How the World Discovered Ukraine: The Curious Tale

  • Post category:Issue XX

Anton Buteiko
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, People’s Deputy of the 2nd convocation (1947–2019)


Abstract. The article describes the breakthrough in the world’s perception of Ukraine as an independent and sovereign state a quarter of a century ago.
The author remembered 1992 for its huge intensity, intensity of work and constant learning, bottomless opportunities for creativity, endlessness of completely new challenges and problems that required almost simultaneous solutions, not tomorrow or the day after, but yesterday and the day before.
The author draws attention to several episodes of those days.
The year 1992 began for the author in his new position as Advisor to the President of Ukraine – Head of The Presidential Service for International Affairs, and he had a unique opportunity to be at the epicentre of the formation of the foundations of Ukraine’s international policy. The abovementioned position provided an opportunity to help President Kravchuk coordinate foreign policy activities of ministries and departments, to prepare and participate in important meetings between the President and world leaders.
They devoted most of the time to the problems of relations with the former Soviet republics. At first, only Ukraine insisted on the resolution of existing issues in accordance with the rules of international law. Our state made even more efforts to transform the relations between the former republics into equal relationship, which would be based on the principles of international law. Accordingly, we aimed to make the communication between the leaders of the republics look like a negotiation process on a real international forum.
At that time, after the collapse of the USSR, hundreds of projects, various documents with thousands of pages required studying, and subsequently a formulation of a position after consultations with all the competent ministries and departments of Ukraine. Unlike Russians who had hundreds of specialists of the former USSR, all our work was carried out by a maximum of several dozen employees. During the first few months in 1992, the work on the coordination of materials for the President was done only by his Adviser and Secretary Typist.
In the rapid kaleidoscope of the events of 1992, there were numerous memorable dramatic episodes related to Ukraine’s strategic nuclear weapons. The author is convinced that whoever of moderate people could have been in power in those days in independent Ukraine, the final result would be the same: nuclear disarmament.
When employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Ukrainian SSR formulated a draft statement on the nuclear-weapon-free status of Ukraine just before the independence, the authors of this document could not foresee how difficult it would be to implement its provisions.
In 1992, Ukraine got acquainted with the world, and the world got acquainted with Ukraine, and it happened not without curiosities. At first, it was not easy for foreign representatives to understand who is who in the hierarchy of Ukrainian politicians in the conditions of the establishment of the institution of presidency.
Many important events of that memorable year are now often covered not as they were in fact, and the author seeks to give the younger generation the most complete picture of the first years of restoration of Ukrainian independence, so that they could be perceived with sympathy and understanding. This would allow to shape the future more responsibly and competently.
Keywords: Ukraine, 1992, Soviet Union, nuclear weapons, Soviet Republics.

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