian military has been keeping a close watch on IDF maneuvers over the Arab Republic. On Christmas Day, Israeli jets endangered two civilian aircraft while engaging targets in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said, noting that the IDF F-16s flew in as civilian jets were landing at Beirut and Damascus airports. In September, Israeli actions resulted in the death of 15 Russian servicemen after Israeli jets deliberately used Russian Il-20 recon plane as a cover and placed it into the path of a Syrian air defense missile.

Urging the UN Security Council to adopt measures to stop such blatant violations of Syrian sovereignty by the Jewish state, Jaafari accused France, Britain and the US – all permanent members of the world body – of endorsing Israeli aggression in breach of their responsibility to “maintain international peace and security in accordance with international law.”

Placing little faith into Western intentions to bring long-awaited peace to the country, the diplomat noted that Syria plans to restore full sovereignty over its lost territories, including the Golan Heights, which Israel continues to occupy.

“The restoration sovereignty of the occupied Syrian Golan is a permanent right of Syria that [is] not subject to negotiations,” Jafari stressed.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. While Tel Aviv refrained from extending sovereignty over the Golan for over a decade, in 1981 the Jewish state annexed the area. The Druze of the Golan were offered full Israeli citizenship under the Golan Heights Law of 1981, but only a small minority changed their allegiance from Syria to Israel. Syria repeatedly reiterated that the occupied land is an integral part of its territory, and that it will work to return it by all means necessary. Tel Aviv sees things differently.

“Israel will remain forever on the Golan Heights, and the Golan Heights will forever remain in our hands,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in November, after the US become the only state to vote alongside Israel against a symbolic, non-binding UN resolution calling on Tel Aviv to withdraw from the occupied region.

25 Years Ago an Agreement on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine Was Signed

25 Years Ago an Agreement on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine Was Signed

January 16, 2019

By Rostislav Ishchenko
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard
cross posted with 
https://www.stalkerzone.org/rostislav-ishchenko:-25-years-ago-an-agreement-on-the-elimination-of-nuclear-weapons-in-ukraine-was-signed/
source: 
https://ukraina.ru/history/20190114/1022320495.html

On January 14th 1994 in Moscow the presidents of Ukraine, Russia, and the US signed the tripartite declaration for the liquidation of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Under the treaty 176 intercontinental missiles and 1500 nuclear warheads on the territory of Ukraine had to be liquidated.

One might ask what has Donbass got to do with this?

When today Ukrainian radicals say that if Ukraine had preserved the world’s third biggest nuclear arsenal nobody could stop Kiev strangling an anti-fascist uprising not only in Donbass but also in Crimea, this is the absolute truth. People generally don’t joke about such things. Despite the fact that it’s unlikely that Kiev could’ve created a fully-fledged system of controlling, servicing, and using in combat all the missiles it inherited, even the existence of this arsenal made Ukraine almost invulnerable in relation to any external pressure. Taking into account the fact that Ukraine, in principle, could bring a considerable part of its available weaponry (except intercontinental missiles) to combat readiness (today, 23 years after the last warhead left the territory of “independent” Ukraine, it is possible to talk about it openly), nobody would start to clash with a monkey armed with a nuclear “grenade”.

Ukraine relinquished nuclear weapons only because its leaders attached too much value to diplomatic tinsel under the name “recognition of independence”. It is exactly what we regularly hear from patriotically dilettanti, crying out: “Why hasn’t Russia recognised Donbass yet?”

I can understand people who suffer from the fact that units of the 1st Guards tank army still haven’t come to the Dnieper, Vistula, Oder, Rhine, and, finally, the Atlantic. The desire to capture everything, to kill all enemies, and to throw internal opposition into jail – cleaning snow in Siberia – is the natural reaction of small children and infantile adults concerning the complicated and unclear to them world that surrounds them. But I am surprised by the ritual surrounding abstract recognition [of the DPR/LPR – ed] by the people who don’t understand its significance.

Here is a simple example: Russia did not recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This did not prevent it from dispersing the Georgian army in one week when Saakashvili tried to restore the control of Tbilisi over these territories via armed force. Russia does not recognise Transnistria, but everyone perfectly knows that in a similar situation the reaction of Moscow will be the same. Russia never presented territorial claims to Ukraine, recognising its territorial integrity, but one month hadn’t even passed after the coup in Kiev and Crimea reunited with its Motherland. On the other hand, Japan does not recognise the Southern Kuril Ridge as Russian, but does this strongly help it? Up to the 70’s the US did not recognise the People’s Republic of China, considering the Taiwanese Kuomintang as the legitimate authority of China. And what?

Returning to Crimea. Not many people in the world recognised Crimea’s transition to the structure of Russia. But, besides the Kiev provokers, nobody tries to challenge the right of the Russian border guards to control the territorial waters of the peninsula.

In international law there is the concept of “an authority that actually controls the territory”. Irrespective of whether or not this authority is recognised by someone, or whether or not it was formed as a result of a coup, separation, or the voluntary division of the former state (as an option of merging two or several former ones), what’s important is not the fact of its international recognition, but the fact of its ability to support military-political control over a certain territory. If you have such an ability, then people will interact, trade, and even conclude quite official agreements with you. But if you formally own something but are not capable of controlling this ownership, then people will only sympathise with you whilst reaching agreements with those who control the territory.

In fact, this is what the Minsk process is based on. For several years Russia, France, and Germany have tried to explain to Kiev that it must speak and agree with the real authorities in Donbass. If it will reach an agreement on maintaining unity, then nobody will interfere, and if it won’t be able to reach an agreement, then it will be obliged to reach an agreement about a civilised divorce. But Ukrainian politicians, like 25 years ago, drag its heels concerning the question of formal recognition and demand that Donbass is returned to them under the Christmas tree either by Ded Moroz [Russia – ed], Santa Claus [America – ed], or Père Noël [France – ed].

But they could’ve learnt at least something from the story with nuclear disarmament.

Ukraine likes to remember the Budapest memorandum in connection with Crimea and Donbass. On Russian talk shows it as a rule is presented as a piece of paper without meaning (like saying: the memorandum is not a treaty and doesn’t oblige anyone to do anything). This isn’t true. A memorandum is a publicly given word of honour to follow certain rules. In some sense it is even more than a treaty. The latter, as a rule, is concluded over a certain period of time. But even termless contracts can be denounced (or just stop working) if the situation changes. But a memorandum indeed is not a binding document, it is not ratified, thus it cannot be denounced, but violating it is also not comme il faut [as it should be – ed]. This is like publicly promising a girl that you’ll marry her, and then, also publicly, bragging that you deceived her.

But notice that, unlike Kiev, the US and Great Britain, which together with Russia signed the Budapest memorandum, and also France and China, which gave Ukraine similar guarantees in special separate declarations, do not see any violations of the mentioned document. The answer to the question “Why?” is in the mentioned Tripartite declaration, the 25th anniversary of which we celebrated on January 14th. The following provisions were a part of the Budapest memorandum in an unchanged form. Ukrainian diplomacy likes to refer to them, but in practice they haven’t been violated:

“- reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE Final Act, to respect the Independence and Sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine;

– refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in selfdefense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

– reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE Final Act, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind;

– reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a nonnuclear weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used;

– reaffirm, in the case of the Ukraine, their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories or dependent territories, their armed forces, or their allies, by such a state in association or alliance with a nuclear weapon state”.

It is not difficult to notice that exactly the same obligations that were given to other states that joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as non-nuclear states also apply to Ukraine. Help to Ukraine (including via immediate actions of the UNSC) is promised only if Kiev becomes a victim of aggression or the threat of aggression with the use of nuclear weapons. I.e., in the event of non- nuclear aggression, nobody owes Ukraine anything. It was promised to Ukraine to not use economic coercion against it. But even now, despite all the unfriendly steps made by Kiev, Russia did not tear up any treaty or any agreement on the initiative. Economic ties were torn up only where Ukraine tore them up.

Concerning territorial integrity, guarantees are given only within the framework of the CSCE final act. At the same time, peacefully changing the borders is allowed (who will say that Crimea was conquered? And, by the way, it is precisely for this reason that Turchynov demanded war in March 2014 – back then it was possible to try to record a violation of the Budapest memorandum). Moreover, even the obligation not to use armed force against Ukraine has no absolute character, the vague formulation “except in selfdefense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations” was used. Let’s note that the UN did not record a violation of the Charter by Russia (only the UN Security Council has the competence to do this).

So formally the Memorandum hasn’t been violated.

Let’s be frank, it is indeed formulated in such a way that it is impossible to violate it whatever may happen. And Ukraine knew this. Pay attention: the Tripartite declaration is dated January 14th 1994 (it was signed by Kravchuk), and the Budapest memorandum was signed on December 5th (practically one year later) by Kuchma. During all this time Ukrainian diplomacy tried to squeeze out the best conditions from the guarantor states. But it didn’t squeeze them out, and couldn’t have.

A critical mistake was made by Kiev on May 23rd 1992. On this day Russia, the US, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan signed the Lisbon protocol on the basis of which, Kiev, Minsk, and Astana joined the NPT as non-nuclear countries. Kazakhstan and Belarus also did not apply for nuclear status. For them, the signing of this document was natural. However Ukraine tried to keep its nuclear arsenal. But Kiev decided that it would be possible to bargain later, and that the most important thing at the time was international recognition. And Ukraine was frankly blackmailed with the refusal to recognise it as a nuclear state.

Kiev did not understand that a country with the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal would be recognised anyway. Even if it doesn’t happen immediately, it will be possible to wait for however long is necessary – agreements will be made with it all the same and its opinion will be taken into account in international affairs. Kravchuk was afraid that the people [of Ukraine – ed] won’t treat the “sovereign” government seriously if it isn’t internationally recognised. His Minister of Foreign Affairs (Zlenko) hurried to report on recognition by “the whole world” (to start with – by “all the civilised world”) and open embassies everywhere where it was possible. And he signed the Lisbon protocol in which Ukraine unambiguously took upon itself the obligation to relinquish nuclear weapons. All the rest is two years of floundering in an attempt to get out of the already undertaken obligations or to at least squeeze out at least some dividends from this.

In fact, the issue of Kiev’s relinquishment of its nuclear status was decided by the Minister of Foreign Affairs (not the Rada, not the government, and not the president). Of course, Zlenko had the correspondingly issued powers, but it is his signature that is underneath the protocol, and, most importantly, it is he and his department who developed recommendations for decision-making bodies. Ukraine at the time had no other experienced foreign affairs specialists.

The fact of recognition and having their own diplomatic missions played the same role for the Ukrainian authorities that pieces of glass, beads, and broken guns played for African savages in the 15th-16th centuries, or blankets and whisky for Indians a couple of centuries later. It was a fetish for which it is possible to give everything. And they indeed gave. And thank God. It is difficult to imagine what would’ve happened to the world if Ukraine had kept its nuclear weapons. In any case, Kiev would’ve for sure launched a war against Russia in the 90’s.

Since the clever learn from the mistakes of fools, it is worth remembering the story of Ukrainian nuclear disarmament and not to make a fetish out of the recognition of someone’s independence and sovereignty. This is a little more than a mere formality that sometimes others try to flog expensively. The fact of recognition does not give anything other than the right to officially maintain diplomatic mission in the countries that recognised you. But, for example, Taiwan, after most of the world recognised the People’s Republic of China and severed diplomatic relations with Kuomintang, simply renamed its embassies into trade missions. Nothing else changed and won’t exchange until Taipei is able to keep the island under control. But as soon as the unity of China will be restored, even those ten countries that still recognise not the People’s Republic of China, but the Republic of China (Taiwan), will absolutely quietly accept the new reality.

What’s important is the actual state of affairs, and not the theoretical one. Imagine that Zlenko didn’t sign the Lisbon protocol, Kravchuk didn’t sign the Tripartite declaration, Kuchma didn’t sign the Budapest memorandum, and Ukraine would’ve kept its nuclear arsenal. Do you think that it would’ve remained unrecognised for long? Right. And now let them kick themselves.

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