April 23, 2018

European Week of Ukraine

The Most Important Issues Concerning the Interests of Ukraine and the EU and NATO

V. Putin's moving to a policy of open confrontation with the West after his next reelection as President of Russia in March 2018, raises the importance of Ukraine as an outpost of Europe in counteracting Moscow's neo-imperial course. The consequence of this tendency is the establishment of a qualitatively new level of partnership between the United States, NATO, the EU and Ukraine. First of all, this concerns the actual recognition of Ukraine's right to NATO and the EU membership, which previously was a major problem in our country's relations with its Western partners.

 

Thus, April 18–19, 2018, for the first time a meeting of the NATO Military Committee at the level of military representatives was held in Ukraine. The event was organized at the National Lviv Land Forces Academy, and its main goal was to confirm the North Atlantic Alliance's support to our state. During the meeting were considered and clarified strategic directions of cooperation between Ukraine and NATO and practical questions of assistance in strengthening the Ukrainian Army. In particular, the question was raised about the issue of lethal weapons for the needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Usually NATO meetings are held in member countries or candidate countries for membership in the Organization. So, the meeting in Ukraine was a direct challenge to Russia, which considers the possibility of Ukraine's joining NATO a “red line” and a critical threat to its interests and security.

Participants of the NATO Military Committee meeting in Ukraine
Participants of the NATO Military Committee meeting in Ukraine

In turn, in the context of Ukraine's European integration, illustrative was the meeting of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, held on April 18–19, in Strasbourg. According to the results of the meeting, a resolution was adopted, in which for the first time was recognized Ukraine's right to raise the question of acquiring EU membership (in accordance with Article 49 of the Lisbon Treaty) if it meets the relevant criteria. In this regard, the EU leadership is recommended to confirm the European aspirations of Ukraine in the final declaration to be adopted at the 20th EU-Ukraine Summit in July 2018. Besides, the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee spoke in favour of the continuation of sanctions against Russia, and supported Ukraine's position on the need to deploy a UN peacekeeping mission in the conflict zone on the Donbas.

Participants of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee
Participants of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee

The Ukrainian issue was also raised during the meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on April 16, 2018 in Luxembourg, which was devoted to the consideration of relations between the European Union and Russia. High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini emphasized the continuation of Moscow's aggressive actions against Ukraine and Syria. With this in mind, Brussels's position on building relations with Russia was confirmed on the basis of five principles (adopted in March 2016), which include: possibility of changes in the EU's attitude to Russia only if it fully meets the Minsk Agreements; deepening the EU's cooperation with the Eastern Partnership and Central Asia countries; improving the energy security of the European Union and its capabilities to counter “hybrid” threats from Moscow; limiting interaction with the Russian Federation exclusively to solving problems around Syria, Iran and the DPRK; support for the development of civil society in the Russian Federation.

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini at the EU Foreign Affairs Council High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini
High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini
at the EU Foreign Affairs Council

Other Aspects of Cooperation Between Ukraine and Its Western Partners

Today, the EU accounts for 36.5 % of Ukraine's agricultural exports
Today, the EU accounts for 36.5 % of Ukraine's agricultural exports

The basis for the development of military-political cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union and NATO is created by the reorientation of trade and economic relations of our state from Russia to Europe. Thus, in January–February 2018 Ukrainian agricultural exports to the EU countries grew by 28.1 %, or by 224.7 million US dollars as compared with the same period in 2017, to 1.025 billion US dollars. Thus, today the EU accounts for 36.5 % of Ukraine's agricultural exports. The main types of export products were grain crops, oil and seeds of oil plants. Besides, the volumes of exports of poultry, eggs, butter, chocolate and grape wines have substantially increased.

 

Some Events and Factors Influencing Ukraine's Relations with Western Countries and International Organizations

Despite Ukraine's successes in establishing a partnership with the European Union and NATO, we should not fall into euphoria and remain complacent. According to the US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017, human rights abuses continue to occur in Ukraine, including persecution of people for political reasons, illegal arrests and detention, mass media harassment and pressure on business. All this refers to the annexed by Russia Crimea and the occupied Donbas. At the same time, the report of the US Department of State points out the unresolved problems with fighting corruption in central and local government bodies of Ukraine.

The EU's criticism of uneffective reforms in our country is also a negative signal for Ukraine. In this regard, the leadership of the European Commission is concerned about the impact of the pre-election situation in Ukraine on the decisions of the state's leadership regarding the EU's demands that are unpopular in the country. First of all, it concerns the growing prices for energy carriers and the possibility of raising the retirement age.