Kyiv: On Monday, November 26, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, with 276 votes, supported the imposition of martial law in 10 regions of the country for a period of 30 days, although initially it was proposed to establish such a legal format for two months, which could disrupt the calendar period of the presidential election campaign.
The question of its introduction on the eve was considered at an extraordinary meeting of the Military Cabinet of the Council of National Security and Defense, which took place on the night from Sunday to Monday. The Military Cabinet includes: Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin, Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak, Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine Vasyl Gritsak, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko, Head of the State Border Service Peter Cigikal, Commander of the National Guard of Ukraine Yuri Allerov, head of the Presidential Administration Sergey Rainin, as well as (by agreement) the speaker of the parliament Andrei Paruby.
The reason for convening an emergency meeting of a specialized defense body under the Supreme Commander was a sharp aggravation of the situation in the Azov Sea region on Sunday morning, November 25th.
Recall, on the night of November 25, Ukraine informed the Russian ports of the intention of three ships to cross the Kerch Strait, connecting the Black and Azov Seas. This should be done according to the agreement on the joint use of the Sea of Azov and the strait.
Despite this, around 8 am, Russian ships committed provocative actions against Ukrainian ships, including ramming the tug Yana Kapu.
After that, Russia accused Ukrainian ships of illegally entering territorial waters, stating that they were “dangerously maneuvering” and “do not obey the legitimate demands of the Russian authorities,” and physically closed the Kerch Strait with a transport vessel.
Ukrainian ships decided to return to Odessa, but the Russian military began to pursue and subsequently went on the attack. The boats "Berdyansk" and "Nikopol" were hit, there were three wounded. All three ships, with a crew of 23 military sailors, were captured by the Russians.
The Russian side has arranged the provocations in the Strait of Kerch against our military and civilian vessels before, but for the first time it used force, directly attacking our ships. At the same time, for the first time the Russians did not hide behind the “green men” of the civil defense of the Crimea, as it was in the spring of 2014 on the Crimean peninsula, or later, in the Ordlo in the Donbass, when all attacks on army soldiers of the Armed Forces and The CCA, the Russian ichthamnets, was explained solely by the amateur enthusiasm of the local separatist militia.
Recall that in international practice - the legal regime of martial law in a state or in a separate part of it is introduced, as a rule, in wartime, which is established by a decision of the highest state authority - in the case of aggression against the state or the immediate threat of aggression. This regime is characterized by the introduction into force of a set of emergency measures by a state law to protect state security and public order in the country. It establishes increased responsibility (under martial law) for disobeying (non-compliance) with the orders and instructions of the military authorities of the state.
However, martial law may also be imposed due to internal factors. In memory of the older generation, the imposition of martial law in Poland by General Wojciech Jaruzelski in December 1981 due to growing discontent of the population, when a significant part of Solidarity trade union activists (including their leader Lech Walesa, ironically, later replacing Jaruzelski as President of the country) were interned, and the announcers of the central channel of the Polish Television read the news in military uniform for almost two months in a row.
Later, Jaruzelski justified himself: if I had not imposed martial law on my own, then Soviet tanks would have entered Poland, as happened with Czechoslovakia in 1968.
The elements of martial law were introduced by the organizers of the coup in August 1991, who were part of the USSR State Committee on State of Emergency for four days from among some of the leaders of the Soviet Union who isolated the President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev at his Foros residence in Crimea.
In the spring of 2014, when Russia, defying international law and a whole series of treaties with Ukraine, carried out the creeping annexation of the Crimea, the then-speaker of parliament Oleksandr Turchynov, who temporarily performed the duties of the President of Ukraine, was the only one who that year voted for the decision on the introduction of martial law.
The arguments of the Batkivshchyna leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who was invited to this meeting, despite the fact that at that time she was neither a Deputy nor a member of the government, made a decisive impact on the results of the vote.
“Not a single tank should leave the barracks, not a single soldier should raise a weapon, because it would mean defeat,” she then stated.
By the way, today, if he had forgotten his words 2014. Yulia Tymoshenko during today's discussion is similar to the first question and in the Parliament, said: "Our political force since the beginning of the appearance of little green men in the Crimea, has always advocated the imposition of martial law."
But with the position of Tymoshenko of the 2014 sample, at that moment the former head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Valentin Nalyvaichenko, also agreed with one another: the beginning of a large-scale land invasion. "
In general, at that time martial law was not introduced and temporarily losing the Crimea, Ukraine also received an ORDLO in the Donbas. Therefore, taking into account the hybrid nature of the confrontation with Russia, we would have to call martial law more likely in terms used by Spanish-speaking countries - a state of siege.
The joint statement of the three ex-presidents of Ukraine (Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko) voiced skepticism about the advisability of introducing a new legal regime in the country, albeit temporarily.
Meanwhile, according to the words of Poroshenko, introduced from November 28, martial law:
- does not mean that Ukraine will conduct offensive operations. The armed forces will defend their territory;
- Does not mean a change of position on the contact line in the Donbass and other points;
-Does not provide for mobilization. The president urged only reserves of the first line to be on the alert;
- Does not provide for restrictions of constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens;
- This does not mean that Ukraine will abandon the peaceful settlement of the conflict with the Russian Federation in the Donbass.
Thus, the words of Petro Poroshenko, means that not all provisions (adopted by parliament in May 2015, on his own initiative) of the law “On the legal regime of martial law” will be fully implemented.
Recall that according to the text of this legal document, Ukraine, martial law provides for :
- labor service for able-bodied persons in order to perform work of a defense nature;
- the use of the capacities and labor resources of enterprises, institutions and organizations of all forms of ownership for the needs of defense;
- special mode of entry and exit;
- verification of documents from citizens, inspection of things, vehicles, baggage;
- control over the activities of the media, cultural institutions and organizations, printing houses;
- apartment service for individuals and legal entities for the quartering of servicemen;
- the election of the president and the Verkhovna Rada is prohibited;
- it is prohibited to change the Constitution;
- it is forbidden to hold referendums, actions and mass meetings.
It is quite possible that all “exemptions and exclusions” from the legislation in practice of the introduction of elements of martial law will later be concretized for the masses by lawyers from Bankova. In the meantime, the discussion about its format continued on Monday.
At 16:00, it was scheduled to open an extraordinary meeting of the session of the Ukrainian parliament. But before lunch, MP Mustafa Nayem on his Facebook page said: “Apparently, there will be no martial law for the scenario proposed by the president. Now there is a discussion of three points on which a compromise is possible. In particular, it is about:
- the introduction of martial law not for two months, but for one;
- withdrawal of the paragraph of the decree on the restriction of the rights and freedoms of citizens;
- direct appointment in the same decree of the date of the presidential elections on March 31, 2019.
The Deputy added that if all these changes are made, martial law is an acceptable measure in response to the aggression of the Russian Federation.
Meanwhile, the beginning of a full-fledged meeting in parliament due to the populism of some factions was delayed. Speaker Andrei Paruby (under the mute of a parallel speech by the blocker of the Presidium of the Verkhovna Rada, the country's main radical Oleg Lyashko) formally opened the Parliament session, but immediately announced a break.
Therefore, Petro Poroshenko voiced his appeal to the Ukrainians, first not in the session hall of the parliament, but in the studio address, which was broadcasted today on the air of most information channels. It became clear that he agreed to the compromise proposed by the Deputies.
Thus, the presidential campaign will begin during December 31, 2018, to mark the first round of elections in the elections on March 31 of next year.
A vote in parliament to support a presidential decree began later than the start of the meeting (chaired by China) of UN Radbez on the situation in the Sea of Azov, despite the time difference between Kyiv and New York.
Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN Security Council Vladimir Yelchenko commented on the obvious threat to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the capture of its cities Berdyansk and Mariupol. He also demanded that Russia immediately release the 23 captured Ukrainian sailors, 3 Ukrainian warships towed to Kerch by force, and unblock the passage through the Kerch Strait.
At a meeting of P NATO Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE on Monday, it was said that Russia should avoid provocative actions and return the detained ships of the Ukrainian authorities and the release of all the detainees from custody.
In his statement, OSCE PA Chairman George Tsereteli reiterated “the position of the OSCE PA, expressed in several resolutions, to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in its internationally recognized borders, including Crimea and Sevastopol.”
In Kyiv in the late afternoon, the Speaker again resumed the session. The first speaker from the rostrum of the parliament was the Secretary of the National Security and Defense University of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov, who noted that the scope of the above restrictions on “the rights and freedoms of citizens” would be correlated depending on the exacerbation of situations.
The head of the country's foreign affairs agency, Pavel Klimkin, listed to the legislators those international obligations, including the provisions of international maritime law, which the Russian Federation does not adhere to since the spring of 2014 until the current crisis in the Sea of Azov.
Before the parliamentary vote, Andrei Paruby rebuked some of his colleagues in double standards. Like, all the time Poroshenko was reproached for not imposing martial law, and when he introduced it, diametrically opposite reproaches from the same politicians fell down.
And after Petro Poroshenko’s appeal, a vote was taken in parliament. By 276 votes in favor, they supported the Presidential Decree on the imposition of martial law. In general, martial law is introduced in 10 regions bordering Russia, Belarus, Transnistria and in the Azov and Black Seas for one month, and in the event of a start of land aggression - throughout the country and to mobilize without looking at parliament.
Also, the Parliament adopted a Resolution addressing international organizations about another fact of Russian aggression.
On the same day, an operational meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Committee was held, and the Resident of Ukraine held a number of important telephone consultations with Ukraine’s foreign partners, including German Federal Chancellor Angelo Merkel.
However, from the first reaction of individual international structures and some politicians on the events in the Sea of Azov, the essence of their recommendations can be reduced to a universal ambivalent Council for the Russian Federation and Ukraine: “resolve this conflict politically and diplomatically”.
The unprecedented legal status of martial law for Ukraine, even in its limited format, caused a wide response among domestic and foreign political scientists and a considerable number of expert forecasts. But we decided to save the next section of the thematic review “experts' interpretation and forecasts of analysts” for the next time, optimistically noting only what excites many: visa free is not canceled, and representatives of the mission of the International Monetary Fund managed to assure the Ukrainian side today that martial law will not an obstacle to further cooperation in order to receive the next tranche of financial assistance.
Alexander Voronin, FNI