The results of a five-day “anonymous” Russian military intervention in Crimea make it possible to draw some practical conclusions. Firstly, Ukrainian citizens, military units and public in Crimea have shown themselves as true patriots of Ukraine, defended and supported their fatherland as much as they could in an incredibly difficult situation, when interventionists were ready to shoot to kill. Unfortunately, this cannot be said about some self-proclaimed bodies of power and high-ranking officials in Crimea, who began to act, in the presence of invaders, against the interests of Ukraine in contravention of this country’s law.
MARCH 4, 2014 / REUTERS photo
Secondly, the Ukrainian side has quite adequately classified the actions of the Russian military as a gross provocation aimed at stirring up hostility and confrontation in society, fueling a civil war, bringing the military of Ukraine and Russia into conflict and, hence, unleashing military actions and putting the blame on the Ukrainian side. Social networking sites have made public an intercepted conversation between Putin and the commander of the army grouping that illegally entered Crimea. Tellingly, a voice that resembles that of Putin asks: “Why are they not shooting? Do you provoke them well?” The general answers: “We provoke them well, but they won’t shoot!” “And what are they doing?” “They’re telling us to f*** off.” As we can see, the self-restraint, legitimate actions, heroism, and staunchness of the Ukrainian servicemen proved good and made it possible to avoid bloodshed in the five days of intervention. Incidentally, Yevhen Marchuk, ex-chief of the Security Service of Ukraine, ex-minister of defense, told the other day about the potential of our military and every citizen in a TVi program: “Although the Ukrainian authorities should not give in to Russian provocations and fire the first shot, they must still take measures to train the military forces in a way that excludes shooting. We can as well conduct exercises and regroupings on our territory. I know that the current government is appointing uniformed services heads by a quota principle. This must be forgotten. We must see today professionals who have shown themselves to advantage in critical situations. Speaking in terms of the beginning of a war, the mobilization potential may be playing some role, but in Crimea the ratio between our and Russian potentials is about 10 to 1 in favor of Russia. For this reason, we should plan our actions with due account of the international political situation and our contacts with European and worldwide security organizations. Besides, it will take two-three weeks, if not more, to tap this potential. We can also make use of territorial defense, which is neither an attack nor a provocation – it is just protection. Soldiers, officers, and generals, you should know that we are proud of those who displayed heroic staunchness and even came out unarmed in front of an armed detachment to defend their military unit. We are with you. I think it would be a very good idea to write letters to these units so that everybody could support, in their own way, the military who serve in Crimea.”
Our correspondent has spoken to Refat Chubarov, Chairman of the Majlis of the Crimean Tatar People, member of the Supreme Council of Crimea.
The self-restraint and patriotism of Ukrainian servicemen in Crimea keep interventionists from carrying out their plans
Refat Bey, has the publication of Putin’s order to cease the exercise and take the troops back to their quarters changed the situation in Crimea?
“As far as I can see, the order is about an exercise in Russia near the border of Ukraine. This does not seem to concern Ukraine and Crimea because the situation in the cities and near military bases remains difficult and Russian servicemen continue to block [Ukrainian] military units. By all accounts, they are not going to return to the places they are stationed in. In any case, we should quietly wait for March 7, the date indicated in the order, but the situation has not yet changed now. The Russian military seem to be carrying out an order other than the published one, and Crimeans have ample grounds to believe in the end of the so-called war games – they are still more preoccupied with likely provocations and tricks in what the Russians are saying because their actions are diametrically opposite. Besides, we are doubtful that all this intervention may be called an exercise: during an exercise, not matter what it is like, troops do not enter the territory of another state, do not seize the governmental offices of this state, do not raise their flag over them, do not replace officials by their military advisors, do not turn them into puppets, do not block military units of the neighboring states, do not try to bribe their servicemen, do not threaten their families, do not support illegitimate bodies of power, and do not hold referendums. All this means that what we see is not at all an exercise in reality, and these events must be interpreted in terms of international law. At the same time, the performance of public administration bodies in the cities and villages, in which the military of a foreign state interfere, cannot be effective or simply normal as long as the military remain on the streets rather than in barracks.”
What is the mood of Crimean Tatars today?
“The people are still afraid of provocations. Earlier last night some unknown individuals walked through the villages, marking the houses of Crimean Tatars with some special signs. This is why all our residences are being guarded by self-defense units. The promises of portfolios in the ‘new government,’ allocation of major funds, and ‘powers that you have never had before’ is just an attempt to buy us, win us over, and use us to legitimize unlawful decisions and the very existence [of this government]. In exchange for this, the new authorities are in fact asking us to agree to live by the laws of a foreign state in order to legitimize the unlawful referendum. But we know only too well that these promises will end as soon as the authorities make full use of us for their own reinforcement. We therefore think that Crimea must remain as part of Ukraine and legality must be fully restored in the country.
“We also believe that the current Crimean authorities, whose legitimacy is highly questionable, should do entirely different things instead of dishing out mythical promises. In our view, the Supreme Council of Crimea and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine should urgently form an ad hoc parliamentary group, as they did in 1994 when this group was headed by Borys Oliinyk, and discuss, firstly, the causes of and the measures to overcome this crisis, and, secondly, the range of powers for the autonomous republic and its relationship with the center, as well as a comprehensive solution of the entire Crimean Tatar problem – from the legal, political, economic, financial, humanitarian, and other angles.”
As is known, the Turkish government and non-governmental organizations, your fellow compatriots in Turkey, were saying during the Russian intervention in Crimea that they were ready to offer Crimea all kinds of support…
“Yes, real life has shown that the state, which has always been imposing itself as Ukraine’s ‘friend and brother,’ turned out in reality to be an interventionist, and its actions have resulted in the aggravation of relations with some ethnic-cultural non-governmental organizations which turned out to be unpatriotic, resorted to all kinds of provocations, and finally sided with the forces that are unfriendly to Ukraine. At the same time, the faraway Turkey, an overseas NATO member which Russian propaganda used to dub as unfriendly country, has in reality expressed full support and readiness to help Crimea solve a lot of problems and ease our sufferings.”