20 years under Putin: a timeline

On May 29, the Ukrainian-American human rights organization Razom held a panel discussion entitled “The Evolving Crisis in Ukraine: Its Global Implications” at New York University (NYU). Participants in the panel included coauthors of Razom’s report on the Ukraine crisis; American analyst and columnist Paul A. Goble; and representatives of the Permanent Missions of Lithuania and Georgia to the United Nations. Mary Holland, Director of the Graduate Legal Skills Program and Research Scholar at NYU School of Law, moderated.


Left to right: Matheus de Moura Sena, Alexander Gudko, Ivanna Bilych, Giorgi Kvelashvili, Andrius Kalindra, Paul Goble.


At the beginning of Razom’s May 29 panel discussion at NYU, Ivanna Bilych, Matheus de Moura Sena, and Alexander Gudko—coauthors of Razom’s report “The Crisis in Ukraine: Its Legal Dimensions”—spoke about the development of the crisis in Ukraine, and its major causes and consequences. Particular attention was given to legal issues associated with Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Commenting on the referendum in Crimea, which, in the words of Bilych, “was held at gunpoint,” Razom’s general counsel argued that the referendum violated not only Ukraine’s constitution, but also international law. In the opinion of de Moura Sena, Ukraine currently has every right to appeal to the international courts on the issue of territorial integrity.

American analyst Paul Goble, whose expertise is in Russian and Eurasian matters, pointed out that the Kremlin seriously violated a number of international settlements. Its actions challenged, for example, the established notion of the stability of borders and the principle of the supremacy of citizenship over ethnicity. Additionally, Goble noted that despite the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, almost a century later, “in the Kremlin we have a leader who openly asserts that empire is a proper form of organization.” Goble believes that the U.S. is currently unable to reverse the Anschluss (annexation) of Crimea, but that some important steps can be taken. In his view, among other things, the United States should “articulate a non-recognition policy against Russian aggression” and launch a Russian-language TV network—independent of the Kremlin—first in Ukraine and the Baltic states, and then in other countries.

Other participants in the panel also expressed concerns about the violation of international law by the Russian authorities. Andrius Kalindra, minister counselor at the Permanent Mission of Lithuania to the United Nations, said that Russia has undermined its commitment to the Budapest Memorandum and created a dangerous precedent for other nations: “Does it mean that now Iran can stop complying with its non-proliferation commitments?” Giorgi Kvelashvili, senior counselor at the Permanent Mission of Georgia to the United Nations, stated that the Ukraine crisis has affected the entire region and poses a significant threat to international security. Other panelists were in agreement with this assertion and, additionally, pointed out that the events in Ukraine have triggered new serious challenges, including challenges pertaining to international order and “the nature of future wars.”

Russia under Putin

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