Recently it became known that US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris would not take part in the founding summit of the "Crimean Platform" on August 23, at which it is planned to discuss ways to return the annexed Crimea. According to MP Mustafa Dzhemilev, US Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg, known for his eccentricity and homosexuality, will fly to Kyiv instead. "Sleepy Joe" has good reasons to avoid traveling to Kyiv, but his demarche will not reflect in the best way on the diplomatic initiative, which is important for Ukraine.
Significance of "Crimean Platform" for Ukraine
After the outbreak of the armed conflict in Donbas in the spring of 2014, the question of returning Crimea to Ukraine has been raised extremely rarely. Russian President Vladimir Putin does not want to talk about this with Zelensky. The "Normandy format" applies only to Donbas. Only a few resolutions of the UN General Assembly remind the international community of the first act of annexation of the territory of an independent state in Eastern Europe since the end of World War II. The nature of voting on the Crimean resolutions is changing not in favor of Ukraine.
In March 2014, the resolution on the territorial integrity of Ukraine was supported by 100 states, 11 countries voted against, 58 countries abstained. In November 2016, 73 UN members voted for a resolution against the occupation of Crimea and the recognition of Russia as an aggressor country, 23 against, and 76 abstained from voting. In December 2017, even fewer supporters were found in the resolution on human rights violations in Crimea: 70 - for, 26 - against, 60 - abstained. In December 2019, only 63 members of the organization supported the resolution on the problem of the militarization of Crimea, certain areas of the Azov and Black Sea (against - 19, abstained - 66 countries). Finally, in March 2021, only 46 UN member states issued a statement to mark the eighth anniversary of the resolution on Ukraine's territorial integrity.
Quite a few countries in the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa, Latin America do not pay attention to the Crimean issue because of fears of spoiling relations with Russia or lack of awareness. Therefore, the "Crimean Platform" was developed by Ukraine as a new international coordination mechanism, with the help of which it will be possible to bring as many foreign leaders as possible and convince them to officially recognize Crimea as the territory of Ukraine, and Russia's actions are a violation of international law.
On the margins of the "Crimean Platform", the Ukrainian authorities will argue the advisability of toughening anti-Russian sanctions and joining them with a larger number of states. Attention will be paid to problems in the field of security, economy, environment, violation of human rights on the peninsula, violation of the freedom of international navigation in the Black and Azov Seas, which appeared after the annexation of Crimea to Russia. It is planned to hold meetings of the "Crimean Platform" on a regular basis at the level of heads of state and government, parliamentarians, and experts.
Biden's absence from the summit will give the impression that the United States does not care who Crimea will be. America participates in the Budapest Memorandum and pledged to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. His example may be followed by the leaders of countries that are not very concerned about this issue and for which the "Crimean Platform" is designed. The presence of the heads of state and government at the summit is of key importance, since they are responsible for making decisions, and their signature on the declaration that Crimea is Ukraine will reinforce our position in negotiations with Russia. Otherwise, the summit will not be meaningful and will resemble a regular tea party.
Biden avoids Zelensky
In May 2021, the United States supported the Crimean Platform initiative represented by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. However, Biden and Harris will not be present in Kyiv on August 23, as they do not want to answer Zelensky's uncomfortable questions in the presence of leaders of other states. The Ukrainian president does not miss the opportunity to address something to Biden while talking with American journalists. At the beginning of the year, Zelensky asked his American colleague why Ukraine is still not in NATO, during a conversation with a journalist for the American edition of Axios. Speaking to CNN reporters in April, he said that Biden must do more to stop Russia and end the conflict in Donbas, give Ukraine money and weapons, and help join NATO.
In June, in an interview with Reuters, the Associated Press, and Agence France-Presse, Zelenskiy said he wanted to hear from Biden a clear yes or no about giving Ukraine an Action Plan for NATO membership. During a meeting with US Senators Jean Shahin, Robert Portman and Christopher Murphy, the President of Ukraine said that only the US and Biden are capable of stopping the construction of Nord Stream 2, which poses a threat to Ukraine.
It is difficult to disagree with President Zelensky because more active support from the United States will definitely not hurt us. However, this does not mean that the Biden administration can do anything to help Ukraine in the current circumstances. The prospect of Ukraine joining NATO depends not only on the will of the United States but also on the position of other member states. In April 2008, Ukraine was denied a Membership Action Plan under the influence of Germany.
With regard to Nord Stream 2, Biden decided to abandon sanctions against companies participating in the Russian project in order to improve relations between the United States and Germany, which have deteriorated under his predecessor Donald Trump. Washington needs Berlin's support in its confrontation with Beijing. "Sleepy Joe" does not care about Kyiv's loss of the opportunity to make money on the transit of Russian natural gas. It is not surprising why the Biden administration postponed Zelensky's visit to the White House from late July to August 30, when the pipeline is supposed to be completed.
The United States is not ready to provide Ukraine with clear security guarantees. They threatened to introduce new sanctions against Russia if it stops the transit of gas through the territory of Ukraine, expressed their intention to allocate money for the development of alternative energy and strengthening the defense capability of our country and no more.
Biden decided not to participate in the "Crimean Platform", but to send a sectoral minister to Kyiv, whose competence does not include foreign policy issues, in order to comply with a formality in front of Ukraine, but not to irritate Russia. Kremlin spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the Russian Federation will consider the participation of any states in this summit as an encroachment on its territorial integrity. Biden does not want to aggravate relations with the Russian Federation because of Crimea but is interested in predictable US-Russian relations. Otherwise, Moscow will naturally move towards rapprochement with Beijing, Washington's main geopolitical rival, in the understanding of the current administration.
Recently, the United States and Russia have intensified their dialogue on strategic stability in order to determine further steps to reduce nuclear weapons. At the end of July in Geneva, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman held talks on this issue.
Biden is not whole America
Whatever motives Biden pursues in refraining from participating in the Crimean Platform summit, not all American politicians agree with him. In March 2021, the Foreign Relations Committee of the US House of Representatives approved a bill prohibiting the US government from recognizing Russia's claims to Crimea. The head of the committee, Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks, is convinced that the United States cannot recognize Russia's actions, which gave impetus to aggression in eastern Ukraine.
One of the authors of the bill, Democratic congressman Gerald Connolly, explained that earlier the rule on non-recognition of the occupation of Crimea was contained in the legislation on annual defense budgets and it must be fixed in a separate law. Congressman from the Republican Party Steve Chabot took part in the development of this bill, who is sure that the United States and the world should not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, as well as Putin's ambitions to regain control over the former Soviet Union.
Senator from the Democratic Party Jeanne Shaheen is confident that the accession of Ukraine and Georgia to NATO will ruin the plans of the Russian president. In her opinion, the Alliance has always been open to everyone and our country should not be an exception. In April, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill to provide Ukraine with military assistance, including lethal weapons. It is planned to allocate $ 300 million to Ukraine per year until 2026. The chairman of the committee, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, stressed that Ukrainians have the right to independently choose their future, and Republican Senator Jim Risch supported the provision of weapons to Ukraine to defend against Russia and defense reform.
Biden's decision not to stop Russia from completing Nord Stream 2 did not inspire enthusiasm among Democrats and Republicans. Member of the House of Representatives from the Democratic Party Marcy Kaptur proposed to prohibit the State Department from suspending sanctions against Nord Stream 2, considering them a mandatory measure. Republican Senator Ted Cruz believes the pipeline is a disaster for the United States and its allies. In his opinion, the Russian authorities will use Nord Stream 2 for enrichment and energy blackmail of Europe for decades.
The overly cautious position of the Biden administration does not reflect the sentiment of the entire American establishment, which supports the territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine and takes a tough stance towards Russia.