While President Obama announces meaningless sanctions (they had been telegraphed for weeks so those targeted had plenty of time to protect assets), b at moonofalabama reports U.S./Russian progress toward crisis resolution through a new constitution that creates a devolved, federated Ukraine guaranteeing minority and language rights. B found a source that presents what looks like a rough draft agreement generated for a proposed Ukraine Support Group (the EU, U.S., and Russia). (The proposal is also discussed by Pepe Escobar in Asia Times.) In the imperfect English of the bilingual draft, the following is the second on its to-do list:
2. Convene without delay, by a decision of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Constitutional Assembly with equal representation of all Ukrainian regions in order to draft a new federal constitution that would provide for the following:
- Enshrine the principles of rule of law, protection of human rights and all national minorities, freedom of speech and activities of political parties and mass media, as well as other principles underlying Ukraine’s political system as a democratic federation state possessing sovereignty and neutral military and political status;
- Russian along with Ukrainian will be given a state language status while other languages will be given a status in accordance with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages;
- Regions will independently elect their legislative and executive bodies through a direct vote and have wide authority, reflecting the cultural and historic specificity of each to them, with regard to economy and finance, social sphere, language, education, [and] external interregional relations, while ensuring protection of national minorities living in each of the federation constituent entities; …
Item 4 on the list reads:
4. The right of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to determine its future, following the free expression of the will of its population during the referendum of 16 March 2014, shall be recognized and respected.
As b notes, Secretary of State John Kerry is now attempting to make the above parameters look like new U.S. suggestions. According to the State Department, Kerry
urged Russia “to support efforts by Ukrainians across the spectrum to address power sharing and decentralization through a constitutional reform process that is broadly inclusive and protects the rights of minorities,” including ethnic Russians, Russian speakers and others in the former Soviet republic …
he suggested that a form of federalism be introduced to give regions substantial powers – including over their budgets and even international relations.
Citing the example of Greenland, which enjoys substantial autonomy from Denmark and unlike the Danish state is not part of the European Union, he said western and eastern Ukraine could have different economic relations with the EU and Russia.
‘Today, economic, cultural and human ties between the regions of eastern and western Ukraine are less than the links between southeastern Ukraine and Russia and between the western regions and the EU,’ Glazyev said …
The same general approach was also suggested by well-known Russian academic Sergei Karaganov on March 6. And, contradicting the hype that Eastern Ukraine wants to unite with Russia, the people of its largest city a few days ago marched for federalization of Ukraine. In any case, who cares who gets credit for this sensible approach, let’s just hope it goes through.
But, I’m not optimistic. Standing in the way are neocons like Victoria Nuland within the U.S. government and the allies and underlings they helped bring to power in Kiev. There’s a good chance those forces will be able to scuttle the (almost too reasonable, almost too good to come true) move toward federation and a new constitution. They may succeed in part because the proposed solution is a complex process that likely has exploitable weak links, but also because the process (as you can see in provision ’2′) requires the cooperation of Ukraine’s parliament. That’s an institution very recently under the effective command of baseball bat wielding neo-Nazi thugs, not the most receptive place for a resolution that would dash big Ukrainian nationalist dreams.
And, overriding everything is the Syria factor: Kerry in his fumbling way may try for an economically peaceful settlement to the crisis, but after being frustrated last year in Syria the neocons inside and outside of the U.S. government are in a crude, hysterical, war-like mood. Well, at least that’s the impression I get from the war propaganda and anti-Russia paranoia spewing from every orifice of the corporate mass media these days.