As the election campaign gets into full swing, Yulia Tymoshenko is desperate. She wants to show that she is different to Poroshenko and thereby ‘prove’ she is better at conducting foreign and security policy. She also is desperate to show she has original ideas in foreign and security policies.
In both areas she is failing to leave an impression on Ukrainian voters.
The first desperation leads Tymoshenko to attack and criticise everything that President Petro Poroshenko undertakes in foreign and security policies. This is cheap populism because her criticism is blanket about everything rather than being selective. There is no doubt Poroshenko, like all politicians, has made mistakes in foreign and security policy and these should be criticised. But criticising everything he does is cheap populism and Tymoshenko only undertakes this because she is power mad and will do or say anything to come to power.
In trying to prove she can produce different foreign and security policies Tymoshenko has brought up the idea of a ‘Budapest Plus’ to replace the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Fourteen years ago, Ukraine agreed to give away the world’s third largest nuclear weapons arsenal and join the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) in exchange for vague ‘security assurances.’
There were two problems with the Budapest Memorandum.
The first was that ‘security assurances’ were always translated into Ukrainian as ‘security guarantees’ and yet they were never guarantees in the manner of the US guarantee to Taiwan and South Korea.
The second problem was that Russia was one of the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum and Russia was also the country that massively flouted them when it annexed the Crimea and invaded and occupied parts of the Donbas.
Tymoshenko explains ‘Budapest Plus’ as a new negotiating format that would ‘include all the countries that guaranteed the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine: the United States and Great Britain, and, of course, Ukraine and Russia.” In addition to these, ‘Budapest Plus’ would include France and China, Germany and the EU.
Tymoshenko continues the fake news of believing the 1994 Budapest Memorandum provided security guarantees; in fact, the word ‘guarantee’ is used in the Ukrainian and English pages of Tymoshenko’s web site. Ukraine did not receive ‘security guarantees’ from the US, UK and Russia, it received security assurances.
Another piece of fake news is that Russia would agree to replace the Budapest Memorandum with ‘Budapest Plus’ which would discuss the Crimea as well as the Donbas. What proof does Tymoshenko have that Russia would agree to this? Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said that it was Ukraine – not Russia – that flouted the Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine was allegedly at fault by ‘encouraging racist, neo-Nazi, xenophobic tendencies, and what happened after the Maidan was a gross violation of these obligations by our Ukrainian neighbors.’
Tymoshenko also claimed that ‘Budapest-Plus’ would lead to a ‘strengthened and expanded diplomatic mechanism’ that ‘will allow Ukraine to return its “subjectivity in the negotiation process,” will open prospects for the inclusion in the international agenda of the issue of the illegal annexation of the Crimea, which is not subject to the Minsk agreements.’
Here Tymoshenko is desperately trying to show that Poroshenko’s negotiations in the Minsk and Normandy format have failed but at the same time putting nothing concrete forward that would replace them. There remain 3 obstacles to a peace deal which Tymoshenko ignores.
The first is that are Putin refuses to accept that a sovereign Ukraine can decide its own destiny which is based on Russian chauvinistic views that Ukraine is an ‘artificial’ construct and Ukrainians are a branch of the ‘Russian’ people.
The second is that Putin’s price for peace is the Bosnianisation of Ukraine with his puppet DNR and LNR holding a veto on his behalf over Ukraine’s domestic and foreign policy.
The third is that Russia has always opposed including the Crimea within the Minsk negotiations and Normandy format.
Based on Lavrov’s statement and Russia’s adamant refusal to put the Crimea on the negotiating table, there is zero evidence that Russia will agree to join ‘Budapest Plus.’ ‘Budapest Plus’ is therefore a fiction of Tymoshenko’s imagination that will never happen.