Alleged terror attack in Crimea: What if Russia cuts off diplomatic ties with Ukraine?

12:52 Aug. 12, 2016

What if Russia cuts off diplomatic ties with Ukraine?

Russian aggression in Ukraine caused rift in relations between the two countries (GettyImages Photo)

Ukrainian experts on rumors about Moscow's possible severance of diplomatic relations with Kyiv

Several days after Moscow declared it had allegedly arrested Ukrainian sabotage group, Russian media shared rumors that the Kremlin was going to sever diplomatic ties with Kyiv. The move, if it happens, is seen as ‘retaliation' for the so-called terrorist attack in Crimea, which Russia claims was organized by Ukraine's Intelligence Service.

Many Ukrainians have been calling for cutting off the ties with Russia after it annexed Crimea and started a proxy war in Donbas. Kyiv has declined the propositions saying that leaving the opportunity for negotiations is crucial for peaceful settlement of the Donbas conflict.

The latest news from the Kremlin has caused harsh criticism in Ukraine towards both Moscow and Kyiv.

Read also: Is Putin preparing a new attack on Ukraine?

‘Russia is instigating a new round of hysteria in Ukraine. Their ambassador candidacy, Crimean provocation, Normandy format denouncement and the rumors on diplomatic ties severance – they all are a part of the pressure. We need to do what we have been doing – keep calm and be constructive, hold all possible dialogues and strengthen our army and our nerves', says Dmytro Kuleba on Facebook, Ukraine's permanent rep to the Council of Europe.

Another Ukrainian diplomat Bohdan Yaremenko has an opposite opinion. He says Kyiv should've cut off ties with Russia after Moscow's aggression started.

‘The severance of diplomatic relations with Russia is absolutely necessary. Of course, the decision should have been made by Kyiv in response to Russia's aggression. Though the rumors about it in Russia is likely a part of their informational campaign, aimed at discrediting Ukraine and distract the world community from the fact that Russia is a country-aggressor and a country-occupier', Yaremenko says.

He adds, if happens, the severance will not significantly impact the current state of affairs. Yaremenko says, it will only affect ‘high-level negotiations', which he claims Ukraine and Russia don't have anyway. ‘Even though economic and trade relations could also be cut off, they are only getting worse with the way things are now", he states.

Read also: Ukraine gears up for massive provocations along Donbas contact line

Anton Korynevych, a Ukrainian international law expert, also assessed consequences of the possible decision.

‘All the treaties between states shall stay in force under provisions of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties except for the treaties for the application of which existence of diplomatic or consular relations is indispensable', he says.

Korynevych adds, the breaking of ties will have ‘a big symbolic meaning'.

‘After such a symbolic act the Russian Federation may close down the Normandy talks and the Minsk Process and the negotiations on peace in Donbas might be frozen before the diplomatic relations between the two states are restored. Thus such an idea might be used by the Russian Federation to threaten Ukraine'.

In addition to the diplomacy, Russia could use the Crimea incident as a reason for 'significant military escalation'. This is according to Oleksiy Melnyk, Ukrainian Foreign relations and international security expert. 

'I think that Russia has created all necessary preconditions for a significant military escalation. The possibility is quite high, but having said that I wouldn't insist that this is a one hundred percent possibility, because a lot of factors are involved , including internal factors, and how Ukraine would react, most importantly, Russians are aware of the high level of resistance from the Ukrainian side', Melnyk says. 

He adds, West's reaction will also be important. 

'It seems from the statements made during the last couple of days that the West is not going to believe in the Russian version of necessity to defend Russia. It really looks like a well-prepared provocation from the Russian side', Melnyk concludes. 

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