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Zmeiny Island is the gift of Romania for its assistance in entering of Ukraine into NATO.

Concerning the situation with the Romanian territorial claims to Ukraine, we are talking with Igor Evgenevich Massalov, who is the Regions Party deputy of the Kharkov Regional Council of the fifth convocation, the Chairman of the “Honor and Dignity” foundation.

- How do you assess both the situation that is with the Zmeiny Island per the decision of the Hague court and the Ukrainian authorities activities in this situation?

Here I would like to go back to the history of the question. It is necessary to say that Romania was formed as the state after the Berlin Congress of 1880, in 1881. Although the Moldavian-Wallachian princedom has existed since 1859 under Turkish protectorate, only after the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-1878 and the signing of the San Stefano peace treaty, Romania has gained its independence. Major European countries were not satisfied by this peace treaty and the Berlin Congress was called. Russia participated in this Congress forcedly – at that time it did not have any allies. Under the San Stefano peace treaty, Romania has received Dobrudzha and the Danube mouth. After it Romania twice has fought in the both First World War and Second one against Russia, against the state, which practically has gave to Romania the opportunity to gain its independence and these territories. And at the postwar time some diplomatic documents have been taken, which fully have resolved the territorial problems between Romania and the USSR. Particularly, the Paris peace agreement of 1947 and the number of Declarations of 1948-1949, Ukraine and Byelorussia, as the most affected republics of the Soviet Union were the independent international legal entities, the members of UN and they also have consolidated the border relations with Romania with corresponding declarations. Moreover in 1947-1949, when the Soviet Union signed these agreements, it had reserved the right not to fulfill particular mandatory conditions. Particularly, not to attract the international Hague tribunal to resolve disputable issues. The USSR had it right and Ukraine had this right and the one has it at present time. Nevertheless, Ukraine has attracted the international court in the situation with Zmeiny Island, although it was clear preliminarily that it is the no-win option. In practice, in my opinion, it is the political payment of Yushchenko in favor of Romania for its support of Ukraine to enter into NATO. In such way, Yushchenko has tried to “pay” for entry into NATO with assistance of Romania. The summit should be held in Bucharest and therefore the question should be resolved quite so. Could Ukraine not call the international court, not go for it, not carry out of its decisions? Ukraine had all rights to do it. But the shelf, where huge gas and oil fields have found, is the major subject here but not Zmeiny Island. This shelf is the actual value and in accordance with this decision, the 13,000 square km of the shelf were given to Romania. The entry of Romania in this region means, that it will be able to produce the sufficient quantities of gas, at least, for own consumption. Although Romania is a gas producing country, but it has not enough gas and the country is forced to import it partly. This shelf receiving will give the opportunity to Romania to compensate these gas purchases.
The fact is that behavior of Yushchenko and former governance of country is absolutely transparent and in this situation the expressed displeasure with the aggressiveness of Romania is groundless. When far not the same situation arose up between Ukraine and Russia concerning island Tuzla, at once Kuchma has arrived there and the tension developed. Ukraine has undertaken the actions and meetings with the guidance of Russia. Eventually, this case was settled. For the question as to Zmeiny Island, Ukraine has not showed any activity except of full backdown. Therefore the strong feelings, demonstrated by the habitants of Ukraine at present time are quite in contrary to behavior of country governance. Today it is necessary to be disgusted by behavior of Yushchenko but not by Romania’s actions. In many respects, Romania has gotten that he promised her.
But, inspired by this success, Romania has declared about new, controversial territories, which the one demands to return. It is the island Maykan in Danube delta. Under the international law, when between countries is center of stream, then the one follows in the line of fairway, if the parties have not agreed otherwise. Now the fairway is changed and ships go between Maykan and Ukrainian bank. On this ground Romanian authorities demand to shift the border and the island should be taken by Romania. Whereat the minister of foreign affairs of Ukraine Konstantin Grishchenko has stated that the Ukrainian side is not intended to revise the existing border line with Romania. The main goal of Romania in dispute as to the Maykan is Danube delta and putting out to the Black Sea. At present time more and more ships prefer to put out to the sea through the Ukrainian mouth Bystroe, not by the Romanian channels, because the Ukrainian side takes for the passage-way less money. In case of border shifting, the navigable corridor will become collective and it will be necessity to divide the money. Romania activates the other facilities here. Romanians build a dam and try to do whole discharge of water through the Sulinsky channel to avoid the discharging of water in Kiliysky one. Thus, they strive to direct the navigation only along the Romanian side.

- How do you estimate the speaking engagements of the president of Romania Traian Basescu and leading Romanian politicians, which declare that Ukraine is “indecisive project”, “artificial country”, which “withholds” Romanian territories including Northern Bukovina?

Traian Basescu is the radical Romanian politician. There are his loud statements. But from the legal point of view, all borders, which were fixed after the war, were confirmed by the parliaments yet and in 1949 and in 1961, including the parliament of Romania.
At Yalta conference, the inviolability of post-war borders, which were determined and so their revision is the illegal method of problems decision on post-war space. In this situation, the attempt to raise the territorial question can involve everything, up to the armed conflict. On the part of the USSR and post-soviet republics, there is the closely elaborated international legal base, touching the borders, which Basescu says about. Therefore the statements about Bukovina on the part of Romania will remain as statements, if we say about the peaceful methods of settlement of these claims. It was the territory of the Russian empire, the belonging of which has been confirmed several times, since 1812, when Romania did not exist as the state yet. So far as it relates international legal questions, Ukraine is the successor of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic – the international legal subject, it has the corresponding rights, provided yet at the time of the USSR. And in accordance with it, the inviolability of borders must be respected.


- To what extent does the Ukrainian army able to ensure the both security and sovereignty of the country in these circumstances?

Concerning the extent of the conflict participators’ ability to solve it by means of military mode – this scenario is quite undesirable for Ukraine. Today the Romanian military forces are on the rise and they have a definite potential. It is the dynamic army as opposed to Ukrainian one. The defence capability of Ukraine is at a low level. I would not want to foresee but in case of a conflict outbreak, Ukraine has few chances to defend this territory. One thing is the resource of USSR or Russia and another is Ukrainian one. In addition the other country-members of NATO will come to the aid of Romania that is the member of this alliance.
What can we say about the Ukrainian military forces? Today only few airplanes of Ukrainian air forces are combat-ready. Ukraine doesn’t have naval forces as such, the most of the ships are outdated and can’t carry out the combat missions. There are norms in the Ukrainian army, which are undergone by military personnel. If there is the need for shooting training, it’s not held, if it is necessary to conduct a physical training, this fact is registered in the journal that the one has been carried out, but it doesn’t. The Ukrainian army is underfed, the combat-readiness is low and the economic provision is very weak. Of course, the military conflict development is not desirable for Ukraine extremely. Nowadays the economic potential of Romanian is higher, the GDP per capita is 12200USD and Ukraine has approximately 7800USD. According to this indicator Romania is a part of top 45 countries and Ukraine holds 135-th place. In addition, there is no motivation to defend this state, where 70% of population is below poverty boundary. All these factors must be taken into account.
If we speak about the situation in Danube region, the flotilla of military ships, which in times of USSR was based on Danube, today doesn’t exist. Along the Romanian-Ukrainian border there is not any single large Ukrainian military unit. That’s why from war perspective Ukraine is in extremely soft position in this region. In this situation it is necessary to place Ukrainian units across this territory. I would like to emphasize that the most prioritized thing is solving of diplomatic issues, because international laws are fully on the side of Ukraine in this situation.

- I would like to consider the geopolitical aspect of the problem from the perspective of NATO and USA interests’ realization in Black sea region. Does Romanian in this case play the role of instrument of realization of these interests in large measure?

What concerns the issue related to the policy and position of NATO, it is undoubtedly that the instruments of the alliance in Europe are Romania, Poland, and Bulgaria. But Romania is in the highest degree. One way or another, the process of Ukraine “loosening” is being held with the help of these states. They are the outposts of NATO and first of all of USA and their interests. Western Europe conducts the other policy. When Romania, by carrying out its obligations during the trade between Yushchenko and Romanian government regarding the entrance into NATO, tried to promote this issue, they received the circle of resistance from the side Western Europe. Germany, France, Italy have argued against it. Naturally, USA was forced to reorient and the one has supported the position of these countries. In other words, Europe holds absolutely another position and holds the policy in its interests. Poland, Romanian and the Baltic states are the countries, which look up to USA more. It is a possibility for them to attract investments into their economy and get geopolitical support. That’s why I think that it is the coordinated policy, which is held by these countries jointly with the alliance. Although NATO denies this fact, it concerns only the internal affairs of other states. Nevertheless, upon emergence of tension in a situation, NATO will support Romania. It will be both intelligence information and the water area of the Black sea, including, the fact that there is also Bulgaria, which also holds pro-American position and other NATO countries. In this situation Ukraine will have only one ally- Russia that is the single state which will be able to cool of them, rolled into one.

- How important is the cooperation with Russia and the general safety system building in the current situation?

It should be said that at present time Ukraine behaves pretty flabbily, stumblingly and is afraid of the dynamic actions related to the movement towards Russia, looking back on the West continually. In my opinion it is not right. The country must position itself somehow. As for now it is not possible for Eastern Europe to become Switzerland or Sweden. But the country must be about some space. Today the geopolitical relations between Russia and Ukraine are the strongest, they are longstanding, millennial. It is one country and one nation. That is why it was reasonable to think that entrance of Ukraine into CSTO and into other structures would strength its potential and allow feeling itself more confident in this situation. But Ukraine keeps on the single vector policy as before, it enters into both NATO and EU. EU will not affiliate the new members. No one is going to affiliate Ukraine with its pensioners, problems into EU. If today it is not understood by our government, these are its serious problems. Today Ukraine has to rise, uplift its gross product and not to afraid to cooperate with other countries – it is normal. When Ukraine will grow to the level of Germany, it will be invited to EU. According to the judgment of world economic experts, the market is strong, normal and balanced where there are about 300 million of people. If we sum up the potential of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Byelorussia and other countries, we will reach this approximate number. Today Europe counts 800 million of people, including 300 million of the Slavs. It is also the great potential for cooperation. It would promote the movement of both products and man power. It does not mean that Ukraine wouldn’t be able to trade with other countries but it would have its market that is provided with its products, that would lead to stable growth. The current position of Ukraine makes it to look like outlaw, secondary priority country, because the one does not fall into EC, does not strengthen economic relations and does not enter into other political unions. Ukraine must find its position. I think that the definition path of Ukraine is in the union with both Russia and Byelorussia. It is the best option. Because in all other cases Ukraine will be abandoned. For example, as it was with its limited contingent in Yugoslavia, when the French battalion did not come to help in the critical situation in the event of the Muslim detachments assault. It is the additional proof that Ukraine is not interesting for principal powers. In the union, where Ukraine is awaited, it does not wish to enter. The only significant decision that was made is regarding the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation. But they were only the first steps. At present time, unfortunately, the relations with Russia has transformed from stability and development to stagnation. Everyone has expected much more from it. At first everything was developing quite dynamically. In the first months of Yanukovich authority, the number of meetings between Yanukovich and the Russian governance has overcome everything that was held by Yushchenko and even by “late” Kuchma. And then the situation has changed dramatically. Now the Ukrainian governance tries to find the development directions that are beyond these relations. But the life shows, that everything comes back to its place some day or other. But sometimes it takes more time for this process to occur. And external challenges, which are occurred regarding Ukraine, show that there are both its weakness and absence of adequate foreign policy choice.

- Is it correct that the one of NATO’s priorities was the displacement of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation from Crimea? So after that, by the decision of international court of justice, political means or “humanitarian” wars to move in over the strategically important territories, namely Danube delta, disputed territories, maybe even over Crimea and it was stated in Turkey. How is realistic this scenario?

Indeed, it is possible to say that the main task of NATO in the region is the displacement of the Black Sea Fleet. It is the geopolitical task that was being solved by different means. By means of the president Yushchenko’s actions, for example. We remember his pronouncements regarding the Fleet that it will be in Crimea until 2017 and then the one must leave. It would promote the NATO doctrine implementation in this region. The most important priority of this organization is domination between the countries of the East Europe. Now if we count all of the countries that are located around the Black Sea basin, practically they all are under the NATO flag and carry out pro-American policy including Georgia. Really the NATO naval potential is augmented in the region. But after the adoption of “Kharkov agreements” and the prolongation of duration of stay of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation until 2047, the active work is being carried out in Russia regarding the upgrading of the fleet, reinforcement of it with new combat units, about it the deputy commanding officer of the Black Sea Fleet, vice-admiral Sergey Menyaylo has said.

Maybe one of four the “Mistral” helicopter carriers that Russia buys from France, will be the part of the Black Sea Fleet. It will change the correlation of forces seriously. In any case, in the situations of NATO activity in this region and possible scenarios of developments, the position of Ukraine is the most important – on what side it is and what it wants. Would Ukraine support the line of cooperation with the Russian Federation or the one will be oriented on equivocal relations of particular membership in NATO.

Practically, in the previous years we were observing the task of NATO, related to the displacement of Black Sea Fleet from Crimea and from Ukraine. Interest regarding it is still with NATO. Feature of this situation is in that the Black Sea channels belong to Turkey. It can say the old diplomatic “mistake” of Russia. In the times of all conflicts that were with Turkey, 300 years of wars between Russia and Turkey, the question regarding the ownerships of these channels has not been resolved. Russia had its aim that was expressed by all of the sovereigns, namely to take back the Constantinople and take over the channels. Who owns them, controls the entrance to the Black Sea. In any case Turkey holds the key to the Black Sea lock and that allows NATO to solve its tasks. In this region the most advanced strategy would be the creation of combined Russian-Ukrainian navy units. The one fleet but two countries.

It is the serious geopolitical situation where Ukraine is involved to. And its firm attitude can stimulate the conflict resolution. In what way is it possible to do? The firm attitude of Ukraine can make understand for the NATO countries, that they are not its allies. In this situation, the absence of such support, the “fifth column” behind the back of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation, wouldn’t let NATO to enforce its tasks even with the help of Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. They will scale down their activity in this direction to a great extent. If Ukraine will stop to move towards the special membership in NATO, then the alliance will lose its raised interest to this region and the current intensity will be lowered significantly. In this situation Ukraine will be able to play the key role. Naturally Ukraine can rely on the firm support of Russia at this development of the situation. Ukraine must identify itself, because its future and development depend on the geopolitical situation in the Black Sea region.

Viewed : 751   Commented: 1

Author: Михаил Михайлов

Publication date : 23 March 2011 13:29

Source: The world and we

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