July 22, 2018

European Week of Ukraine

Major Events and Trends in the Development of Ukraine's Cooperation with the European Union and NATO

Last week's main factor influencing the interests of Ukraine in the context of its relations with Western countries and international organizations, was the meeting of the Presidents of the USA and Russia — D. Trump and V. Putin. The meeting was rather ambiguous, and on the one hand, it confirmed D. Trump's purely populist policy, and on the other — it showed the actual immutability of the USA's attitude towards the Russian Federation.

For example, summing up the talks, D. Trump made a series of scandalous statements about “huge successes from the meeting with Putin” and “the beginning of a resumption of constructive cooperation between the United States and Russia”. However, in addition to D. Trump and V. Putin's joint declarations on “Russia's non-interference in the presidential elections in the USA”, no common ground was found. Moreover, the parties openly recognized the existence of fundamental problems in relations between them, which, in fact, have no solution.

Nevertheless, D. Trump's “flirtation” with Russia caused an extremely negative reaction both in the United States and in Europe. Thus, according to British Prime Minister T. May, NATO nations should talk to Russia “from a position of strength and unity”. According to her assessment, the maintenance of normal relations with Russia is the NATO Allies' long-term goal, but in the current situation, relations between the parties should be based taking into consideration Moscow's actions in the international arena. In this context, T. May supported the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and also stressed the need to contain Russia.

D. Trump and V. Putin openly recognized the existence of fundamental problems in relations between them, which, in fact, have no solution
D. Trump and V. Putin openly recognized the existence of fundamental problems in relations between them, which, in fact, have no solution

Against this background, on 18 July, 2018 the European Union announced the continuation of sanctions against Russia over the annexation of the Crimea and Sevastopol for another year (until June 23, 2019). The restrictive measures include a ban on the imports of products from Crimea and Sevastopol to the EU countries, as well as investment into economic entities in the Peninsula. Montenegro, Albania, Norway, Ukraine and Georgia joined the EU sanctions over the Crimean issue. Besides, Ambassadors of the European Union member states approved sanctions against six people involved in the illegal construction of the bridge across the Kerch Strait.

 

Other Important Issues of the EU-Ukraine Cooperation

Western countries and international organizations also demonstrate solidarity with Ukraine in recognition of Russia's responsibility for the catastrophe of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 passenger flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which was shot down by Russia's “Buk” missile system on July 17, 2014 in the sky over the Donbas.

Thus, on the fourth anniversary of the tragedy, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy F. Mogherini made a special statement, in which, on behalf of the EU called on Russia to accept its responsibility and to fully cooperate with all efforts to establish accountability. At the same time, F. Mogherini expressed the EU's full support of the UN Security Council Resolution No. 2166 on the need to bring to justice those responsible for the tragedy of the flight MH17.

 

Other Aspects of Ukraine's Cooperation with Its Western Partners

According to its commitments, the EU leadership provides mediation assistance to Ukraine in resolving gas disagreements with Russia. The first Russian-Ukrainian energy talks, held in Berlin on 18 July, 2018, discussed in particular the future details of Russian gas transits through Ukraine following the expiry of the current supply contracts. Both sides discussed their initial positions. A roadmap for further meetings is to be drawn up on this basis.

The first Russian-Ukrainian energy talks were held in Berlin on 18 July, 2018 The first Russian-Ukrainian energy talks were held in Berlin on 18 July, 2018
The first Russian-Ukrainian energy talks were held in Berlin on 18 July, 2018

In this regard, very illustrative was Putin's statement during his meeting with D. Trump on Russia's readiness to continue gas transit through Ukraine if “Naftogaz of Ukraine” withdraws its claims to the Russian “Gazprom”. On the one hand, this is evidence of Russia's uncertainty about the possibility of implementing the “Nord Stream 2” project, and on the other, this may mean Putin's attempts to mislead the United States and the EU, which is the basis of the Kremlin's policy.

In Ukraine's gas disagreements with Russia, the United States actually side with us. July 18, 2018, to the US Congress was introduced legislation on imposing of sanctions against the participants of the “Nord Stream 2”. As noted in the document, sanctions will allow NATO countries to avoid Russia's political manipulations in energy supplies. Besides, the authors of the draft bill insist that European countries, in particular Germany, should reduce their dependence on supplies of Russian gas rather than increase them, as it is at present.


 

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