Simon Smith » British Ambassador to Kyiv

Guest Post: Why Ukraine matters and what happens next

Guest post by Leigh Turner, Consul General and Director-General for Trade & Investment in Turkey. Leigh has spent the past four weeks working on the Ukraine crisis in London. This post originally appeared on Leigh’s blog. —- Heavily armed Russian troops seize Crimea, part of the sovereign territory of Ukraine with a population similar to Latvia and an area larger than Israel.  President Putin says Crimea “has always been an inalienable … Read more »Guest Post: Why Ukraine matters and what happens next

Why should the Crimean referendum not be recognised?

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A referendum held in Crimea on 16 March returned an overwhelming vote (96.7%) in favour of the region’s accession to Russia.  Given this overwhelming margin, why should this not be regarded as a legitimate expression of popular will on the part of the peninsula’s population? 1. Because it was illegal Clearly it violates Articles 72, 73, 85 and 134 of Ukraine’s constitution. The Constitution clearly stipulates that the status of … Read more »Why should the Crimean referendum not be recognised?

Answers for Russia Today’s ‘5 questions the West hasn’t answered’

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Russia Today, which has a bad couple of days following remarks on its editorial position made by high-profile presenters, has asked five questions which it claims the West hasn’t answered. While I cannot claim to represent the West, I do have the honour to represent the United Kingdom in the Ukraine, and am more than happy to answer Russian Today’s questions. 1. Why did the opposition oust Yanukovich after he … Read more »Answers for Russia Today’s ‘5 questions the West hasn’t answered’

The Vilnius “pause”: a triumph of cynicism?

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The great dramatist and aphorist Oscar Wilde wrote that a cynic was someone who “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” By this definition, the recent decision to put on hold the signing of the EU/Ukraine Association Agreement was an egregious piece of cynicism. Like a great many disappointed people, I listened last Thursday evening to the first public explanations of the decision, putting the emphasis on … Read more »The Vilnius “pause”: a triumph of cynicism?

Flying the flag for non-discrimination

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In March this year, I shared a platform with the UN Development Programme representative in Ukraine at the start of a seminar that the British Embassy in Kyiv had helped to finance, focussing on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of UN members’ fulfilment of their commitments to uphold human rights and civil freedoms.  The UPR is one of several international monitoring exercises carried out on the basis of peer review … Read more »Flying the flag for non-discrimination

What we can learn from Margaret Thatcher

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With Margaret Thatcher’s passing last Monday, it has been a week full of reflection on her impact and achievements.   For millions of people in Britain’s younger generation, she is already a figure of history, not of “current affairs”.  (I still have a 22 year old photograph at home of our daughter, then aged two, pretending to read a copy of the Financial Times with a headline announcing “THATCHER RESIGNS”.)  But … Read more »What we can learn from Margaret Thatcher

A successful Ukraine in a successful EU

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One of the many good things about being British Ambassador to Ukraine is that I get a lot of opportunities to spread the message that Britain welcomes the prospect of Ukraine joining the European Union, when it has met the required criteria.   But quite often in recent weeks I’ve been asked whether this actually means very much.  The reasoning behind such questions seems to rest on three propositions:  i) … Read more »A successful Ukraine in a successful EU

Ukraine as Chair of the OSCE: multi-tasking in a multi-vectored organisation

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As the new year (according to the old calendar) only started at the beginning of this week in this part of the world, it’s not too late to be chipping in with some thoughts on what opportunities 2013 brings. There’s a specific sense in which 2013 is an opportunity for Ukraine – as this is the year in which the country becomes Chairman in Office of the Organisation for Security … Read more »Ukraine as Chair of the OSCE: multi-tasking in a multi-vectored organisation