An emergency summit was held on Sunday August 17th between Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany in Berlin. It was the second round of talks over the Ukrainian crisis after the last summit that was held on April 17th in Geneva. Although progress emerged about the Russian humanitarian convoy’s entry on Ukrainian territory, Sergei Lavrov, Pavel Klimkin, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Laurent Fabius did not reach any agreement concerning an exit from the current crisis between the two countries.
The crisis in Ukraine has entered its sixth month in August. From a national opposition between Ukrainian supporters of the country’s integration to the EU’s Eastern Partnership and followers of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, the crisis has gradually moved into a international political deadlock between Western states and Russia. While diplomatic sanctions escalate from both sides, the number of civilian casualties has increased dramatically in the last weeks. The convoy sent yesterday from Russia to Ukraine, officially to answer the current humanitarian crisis in the region, is suspected by the West of hiding an aggression. At the same time, the Parliament in Kiev drafted a law aiming at censoring media coverage on August 12th, sharpening the communication war between both parts.
A Siberian independence march that was planned in Novosibirsk for 17 August was banned by the Russian government yesterday. In parallel, authorities have threatened to block BCC’s Russian version over its reports on separatist protests and more precisely an interview of the march’s organiser, Artyom Loskutov. They declared his intervention "calls to mass unrest, extremist activities or participation in illegal public events", which is legally forbidden in the Russian Federation. The event contradicts Moscow’s recent support to independence movements in former Soviet states such as Ukraine and Moldova.
The Hague’s Permanent Arbitration Court sentenced Russia to pay the historically high amount of USD 50 billion to oil company Yukos shareholders on Monday 28 July. This sum represents a compensation for the breaking up and nationalisation of the company in 2005. Most of its assets had been transferred to majority state-owned Rosneft, one of the companies that have been targeted by the United States’ latest sanctions against Russia. The ruling may have big consequences on Russia’s economic stability while the country is on the verge of recession.
298 people died on Thursday 17 July in the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH 17 passenger plane flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, in the unstable region of Donetsk in Ukraine. While uncertainties remain as for how the plane was effectively attacked, 272 bodies had already been found this morning and loaded on two refrigerated railroad cars. The tragedy has raised a lot of international reactions and anger as the area was controlled by pro-Russian separatists suspected of launching a missile that hit the plane and later taking evidence away from the crash scene. Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged the warring parties to ensure an international investigation that can take place in the Donetsk region, while the United Nations Security Council is issuing a resolution.
The United States and the European Union have increased the level of their sanctions against Russia on Wednesday 16 July. For the first time, they have targeted Russian enterprises specialised in gas and petrol, which maintain close relations to the central power in Moscow. US President Barack Obama underlined that Russia faces economic weakening and diplomatic isolation as a result of politic decisions in Ukraine. The European Union also decided to target the entities that materially and financially support breaches to the Ukrainian sovereignty.
Door Arjen Berkvens, directeur Foundation Max van der Stoel
De Amerikaanse invasie in Irak was het” hoogtepunt” van Westerse interventiepolitiek in de afgelopen 25 jaar. De aanwezigheid van massavernietigingswapens was de Amerikaanse rechtvaardiging voor het beginnen van deze oorlog, maar toen die er niet bleken te zijn, werd het brengen van democratie tot hoogste doel verheven. Deze doorzichtige verantwoording achteraf had tot dramatisch gevolg dat alle democratieondersteuning in een kwaad daglicht kwam te staan, zoals we nu zien in Oekraïne. Er zijn echter vele goede manieren om van buitenaf de democratisering van landen te ondersteunen.
On Tuesday 20 May a court jury in Moscow convicted five men for the murder of rights activist and investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006. Three of the defendants had previously been acquitted of any involvement in the murder. The defendants all face life imprisonment and announced they will appeal.
On 5 May around 100 activists representing several Kyrgyz nongovernmental organisations held a protest against Kyrgyzstan joining the Russian-led Customs Union. It is not the first time that groups in (potential) member state countries have doubts about this Union.
Since 15 April the Ukrainian government forces have attempted to clear out pro-Russian separatist strongholds in eastern Ukraine. Ten days later, the anti-terror operations are still continuing and the crisis is yet to deescalate. Today, seven people got injured near Odessa when an explosion occurred at a roadblock. On Thursday 24 April at least two separatists died when Ukrainian commandos raided pro-Russian checkpoints around the town of Sloviansk.