The inaugural summit of the Crimean Platform was held on August 23 in Kyiv. The Crimean platform became the first negotiating platform in 7 years after the beginning of the Crimean Peninsula occupation. From now on, it is an institutionalized consultative and coordination format initiated by Ukraine to improve the international response to the occupation of Crimea, respond to security challenges, increase international pressure on Russia, prevent further human rights violations and protect victims of the occupation regime, and achieve the main goal of deoccupation of the Crimea and its return to Ukraine.
Ukraine has done an extensive diplomatic work to attract to the work of this format as many states as possible, because many countries doubted the advisability of their participation, given the potential threats. As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy admitted, the Russian Federation exerted strong pressure on potential participating countries that intended to come to Ukraine. «They called them directly on the phone at the level of foreign ministers, at the level of leaders – called to their counterparts. Everyone doubted that there will be 30 participating countries», the President of Ukraine said in an interview. This information was confirmed by the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba. In an interview, he said that Russia put pressure on countries, threatening political and economic losses. One state, according to Kuleba, even asked permission from Russian diplomats to send at least a representative of a lower rank instead of the foreign minister. After all, they did it.
In total, representatives of 46 countries and international organizations took part in the Crimean platform, in particular, all member states of the EU and the North Atlantic Alliance, including a separate NATO representative - Deputy Secretary General, President of the European Council, Vice-President of the European Commission, Secretaries General of the Council of Europe and GUAM. A number of countries were represented at the level of ministers, prime ministers, presidents and ambassadors. The United States of America and the Federal Republic of Germany sent their ministers of energy. This choice was dictated by the foreign policy priorities of both states.
US President Joe Biden and Chancellor Angela Merkel are seeking to build constructive relations with the Russian leadership, trying to involve Moscow in their geopolitical alliance in containing China, so too active participation in deoccupation of Crimea is now undesirable in Washington and Berlin. At the same time, after the start of the Crimean platform, the energy ministers continued negotiations with Ukraine on the launch of the Nord Stream -2 gas pipeline. Despite this fact, as well as despite the global informational agenda of the day, which was full of news about the events in Afghanistan, the start of the new format turned out to be rather successful.
Instead, representatives of the vast majority of countries, even those that traditionally have close ties with the Russian Federation, have expressed a tough and critical stance on the occupation of part of Ukrainian territory. The common position of the participating countries was enshrined in the declaration adopted as a result of the summit, which can be joined by other states that did not participate in the summit. The countries reaffirmed their support for Ukraine's territorial integrity, condemned the temporary occupation of Crimea, the militarization of the peninsula, as well as the artificial change in the peninsula's demographic structure, human rights violations and freedom of navigation in the Black Sea region. It was agreed to support joint efforts to strengthen resilience in the context of growing threats to security and stability in the Black Sea region. The issue of naval navigation in the region is increasingly being discussed on international platforms, as after several years of de facto blockade of Ukrainian Azov ports, Russia is gradually extending military control to the Black Sea, which is of concern to NATO member and partner states.
In order to achieve defined goals, it was decided to create a network of constant and rapid communication between representatives of the ministries of foreign affairs of the Platform's member states (to set up Crimea focal points), to recognize the role of national parliaments in addressing the temporary occupation of Crimea and to encourage the coordination of activities on Crimea between national parliaments as well as within inter-parliamentary assemblies.
Ukraine has also established the National Office of the Crimean Platform in Kyiv. In addition to inter-parliamentary and intergovernmental cooperation, it is planned to involve representatives of the so-called «Fourth power» - experts and think tanks. To this end, the International Crimea Platform Expert Network of the Crimean Platform was established while international and national non-governmental organizations, think tanks and the expert community were invited to be involved in the activities of this network. In the final part of the signed Declaration, the signatory countries called on the Russian Federation to engage constructively in the activities of the platform.
The institutionalization of the process of returning the occupied Crimean peninsula 7 years after the beginning of Russian aggression against Ukraine is a great achievement of Ukrainian diplomacy. Often the occupation of certain territories over time simply disappears from the information space, and therefore the consolidation of the efforts of the international community in order to restore the territory of a sovereign state becomes impossible, as was the case, for example, in Transnistria. The Crimean platform returns the issue of de-occupation of Crimea to the international agenda and consolidates the positions of the participating states of the initiative on the policy of non-recognition of the Russian occupation. The return of the Crimean issue to the information agenda opens up opportunities for revitalizing interaction around the issue of sanctions policy, its potential strengthening through the introduction of new sanctions and restrictions against Russia and its leadership. According to the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denis Shmygal, Ukraine has lost more than $ 100 billion due to the occupation of Crimea.
Thus, the state intends to use various means not only to return the peninsula, but also to obtain compensation for damages. That is why the Kremlin put a lot of pressure on the participating countries, in fact threatening and calling the summit «anti-Russian and unfriendly actions». At the same time, there is a danger that States parties will limit themselves to statements of intent to increase pressure without taking appropriate action. In this case, the Crimean platform will only be an attempt to return the issue of the deoccupation of Crimea to the agenda and will remain a platform for expert discussions. Therefore, the Ukrainian authorities should actively cooperate with the participating countries in order to consolidate their positions and promote joint initiatives at various levels of the Crimean Platform that will increase pressure on the Russian Federation.