Counterspin: Russia Interfered In Ukraine’s Internal Affairs, Despite Baznikin’s Claims
Russia’s ambassador to the country, Sergei Baznikin, argues that Russia’s priority is not confrontation, but providing security and conditions for a prosperous development of the country in peaceful conditions. But the facts are the opposite – Russia has officially acknowledged the existence of two separatist republics on the territory of Ukraine, which is a direct interference in the internal affairs of the country. This violates the foundations of international law and principles, because the recognition of these two separatist republics, and then the deployment of military forces in them, undermines the integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine in its territories recognized by the UN and the countries of the world
Author: Meri Jordanovska
Two days after Russia unilaterally acknowledged the existence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, Russia’s ambassador to the Republic of North Macedonia, Sergei Baznikin, posted a video on Facebook on the occasion of Defender of the Fatherland Day. In the message conveyed by Ambassador Baznikin, several spins are identified that do not correspond to the real situation related to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.
Spin: We are witnessing an intensification of militaristic rhetoric, frequent cases of provocations near our borders, intensification of arms deliveries to our neighbor – Ukraine.
[Source: Address by Russian Ambassador Sergei Baznikin on Facebook, date: 23.02.2022]
Counterspin: The delivery of weapons is not prohibited and it is true that some countries deliver weapons to Ukraine, which is a sovereign country and has every right to demand it from other countries. This should not be placed in the context of militaristic rhetoric or provocations near the borders but in the context of defending the state if its sovereignty is threatened.
The Ukrainian army needs weapons, as Russia has modernized its armed forces in recent years. Ukraine, on the other hand, inherited an arsenal of weapons after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but much of it was sold abroad and no investment was made in buying new ones. Today the state uses equipment that was produced in the seventies and eighties of the last century.
In addition, Ukraine has no choice but to do everything it can to defend itself if we acknowledge the fact that in the past 6-8 months on its eastern and northern borders, those with Russia and Belarus, between 150-190 thousand Russian troops have been accumulated with heavy offensive weapons (tanks, infantry armored vehicles, multi-barreled rocket launchers, long-range self-propelled artillery, ballistic missiles), but also other medical devices, such as large amounts of blood and blood plasma for transfusion, and recently preparation of Polish hospitals near the border, which unequivocally means that preparations are being made for offensive military operations deep in the territory of Ukraine.
In such a situation, no country can be blamed for preparing for its own defence. Aside from the fact that the “intensification of militaristic rhetoric“, according to Ambassador Baznikin, occurs only after the accumulation of troops on the border with Ukraine has become more certain, more visible and clearer. Prior to that, deliveries of defence weapons to Ukraine from Western partners took place through pre-agreed plans, after the necessary preparations had been made, as well as through smaller quantities.
In addition, weapons supplied by certain countries are for defence purposes only. In January, Ukraine received light anti-tank defence systems from Britain as part of international technical assistance, and Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Petrenko said the weapons would be used for defence purposes only.
As early as 2017, the United States approved a plan to deliver weapons to Ukraine in order to strengthen the Ukrainian army, which was fighting Russian-backed separatists.
In 2014, however, NATO officials stated that the Alliance would not send weapons to Ukraine, which is not a member state, but that individual members have every right to choose whether or not to do so. Therefore, the intensification of arms deliveries is completely justified, given the fact that there is a real conflict in eastern Ukraine, and the United Nations estimates that from 2014 to February 2022 in the country were killed from 14,200 to 14,400 people, of which at least 3,407 civilians, 4,400 members of the Ukrainian security forces and 6,500 members of armed groups.
Spin: The risks of slipping into a spiral of confrontation leading to the abyss increase. I emphasize – our country has no aggressive intentions towards any other country. We do not threaten anyone. Our priority is not confrontation, but providing security and conditions for peaceful, prosperous development of the country in peaceful conditions.
Counterspin: The very recognition of the borders of the two separatist republics violates the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and the risk increases, because on the territory of these two separatist republics there are areas under the control of the Ukrainian government, i.e. the army. Therefore, it can not be said that Russia has no aggressive intentions towards any other country, with the very entry of a sovereign state into the territory of the Russian armed forces.
The recognition of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic in Ukraine took place on Monday. The two republics have not been recognized by any member of the United Nations, and hours after the recognition, Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the Ministry of Defense to “ensure the maintenance of peace in these republics by the Russian armed forces.” Putin received acclamation from the upper house of the Russian Duma for the use of the army outside the country.
With the deployment of more than 150,000 troops and heavy weapons near the border with Ukraine, one can not speak of “development in peaceful conditions.” Three weeks ago, Ukraine called on Russia to withdraw its forces along the border between the two countries and resume dialogue with the West if it wants to seriously reduce tensions.
Although Moscow has denied that it wants to invade Ukraine, developments on the ground cannot be put in the context of “peace and security” rhetoric.
Spin: We stand for the rule of international law and its basic principles, such as non-interference in internal affairs and the peaceful settlement of all disputes.
Counterspin: Ambassador Baznikin’s own statement is a spin, given the fact that Russia has officially acknowledged the existence of two separatists “republics” on Ukrainian territory, which is a direct interference in the internal affairs of the country. This violates the foundations of international law and principles, because the recognition of these two separatist republics, and then the deployment of military forces in those territories, undermines the integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine in its territories recognized by the UN and the countries of the world. At the same time, there is strong military-political pressure on Ukraine to respond to the demands and conditions set by Russia, but it ignores all warnings from the international community, the EU, the United States and NATO.
Spin: We propose to build relations on the basis of a generally recognized document – the UN Charter.
Counterspin: The Charter of the United Nations, inter alia, stipulates that states will resolve any international dispute by peaceful means and in a manner that does not endanger international peace, security and justice, and that within the framework of their international relations they will not use threats, or use force.
On the other hand, in the speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he tried to minimize Ukraine as an “artificial creation, inseparable from Russia”, i.e. a vague entity, and the speech contained subtle threats to security.
The reality is that Ukrainian culture and language have existed for centuries. While parts of present-day Ukraine were part of the Russian Empire, the rest of the country was, at various times in history, under the control of Poland, Lithuania, and Austria-Hungary.
In addition, when a national referendum in 1991 gave Ukrainians the choice to stay with Russia, 84 percent of eligible voters went to the polls – and more than 90 percent voted for independence.
Given all these arguments, Ambassador Baznikin’s address can be seen as a narrative full of spins and in support of the current offensive and threatening foreign policy of the Russian Federation, in which arguments and facts are increasingly lacking and because of the intensified rattling of weapons, but also because of the dangerous spins, which aim to justify the increasingly likely violence in the near future. If violence prevails over diplomacy and arguments, then such spins can only be expected to intensify in number and intensity.