FT cannot muster political will to publish Russian Ambassador’s letter on Ukraine

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
FT cannot muster political will to publish Russian Ambassador’s letter on Ukraine
Since 3 October the Russian Embassy in the UK has been waiting for a positive response from the Financial Times on publishing a letter from Ambassador Yakovenko’s as part of the debate on Ukraine. We have only heard that it is under consideration.

So, we have decided to publish the text of this letter on our website for the British public to see for themselves that there is nothing subversive, corrupting nor seditious in it, but a legitimate desire to make a point on an issue of public interest with huge consequences for Ukraine and the Russia-West relationship.

Regrettably, we have to conclude that the FT’s caution, to put it mildly, is indicative of the overall unwillingness on the part of the West to discuss specific issues involved, including the suspicious silence on the MH17 tragedy of 17 July. A good illustration of such an approach is provided by the latest Chatham House piece by Sir Andrew Wood, who like Sir Tony Brenton served in Moscow as British Ambassador. This material is fascinating in the ability of its author to sidestep real issues, including the big ones, like the West’s policy towards Russia after the end of the Cold War, and engage in Cold War invectives and stereotypes which lead away from the slightest possibility of a reasoned debate. Sir Andrew, obviously, entertains strong feelings towards Russia. It seems that Russia is again scapegoated for everything that goes wrong in the West and the world. What is deplorable is the evidence that the Western elite take cover under, the concocted Russia threat to distract public opinion from their policy failures both domestic and international.

Ambassador Yakovenko’s letter to the FT follows.

Dear Sirs,

The recent article on Russia by Martin Wolf, for whom I have a lot of respect, has attracted many comments, including those by Prof Geoffrey Roberts and Sir Tony Brenton. May I join the fray?

From what has already been written and said on the Ukrainian crisis, one can draw a conclusion that this is a serious case that has led to far reaching consequences for European affairs and Russia’s relationship with the European Union. It needn’t be so at all, had the EU acted in Ukraine openly and collectively, with due regard for past precedents and mutual commitments with Russia. It was a blunder of immense proportions, since it is obvious to everyone that a country of the size and complexity of Ukraine cannot be managed from outside without and against Russia. Sir John Sawers in his recent interview with the FT was wisdom incarnate on the issue of revolutionary change and its consequences, which is not beside the point on Ukraine.

What we object to in the first place is the secretive method of the EU in dealing with Ukraine on such a scale in our, presumably interdependent and globalized world. A flawed method produces flawed outcomes. It won’t be a stretch to refer to World War I, which broke out, among other things, because of attachment of European elites to secret diplomacy. Among other things this is a clear case of responsibility and accountability for what has already occurred as a matter, I’d like to believe, of unintended consequences. It’s obvious, that geopolitics, especially the outdated type of “Great Games”, simply is not the EU’s cup of tea. If we are to rebuild trust, it would be necessary to know what analysis was behind Brussels’ Ukraine enterprise.

Since A.M.Urdank (30 September) raises the specter of the Cuban crisis, it would be helpful to remember, that, contrary to American Cold War mythology, it was a matter of Moscow deploying medium range missiles close to US territory in response to similar missiles, deployed by Washington in Germany and Turkey. So, naturally, the removal of both underpinned the eventual US-Soviet compromise. What is relevant today, however, is the fact that both capitals acted unilaterally in the absence of agreements in the area of their strategic forces. That flaw was subsequently remedied. As regards Ukraine, there is similar lack of understanding, which ought to have been part of a formal post-Cold War settlement. That’s why experts like Samuel Charap (Current History, October 2014) are right to raise the issue of filling this fraught void in Euro-Atlantic security architecture with something institutional that would be genuinely inclusive.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.