Russia’s land grab in Crimea in 2014 caused a major crisis in international politics, contributed to the unraveling of standing and authority of international organizations, undermined efforts of the international community to strengthen a rules based world order.
Russian military presence in Crimea has more than doubled. The peninsula is inundated with multiple weapon systems, including nuclear capable ones. Consequently, new security threats emerged in the Black Sea and the wider Mediterranean region.
Following Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea the situation on the peninsula deteriorated in every sphere. Negative trends vary from the mentioned militarization to changing demographic structure of the population of Crimea, from political persecution to irresponsible environmental policies, from barbaric treatment of UNESCO world heritage sites to mass indoctrination, from systemic ethnic and religious discrimination to expulsion of independent media from the peninsula.
The aim of Russia’s disruptive policy is to achieve legitimization of its attempted annexation of Crimea, to cement the status quo and to project its military power from Crimea in the Azov-Black seas region and Mediterranean.
The first response of the international community was set out by the UNGA Resolution A/RES/68/262 “Territorial integrity of Ukraine”, which unequivocally demonstrated overwhelming support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and outlined the international policy vis-à-vis Crimea under Russian occupation.
Concerted actions of the international community based on the long-term vision are urgently needed to reverse the negative consequences of the occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and to ensure restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
Establishment of a new consultation and coordination format – the Crimea Platform – is aimed at elaboration of practical approaches to achieve de-occupation of Crimea and its return to Ukraine.
The Crimea Platform is a flexible international format to provide long-term vision of de-occupation of Crimea, consolidation of international efforts and synergy of intergovernmental, parliamentary and expert levels.
Main goals and activity areas
Consolidation of policy of non-recognition of the attempted annexation of Crimea
Participants of the Crimea Platform will deliberate the main common elements of non-recognition policy and come up with the memorandum/guiding principles drawing the common “red lines” in this regard.
The participants of the Platform will abide by the guidelines, exchange information about potential breaches, elaborate preventive measures, use their diplomatic contacts to urge third countries to follow suit.
The following elements are to be discussed:
- a ban on the formal recognition of the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation;
- a ban on visits of official persons to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine) and any statements that may be interpreted as recognizing the change of their status;
- discouragement of attendance by the participating states’ nationals and entities of events in the occupied Crimea;
- a prohibition for foreign consular officers in the Russian Federation to perform any functions with respect to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine);
- introduction of a specific ‘Crimea clause’ in any new international documents with the Russian Federation excluding their application with respect to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine);
- state agencies should not invoke mutual legal assistance treaties with the Russian Federation in respect to the territory of Crimea;
- a ban on imports of goods originating from Crimea unless they have Ukrainian certificates of origin;
- a prohibition of any investments to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine);
- a ban on providing tourism services in Crimea as well as other services, enabling or supporting tourism in the temporarily occupied peninsula;
- a prohibition of trade in goods, technologies and services with companies from Crimea and Sevastopol as well as the Russian occupation authorities;
- a ban on provision of technical assistance, maintenance, insurance, financing, brokering, construction or engineering services related to all infrastructure, transportation, scientific projects in the occupied Crimea.
Sanctions: proper implementation and strengthening
The participants of the Crimea Platform will work together on consolidation of existing restrictive measures and their enforcement. They will also discuss synchronisation of sanction lists and cooperation in monitoring application of sanctions in force and closing loopholes for their circumvention.
The participants of the Crimea Platform will cooperate with a view to strengthening or expanding sanctions in response to:
- violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the temporarily occupied Crimea;
- violation of international humanitarian law (illegal “elections” and “referendums”, forceful conscription to the Russian armed forces, change of the demographic structure of Crimea etc.);
- militarization of Crimea and adjacent waters of the Azov and Black Seas:
- embargo on sale of arms and related materiel, dual-use goods and technology, ban on provision of respective services;
- sanctions against Russian military enterprises involved in the development/modernization of the Russian military forces and facilities in the occupied Crimea;
- illegal expropriation of Ukraine’s state and private enterprises;
- violations of prohibition on entering officially closed seaports and airports in the occupied Crimea;
- illegal deep-water drilling and oil and gas production in the occupied Black Sea waters;
- illegal development of infrastructure in the occupied Crimea.
Regional security: impact of the militarization of Crimea on security in Eastern Europe, wider Black sea region and Mediterranean, including freedom of navigation
The participants of the Crimea Platform will consider joint action on countering militarization of Crimea and Russia’s military expansion on Europe’s southern flank, posing growing security and hybrid threats to wider regional security: Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the Azov-Black seas region, the Mediterranean, the Middle East.
The participants of the Crimea Platform will discuss countering the activities of the Russian Federation that undermine the principle of freedom of navigation, disrupt supply chains and thus adversely affect, in particular, the stability of international food security.
To achieve these goals the participants will combine the expertise and diplomatic efforts through following steps:
- supporting the establishment of the annual Security Forum for Azov, Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean and actively participating in its activities;
- conducting regular joint expert events within the framework of the Crimea Platform to achieve synergy of analytic/monitoring capacity and to provide extensive information for policy/decision makers;
- engaging in dialogue on the needs and ways to enhance the NATO presence in the region;
- putting the freedom of navigation challenge in the Azov-Black sea region high on international agenda;
- supporting decisions of international institutions deploring disrupting activities of the Russian Federation in the region.
Violations of human rights and international humanitarian law
The participants of the Crimea Platform will take joint action to enhance monitoring and exchange of information about the violations of human rights and norms of international humanitarian law; protect Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar identity as well as cultural heritage in the temporarily occupied Crimea.
To this end, the participants will consider:
- introducing a mechanism of prompt and coordinated reaction of states and international organisations to respective serious violations;
- ensuring the high level of publicity for cases of serious human rights violation on political level and in the media as a mean of protection of victims and prevention of further violations;
- enhancing monitoring of the situation to provide decision-makers with the necessary data on application of restrictive measures on those responsible for serious violations of human rights and norms of international humanitarian law;
- devising ways to protect cultural heritage sites located in the temporary occupied Crimea using the UNESCO tools and mechanisms.
Mitigation of adverse economic and environmental impact of the occupation of Crimea on the region
The participants of the Crimea Platform will engage in enhanced monitoring of the long-term environmental threats to the Black Sea region and beyond, posed by the activities of the Russian occupation authorities, including:
- destruction of nature reserves;
- illegal exploitation of industrial facilities;
- use of waste of potential chemical and nuclear hazard in major construction projects, endangering the waters of the Black Sea;
- realisation of major infrastructural projects without proper environmental risk assessment;
- renovation and modernisation of Soviet-era nuclear storage facilities.
New infrastructure projects such as construction of the so-called Kerch Bridge and the Tavryda highway have left an excessive environmental footprint on their immediate surroundings. For one the bridge affected the natural flow of waters between the Azov and Black seas, environmental consequences of which are yet to be assessed. In the course of the construction of the Tavryda highway millions of trees and bushes were cleared thus causing huge damage to the delicate Crimean fauna.
The occupying authorities use sands polluted with toxic radioactive waste from a metallurgical plant near Kerch, which presents a danger to the environment not only in Crimea but also in the wider Black Sea region. This issue definitely merits a thorough consideration by the international community.
Ukraine considers creating an Investment fund for the regions along the administrative line with Crimea. The task of the fund will be to mitigate socio-economic damage resulted from the occupation of Crimea, to preserve the links with the citizens of Ukraine in the occupied territories, foster development of economic and social infrastructure of communities of regions alongside the administrative line, meet the needs of the IDPs, develop green economy and create a model basis for future reintegration of Crimea. This will include investments in:
- social infrastructure (developing medical facilities, administrative services, housing for IDPs);
- cultural and education needs;
- tourism infrastructure;
- transport infrastructure;
- projects to foster green economy.
Synergy of governments, parliaments and civil society
The Crimea Platform aims at flexibly gathering under its umbrella thematic events and initiatives on the Crimean issue within international organizations, other international governmental and non-governmental fora.
The Platform’s activities are envisaged to be carried out at all levels:
- Heads of State and Government;
- Ministers of Foreign Affairs;
- Members of Parliaments;
To coordinate the Platform’s activities, a political/coordination committee consisting of representatives of diplomatic missions / embassies of participating states / organizations in Kyiv and led by the MFA of Ukraine will meet on ad hoc basis.
Subject to the agreement of participating states, additional working groups on practical issues of the Platform’s agenda may be created. Depending on the issue, such working groups may bring together experts from the capitals (from MFAs, other governmental bodies, NGOs, research institutions) as well as representatives of the embassies in Kyiv and the MFA of Ukraine.
Other ways of communication on particular issues (e.g., through the Special Representative of the MFA of Ukraine on Sanctions) might be also considered as appropriate.
The international expert network will provide information and analytical support for the Platform’s activities and contribute to public visibility of the Platform. The network will consist of Ukrainian and international experts from civil society organizations, think tanks, research centers, academic institutions dealing with the Crimean file.
The expert network will organize thematic conferences, prepare and publish reports, offer recommendations on specific aspects of the Platform’s work.
An inaugural Summit, which is scheduled to take place in Kyiv on 23 August 2021, will launch the Crimea Platform and adopt a Charter outlining the vision for further consolidation of the Crimean policy.