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Ukraine And European Security - International Mechanisms
As Non-Military Options For National Security Of Ukraine.

Bohdan Lupiy
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GoChapter 1. National Security Of Ukraine

Section 2 Sectoral Analysis of Ukraine's National Security

2.1 Political Dimension

Ukraine's current political system presents a mixture of parliamentary-republican, presidential, and Soviet-type components of state's rule. Consequently, this political system exhibits many internal controversies. The most crucial among them is the governing structure of the state - a choice between presidential or parliamentary republic, and between federal or unitarian state model. Remarkable unclarity survives also in the areas of public administration, separation of responsibilities between the executive and legislative branches of power and in the center-periphery relationship.

In addition, from the very beginning of its independence, Ukraine has faced a threat of regional separatism, resulting from deep country's division along geographical, cultural and linguistic lines. It was clearly manifested by 1994 Presidential elections - while Western Ukraine voted overwhelmingly for Leonid Kravchuk, who was largely perceived as a guarantor of Ukraine's independence and strong European orientation, the Eastern part and the Crimea overwhelmingly supported Leonid Kuchma, who advocated closer relations with Russia and the CIS.

In order to study given section, it is useful to specify three main regions of Ukraine, which have been inclined to the secession. Geographically they constitute triangle, which spreads from the Eastern areas (Lugansk and Donbas oblast') to the Western regions of Transcarpathia (Chernivtsi oblast') and Northern Bukovina, and closing on the South by the Crimean peninsula.(7) Each of these areas presents its own case in relationship to the policy of central government, as well as in Ukraine's relations with other states in the CEE region.

Eastern Ukraine

Eastern Ukrainian region accounts a largest rural area in Ukraine, where located country's key industries, which produce 45 per cent of the state industrial output.(8) Surviving big economic difficulties and populated by considerably large amount of the Russians: 43,6 per cent in Donetsk region and 44,8 per cent in Lugansk (9), this part of Ukraine became quite accessible to the political influence of neighbouring Russia.

At the same time, Ukrainian leadership was not able to introduce any efficient strategy for the solution of economic problems in the region. As the result, several oppositional organizations and worker's movements have appeared in this area, which presented strong potential in calls for regional economic autonomy and in encouraging closer links with Russia and the CIS soon after the proclamation of Ukraine's sovereignty in 1990.(10)

For example, three months after the Declaration on Sovereignty, 'The Donbas Intermovement', founded in December, 1990 campaigned for a local referendum on the question of joining Donetsk oblast' to the USSR as a subject of the federation if Ukraine did not sign a new Union treaty".(11)

The idea was not accepted by the central republican government and since Ukraine proclaimed its State Independence on 24 August, 1991 and later on, failed to introduce efficient solutions for regional economic issues, there have been a wide range of strikes demanding the creation of a free trade zone within the Donbas.(12)

Repeatedly, the strikes in June 1993 forced central Ukrainian authorities to make a series of political and economic concessions to the Donbas. At that time, Ukrainian leaders were more successful in handling regional issues and generally satisfied the calls of strikers by implementing new salary levels. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk has also stressed that the region will be granted certain forms of economic autonomy. The presidential idea was not however, supported by a majority of Ukrainian leaders, who have continued to support state unitary system and recognized federalization as action that inevitably "would heat up the political temperature in the West [of Ukraine] and greatly complicate economic reforms."(13)

The next wave of regional demands has taken place at the beginning of 1994, through Ukraine dropped even deeper into economic crisis. On 27 March 1994, when the elections to the new Ukrainian Parliament took place, the inhabitants of Donetsk region have provided a referendum on the status of Russian language and the state structure of Ukraine. Around 90 per cent voted to have Russian as the state language and roughly, the same populace was in favour of Donbas federation and Ukraine's close engagement in the CIS.(14)

Until recently, above-stated movements have not been able to achieve mass support of population, nevertheless, the deepening economic recession, leading to the country's economic bewilderment would inevitably increase their status among public. The current shape of political environment at the region remains comparatively unstable, what was shown by the strikes in early 1996. Many analysts assert that if economic and social circumstances in Ukraine are not stabilized in the nearest term, Kiev would face a serious threat to its integrity from the potential pro-Russian 'fifth columns' within the state.(15)

This assumption can be justified by the sociological data, which shows that majority of Donbas' population refers its charges to the settlement of regional economic issues and 73 per cent consider the best resolution for them through reintegration of the former Soviet republics within the CIS.(16)

The situation has also been often complicated by the fact, that "some Russian nationalist organizations clearly regard Eastern and Southern Ukraine as historically Russian territories".(17) For many of them "Ukraine is a fragile, artificial, heterogenous ethno-political formation lacking any real chance of the formation of its own statehood..."(18)

Southern-Western Ukraine, TransCarphatia and Norther Bukovina

The ethnic groups, living in Transcarphatia have presented distinctive challenge to independent Ukraine because of their varying historical experience and in some cases, of links with their ethnic homelands. And regarding its history and diverse ethnic distribution, which transcended its geographical features, this region have become the scene of contending national aspirations since the first days of Ukraine's sovereignty.

Before the collapse of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, which hold some parts of this region, the ethnic conflicts on the peripheral areas were less important, then tensions within the core-lands of the empire. Since 1918 and until the end of the Second World War, when the USSR imposed its govern on this area, ethnic disputes and territorial claims had been essential points in political agenda and caused many security troubles for Europe. Again, when the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, these issues reemerged, as a suggestive element in the domestic and inter-state affairs.(19)

Scholars studying Ukraine admit that, in its essence Transcarphatia presents to Ukraine largely ethnic challenge of two minority groups - the Hungarians and Ruthenians.(20) In 1990-1991 these ethnic communities have expressed a wish for some degree of the political and economic autonomy.(21) Some political organizations however, mainly Ruthenian, have demanded the status of an autonomous republic to the Transcarphatia and even secession from Ukraine.

For instance, the leaders of the Ruthenian Association of Subcarpathia (RAS) encouraged the formation of several radical organizations, which elevated extremist atmosphere within the Ruthenian community. In September, 1990 the RAS authorized a declaration 'On the Return of the Status of an Autonomous Republic to the Zakarpattya Oblast', which refused the legitimacy of all Soviet acts regarding Transcarphatia's unification with the Ukrainian SSR in 1946.(22)

The declaration has not met any respective response and in December 1991 the Council of RAS sent a letter with demands on incorporation with Czechoslovakia to the Chairman of the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly, Aleksandr Dubchek, who however, disregarded it.(23)

Afterward, in May 1993 the Association set up a "provisional government of Ruthenia", which asked the UN, as well as foreign governments, for recognition of Transcarphatia's independence.(24) Another oppositional movement, the Subcarphatian Republican Party, have demanded the recognition of Ruthenians, as a distinct people from the Ukrainians and called "for the transformation of Zakarpattya into an independent and neutral state".(25) Both claims have naturally met no international response.

As many Ukrainian political observes admit, the authority of separatist Ruthenian organizations within the Carphatian population has been very low until now and their political activities have never been supported neither by Slovakia, nor by the local regional administration. In reality, Ruthenian dilemma is rather a legacy of Ukrainian history, aggravated by unclear and disputable identification of the Ukrainians in the Transcarphatia, than simply political issue. Its resolution needs effective technique of collaboration of diverse national communities and ethno-cultural groups in domestic tactic of Ukrainian leadership. The required patterns of this policy will be discussed it the following sectoral analysis. (See: 'Societal Sector' of this chapter).

Unlike the Ruthenians, who have no home-land, Hungarian minority is actively dealing with its historical motherland. The Hungarians in Transcarphatia comprise total only about 200,000 nevertheless, they represent significant political force in the region.(26)

The first Hungarian organizations in Transcarphatia appeared before the proclamation of Ukraine's independence, as for instance, the Hungarian Cultural Association of Subcarphatia founded in February 1989. Being under the Soviet rule, these movements have been established primarily with the goal of cultural activities and while entering the political sphere of newly independent Ukraine, some of these organizations have appeared with new tasks and began to advocate the establishment of a free economic zone with a special self-governing status for the region (27).

The draft law on Transcarphatian autonomy, which indicated, "that Transcarphatia would be subordinated only to Ukraine's Parliament and the Head of the State" was sent to the Verhovna Rada (*) in the spring of 1992. Although, this demand has not been satisfied, Ukraine has succeeded in providing a broad spectrum of possibilities for cultural development of Hungarian minority, attested to the State Treaty of 1993 with Hungary.(28)

In early May 1993 the Hungarian parliament, however, temporarily delayed ratification of the Hungarian-Ukrainian State Treaty because of heated debates inspired by Hungarian right-wing nationalist movement "Hungarian Road" headed by Istvan Csurka. The movement issued a statement criticizing the treaty as it restrains any border revisions in future.(29)

The secessionists trends within Hungarian minority in Transcarphatia are very low - only 12,5 per cent of them are attracted by the idea of Hungarian citizenship and such excite policy of Hungarian radicals is not likely to meet the support.(30) Yet, coinciding with pro-Slovakian feelings among some Ruthenian political groups, in the case of imaginable decline of economic well-being, these people can become another centrifugal force to grow - economic recession is perhaps, only significant factor, which could increase the secessionist tendencies within the Hungarians in Transcarphatia.(31)

Besides the Transcarphatian issues, the legacy of European history has also challenged Ukraine by political problems in the regions of Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia. The political anxiety of these areas presents however, rather external security confront to Kiev, aggravated by controversies in Ukraine's relations with Romania and to a lesser extent by past altercations with Moldova.

Soon after the 1991 Referendum on Ukrainian independence, the Romanian government has renounced the 1961 Soviet-Romanian border treaty and recognized the results of the referendum in the territory of Bukovina as void. Following these events, Romanian opposition has openly advocated the reunification of the "Greater Romania" through reincorporation of Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia regions.(32)

The situation has also been negatively developed, when territorial claims on Northern Bukovina, were expressed by certain political figures in Moldova, which they considered to be an integral part of the territories, controlled by Moldova since 1940.(33)

In addressing the latter dispute, Kiev took a very cautious position - it restrained from interfering in the Transdnistrian conflict in Moldova, where considerable amount of the Ukrainians live (around 28 percent) and offered diplomatic mediatory assistance in resolution of (Russian- Moldovan issues over presence of 14th Russian Army in the region.(34) Recognizing friendly efforts of Ukraine, Moldovan leaders precisely submitted their recognition of the territorial integrity of Ukraine by signing a treaty on friendship and cooperation with Ukraine in 1993.

Effectively settled the dispute with Moldova, Ukraine has deteriorated to deal with Romania. During the 1992-1993 Romanian government tacitly followed its vague position and in April 1993, Ukrainian President Kravchuk raised this question at the meeting with the Chairman of the Romanian Parliament's Chamber of Deputies. The territorial debates, however, were put aside of discussion and practical consensus has not been reached during all succeeding meetings between officials of both sides. Still, the territorial issue remains undecided and in June 1995 President Kuchma cancelled his planed official visit to Bucharest because of no progress at the bilateral negotiations.

Whereas Romanian leaders have not stated their acceptance of existing borders with Ukraine, Kiev considers such position as a desire to leave the place for future territorial revisions.

Although a conflict between Ukraine and Romania is very unlikely, the border tensions restrain the development of bilateral relations, as well as threaten to Ukraine's internal political and societal order. Contemporary degree of Ukrainian-Romanian negotiations gives a room for activities of some secessionist groups within the Romanian community in Ukraine.(35)

Hence, there is an urgent need for signing of bilateral agreements between Ukraine and Romania, which will cancel any possibilities for border changes and suspend the potentiality of the domestic separatists.


The Crimean Autonomous Republic presents the biggest controversy over the national security of Ukraine and directly affects its internal and external dimensions. First and foremost, this dilemma is unique regarding to various factors mixed up in it: strategic regional interests of Russia, the division of the Black Sea Fleet, separatism of the Crimean pro-Russian political forces, and problems of the Crimean Tatars' resettlement. All these components have always complicated Kiev's attempts to strengthen its position on the peninsula.

As early as in September 1991 the Crimean Parliament proclaimed Crimean sovereignty, "as a part of Ukraine". Though on the State Referendum of 1 December, 1991 the majority of the Crimean population voted for independence, the peninsula remained a place with strong pro-Russian tendencies and many Russian politicians have tried to exploit this to gain political profits.

On 23 January 1992 the Russian parliament passed a resolution to analyze the status of the Crimea, which was transferred from Russian SSR to Ukraine in 1954.(36) The reaction of the Ukrainian parliament was sharply negative: this step was seen as a particular sign of the reviving Russian imperialism.

Following these events, Nikolaj Bahrov, then the Head of the Crimean Supreme Soviet, rose up a question for more prerogatives for local authorities on the peninsula from Kiev and on February 26, 1992 the Crimean Supreme Council voted to change the status of the Crimean Autonomy to that of the Republic of Crimea. The Parliament also adopted a draft of the Constitution, which defined the republic's legal status as a state, with its citizenship and ownership rules, as well as relations with other countries.(37)

The tensions over Crimean issue further intensified when former Vice-President of the Russian Federation Rutskoi claimed the secession of the peninsula from Ukraine in time of his unofficial visit to Sevastopol. His claims must have been heard: a month later, on May 5, 1992 Crimea proclaimed independence, thus provoking negative reaction from Kiev. Trying to pacify strong position of the Crimean leadership, Ukrainian leaders granted the peninsula by expanded autonomy and its status was changed from autonomous oblast' to the "Autonomous Republic of Crimea".(38) This move somehow helped to reduce tensions between Kiev and Simferopol(39) and drove the Crimean Parliament to delay its previous resolutions on complete separation from Ukraine.

In September 1992 the Crimean parliament adopted amendments to its Constitution, which demarcated Crimea's local powers and the Ukrainian law. Adopted acts were completed in general and gave a place for many controversies. For example, the acts on the Crimean citizenship provided that "Every Crimean citizen is simultaneously a Ukrainian citizen, [but] Crimeans reserve the right to have dual citizenship".(40)

Meanwhile, the secessionist movements in Crimea strengthened their position and pro-Russian political parties elevated their calls for a complete separation from Ukraine, gaining eager support among the public. On 14 October, 1993 Crimean parliament proclaimed presidential elections. And on 16 January 1994 the local deputy, Yuri Meshkov, became the president of Crimea.

Being a leader of the radical Russian Movement of Crimea, Meshkov openly propagated pro-Russian principles during his pre-election campaign. Since he became a President, Crimean authorities significantly moved their policy to distance the peninsula from Ukraine and link it to Russia.(41)

At the beginning of February, 1994 Meshkov came to Moscow and attempted to meet with Boris Yeltsin and Victor Chernomyrdin to discuss Russian-Crimean relations. As both Russian leaders refused to meet him,(42) Meshkov however has continued to provide anti-Ukrainian policy, which finally resulted in a highest confrontation between Kiev and Simferopol during 1994-1995.

After the 1994 presidential elections in Ukraine, Kiev's tactic in settling the Crimean dilemma has become stricter, although confined to legal constitutional actions. On September 22, 1994 the Verkhovna Rada passed a resolution on "Political and Legal Situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea", which required the Crimean parliament to approximate the Crimean Constitution and peninsula's legislation with Ukrainian law.

When Crimean law-makers rejected to introduce all required revisions and amendments, the Parliament of Ukraine approved a new resolution in November 1994, which stated a cluster of Crimean laws as invalid and contradicting the Constitution of Ukraine.(43)

In March 1995, when the Crimean political developments reached a new level of confrontation, the Verkhovna Rada approved several laws and resolutions, which finally cancelled the Crimean presidency, and re-established a status of the Crimean autonomy within Ukraine, abolished the 1992 Crimean Constitution and cancelled a number of laws contradicting Ukraine's legislation.(44) Finally, on March 31, 1995 President Kuchma issued a decree which subjected the Crimean government directly to the Council of Ministers of Ukraine.

Since then, the Crimean problem has seemed to be temporarry fixed, newertheless, the peninsula continues to be a plausible area of instability and tension. In this respect, a lot depends on Russia's controversial stance towards the problem. Although Moscow's official response of the Crimean crisis has been to consider the developments at the peninsula as an "internal affair" of Ukraine,(45) Russian Parliament issued a statement expressing "serious concern on the perspectives of Russian-Ukrainian relations"(46) and invited delegates of the Crimean parliament to visit Moscow. Afterwards, one Crimean deputy said that pro-Russian forces in Simferopol were just "for the time being forced to hide [their] pro-Russian principles and wait for more favourable conditions ..., if only a change of government in Russia".(47)

Most Ukrainian officials have stressed several times that Crimea is not an ethnic issue of large Russian minority living there, but the political one, "exarbated by actions of outside powers".(48) Certainly, if the Crimean Russians are intent to reintegrate with Russia, no amount of political and cultural compromises by Ukraine will perhaps satisfy their charges. And one of the effective solutions for the Crimean circumstances for both Ukraine and Russia, might be a bi-lateral agreement, codifying all political and territorial relations between the states. The possibility of signing of such a treaty is still vague, because of many critical controversies, which will be discussed in the following units of this study.

The solution for the Crimean issue is further complicated by the return of the Crimean Tatars, indigenous population of Crimea, expatriated from their motherland by Stalin in 1944-1946. Through the Tatars started to return to the Crimea merely after the Gorbachev reforms, they constituted weighty element in political life of the region.

Being comparatively small community Tatars have established solid political movements, which became strategic partner of Ukrainian leadership in the peninsula under the constant tensions with radical elements within pro-Russian population,(49) through they view Kiev as the guarantor of their political and cultural rights.(50)

The Tatar-Slav ethnic problems in Crimea have also arisen primarily due to the unstable political climate and the dismal economic situation, in which Tatars found themselves after return. The Soviet-organized migration of 1950th took over all Tatars property and after coming back to the homelands, many of them rose the demands on return of their original habitation.(51) These calls have also been predicamented by opposition of some local social groups to Tatars' resettlement on the peninsula and unchecked crime activities, as far as Crimea takes the top point at the list of crime activities among Ukrainian oblasts.(52) Negatively aggravated by radically oriented political forces, Tatar's demands resulted in several conflicts with local population.(53)

A possibility of ethnic clash between Tatars and Slav Crimeans is unlikely. Nevertheless, the question of Tatars' continuing resettlement in this region still might pose a notable risk of conflict, which should not be underestimated as a security option.

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