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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

On closing the border with Russia

11 June, 2014 - 18:03

Although it is as long as 1,974 kilometers on land and of unknown length in the Sea of Azov, we definitely have to close the border now. The need has finally entered our minds. It is the longest international border in Europe. This time, we will have to close it in a modern way, using advanced technology (which is very, very expensive) coupled with a significant increase in the border guards’ numbers and a new training program for personnel. We will need full-fledged development of the border line and the border strip, including fortifications, as it is now the border with a hostile, aggressive state. It will also require well-developed and technically well-equipped border intelligence, with a brand new hard counterintelligence regime in the border area. As this is the responsibility of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), new SBU stations will have to be erected along the border, not to mention the peculiar and constant outreach work among population that will be partially opposed to the changes.

We need to do a lot more to properly close the border. For example, the Sea of Azov has no state border at the moment. Russia has categorically refused all Ukrainian proposals for the Sea of Azov, even under Viktor Yanukovych. Without negotiations with Russia and a mutual agreement on the Azov, the boundary problem will be left unsolved, to Russia’s delight. We will need to put pressure on it, and to review and amend all laws dealing with this issue, of which there are a few. Furthermore, there is the issue of the visa or visa-free regime with Russia. Infiltrator with a visa-free status is a different beast compared to one without such status. All this and much more needs to be done quickly.

If President Petro Poroshenko takes this issue under tight personal control (and he has no choice but to do it), then the problem of the Ukrainian-Russian border can be addressed in earnest, God willing, in two or three years and at the cost 30 to 50 billion hryvnias from the state budget and 2 billion euros from international sponsors. As they say, it will be a big boy border. We will have to ask Europe to help us with modern equipment and money as well. After all, it will become the boundary between Europe and Russia. We must now force all the state agencies, not only security forces, to counter the cross-border infiltration of militants, terrorists, and military vehicles from Russia. The declaration of martial law in affected regions and in parts of neighboring regions can greatly help in this.

Declaration of a temporary martial law is not a declaration of war, there is a very different legal regime for the latter, and the two are not to be confused. All the legal basis for that is present. The Law “On Defense of Ukraine” says that armed aggression includes “sending by another state or on its behalf of armed groups of regular or irregular nature which use armed force against Ukraine...”

Armed aggression is the first and chief reason for declaring martial law, and it is already well underway. The Law “On Legal Regime of Martial Law” reads: “Martial law provides for entrusting the relevant national authorities, military commanders, and local authorities with the powers necessary to address the threat and maintain national security, as well as for temporary, caused by the threat limitation of constitutional rights and freedoms of the citizens and the rights and legitimate interests of legal persons, with time of these restrictions’ expiry indicated in advance.”

That is, the martial law cannot continue for more than two months, and not everything is decided by the military under it. Both national and local authorities keep functioning, but all their efforts are directed at one goal. I see no other way, as the anti-terrorist operation will not do the job, as has become apparent to all.