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Breaking diplomatic ties – Resolution registered with the VR

March 15, 2016

The Verkhovna Rada has apparently registered a draft resolution on the termination of diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation.

The draft Resolution authors are Oksana Korchynska, Yuriy Shukhevych-Bogdan, Oleg Petrenko and Vladimir Parasyuk – a politically mixed bag.

Unfortunately at the time of writing, this draft Resolution is not published on the Verkhovna Rada website, so it is unclear whether the proposed breaking of diplomatic ties also includes consular ties too.  After the Russian actions in Georgia of 2008 diplomatic ties were cut – but consular offices were maintained in both nations.

This draft Resolution comes more than two years after the illegal annexation of Crimea, continuing war, and almost daily death in the Donbas, economic sanctions, tens of billions of US$ claims and counterclaims pending various international courts, cyber attacks, active measures etc., etc.

Some readers will naturally question why the breaking of diplomatic relations between Russia and Ukraine has not occurred long ago considering the numerous and continuing ways The Kremlin has violated Ukraine.

After all, to break diplomatic relations between nations, technically, is a discretionary (or arbitrary) sovereign choice that requires no legal grounds, and Ukraine has plenty of legal grounds if such grounds were necessary – which they are not.  In breaking diplomatic relations, the Vienna Convention does still place a few obligations upon States to which Ukraine would have to adhere:

Article 45 – If diplomatic relations are broken off between two States, or if a mission is permanently or temporarily recalled: (a) The receiving State must, even in case of armed conflict, respect and protect the premises of the mission, together with its property and archives; (b) The sending State may entrust the custody of the premises of the mission, together with its property and archives, to a third State acceptable to the receiving State; (c) The sending State may entrust the protection of its interests and those of its nationals to a third State acceptable to the receiving State.

It also provides a way for officially recognised, yet indirect communication channels to continue.

Article 46 – A sending State may with the prior consent of a receiving State, and at the request of a third State not represented in the receiving State, undertake the temporary protection of the interests of the third State and of its nationals.

However, there are those who would consider Ukraine breaking diplomatic ties now an action retarded (to put it mildly) when conversation between the two States clearly have to continue one way or another.

Is there any benefit to doing this now?

What serious political and/or diplomatic negotiations occur between Ukraine and Russia that do not already involve third parties/States, whether it be the “Contact Group” with the OSCE, the “Normandy Four”, or Gazprom and Naftogaz with the EU etc?

Does Ukraine benefit more from having third parties at the table, or third parties acting as a messenger service with nobody sat at the table?  Perhaps that depends upon the third party/States or third party messenger.

A question arises as to who Ukraine would nominate and who Russia would accept as a suitable “third State”.  The UK has a liking for nominating Sweden, whereas perhaps the most longstanding “third State” agreements were the US use of Swiss and Czechoslovakian diplomatic missions in Cuba.

How would the Ukrainian constituency react to such a decision?  Would they perceive it as an unwillingness to look The Kremlin in the eye across the table, and thus a sign of weakness, or a righteous and belated public shunning of official contact with The Kremlin?

How would the Ukraine’s international supporters view such a move?  Understandable but nevertheless stupid and untimely, or long overdue but perhaps now with greatly diminished perception and outcome benefits?

Would such an action now help or hinder those that are working on Ukraine’s behalf behind the curtain?

draft

Perhaps the authors view it as a way to put a stop to “Minsk”.  A public referendum upon ditching the agreement may very well arrive at the same ditching of the agreement.

Considering the calibre of the average Ukrainian parliamentarian and the predisposition for populism over cognitive thought, have those that have drafted this Resolution asked themselves any of these questions and arrived at this position after careful consideration?  Have they tested the internal and external political and diplomatic water?  Is it yet another case of drafting a Resolution (or Bill) knowing it will not be adopted – A case of being seen (if anybody actually notices a draft Resolution as yet unpublished) to have drafted such a Resolution – even if it necessarily wastes parliamentary committee time and never sees the inside of the voting chamber?  If it is just a case of being seen, why not make media statements (that at least some people would notice) preparatory to even drafting such a Resolution?

It perhaps seems a little late in the day to be submitting such a Resolution – but then again, is there that much difference between active Kremlin hostilities toward Ukraine today than that of 2 years ago?

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