Why should the war between Ukraine and Russia end in Crimea

Why should the war between Ukraine and Russia end in Crimea

Article by Emine Dzhaparova, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine https://zn.ua/eng/why-should-the-war-between-ukraine-and-russia-end-in-crimea.html

In a few days, on August 23, the online summit of the International Crimea Platform (ICP), a key diplomatic platform for the liberation of the peninsula, launched by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, will take place.

Compared to last year, when the solemn inauguration of the Platform took place during the Summit in Kyiv, the situation has changed drastically.

All threats related to the occupation of Crimea have only intensified and become a reality. Last year, during the opening of the first Summit of the International Crimea Platform, the President of Ukraine noted that under the conditions of Russian occupation, the Crimean Peninsula had turned into a “powder keg”. Unfortunately, on February 24 of this year, the full-scale military base, into which the occupiers during eight years systematically turned the Ukrainian tourist pearl — Crimea — has become the base for a new invasion of Ukraine.

Russian troops and military equipment moved from Crimea to occupy the south of Ukraine. From there, rocket attacks are carried out on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure facilities. The Russian troops, which are committing aggression against our state are reinforced through the bridge across the Kerch Strait and the territory of the peninsula. Using temporary control over the peninsula, Russia blocks shipping in the Black Sea, provoking a global food crisis. Crimea appears in the Kremlin’s attempts to internationalize the war, for example by seizing Transnistria and Moldova.

The issue of the de-occupation of Crimea has moved from the level of the need to protect the basic principles of international law to the level of the urgent need to protect the security and stability of the continent.

With its aggression, unimaginable for modern Europe, Russia rallied the world against itself in support of Ukraine to a level that would have seemed impossible even a year ago. We receive unprecedented military, political, economic, and humanitarian aid. However, in return, we also perform an extremely important function – the defender of European security and European values.

Russia must pay with its status as a major regional power, a serious international partner, and a permanent member of the UN Security Council for the criminal and bloody methods of “land acquisition” that Moscow uses to return its starry imperial times. The medieval imperial ideology of the existence and development of this state is incompatible with the modern times and must sink into the past. Ukraine will do everything possible and impossible so that this cleansing process take place.

Crimea, which started this bloody war for the reincarnation of the corpse of the Russian Empire, should become the last point in its completion. Moreover, if all of us, Ukraine, Europe, and the world, want to live in peace and security, in conditions of economic stability and development, this should happen not in decades, but rather quickly. A clear international consensus has already emerged on this issue.

In the fight against the occupier, Ukraine uses all available methods and all available assistance. And, along with the successes of our heroes and heroines from the Armed Forces, strengthened by the support of partners, the political and diplomatic path is also of great help to us. In the fight against such an enemy as Russia, only a full range of methods of international pressure will work to force it to return what it has stolen.

In the new conditions, the International Crimea Platform has not only not lost its relevance. With the approach of real prospects for the liberation of the peninsula and with the growing security risks of the occupation for the region and the world, its importance is even increasing. This applies to all defined areas of activity within the framework of the Platform. It is about improving the policy of non-recognition of annexation attempts, strengthening the effectiveness of sanctions, protecting human rights, safety, and freedom of navigation, overcoming the economic and environmental consequences of occupation and aggression.

During the year, despite the war, we actively worked on the development of the organizational foundations of cooperation in all the mentioned areas. Work was carried out to identify co-leaders in the areas of activity of the International Crimea Platform. The work of the format of contact persons has been started, within which all statements and documents of the Platform are approved, regular information about the situation in Ukraine in the context of Russian aggression has been established. An International Expert Network has been launched, which will provide analytical support for the Platform’s activities.

Together with the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, we are working on the official launch of the parliamentary dimension of the International Crimea Platform and its content. For this purpose, on October 24 in Zagreb, together with Croatia, we are organizing the Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform. We are working on the organization in October-November in one of the capitals of the key annual security event of the ICP — the Black Sea Security Conference.

We expect that the online summit on August 23 will confirm the readiness of the partners to actively work on the de-occupation of Crimea and resolve all problematic issues related to the occupation.

Moreover, the geography of countries in which the importance of ICP activities is recognized is expanding. At the online table of this year’s Summit, there will already be one more full participant — during the year, Liechtenstein joined the International Crimean Platform. In addition, several countries and international organizations that have not yet participated in the activities of the Platform will take part in the Summit. It is important to note that we expect senior representatives from different continents, which will emphasize the interregional nature of the Platform.

As Minister Dmytro Kuleba emphasized, “the signal we are sending to the world by holding this year’s Summit is very simple: under any circumstances, Ukraine will never, under any circumstances, forget about any of its occupied territories, particularly Crimea.”

The rapid exit of problems related to the occupation of Crimea beyond the peninsula means that the geographic sphere of interests of the International Crimean Platform will also expand in a few directions. Even now, when we talk about cooperation within the framework of the International Crimea Platform, we operate with information about the situation in a wider region than Crimea, we constantly inform our partners about military actions in all directions of Russian aggression.

In a short column, it is impossible to analyze in detail all the problems of Crimea and the priorities of the future activities of the International Crimea Platform. But I cannot fail to mention the dramatic deterioration of the human rights situation on the peninsula. For me, this issue is not only professional, but also emotional for a representative of the Crimean Tatar people.

Protests against the temporary occupation of Crimea have not stopped since 2014, and after February 24 they became even more active.

These are individual pickets in the main squares of cities, and the distribution of videos about the oppression and persecution of activists, and posts on social networks and interviews with the truth about Russian aggression. Anti-war posters are pasted in public places, printed materials and leaflets condemning the actions of Russian troops in Ukraine are distributed. In Crimea, the “Yellow Ribbon” movement of resistance to the occupiers began: people tie yellow ribbons and stick up posters with the slogans “Crimea is Ukraine!”, “All the occupiers will be held accountable for the crimes committed.”

There are also more radical individual protest actions. For example, at the beginning of June, Aziz Faizulayev threw a Molotov cocktail at the rural council of the village of Pushkine. He later explained that he did it as a sign of protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On May 16, the Crimean artist Bohdan Azizov (Ziza) poured yellow and blue paint over the doors and facade of the city administration of Yevpatoria, after which he threw a Molotov cocktail into the building as a sign of protest against the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation of Ukraine.

People who resist are brought to administrative or criminal responsibility by the occupational authorities. Here are just a few examples. Crimean Tatar human rights defender Abdureshit Jepparov was arrested for 15 days for an “anti-war” interview with Ukrainian media. In that interview, he told how the so-called Russian special operation affects life on the peninsula. Susanna Bezazieva, a teacher at one of Dzhankoy’s schools, was fired and fined for talking to students at recess, during which she said that the Russian war against Ukraine was illegal and that the Russians were killing many Ukrainians. Cases of threats and torture of detainees are also recorded. As the relatives suspect, this happened during the arrest of the artist Azizov, who was forced to record a so-called “confession” on video, which was later published by local propaganda media.

On the peninsula, the sense of approaching liberation from the Russian occupation literally hangs in the air. And this activates both those who have been fighting for freedom for more than eight years, and those who stand in defense of the occupation. The occupiers began to act against their opponents much more sharply and cruelly, disregarding not only international law, but also Russian legislation. In the conditions of the war, its initiators are no longer concerned about preserving even the illusory legality and decency of their actions in Crimea.

And this means an increase in the number of groundless searches, detentions and bans on activities, illegal court sentences and disappearances.

Nariman Dzhelyal, a well-known Ukrainian Crimean Tatar journalist and politician, Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, who was actually detained for participating in the first, inaugural Summit of the International Crimea Platform, is still in prison. For us, participants of the Platform, his release should become not only a matter of restoring justice, but a matter of honor.

More than 120 Ukrainians are in prison for political reasons.

It is necessary to use all the international political potential, all the possibilities of putting pressure on Russia for the immediate release of all illegally imprisoned Ukrainian citizens of Crimea.

I am convinced that the International Crimea Platform will help coordinate international efforts in this direction.

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