On Friday, 14 March, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt informed the Riksdag on developments concerning Ukraine and Russia.
Mr Bildt began by stating that international law is an essential foundation for every attempt to build lasting peace; all States have a right to territorial integrity, freedom and political independence, all States must refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, and unless there is expressed support from the Charter of the United Nations, no consideration may be invoked to serve to warrant resort to the threat or use of force in contravention of this principle.
The Foreign Minister underlined that “developments since at least 27 February… mean that Russia has violated these fundamental principles in a blatant and serious manner.
The European Union has declared that Russia’s actions are to be regarded as an act of aggression.”
Mr Bildt then spoke about the origination of the crisis stating it started towards the end of last summer when Russia began to take economic measures against Ukraine to force the country to refrain from signing the association and cooperation agreement with the EU: “The Russian arguments against this agreement were without foundation”, said Mr Bildt.
Mr Bildt then spoke about the developments in Ukraine since 18 February, which led to Arseniy Yatsenyuk being elected new Prime Minister on 27 February, with the support of 371 of the Parliament’s 450 members. “At the same time as this was happening, a Russian armed attack was initiated in the Crimean Peninsula”, he said and added that developments in Crimea since then have “amounted to an assumption of power by Russian national groups, with military support. Other groups’ freedom and opportunities have been seriously restricted. This coup regime – which is what it unequivocally is here – has declared Crimea’s independence and announced a so-called referendum on the issue, to be held on Sunday.”
He underlined that, if this continues, the EU heads of state and government have made it clear that measures against Russia will be adopted, in addition to those already taken:
“Needless to say, the diplomatic efforts in this matter must continue. Every opportunity must be utilised.”
“The decision of the Russian Federation Council on 1 March, like the actual military steps taken, is a serious attack on principles that are fundamental to Europe’s security. No country has any right whatsoever to intervene militarily in the territory of another state.
Talk of protecting one’s own citizens in this way is a pretext here, as it was in Georgia in August 2008, but it is a pretext that is also fundamentally unacceptable.”
Mr Bildt further informed the Riksdag that the Sweden is also proactive with regard to a substantial economic support programme to Ukraine: “In the first instance this concerns a support and reform programme with the International Monetary Fund. With this as a base, considerable contributions from the EU will also become relevant. Sweden already has a considerable programme in place to support Ukraine. It is crucial that this is combined with deep economic reforms. The country’s economy has been gravely mismanaged for decades.”
Mr Bildt finished by making three strategic observations: “Firstly, the threshold for Russia’s use of military force in its neighbourhood has clearly been lowered. That was the conclusion we drew right after the war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008….Secondly, through decisions now taken – and in particular the Federation Council’s decision of 1 March – Russia has created a serious element of uncertainty concerning its future policy and its future actions in other situations as well. And thirdly, the crisis we are now in the midst of clearly demonstrates the need for even stronger cooperation within the European Union. Only a strong, clear and unified Europe has the potential to deal with a crisis and a challenge of this magnitude.”