Published on: Oct 17, 2018 @ 10:04 – Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, who is also the former OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Leonid Kozhara, has come forward and made a major public declaration which will have profound effects on the historical record and how EU officials will be required to treat the conflict in Ukraine, and the necessity of fulfilling the Minsk II Agreement. Kozhara’s statements bring the EU back to the foundational framework of the Normandy Quartet, and away from US interference, which experts agree has been the major factor in the inability of Kiev to create a lasting peace on those terms.
Kozhara – whose record ranging from his tenure leading the OSCE and as Ukraine’s chief diplomat is impeccable – is clear: from the point of view of international law, the conflict in the east of the country is not international, the concept of “hybrid warfare” must be abandoned, and the Ukrainian government is responsible for non-compliance with the Minsk agreements. Inarguably, in effect Kozhara is saying that Russia has not invaded Ukraine, and that it is an internal conflict – a civil conflict.
The Ukrainian diplomat said this in his speech on October 10th in Brussels at a roundtable in the European Parliament “Minsk II or War: Challenges to Conflict Resolution in Eastern Ukraine”.
In his former capacity as Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE (the OSCE’s term for Chairman, its senior-most position), he speaks now with the experience and expertise of that position. The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office is, according to the OSCE, particularly equipped to understand conflicts:
“The Chairperson-in-Office takes a lead in conflict prevention, resolution and rehabilitation in the OSCE region, taking up direct contact with parties concerned and arranging or conducting settlement negotiations. In order to deal with crises or ensure better co-ordination of participating States’ efforts in specific areas, the Chair may appoint personal or special representatives. Personal representatives have a clear and precise mandate which outlines the tasks they are expected to undertake.”
As Ukraine’s former chief diplomat, he understands specifically the nature of Ukrainian statehood, its policies, requirements, needs, and operating strategy at the highest level possible. For these reasons, his major statement comes with significant weight, as Kozhara said:
“The armed conflict in the east of Ukraine is an underestimated conflict, first of all, by the European Union. It seems that the European partners avoid discussing the conflict and ways to resolve it in essence. Kiev’s position, according to which only Kiev fulfills the Minsk agreements, while others do not, unfortunately, is supported by some in Brussels and in some European capitals,”
“I am deeply convinced that today the problem of non-compliance with the Minsk agreements is first of all a problem of the Ukrainian authorities,”
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine regretted that the EU “at the time did not insist on ratification of the Minsk agreements”, pointing out that the Ukrainian authorities use this circumstance in order not to recognize this document as binding.
“Ukraine was the first to abandon the Minsk agreements. And in this regard, I would like to urge the European Commission and individual European capitals, in particular, Berlin, to do a legal analysis on how the Minsk agreements are being implemented by the Ukrainian side, as well as to analyze the law on state policy features adopted in January,” Kozhara said.
“I am deeply convinced that the Minsk agreements are the only instrument that can remedy the situation in the east of the country and become the main document on the peace settlement issues,” Kozhara stressed.
The Ukrainian diplomat also stated the need to determine the international legal status of hostilities in the east of the country and abandon the “hybrid warfare concept” applied by the West to the situation in Donbass.
According to him, the concept of “hybrid warfare” was born decades ago during the Cold War and was applied for propagandistic purposes by the United States against the Soviet Union.
“Today, the same concept is used to characterize the legal and political situation in the east of Ukraine”, but “it does not work, since the concept of “hybrid warfare” has nothing to do with international law, it does not refer to the documents of the UN, OSCE, etc.,” noted the Ukrainian diplomat.
“If we take the UN resolution of 1974 on the definition of aggression, the Hague and Geneva conventions of 1949, we will find the answer to what is happening in Ukraine. In particular, if we take the Geneva conventions, we will see that Article 2 refers to the characteristics of a non-international armed conflict, and this definition is now avoided both in Europe and overseas,” Kozhara said, noting that there is also a response to the Ukrainian authorities and West description of Russia as an “aggressor”.
“If we take international law, it will show us not only in political, but also in legal characteristics, what is happening there. We see that practically 100% of the participants in the conflict are citizens of Ukraine, almost 100% of the victims of the conflict are citizens of Ukraine, 100% of the conflict takes place in Ukraine,” Kozhara explained.
The full video of Leonid Kozhara’s speech at the European Parliament can be seen here:
The former head of the OSCE emphasized the crucial importance of “abandoning the concept of hybrid warfare and returning to the legal foundations of international law,” which says that this conflict is not international.
Leonid Kozhara also spoke against the idea of the UN peacekeepers entering Donbass: “I do not support the deployment of peacekeeping forces, because my 30 years’ experience in diplomacy says that this is a direct way to freeze the situation in Donbass.” The diplomat thinks that “in fact, Kiev offers the same option as in Kosovo and Bosnia”, but, in his opinion, these missions have proven to be ineffective in terms of resolving the conflict.