Moscow (Associated Press)-When the leaders of the three Slavic republics of the Soviet Union met in a secluded hunting lodge on December 8, 1991, the fate of the vast country was hanging in the balance.They swiped the pen and dealt a fatal blow to the Soviet Union, and the shock wave it caused was still reverberating three years later. In the tension between Russia and Ukraine.
The agreement they signed at the Viscully Villa in the Belaviza Forest near the Polish border announced that “the Soviet Union no longer exists as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality.” It also created the Commonwealth of Independent States, which was a result of A loose alliance of the former Soviet republics, which still exists but is of little significance.
Two weeks later, eight other Soviet republics joined the alliance, effectively ending the power of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who dropped the hammer and the Kremlin in the air on December 25, 1991. Taiwan under the sickle.
At that time, Belarus was called Stanislav Shushkevich, head of state of the Republic of Belarus, and he proudly spoke of the signing of the agreement. He said that the agreements reached with Russia’s Boris Yeltsin and Ukraine’s Leonid Kravchuk are “diplomatic masterpieces.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, 86-year-old Shushkevich added: “A great empire, a nuclear superpower, split into independent countries, can cooperate with each other as much as it wants without a drop of blood.”
But these blood will flow out later-there have been many conflicts between the republics of the former Soviet Union that were once strictly controlled by Moscow.
One of the deadliest The conflict began in eastern Ukraine shortly after Russia annexed the Crimea Peninsula of Ukraine in 2014, when Russian-backed separatists fought against the Ukrainian army, killing more than 14,000 people.
Russia’s recent assembly of troops on the border with Ukraine has intensified Western fears of invasion. During the video conference on TuesdayUS President Joe Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin that if Moscow launches an attack on its neighbors, it will face severe economic sanctions.
In his memoirs, Gorbachev expressed dissatisfaction with the 1991 agreement, which was doomed to his desperate attempt to save the Soviet Union from collapse by negotiating a new “Alliance Treaty” between the republics. , This is the effort he started a few months ago.
The 90-year-old Gorbachev wrote: “What they did so hastily and secretly in Belaviza was like a conspiracy to kill it by dismembering a wounded but still alive. It’s about power and the individual. The fight for interests has overcome any legal arguments or doubts.”
However, for Shushkevich, “This is not a tragedy at all!”
“We decided to close the national prison,” he added, “there is nothing worth repenting.”
Shushkevich argued that he and other leaders felt that Gorbachev’s efforts to keep the remaining 12 Soviet republics together were meaningless. The Baltic Republics of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have already seceded. The hardliners of the Communist Party failed in the August coup against Gorbachev, weakening his authority and encouraging other republics to seek independence.
“All versions of the alliance treaty boil down to the restoration of the old methods, or to the new structure proposed by Gorbachev that he will still be the boss,” Shushkevich said.
Shushkevich, Yeltsin and Kravchuk arrived at the Viskuli Hotel near the Polish border on December 7, accompanied by several senior aides. Participants later described the atmosphere as tense-everyone realized that the stakes were high and they all faced being arrested for treason if Gorbachev wanted to.
Shushkevich pointed out that the leader of the KGB Republic in the hunting lodge, Edward Serkovsky, assured him that there was no threat. However, many years later, the tough Serkowski expressed regret that he did not order them to be arrested.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Shushkevich said that he did not expect Gorbachev, whose power was rapidly weakened, to try to arrest them.
“Considering Gorbachev’s cowardice, I don’t think there is such a threat; at least I don’t feel it,” he said.
Gorbachev said that he did not do this because he was afraid of causing bloodshed in the turbulent situation where the loyalty of the Soviet army and law enforcement agencies were split.
He wrote: “If I decide to rely on certain armed structures, it will inevitably lead to a fierce and bloody political conflict.”
Gorbachev accused his mortal enemy Yeltsin of taking the lead in causing the disintegration of the Soviet Union to take over the Kremlin. Yeltsin died in 2007 at the age of 76. He defended his actions, saying that the Soviet Union was doomed to failure. He said that the Belovezha agreement is the only way to avoid conflict between the central government and an independent-minded republic.
Some participants in the historic meeting pointed out that Kravchuk of Ukraine played a key role in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Ukraine declared its sovereignty after the coup in August, which greatly weakened Gorbachev’s authority. A week before the Belovezha agreement, Kravchuk voted for the president of Ukraine, which greatly approved Moscow’s independence.
During the hunting lodge talks, Kravchuk took a tough stance and rejected any improved version of the Soviet Union.
“Kravchuk focuses on Ukraine’s independence,” Shushkevich said. “He was proud that Ukraine declared its independence in a referendum and he was elected president on Dec. 1, 1991.”
Yeltsin’s senior aide Sergey Shahle also said that Ukraine’s vote played a decisive role.
Shahrai said: “Ukraine’s independence referendum and the subsequent decision of the Supreme Soviet of Ukraine to deny the 1922 treaty establishing the Soviet Union completed the process of understanding politically and legally.” “Yeltsin and Shushkevich first tried to persuade Kravchuk to maintain Some form of alliance, but after the referendum, he didn’t even want to hear the word.”
After signing the agreement, Yeltsin and Kravchuk asked Shushkevich to tell Gorbachev about the deal. Yeltsin also called Soviet Defense Minister Yevgeny Shaboshnikov to dissuade him from using any force if Gorbachev ordered him to use any force, and then called the then U.S. President George ·H·W·Bush.
Shushkevich recalled that Gorbachev was angry at the announcement of the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
“Gorbachev told me in the tone of a mentor:’Do you know what the international community will say?'” Shushkevich said. “I replied that I knew.-At that time, the dialogue with Bush had already begun and I was hearing it.” I said that Yeltsin told Bush about this and he (Bush) reacted positively. “
Although they focused on overthrowing Gorbachev, the three leaders put aside their disputes, but these differences later resurfaced.
Putin described the disintegration of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century,” and has repeatedly claimed that Ukraine unfairly inherited parts of Russia’s history when the Soviet Union disintegrated.
When the pro-Kremlin president of Ukraine was ousted by protests in 2014, Russia responded by annexing Crimea and supporting the separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
In the recent Russian military buildup reported in Washington and Kiev, Putin sought Biden’s assurance that the NATO military alliance will never expand to include Ukraine, which has long sought to join. The Americans and their NATO allies say this request is impossible.
“Modern Ukraine is entirely a product of the Soviet era,” Putin said in an article published in July. “We know and clearly remember that it was shaped on the historic Russian soil-to a large extent -. It is clear that Russia has actually been robbed.”
Karmanau reports from Kiev, Ukraine.