Russia involves rogue states in hushing up its international crimes.
Ukraine reacted to the opening of an honorary consulate of Nicaragua in Crimea and imposed sanctions on this state. Given the low intensity of relations between our countries, this step is rather symbolic, but the fight cannot be lost. This decision was preceded by a long story.
Nicaragua belongs to a small group of countries that have recognised Crimea as part of Russia. The group includes Afghanistan, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, Sudan and North Korea. There was a short time when Vladimir Putin came up with the fantastic idea of organising a global alternative to the West in the form of the BRICS under his own leadership, and in July 2014, he went on a Latin American tour in this imaginary role. The President of the Russian Federation unexpectedly changed the schedule and, on the way from Cuba to Argentina, turned to Nicaragua, to Daniel Ortega, who was a great friend of the Soviet Union.
It was an “historic” – the first ever visit of a Russian leader to Nicaragua. Russia, which at that time had already annexed Crimea and was conducting a military operation in Donbas, was in every possible way interested in any international support. President Ortega, flattered by Putin’s attention, promised such support.
“We are ready to take part in Russia’s initiatives to ensure peace both on the entire planet and in certain areas of your region,” he said. At that time, no one had any doubt about what “peace” and “areas in the region” he was talking about. Just as Putin was returning from that tour, when the presidential plane was heading from Brazil to Moscow, he was told that a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane had been shot down over the occupied territory in eastern Ukraine.
Not a single circumstance prevented Nicaragua from recognising Russian jurisdiction over Crimea, just as earlier it had been one of several countries that recognised the independence of Abkhazia and North Ossetia. In 2015, the then Ambassador of Nicaragua, Juan Ernesto Vásquez Araya, paid a visit to Crimea; in the same year, President Ortega was awarded the Order of Friendship of Peoples by Putin. The more isolated Russia became, the more important was the support from other world outcasts.
Nicaragua, in turn, is subject to sanctions from the United States and other Western Hemisphere countries, which consider the regimes of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to be part of the so-called “troika of tyranny.”
The leaders of the troika coordinate their actions with each other, suppressing the development of democracy in their own societies. “President Ortega and his regime prefer personal gain and power to Nicaraguan calls for reform,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, announcing new sanctions against Nicaragua last December. Given this, it is not surprising that official Russia can easily find common ground with those tyrannies.
In the summer of 2019, Ukrainian diplomacy learned about Nicaragua’s plans to open an honorary consulate in Crimea. All warnings were ignored by the Nicaraguan side. Another circumstance that was supposed to humiliate Ukraine was the candidacy for the post of “honorary consul.” It was Vice Admiral Oleg Beloventsev, the honorary representative of the President of the Russian Federation in Crimea during the operation to annex the peninsula and until 2016.
According to participants in the 2014 Crimean events, Beloventsev was the direct leader of political events in Crimea; local puppets like Sergei Aksenov, “head” of the Republic of Crimea, obeyed him. In Soviet times, this graduate of the Military Diplomatic Academy was engaged in espionage, for which he was deported from London in 1985, so his participation in the special operation was not accidental. Putin awarded him with the title of Hero of Russia (April 2014) and the Order for Fidelity to Duty (April 2015). In addition, the former honorary presidential representative in Crimea is an honorary citizen of the Republic of Crimea (February 2016). Ukraine also awarded the “hero,” sentencing him in absentia to 13 years in prison for “encroaching on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine, inciting high treason and waging an aggressive war against Ukraine.”
Recently, the 71-year-old Putin supporter retired from politics. He has been in retirement since the summer of 2018, when he resigned as the president’s representative in the North Caucasian Federal District and withdrew from the Security Council. It is not surprising that a position was found for him – according to his age and merit – to head the honorary consulate of Nicaragua in Crimea, in the region of the vice admiral’s “combat” merits to the Kremlin.
Ukraine’s reaction to these openly hostile actions by Nicaragua was as sharp as possible. An embargo was introduced on imports from Nicaragua; transportation from the territory of Ukraine, including transit, was stopped; the National Bank of Ukraine was prohibited from issuing permits for investments in Nicaragua; and all financial and economic obligations to this country were suspended. Ukraine should not allow any indulgence to the aggressor. Russia will continue to try to hush up and legalise its international crime by involving marginalised groups and outcasts of the global political stage. We must be ready for this and not forgive anyone. In this way, national honour and dignity can be preserved.