2018 year was extremely full of international events significant for Ukraine in the context of restraining Russia, de-occupation of Crimea and the Donbas. Several new packages of sanctions are introduced against the Russian Federation, as well as a meeting between Trump and Putin were held, after which the US Department of State issued the Crimean declaration that confirms the permanence of the Washington's policy. In spite of the importance of this document it only fixes the current situation and does not offer new solutions. Meanwhile, it is obvious that the efforts on Crimean de-occupation need to be increased.

In the framework of the Yalta European strategy conference the panel discussion named “Crimean declaration: what is next?” was held in Kyiv on September 14.

Status quo

According to the estimates of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a lot is being done for the de-occupation of Crimea, both from Ukrainian side and at a higher level.

"This is, informing our partners and international community about situation in Crimea regarding the status of human rights violations, militarization of the peninsula and those processes that occur in the Crimean society," considers Oleh Herasymenko, Ambassador-at-large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

According to him, the important component of the work of the Ukrainian diplomacy is to bring the Russian Federation to justice in international courts.

“This is the work of accepting documents that would reflect the realities that exist in Crimea and those legal qualifications that should be applied to the actions of Russia. These documents are the basis for international jurisdictions: the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), arbitration tribunals,” believes the diplomat.

But the most important thing, according to the diplomat, is to increase the pressure on Russia to force the Kremlin to withdraw from Crimea.

“This is the work proving to our partners the need of countering the Russian occupation. Here I include the problem of sanctions, the measures that we ask our partners to implement on an international scale. This work brings its results. Of course, we would like the sanctions to be increased, but nowadays we have the level of sanctions that exists,” says Herasymenko.

The latter direction is the most important and it can cause some problems.

“The US has a very strong position. Crimean sanctions are tied to the territorial integrity of Ukraine and to the fact of returning Crimea to Ukraine, while a situation in Europe is different. Crimean sanctions must be confirmed by the European Parliament every 6 months. Most of the European countries support these sanctions, but some have already expressed an ambiguous position in Europe regarding sanctions. We must be monitoring it. Europe will not lift sanctions, but the expansion of these sanctions can cause a problem. For instance, there was a proposal to expand sanctions after the Kerch bridge construction, but not all countries supported it," says Bruno Lété, the Senior Fellow for Security and Defense Policy at German Marshall Fund of the United States.

According to the expert, this is facilitated by a lack of visible progress regarding the de-occupation of Crimea and a reluctance of any of the parties to reconsider their positions, which ultimately leads to get tired of Crimea.

“As for Crimea, we are at a dead end. Each of the parties has its own position and does not want to make any concessions. This applies to Europe, the United States, Russia and Ukraine," says Bruno Lété.

What to do

According to Oleh Herasymenko, the entire Ukrainian policy of keeping Crimea on the agenda of Western partners should be designed for a long-term perspective.

"This is a long way, and we should not expect that the changes will happen tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or in the medium term, but they will happen. It is for this long-term perspective that we work," noted the diplomat.

Refat Chubarov, the Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, does not agree with him. According to the politician, in this case, Ukraine automatically recognizes its failure in the de-occupation of Crimea.

“I do not agree with the fact that the occupation of Crimea is a long-term. It mabe so, but should we get out of it? If we rely on the fact that each party stands for its own position and the situation is deadlock, then all international problems can lead to this formula. In the case of Crimea, I am sure that the actualization by the Ukrainian government on different aspects will force our partners to be more active," stated Chubarov.

The Head of the Mejlis believes that one of the ways to do this is to adopt amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine that will create Crimean Tatar national autonomy in Crimea.

“With the adoption of the Crimean Declaration, we were given very clear signals and the Ukrainian government should take advantage of these signals. The ball is on the Ukrainian side. And here is important the work that was carried out a long time before the Crimean declaration was announced, namely, the introduction of amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine. We should have to consider these changes long ago. Delaying of their consideration is harmful to the Ukrainian government as a whole,” Chubarov is sure.

There is another problem as well. Despite the abundance of reports of international organizations on massive violations of human rights in Crimea, they do not reach wide publicity and resonance. Since Western politicians rely heavily on public opinion, and this does not stimulate them to work on the Crimean track.

“West should speak more resolutely in support of the Crimean Tatar people, but we do not read anything about the situation in Crimea in the Western media. We know more about what is happening in Ürümqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the far northwest of the People's Republic of China, where the Chinese authorities are subjecting the Uighurs to repression - the indigenous Turkic people of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which became known to Western media in early summer of this year. – edited) this situation should be changed,” - considers Bruno Lété.

To address this problem, Charles Kupchan, a Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University, USA, offers the services of professional lobbyists.

“Generate a strategy through which you can get advice on keeping this topic in places such as Brussels, Berlin and Washington from the groups that work there. It is very important. You will be pushed into open doors when it comes to Crimea. We have (in the US - edited) many contradictions between the parties, but they do not refer to the issues of Russian intervention in Ukraine, Crimea and the Crimean Tatars. You will be listened to very attentively there. It is needed to be only there and talk,” – emphasized Kupchan.

Reference: Yalta European Strategy is an annual international conference of Ukrainian and foreign politicians and entrepreneurs hold in Yalta since 2004. Since the 11th annual meeting, which took place on September 12, 2014, regarding the occupation of Crimea, YES conference takes place in Kyiv. The Conference Organizing Committee determines the purpose of the meeting of political leaders and businessmen to promote the development of Ukraine and support of its European integration aspirations.

Roman Kot