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Ukraine And European Security - International Mechanisms
As Non-Military Options For National Security Of Ukraine.
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Chapter 1. National Security Of Ukraine
Section 2 Sectoral Analysis of Ukraine's National Security
2.2 Military sector
Discussing the military dimension of Ukraine's security it should be noted that almost all state borders in the region of the Central and Eastern Europe have been historically disputed. The boundaries of Ukraine with its neighbours are no exception.
Having regarded territorial integrity and preservation of political institutions as a primary objective of the military sector, one can consider the existence of external risks to Ukrainian state integrity - as it was discussed before, the most serious disputes over Ukrainian borders can be recognized in the Romanian and Russian cases.
Romania used to possess the territory of the Northern Bukovina, which now belongs to Ukraine and, commonly with Russia remains the only CEE neighbouring country with no friendship agreement has been signed so far. Given dilemma nevertheless, can be considered rather as temporary issue, which depends simply on signing of bilateral treaty between the two states, which should promote and guarantee mutual recognition of territorial integrity.
In contrast, Ukrainian-Russian relations contain themselves much more difficult matters. Quite perceptible military threat to Ukraine appears, for instance in Russia's State Security Concept and Defence Doctrine - two documents, which distinctively submit Russian policy since 1993.
Simultaneously with famous for Western political scholars confusing provision for nuclear weapons' use in response to a conventional attack, Russian doctrine also warns Ukraine concerning the question of protection of Russian minority (or even Russian speaking population) living in Ukraine(54). Existence of the largest among CIS statesRussian minority in Ukraine and considerably big amount of Russian-speaking population,(55) make such provision to be a possible pretext for interference in Ukrainian internal affairs. As Charles Dick points out that, instead of massive military attack, "Russia would well embark on a limited military intervention described as peacekeeping or defending the rights and interests of Russophones. This would be a relatively "low risk" strategy, both militarily and in terms of international relations".(56) Implying on this suggestion Alexander Goncharenko of RUSI Institute in London realistically recognizes that "such scenario, taking into account the mentality and military potentials of Western and Eastern Ukraine [pro-European mentality vise-versa pro-Russian] would inevitably lead to full scale Civil War well beyond Ukrainian borders".(57)
The next, and currently most feasible source of possible military security risk consists of the issues over the division of the Black Sea Fleet (BSF). Coinciding with separatist tendencies in the Crimea, the military presence of both Ukraine and Russia on the Black Sea basin is currently of particular concern, which highly endanger entire East European area.
Despite that during recent decades the fleet played a secondary role in the Soviet Naval Forces, the question of it however, was raised on the agenda in both Kiev and Moscow soon after the emergence of independent Ukraine. Since that time Ukrainian leaders have considered it as a test case for Ukrainian integrity, the presence of foreign troops on its territory and the establishment of the Ukrainian Navy.
The Russian side has been directly involved in this dilemma because of its military units stationed in the region and country's strategic interests and especially, the "countering the threat embodied by U.S. Naval Forces deployed in the Mediterranean"(58).
The tensions over the Fleet started in early April 1992 when Boris Yeltsin pronounced a confused warning to Ukraine not to pretend on the Fleet.(59) This declaration coincided also with appeals of Russian Vice-President Rutskoi to secession of Crimea from Ukraine.
A few days later when Leonid Kravchuk issued a decree, announcing the creation of the Ukrainian Naval Forces and appointment of the Navy Commanding Staff,(60) Russian response to Ukraine's moves in the Navy establishment was rather aggressive - Black Sea Fleet Commander Admiral Igor Kasatonov denounced the Ukrainian presidential decree as illegal and on the 7th of April, Boris Yeltsin proclaimed the Fleet to be under the Russian jurisdiction.
Very soon, however, both presidents decided to soften the situation, by suspending their proclamations and deciding to negotiate.(61) The temporarily resolution for the dispute came two mounts later, when the parties agreed on the idea of a joint Ukrainian-Russian command of the fleet for a transitional period until 1995.(62) The presidential accord signified also the necessity of the final division of the fleet. It, however, did not indicated the legal principles, which should be allocated for this purpose.(63)
The so-called "dual commanding" of the Fleet led to a deepening confrontation and in fact, it kept the fleet under direct Russian control.(64) The retention of a pro-Russian Commander of the BSF prevented Ukraine from making changes in the Navy and made possible the strict control over fleet personnel by the Russian Ministry of Defence.
The situation continued to worsen and indicated a weakening Ukraine's influence on the Fleet. At the end of May 1993 some 115 ships of the BSF raised Russian St. Andrew flag in protest over salary differences between Russian and Ukrainian sailors and by 5 July, 1993 some 220 ships were reported to carry Russian banner, while only three vessels carried the Ukrainian.(65)
The dilemma over the fleet division continued on the pass of 'low key' meetings on official level until a serious incident between two Navies on April 1994, which hopefully was resolved by peaceful means. On 9 April, 1994 the 'Cheleken' hydrographic vessel belonging to the Black Sea Fleet left the port of Odessa with some valuable equipment on board. The Ukrainian Navy tried to stop 'Cheleken' by exiting the base and sent patrol units. The Russian Naval commanders ordered the 318th Black Sea Fleet division to fire on the Ukrainian Navy. Fortunately, the unit did not open fire, but the incident influenced the two sides to deal again with the fleet division.(66)
The new agreement, quickly developed on April 15, 1994 produced no significant progress. It rather made it necessary to work out the details of division of the fleet on April 22 in Sevastopol by Ukrainian and Russian defence ministers.(67) The results of that attempt, were also not successful, because no one side satisfied its requirements by signing the agreement.(68)
Since President Leonid Kuchma came into power in summer 1994, the Ukrainian viewpoint on the settlement of the Black Sea dilemma has altered and first bi-lateral meetings gave same hope for further resolution of this issue. The Ukrainian diplomatic team become more flexible on the basic stumbling matters, offering new models to share the Navy bases in Crimea with the Russian Fleet. Nevertheless, these negotiations reportedly focused more on improving cooperation between countries, rather than on the division and housing of the fleet.
The serious problem, which always hampered the resolution of further destination of the Fleet is a big gap between the positions of the political and military leadership in making and implementing the decisions. The ignorance of the Ukrainian Naval Commanding by their Russian colleagues during the recent years became even a habit in Russian Navy's General Staff.
Certainly, Russian efforts to circumvent agreed provisions or taking unilateral decisions seriously encourage the falling of discipline among BSF personnel, stimulated destroying of the Fleet's structure and promoting the corruption in some disorganized units.
As the June 1995 Presidential meeting in Sochi has shown, the continuing gap between Russian and Ukrainian positions in the negotiations over the Black Sea Fleet is not easy to bridge. The situation is complicated by the fact that a solution to the existing problems must include parameters which at present seem almost incompatible. For instance, it is still remains indistinct, how it is possible to bind current Ukraine's legislation with the presence of foreign troops on its territory. Yet, no solution was found on how to divide the naval bases and shore infrastructure, which are more valuable than the fleet itself.
In general, besides strained Ukrainian-Russian negotiations over the Friendship Treaty, the presence of the Russian foreign military forces on Ukrainian territory presents a serious challenge to the military sector of Ukraine's security. Although, in the nearest term the armed conflict between two states is unlikely, the small-scale clashes are very probable and present a serious security concerns.