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Ukrainian russophobia season 4, episode 5 : Termination of the friendship treaty and rail connections, Ukraine's self-sabordage

Caricature © Vitali Podvitski

Since the Maidan, Kiev has accelerated the severance of its relations with Russia, despite the common history of the two countries, and especially despite common sense, when we see the concrete results of this severance on the state of Ukraine, and the importance of economic ties between the two countries.

Despite the fact that Kiev treats Russia as an aggressor state, it is still the first country to invest in Ukraine in the first half of 2018 according to figures from the Ukrainian statistical service (foreign investment which continues to fall overall, with a drop of 30.8% compared to last year). With $436 million invested during the first six months of the year, Russia provided 34.6% of total direct investment in Ukraine.

Not to mention the transit of Russian gas to Europe, which brings about 3 billion dollars a year to Ukraine. Or millions of Ukrainians (naturalized Russian or not) who live and work in Russia and send money home to help their families left behind. Since the Maidan, Ukrainian companies have lost significant shares on the Russian market, after acquiring ridiculous duty-free quotas on the European market thanks to the association agreement with the EU. What Ukraine has gained with the European market is far less than what it has lost on the Russian market.

Common industry giants have gone bankrupt, Russian banks have been pushed out of Ukraine by Ukrainian ultra-nationalist violences against their offices, not to mention the loss of the Donbass industry, which provided 15% of Ukraine's GDP before the war broke out.

Yet for several months the statements of Ukrainian officials have been multiplying to continue the work of undermining relations with the neighbouring country, without taking into account the disastrous consequences of these decisions on the economy and especially on the Ukrainian population.

Thus, in mid-August, the Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure, Vladimir Omelian, signed a document prohibiting passenger traffic by train and bus between Ukraine and Russia. As with flights that had already suffered the same fate, people will therefore have to stop in Minsk to move from one country to another.

The result will be that people will lose time and money, Ukraine will lose revenue from passenger traffic (which is profitable on rail connections to and from Russia), and Minsk will benefit.

The completely suicidal side of such a decision was underlined by Dmitri Linko, Ukrainian deputy of the Radical Party (therefore not at all pro-Russian, quite the contrary), who compared such methods to those of the martyrs.

"During war there are shahids (martyrs, ed), the term implies that you can blow yourself up, harm the enemy, hurt him, but ultimately you die. These methods of shahid should not be used. We can do harm (to Russia, ed.), but we will die," said Dmitri Linko on the NewsOne channel.

Moreover, proof that the Ukrainian authorities are aware that they are shooting themselves in the foot with such decisions, this measure does not extend to the transport of goods, fearing to lose too much money and especially to have problems with the WTO for violation of its international commitments.

The same applies to Russian gas. Since November 2015, Kiev claims not to buy Russian gas any more, whereas she buys some from Poland, Hungary and Slovakia by reverse flow (more expensive than by buying it directly from Russia which weighs at the end on the budget of Ukrainian households), and Ukraine does everything to undermine the Nord Stream 2 project, in order not to lose definitively the transit of Russian gas towards Europe as from 2019.

It must be said that there is enough to panic Kiev. If Russia stops transiting its gas through Ukraine, the country will lose more than 3% of its GDP, the equivalent of the country's military budget. And above all, Kiev will then lose its geopolitical lever towards the European Union. No more blackmailing Europe by threatening to turn off the gas tap.

But at the same time, Kiev is continuing its endless legal actions against Gazprom precisely over the gas contracts, in order to get as much money as possible out of it, thus definitely disgusting the Russian company of wanting to continue doing business with such a country.

As the CEO of Gazprom said, as well as the President of the Russian Federation, if the gas transit contract via Ukraine is not profitable, Russia has no interest in pursuing it. Moreover, following these endless arbitration actions, whose latest judgment requires Gazprom to pay Naftogaz 2.6 billion dollars, the Russian company launched the procedure to close its gas transit contract via Ukraine before its end date, because the judgment of the Stockholm court makes this contract absolutely unprofitable.

"The Stockholm arbitration, guided by the double standard, adopted an asymmetric decision on our contracts with the Ukrainian company Naftogaz concerning gas supply and transit. The decision seriously violates the balance of the parties' interests in these contracts. The arbitrators based their decision on the fact that the situation in the Ukrainian economy has worsened considerably. We are totally opposed to the situation where Ukraine's economic problems are solved at our expense. In this situation, maintaining the validity of the contracts is not economically feasible and unprofitable for Gazprom," said Alexei Miller, CEO of Gazprom.

After that, Kiev can shout from the rooftops that we must prevent the Nord Stream 2 project from succeeding, it is no longer of any use. It's too late to fix the disaster. The European Union, and especially Germany, is not going to sacrifice its energetic security for the beautiful eyes of Ukraine, especially since, on the other hand, Russia has outlets in Asia, and is building the Siberian Force gas pipeline to be able to increase the quantity of gas that Moscow can deliver to its Chinese ally.

What Europe will not buy will be bought by China, which has enormous energy needs. And Angela Merkel is well aware of that. At her last meeting with Vladimir Putin, she said she believes that Ukraine must continue to play its role in the transit of gas through Europe. We are a long way from a strong statement requiring Russia to transit its gas through Ukraine. Vladimir Putin's response was very clear: "The essential thing is that Ukrainian transit - which is traditional for us - meets economic requirements. Clearly: if it is not profitable, the answer is NO.

With all this in mind, let us now analyze the latest nonsense, sorry, official statements, "made in Kiev".

During Ukraine's Independence Day celebrations, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared that Ukraine will break everything that links it to the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, and thus prevent any possibility of a return to the Russian zone of influence. He also mentioned severing ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, while the majority of Ukrainians belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Moscow, and at the risk of starting a religious war in the country if Kiev gets an Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

Once again, the Kiev authorities speak first and then think. Because to break everything that connects it to the USSR, Ukraine within its current borders should simply cease to exist, since it is the USSR that created the country by aggregating provinces that belonged to the Russian empire with regions that belonged to Poland, Romania, Hungary, etc!

Barely four days later, Poroshenko continued, indicating that he had instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare the documents in order to launch the procedure to terminate the friendship, cooperation and partnership treaty signed by Ukraine and Russia in 1997.

Communication move in view of the elections (as Sergei Lavrov thinks), or new delirium which will be carried out in order to satisfy the Ukrainian ultra-nationalists? That is the question. But Ukraine has only a big month to decide, because if it wants to denounce this treaty before its automatic renewal for 10 years, it must do so by October.

And despite everything that Poroshenko can say, or could say in April of this year, Ukraine will not be able to invalidate only one part (the one that suits her) of the treaty. It's all or nothing. Or Ukraine must conclude a new treaty with Russia, but Russia is under no obligation to sign it if it does not suit her. The big problem of Kiev is that this treaty defines the common borders between the two countries and their mutual recognition.

If Ukraine terminates the treaty, then Moscow is no longer obliged to recognise the borders it shares with Ukraine. And then it becomes very dangerous for Kiev in the context of the ongoing war in the Donbass. What would then prevent Russia from recognising the People' s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR) within the framework of Article 2 of the UN Charter on the right of peoples to self-determination, since it would no longer be bound by the recognition of the inviolability of the borders and territorial integrity of Ukraine which is included in the friendship treaty between the two countries?

Playing with fire may seem fun, but it's very dangerous and ends badly quite often. And that is exactly what Kiev is doing with this treaty. In addition to the border aspect, this treaty is the base on which economic relations are built, the rights of the citizens of each country in the other, and so on. If the base is destroyed, everything else will be destroyed too, as Leonid Kojara, the former Ukrainian Foreign Minister, has pointed out.

"It goes even beyond ordinary stupidity, I think it is a provocation, when the basic foundations of international cooperation are violated. In international law, such contracts are called a base, it is like a trunk from which branches start, and other agreements, leaves. If we cut the trunk, i.e. denounce the main contract, in fact we endanger the whole legal framework," said the former diplomat.

For Leonid Kojara, cancelling the treaty between the two countries would threaten the private property of Ukrainian organizations and citizens present in Russia, it would also threaten Ukraine's transit potential as well as the influx of investors into the country.

In the meantime, these russophobic delusions are increasingly plaguing the Ukrainian economy, pushing the population to flee the country, as Dmitri Belik, MP from Sevastopol, pointed out.

According to him, "the Ukrainian authorities are on a path that leads to no independence, no economic development, no army, no integration into NATO. Ukraine is mired in corruption, destroyed its economy. Today, thousands of Ukrainians are leaving the country and going to work elsewhere, especially young people. In four years, the government has shown its true cannibalistic face, the increase in tariffs on public services, the destruction of agriculture and industry, people simply do not have enough to live on," said the MP.

For Belik, this destruction of ties with Russia destroyed years of economic relations and transformed Ukraine into a beggar, asking for the next tranche of international aid, which will end up in the pockets of Poroshenko's relatives, or asking the EU for money to repair the Donbass towns devastated by the Ukrainian army.

"Today, Ukraine is a country struggling against its people, destroying its historical memory and identity, but still blaming Russia for all its problems," Belik concluded.

This exodus of the Ukrainian population is not a view of the spirit or Kremlin propaganda, even Pavel Klimkine, Ukrainian Foreign Minister was concerned earlier this year, stressing that more than one million Ukrainians had left the country in 2017, an average of 100 000 per month, 3 000 per day! This figure alone speaks volumes about the state of Ukraine, for so many of its citizens to flee the country.

So when, in addition to all these muddles, Ukraine promises an unpleasant surprise for Russia at the UN General Assembly to be held in September, one can only fear the consequences of this unpleasant surprise for the Ukrainians themselves, as Leonid Slutski, the head of the Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, said.

It is very nice to say that we will cut all ties with Russia to please the ultra-nationalists and neo-Nazis who allowed the 2014 coup d'état to take place, as well as its neo-conservative American bosses, but in reality each of the ties cut with the Russian Federation, is an additional nail planted in the coffin of Ukraine.

When the last nail will be planted, it will be too late to repair the damage, and some of the countries that have supported or turned a blind eye to all this by russophobia or pro-NATO followism, will have to bear the consequences. The massive flight of Ukrainians from their country is proof that the disease that is plaguing Ukraine, and will eventually destroy it, will have no trouble crossing the borders of neighbouring countries to cause the same chaos.

In the 1930s, some Western leaders turned a blind eye to Nazi actions and statements, and others even supported them (such as the United States) because they wanted to use them to contain the Bolsheviks. The end of this macabre game with fire you all know.

Do we really have to play this stupid game again more than 70 years after the end of the war that cost the lives of tens of millions of people? It is time to remember the mistakes of the past so as not to repeat them and avoid paying the price again for short-term international policies, which serve only the interests of a few and destroy the lives of many others.

Christelle Néant

Bollettino di Notizie DONiArticoli in Vetrina

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