Zelensky and annexed Crimea: what opportunities are still in Kiev? (Apostrophe, Ukraine)

Political environment President Vladimir Zelensky believes that the process of liberation of the annexed Crimea is prolonged and forceful solution of the problem for Kiev is unacceptable for obvious reasons. Despite this, the Ukrainian government has the capacity to prevent the Kremlin finally “digest” of captured territory. For this, first of all, we need political will, but it is at the office of the President is not observed. “Apostrophe” to figure out what leverage still left in the hands of Kiev, and what is the probability that the head of state take advantage of them.

Crimea: the game long-term Outlook?

Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Dmitry Razumkov in a recent interview described the process of liberation of the Crimea from Russian occupation “heavy and slow”.

“We should not remove the issue from the agenda and we should make every effort to work out at different levels. Also, we should not lose communication with the occupied territories of Donbass and Crimea. Because the last years this process was relegated to second plan”, — said Dmitry Razumkov. In his opinion, the basic tools of liberation of the Crimea — the international pressure and methods of economic influence on the aggressor. Among the economic tools it is also called the dynamic and successful development of Ukraine, which, from the point of view of the authorities, making it more attractive for Crimeans and residents ORDO.

“Quickly we don’t do that (to return the Crimea and ORDA under the control of Kiev — approx. “Apostrophe”), but also to leave or to give up their territory — it is also impossible,” — added the speaker.

That is, Ukraine would not refuse from the occupied territories, but at the same time the authorities have no clear idea what to do with them. Indirectly, this can be judged by the actions and statements of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories Alexey Reznikov.

It is through Mr. Reznikov Bankova voiced his position that the office Zelensky not satisfied with the current revision of the Minsk agreements. Especially the point concerning the question of transferring control over sections of the border between Russia and the bandit “republics” of Donbass. Also recently, Mr. Reznikov said that Kiev aims to create an international platform for negotiations on the de-occupation of Crimea, but still the authorities (read again the President’s office) can’t say when and in what form such a platform will appear.

The optimal tactic for Kiev

Ideally, a painting can be. Office Zelensky sooner or later have to refuse the setting of “just stop shooting”, and clearly make it clear to the Russians that there are no backroom agreements on Crimea (primarily for the removal of water and the transport blockade) will not. Dnieper water will go to the Peninsula only after there leave the state-occupier. After the previous statements of the “public Servants” on the supply of water remained murky “political residue”. Like after the recent column by Vladimir Zelensky in The New York Times, where he tried once again not to offend Moscow.

“They (the foreign policy team of President Zelensky — approx. “Apostrophes”) is such a setup that it is impossible to agree about anything, if to call things by their proper names. Although this approach totally defeats the purpose. It weakens the bargaining position of Kiev and undermining international support. At some point, our government just get tired of the Russians it every day beaten in the face, and in the case of another escalation Zelensky will have to give the order to shoot back. For him, it will be a huge challenge, though his entourage still can’t really understand,” — said in comments “Apostrophe” political technologies Alexey golobutsky.

Then, Kiev will have to step up contacts with Western partners in terms of extension of existing and the introduction of new sanctions over the annexation of Crimea. First of all, with the United States. In this part of the recent “tape scandal” with the participation of the people’s Deputy Andriy Derkach (technically, it’s not connected with the Crimea directly) plays against this approach. The deeper Kyiv “fail” in internal American politics, the more likely that Moscow and loyal to her political circles to the USA will take advantage.

The third tool an effective pressure on Moscow before international courts, threats of arrest of foreign property owned by Russian state-owned corporations. The Ministry of foreign Affairs of Ukraine, albeit with difficulty, moves in this direction. The head of Department Dmitry Kuleba has said that he intends to sign a Memorandum on the case of the attack on the border guards of the FSB in the Ukrainian sailors off the coast of Crimea. It is expected that the document will be submitted to the international Tribunal for the law of the sea UN. In the judicial process of Ukrainian diplomats intend to prove that Moscow has systematically violated the UN Convention on the law of the sea.

At the same time, with a detailed analysis of diplomatic activity, it appears that the problem of Crimea is more to the confrontation between the Kremlin and the West (USA and EU). Factor in Ukraine, which is the legitimate owner of the territory, present in the “background”.

Europeans still extend sanctions for the annexation of the Ukrainian Peninsula, although their support is waning. Americans weighed periodically Moscow slaps for the militarization of Crimea, the threat to NATO countries and political persecution in the Crimea. In the us Congress, periodically there are calls to increase pressure on Russia, or even to conduct a military operation in the Black and Azov seas, in order to force Russia to observe the rules of navigation.

The creeping loss of initiative

It turns out that the Russian provocation in the sea of Azov and attempts to block the ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol more concerned about Americans than the Ukrainian government. In fairness I should say that this trend under President Petro Poroshenko. The team of Vladimir Zelensky, widely represented in the Parliament and the government only “creatively developed” tactical ideas of their predecessors. If President Poroshenko Bankova loudly talked about “international cooperation and decisive reforms”, when the President Zelensky — the government constantly talks about “the world”, without explaining exactly how to achieve it.

As noted in the comment “Apostrophe” expert on the temporarily occupied territories of the black sea Institute for strategic studies Yuriy Smelyanskiy, office of the President and, more broadly speaking, the present Ukrainian government, in the confrontation with Moscow is not even trying to seize the initiative.

“As far as can be judged from the information that leaks to the media, approximately from August 2019 Kiev has not imposed any new sanctions against Russia. In this respect, the war for our government, “ended”, although in fact, the economic tools of warfare is all that is currently available for Ukraine. The issue of creating conditions for de-occupation of Crimea, the current government is doing the same thing as the previous one. The previous government also measured the mood of society on the subject of water supply to the Crimea. The current “mono-power” differs only in the fact that they for various reasons do and say stupid things more than their predecessors,” insists Yuri Smelyanskiy.

The water for the Crimea: the bargain?

At the same time, experts interviewed by “Apostrophe” fear that the authorities will not be able to effectively use their diplomatic and international legal instruments. First, because the President’s office, as noted above, yet strategic representation of what to do with the Crimea. Second, the Russians consistently deduce the Ukrainian President at backstage “dogovornyak”, using the theme of the exchange of hostages.

It is not excluded that Russia is losing in international courts, will offer the Ukrainian authorities of various “carrots” that Kiev has softened its rhetoric.

“While the authorities have no systemic vision of what to do with the Crimea even in the medium term, all the other tactical issues (including the problem of the Dnieper water) will be speculative. Both sides can use water blockade as a tool to extract political bonuses. Relatively speaking, Moscow demands to amend the Constitution to enter the “special status” for ORDA. The President’s office, for example, says: soften your conditions, and we may give to the Crimea water. I do not exclude that such conversations are, unfortunately, unable to go” — has assumed in conversation with “Apostrophe” head of the Agency for modeling situations Vitaliy Bala.