Ukraine’s struggle against Russian aggression continues in all directions, but recently serious changes on the part of Ukraine have become apparent. First of all, it concerns the strengthening of diplomatic pressure and works on foreign policy platforms.
One of the first “bells” of such changes was certain rotations in Naftogaz Ukraine. On May 14, the company announced that the organization of work and support of international arbitrations and foreign litigation and enforcement proceedings of Naftogaz in disputes with PJSC Gazprom and in cases against the Russian Federation was entrusted to the adviser to the Chairman of the NJSC Olena Zerkal.
Commenting on her appointment, she stressed: “The direction for which I am responsible at Naftogaz is extremely important for both the company and Ukraine, as it concerns the long-term goals of our country’s integration into the world market for better business conditions and protection of energy security. Therefore, the work on the initiated processes and arbitrations will not only not stop but will intensify”.
Earlier, Zerkal, as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, successfully represented Kyiv’s position in the case of Ukraine v. Russia at the UN International Court of Justice and the Arbitration Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Many claims that it is thanks to the principled and professional position of Zerkal that Ukraine has managed to win several victories in international courts.
Now Naftogaz is preparing for the next round of confrontation with Russia, with one of the main issues being compensation for the losses caused by the illegal expropriation of Crimean assets in 2014. Here, the amount of interest compensation is estimated at about $ 8 billion.
On May 14, Borys Gryzlov, a representative of the Russian Federation at talks in the Tripartite Contact Group, said that the TCG video conference was on the verge of failure due to Kyiv’s refusal to engage in dialogue with representatives of the so-called LNR and DNR. According to Gryzlov, the situation has worsened due to the renewed composition of the Ukrainian delegation.
However, the Russian representative remained silent about the causes of the conflict. As it turned out, the Ukrainian delegation stressed that those people who call themselves representatives of Donbas, in fact, do not defend its interests. To confirm these words, copies of foreign and domestic passports of the Russian Federation, which belong to Vladyslav Deinego and Natalia Nikanorova – the so-called “Ministers of Foreign Affairs of LNR and the DNR” – were shown.
The foreign delegations present drew attention to Russia’s attempts not only to absolve itself of responsibility as a participant in the conflict in eastern Ukraine but also to impose negotiations with its citizens by impersonating them as representatives of the occupied territories.
At present, the talks in Minsk have reached a stalemate, and the DNR and LNR are usually threatening to attack and escalate the confrontation.
Meanwhile, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky stressed during his press conference: “We will fight to the end for “Minsk”. Because sanctions against the Russian Federation are connected with “Minsk”. And you know perfectly well that everyone wants to remove them – not only Russia but many European countries, I understand that they also suffer economically because of these sanctions. But, as I told you, we will fight. I give a year for what we will fight. ” At the same time, the President of Ukraine noted that there are plans “B” and “C”, but he would not like to apply them.
Against the background of the decline in activity in Minsk, the statement of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov looks interesting, saying that the Ukrainian authorities are waiting for help from Great Britain and the United States, signatures of the leaders of which stand under the Budapest Memorandum. And in this context, in order to intensify the issue of the return of Crimea, “it is necessary to work to create such a Crimean platform that would not be Minsk, but, for example, Chisinau or Brussels”.
Offensive in the “sea” direction
On May 22, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Agent of Ukraine in the case of the seizure of Ukrainian sailors and ships in the Black Sea in November 2018 Eugene Yenin signed a Memorandum of Ukraine, which was submitted to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
The case concerns the seizure by Russia of 24 Ukrainian servicemen and three ships (Nikopol, Berdyansk, and Yany Kapu).
The Memorandum deals in particular with the justification of compensation for material and moral damage to our seafarers who were illegally detained in the territory of the Russian Federation for nine months, compensation for the Navy of Ukraine for damage to ships, as well as compensation for losses incurred. suffered by the Ukrainian side due to the fact that for some time the Ukrainian Navy could not use these ships.
According to Yenin, it is about “several million dollars”. In addition, Ukraine demands an end to criminal cases against Ukrainian sailors and demands assurances from Russia that it will not violate the immunity of warships in the future.
On May 25, 2019, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg unequivocally ruled in favor of Ukraine in the case of 24 Ukrainian sailors and three ships fired and captured by the Russian Federation. The decision obliged Russia to “immediately release Ukrainian warships… and return them to the jurisdiction of Ukraine Immediately release 24 military and special services and allow them to return to Ukraine.”
Accordingly, the Ukrainian side expects that the next lawsuit will be resolved in its favor, and Russia will have to pay for its aggression and blockade of the Kerch Strait.
The UN is increasingly dissatisfied with Russia’s actions
On May 22 on the UN Security Council, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on Russia to stop cyberattacks in order to destabilize other countries. During an online meeting of the UN Security Council based on Arria’s formula “Cyberstability, Conflict Prevention, and Capacity Building”, the official said that since 2014, cyberattacks have been one of the dimensions of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and this has forced our country to rethink its national security strategy.
During 2019, more than 1,500 cyber incidents at critical infrastructure facilities were recorded in Ukraine. According to the minister, other states also suffer from such hostile behavior by Russia and consider Moscow responsible for cyberattacks using malicious software.
“We know that Russia is responsible for a number of cyber operations that have been used as a political tool. When information and communication technologies were used to conduct disinformation campaigns, interference in the election process, cyber espionage, cyber attacks on critical infrastructure in a number of countries in Europe and abroad,” Kuleba said.
It is obvious that the words of the Ukrainian minister are being listened to. Especially against the background of a large-scale scandal with the leak of e-mail from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Investigators believe that the Russian military intelligence is behind this hacker attack, which was carried out in 2015.
Finally, in the international arena, other states express dissatisfaction with Russia’s actions. According to Twitter channels, a Libyan representative during a meeting of the UN Security Council showed photos of the captured Russian anti-aircraft missile and artillery system “Pantsir-C1”. He, as well as other new Russian installations, a large number of weapons and ammunition, were found by government troops on the basis of Al Watiah, which was previously controlled by Russian-backed groups. In fact, the Kremlin has once again been accused of provoking instability, supporting terrorism, and the presence of “ichthamnets” in other countries.
Informed sources claim that in Libya there are units of the Russian private military company Wagner, whose mercenaries have been repeatedly recorded in the fighting in the Donbas.
Ukraine does not forget about political prisoners
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has announced the launch of a Platform that will coordinate international actions for the release of Ukrainian political prisoners by Russia.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “against the background of new detentions and sentences, as well as Russia’s attempts to abuse the tools and formats of UN institutions to legitimize the annexation of Crimea, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry sees its task as giving new impetus to international efforts to release of Ukrainian citizens illegally detained by Russia for political reasons”.
The participants of the platform should be representatives of state authorities, whose competence includes activities to provide assistance, protection of rights and release of illegally detained citizens of Ukraine, non-governmental human rights organizations and associations of relatives of political prisoners, the Crimean Tatar People’s Majlis.
It is obvious that Ukraine is making serious efforts to ensure that its problematic issues are not forgotten against the background of the global fight against the pandemic and the global economic crisis. After all, without the support of the world community, it is almost impossible to resist such a strong enemy as Russia. So now it is important that the world lends its shoulder and helps Ukraine restore peace in the country and punish the aggressor.