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Igor Ivanov

President of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (1998–2004)

At the beginning of 1994, that is twenty years ago, the Presidents of Russia, Ukraine and the United States signed the Trilateral Statement, determining the future nuclear-free status of the Ukrainian state. The current crisis differs from the 1994 situation both in nature and causes. But should the crisis escalate, security threats both for Ukraine and its neighbors are, perhaps, no less serious than two decades ago.

Recent stormy developments in Ukraine and around it have somewhat overshadowed an important anniversary associated with that country.

At the beginning of 1994, that is twenty years ago, the Presidents of Russia, Ukraine and the United States signed the Trilateral Statement, determining the future nuclear-free status of the Ukrainian state. In addition to issues directly relating to nuclear disarmament, the Statement set principles governing relations among the three countries, i.e. respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of each nation. Russia and the United States pledged not only to “refrain from the threat or use of force” against Ukraine but also “to refrain from economic coercion” aimed at getting any kind of unilateral advantages.

This Statement was unanimously approved not only in the three countries but throughout the whole Europe. And not just because of its worthy contribution to strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime but also because the Statement raised hopes that the Cold War rules could be abandoned and European policy was no longer seen as a zero-sum game. Moreover, many politicians and experts had reasons to believe that such a momentous joint nuclear effort would give impetus to establishing a fundamentally new Euro-Atlantic security system – indivisible and equal for all.

However, over the past twenty years, this new security system has not been established, since the Cold War rules and regulations proved to be extremely tenacious. And, unfortunately, the example of Ukraine illustrates it convincingly enough.

Of course, the current crisis differs from the 1994 situation both in nature and causes. But should the crisis escalate, security threats both for Ukraine and its neighbors are, perhaps, no less serious than two decades ago. Logic and common sense suggest that Russia, the European Union and the United States must act together not only from considerations of humanism and compassion, but in pursuit of their own national interests. There is still time to get back on the road where we made the first steps twenty years ago, since what we have at stake is not only the fate of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people but also our collective confidence in the future.

Source: Kommersant

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