RUSSIA AND UKRAINE ….IT’S COMPLICATED !

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SUBHADEEP SANTRA : In 2017, The Russian Federation declared to withdraw permanently from G8 making permanent damage to her international reputation.

The damage was crystal clear when the United Nations  General Assembly adopted a resolution ‘urging Russian federation to withdraw its armed forces from Crimea expressing concern about rising military presence’ with majority of voters calling the annexure of Crimea ‘illegal’.It is believed that earlier to annexure of Crimea, Russia was popular among the economically developed nations due her capitalist reforms in 1977.

Historians believe that the erstwhile prime minister of United Kingdom Tony Blair and his contemporary George Bush, the restwhile president of the United States of America invited Russian President Boris Yelstin to be the member of G7 solely to encourage his capitalist reforms.The popularity of Russian federation was so immense that Italy, US, Germany and Japan urged Russia to return to G8 post her suspension from the group in 2014 following the annexure of Crimea.

As Japan stated,  the involvement of Russia is important to tackle ‘multiple crisis in the Middle East’.The foreign minister of Russia Sergei Lavrov stated that major international decisions were taken in G20 thus presenting a bizarre reason for not returning to G8.It is imperative to say that many diplomats believe that the reason resonated arrogance and the members of the G7 were deeply annoyed.

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As a result the European Union and other major economies imposed sanctions on Russian Federation including travel ban on individuals involved in the annexure of Crimea.Russia retaliated with ban on import of food from the European Union, United States of America, Norway and Australia.Historians believe that Russian federation had put its international reputation at stake giving more than required attention to its acrimoniously political and emotional attachment for Ukraine.

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To understand this peculiar covetousness of Russia for Ukraine we must turn the pages of history until the late 16th century.Ukraine was under the Russian rule from the late 17th century until the end of the first World war. After the first world war, USSR was formed in 1920 comprising of 15 Republican including Ukraine and Russia.It was the dissolution of USSR in 1991 that paved the way for two decades of hostility.

Some political analysts feel that Russian Federation was never eager to see Ukraine as an independent state after centuries of colonisation of Ukraine. It waited for an opportunity to capture Ukraine again.The opportunity came knocking at the door in 2014.Crimea which is a Peninsula in Black Sea shared borders with Russia. Most inhabitants of Crimea were Russians with reasonable inclination towards Russia.

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This inclination increased when the then President of Yanukovych refused to sign Foreign trade agreement with European Union at the last moment despite propagating such intentions in public domain.The citizens of Ukraine who were eager for economic development were dejected.In the meanwhile, the president of Ukraine signed a treaty with Russia for a multibillion dollar loan.But the move could not save the grace. Protests had already kindled. The President tried to curb all protests using violent means. The protestors got infuriated. The protest was so magnanimous that Yanukovych fled to Russia for his life.

Now was the time. Yanukovych was now no more a president but a fugitive hiding in Russia. The iron was hot and Russia was ready to strike.Russia made military intervention in Ukraine. At the onset, the armed forces seized the parliament of Crimea and dissolved the council of ministers. New council of ministers was formed which declared Crimea to be an independent body naming it Republic of Crimea.

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The new council then held a referendum to decide whether to merge with Russia or not. Majority voted favouring the annexure of Crimea to Russia.A treaty was also signed to the same effect.The referendum was cited to be have taken place under a military might in the international arena.Therefore, the treaty did not receive international recognition leading to the suspension of Russia from G8.

Even after annexure of Crimea, the military forces of Russia remained in Crimea. Various agreements were made namely the Minsk agreement , Minsk II agreement but all in vain. The forces remain in Ukraine till date.Few political researchers view this prolonged military campaign as indicative of Russia’s intention to capture the whole of Ukraine.

On march 2, 2018 Yanukovych in a press conference stated “ …I proposed that the deployment of a police peacekeeping mission be considered during the consultations” defending his stand that the military campaign by Russia was not instigated by him “Some believe that Yanukovych was lying before the media as the Kyij Court of Ukraine is currently trying the charges of treason on him.Some journalists throughout the world believe that Yanukovych was speaking the truth and that the refusal to sign the FTA and his act of fleeing to Russia were the result of the political manipulations by Russia.

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Whatever may the truth be, India have kept a low profile on the issue since 2014. Driven by age old friendly relationship with Russia,  India had no choice but to remain “restraint and objective” as Russian President Vladimir Putin had put it while thanking India.

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