By South China Morning Post at 10:47 AM 5/31/2020 (PDT)
In UNSC, Countries Hope to Pass Ukraine Resolution
The debate around Russia’s takeover of Ukraine continues, as countries hope to either free parts of Ukraine from Russian control or ensure that it stays within Russia’s hand. As expected, many Western countries such as France, the United States and Estonia are pushing for Russia to relinquish their Ukrainian territory. Other countries, like China, are worried that “it sets a dangerous precedent for international organizations to step in”.
These blocs have formed around the issue of Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, more specifically the area of Crimea. There’s a war going on between Russian and Ukrainian troops there at the moment and the UNSC wishes to resolve the conflict peacefully. Russia says that its actions were to,” free them [Crimeans] from the horrible Ukrainian rule,” and not to, “gain any more power with the gain of these regions”. Among the countries that support this view are Russia and China. On the opposing side, France, United States and Estonia worry that the will of the people aren’t being listened to, as well as a Russian hegemony. China cites that a poll with an 80% turnout say that a majority of people wish to be under Russian rule. However, a leaked document from the Russian Human Rights Council says that the cited poll only had 30% turnout, with only half of those who participated voting yes. This creates a clear discrepancy and conflict between the two blocs.
Strangely enough however, as delegates debate the proposed resolution that gives Crimea their decision, Russia is a sponsor. The resolution allows Crimean residents to vote on whether they remain under Russian rule, Ukrainian rule or a mixture of both with semi-autonomy, asks for peacekeeping troops to be sent to the area to supply humanitarian aid and prevent militaristic takeovers, and urges for Ukraine and Russia to establish trading ties. This means Russia will relinquish control and abide to Crimean wishes. When asked about their position, Russia says that, “Although some parts of the resolution doesn’t align with the Russian Kremlin Policy, some collaboration with the Western nation will be needed”. Thus, the resolution seems to be moving on with support from both sides of the debate.
The only main country of opposition left is China, who firmly believes that passing the resolution would infringe upon Ukraine’s sovereignty. They have reason to worry that if this resolution passes, similar action can be taken with Hong Kong and Tibet. They hope that their strong voice in the debate will be heard by countries that aren’t as firm on their stance. It does not seem to be working however, as the debate to pass the resolution remains between China and everyone else.
Ukranian Conflict is Personal for China
In the UNSC debate over Crimea’s sovereignty after Russia’s invasion, the UNSC has a draft resolution that allows Crimeans to decide which country they will be governed by. They hope it’ll bring a peaceful resolution to the conflict but China remains the only opposition to it.
Yet, why is China standing so firm by this position when even Russia agrees that some cooperation is needed to achieve peace, agreeing so far that they support the resolution? The reason is clear when China brings up Hong Kong and Tibet as reasons to not allow the referendum to pass. They fear losing territories the same way Russia is losing them.
A key part of the resolution is the introduction of peacekeeping troops in Crimea to bring humanitarian aid and to ensure the peace between Russian and Ukrainian troops. However, China says that this is a non-negotiable point and it must be removed. Their claims are that, “multinational troops have lost legitimacy for being clearly biased” for Western nations. They also attack the fact that an “impartial group that passes referendums has to rely on military power” stating that “it should be the last resort”. China doesn’t have much concern over Russia’s control of Ukraine but it is very concerned by the ability of the UNSC to mobilize troops to establish territoriality. This hurts China’s ability to function as it wishes in its own territories because now, the threat of peacekeeping troops looms over their head. The fewer positive instances that the UNSC has to call on to support a peacekeeping troop in China, the less likely they are to do it.
Another argument from China is that the UNSC overrides Crimean sovereignty. By citing an 80% turnout poll with a majority of voters wishing to be under Russian rule, they make the case that the Crimeans want to be under Russian rule. Nevermind the fact that leaked documents stated much lower turnouts and reports of Russian intimidation have been recorded. China stands by these numbers since if they can push a democratic decision, regardless of how it was obtained, as legitimate reason to prevent international committees from interfering, it sets a precedent that allows them to do the same thing for its own territories.
In a world that they feel is very much against them, China doesn’t want to create more instances that show the West as “good” and the East as “bad”, where peacekeeping troops and international agencies have to be deployed in order to prevent the “bad” East from invading the “good” West. All these attacks are tactics to slow down the passage of this resolution so that China does not have to deal with the personal consequences of it.
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