Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

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The Kremlin merges Crimea with its Southern Federal District

July 28, 2016

August is a month that in recent years brings with it increased difficulties born of The Kremlin for Ukraine.  This combined with a major sporting event, which has also coincided with Kremlin shenanigans fairly frequently over the years would perhaps prompt a reader to expect a difficult few weeks ahead for Ukraine.  The entrails of the Rio Olympics in August perhaps do not read particularly well for Ukraine.

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The 28th July witnessed its first “August surprise” a few days early – albeit perhaps not the surprise it should/could have been.  President Putin signed a decree ending the Federal District of Crimea and merging it into the Southern Federal District.

Southern District in Blue (less Crimea)

Southern District in Blue (less Crimea)

The more astute observers may have predicted such a move based upon a previous decree placing the Southern Military District and Crimea under the command of Colonel General Alexander Dvornikov following his recall from leading the Kremlin’s Syrian campaign.

A matter of consolidating military command and control, and also public administration, by moving it away from the peninsula itself and placing its power centers within internationally recognised Russian territory.  The result being occupied Crimea now squarely falls within both military and administrative control of the respective civil and military Southern Districts of the Russian Federation based in Rostov-on-Don.

The reasoning behind the move has been cited as being necessary to “improve governance” – which is entirely plausible (although perhaps not the real reason for canceling the separate Crimean status when assimilating Crimea into the Southern District control apparatus) considering the exceptionally poor governance and administrative abilities displayed by the current “authorities” since 2014.

As yet the repercussions of the Crimean assimilation into the command structures of the Southern District, both military and civilian remain to be seen – perhaps the forthcoming Duma elections will provide some indication.

For sure whatever grubby political deals had been previously arranged within the peninsula may have to be renegotiated with those now in control from Rostov-On-Don.  Alternatively, perhaps those in Rostov-On-Don have an entirely different plan for the elites within its newly acquired administrative territory.

Either which way, and at the very least, there will now have to be accommodation for the “rent seeking” expected by those within the Rostov-On-Don machinery.  Money flows from “rent seeking” will have to be, at least in part, redirected.  Organised crime structures too may need to seek new accommodations within the power centers of the Southern District.

For Ukraine and the West, the question is now what to do about Crimean sanctions – a far simpler matter when it remained a distinct stand-alone administrative centre post the illegal annexation.  There are now questions to be asked  and answered as to whether they will extend to those within the Southern District’s that will undoubtedly violate the sanctions imposed regarding Crimea specifically.

For those “western” capitols already wavering regarding sanctions, this additional complication may prove to be too much – albeit it already seems unlikely 2017 will conclude witnessing a continued unity within the EU Member States.  That said, the issue of sanctions specifically applied to Crimea have never been subject to wobbles – the issue of wobbles has always related to the sanctions that were imposed that are not Crimea specific but caused by the on-going Kremlin actions within the occupied Donbas.

This change of Crimean circumstance will perhaps muddy the waters somewhat.

A reader may ponder what August will yet further bring – for the month of August rarely heralds anything good, but rather a deliberate concentration of ill-deeds from The Kremlin in recent years.

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Russia sanctions – VR sets a poor example

July 12, 2016

With western sanctions on both sides of the Atlantic regarding Russia set to continue into early 2017, where after a reader may rightly ponder the ability of the EU Member States to maintain solidarity (discounting specifically Crimean sanctions) in what will be a far more difficult political climate, Ukraine will be forced to try and up its diplomatic game among the EU nations in an effort to keep them in place.

It will be a tremendously difficult task in the absence of Minsk being fully implemented, or an exceptionally serious uptick in death, destruction and violence in the war involving ordnance and equipment subject to the Minsk agreements – or mass civilian casualties.

This will require some guile, deft diplomacy, and perhaps some pleading in certain capitols once 2017 arrives.

Ukraine therefore must lead by example and remain steadfast in its own relations with the Kremlin.  Ukrainian sanctions therefore cannot be seen to wobble, become an issue of unnecessary uncertainty, or be allowed to be seen to fall to a place far from the top of the domestic political agenda.   Ukrainian sanctions, no differently to western sanctions, once they were imposed are problematic in their removal unless achieving and/or having successfully protected the interests over which they were initiated in the first place.

Everybody understands the reciprocity issues, and everybody understands the difficulties of sanction removal once initiated.

It is therefore incumbent upon Ukraine to be seen to lead the way on sanctions towards Russia.  It cannot expect others to sanction, and continue those sanctions, if Ukraine becomes indecisive, actually wobbles, or is perceived to demote their value in any matters “political”.

The almost certain continuous Crimean sanctions aside, those sanctions instigated with regard to the occupied Donbas will be the first (albeit the only for the foreseeable future) to be removed – or collapse – within the circle of western powers.

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12th July saw sanctions proposals toward Russia submitted by President Poroshenko, backed National Security and Defence Council, and after due consideration by the appropriate Verkhovna Rada committee recommending the proposals be supported head to the parliamentary legislative floor – and fail to make the parliamentary agenda – twice.

The first Verkhovna Rada vote managed to attract 209 votes in favour.  The second, 215.  Neither vote coming anywhere near close to the 226 minimum requirement to put the matter upon the Verkhovna Rada agenda – let alone actually vote upon the substance of the Bill.

If the national politicians expect the Foreign Ministry and its civil servants within embassies and consuls located in currently sanctioning nations to have any hope of playing their part most effectively in international sanctions continence, then it is surely incumbent upon domestic parliamentarians to at the very least put this Bill on sanctions upon the debating and voting agenda of the Verkhovna Rada when it was submitted – whether they subsequently adopt it, amend it, or ultimately reject it in any vote to adopt it as legislation.

Perceptions and framing matter, thus it is a policy area that Ukraine simply has to be seen to lead and remain steadfast over to remain credible within other capitols.  To simply fail to put this Bill upon the national legislative agenda when at war with Russia, and simultaneously lobbying western capitols to maintain sanctions, is a matter that will have to be corrected – swiftly.

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