State Department's Crimean Declaration is image document
The U.S. State Department issued the Crimea Declaration, fixing the strategy of not recognizing Crimea as part of Russia. "As we did in the Welles Declaration in 1940, the United States reaffirms as policy its refusal to recognize the Kremlin’s claims of sovereignty over territory seized by force in contravention of international law," the statement posted on the official website of the State Department says. The document signed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted that the U.S. and its allies will adhere to this line until Ukraine's territorial integrity is restored.
The Welles Declaration, issued in 1940 by Benjamin Sumner Welles, the United States' acting Secretary of State, stressed Washington's refusal to recognize the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as Soviet Republics. This document actually died out simultaneously with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the restoration of these states' sovereignty. Obviously, the state department needed to "recall" it to identify the Crimea situation with the events of almost 80 years ago. In fact, the Crimean Declaration has became a kind of continuation of Washington's latest actions towards Moscow.
The U.S. recently extended a ban on cooperation between the Pentagon and the Russian Defense Ministry because of Crimea. The report of the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services says in a transparent manner about the ban of Russian military equipment and technical details in the U.S. until the Crimean issue is resolved. Which naturally means the return of the peninsula to Kiev's jurisdiction.
Then came the announcement of the White House, which corrected President Donald Trump's statement, who expressed his readiness to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next year. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton's statement has cast uncertainties over the new summit's fate: if earlier Trump said about his intention to invite Putin to Washington in the autumn, now it's more than likely that the negotiations will not take place before next year.
Political scientist, deputy head of the chair of the post-Soviet countries of the Russian State University for the Humanities, Alexander Gushin suggested to consider U.S. State Department's Crimean Declaration as a two-tiered system. "First, Washington said that its position has not changed. There have been several statements across the pond about the non-recognition of annexation of Crimea. There is nothing new here. Second, it is an official document," Alexander Gushchin told Vestnik Kavkaza.
According to the political scientist, Donald Trump was subjected to significant criticism of his compatriots upon return to the homeland from Helsinki, where he met with Vladimir Putin. So, now the US president needs tough statements to calm the country's political establishment down somehow, which accused him of almost betraying national interests. The delay of a new meeting with Putin is along the same line - it will not take place before 2019.
Trump needs to look tough to his constituents. In Helsinki, according to Gushchin, Trump was very far from this image, which disappointed not only the democrats, but upset and strained the Republicans - there was also a long tete-a-tete meeting, and no one can really tell what was going on there. Now Trump is trying to neutralize the negative from the Helsinki meeting and demonstrates that nothing has changed since the summit.
Alexander Gushchin also pointed to the distinction between the Crimean Declaration and the Welles Declaration, which refers to the non-recognition of the results of the Soviet Union's forcible actions. There has been no use of force in Crimea, it was a voluntary adherence to Russia. Therefore, the contradiction between the two documents, which were presented as similar by Washington, is still evident.
Crimea separated from Ukraine and became part of Russia following the referendum, which took place in March 2014. Kiev, the European Union, the United States and other countries do not recognize the outcome as legitimate. Moscow insists that the referendum was held in accordance with the norms of international law and the annexation of the peninsula to Russia was legal.
U.S. State Department's Crimean Declaration can hardly be called a strategically important document, since it results in virtually no impact on the solution of the most important Ukrainian problems. In particular, on the process of the Donbas settlement.This document is certainly beneficial for Ukraine, although Crimea and Donbas do not link up, and I repeat - it gives no practical results," Alexander Gushchin believes.
He recalled that Vladimir Putin called on Washington to exert pressure on Kiev in order to implement the Minsk agreements on the settlement of the conflict in Donbas. But it is impossible now, maybe after the presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine. And the latter, according to Guschin, are more important for Russia in terms of ties with the southeast of Ukraine.
"Thus, basically, the Crimean Declaration is fixing the status quo - the United States does not change its position in Ukraine, it is intended for the internal audience, but at the same time demonstrates Kiev and European allies that Washington does not cheat on its partners. However, in practice, it's not really useful," Alexander Gushchin concluded.