July 30, 2018

European Week of Ukraine

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

The USA's demonstration of the unchangeability of its positions on the Ukrainian and Russian issues after D. Trump's meeting with V. Putin on July 16, 2018 (which caused a significant and ambiguous resonance in the world), is of fundamental importance to Ukraine.

July 25, 2018, the US Department of State issued the “Crimean Declaration”, which emphasizes Washington's non-recognition of the “Russian affiliation” of the Crimea. At this, Russia's seizure by force of the Crimean Peninsula is considered in contravention of international law. The document is based on the historical precedent of the so-called Welles Declaration of 1940, in which Washington refused to recognize the occupied Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia as part of the USSR. The Welles Declaration remained in force until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

July 25, 2018, the US Department of State issued the “Crimean Declaration”
July 25, 2018, the US Department of State issued the “Crimean Declaration”

The US Department of State's declaration was backed up by a resolution by the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, which reaffirms the American Parliament's attitude to the Crimea as part of the sovereign territory of Ukraine, condemns Russia's violations of human rights in the Peninsula, and points to Moscow's legal responsibility for the crimes that have been taking place in the Crimea during its Russian occupation. In addition, the resolution calls on the US government to continue sanctions against Russia.

The “Crimean Declaration” has been supported by Canada, the European Union, Britain, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Norway and other EU members. According to the Spokesperson for the EU, the document illustrates the firmness of USA's intentions regarding non-recognizing Russia's annexation of the Crimea and supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The European Union, which considers Russia's actions a direct challenge to international security, will keep sticking to the same position, and will continue the policy of containing Moscow, including through restrictive measures.

Maja Kocijancic, the spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, said in a statement that the U.S. declaration “illustrates the U.S.'s continued strong and principled stance on Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol and violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

She said the EU remains “firmly committed to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and to fully implementing our nonrecognition policy, including through restrictive measures.”

 

At the same time, the United States has taken a number of other steps aimed at prolonging and increasing the pressure on Russia, as well as supporting Ukraine.

Last week the United States has taken a number of steps aimed at supporting Ukraine
Last week the United States has taken a number of steps aimed at supporting Ukraine

For example, July 24, 2018, within the framework of the draft bill of “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019”, the US Congress extended the ban on Pentagon's cooperation with the Russian Ministry of Defense, with the exception of certain unpredictable cases. It also prohibits spending on any measures that may contribute to the recognition of Russia's sovereignty over the Crimea.

At the same time, the US Congress planned to allocate 250 million US dollars to assist Ukraine in the security sector. Of these, 50 million US dollars should be spent on the purchase of lethal weapons. Taking into account this, since 2014, the total amount of funds allocated by the United States in support of Ukraine's defense capabilities will have amounted to 1 billion US dollars.

Besides, in the nearest future, the US Congress is going to adopt a comprehensive legislative act that will include provisions on: mandatory introduction of restrictions in accordance with the “Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act”; increased sanctions against Russia in the energy and financial sectors, as well as against Russian oligarchs and organizations working in the cybernetic sphere; creation of a National Center to Respond to Russian Threats and a Sanctions Coordinator Office in the State Department.

 

On the whole, the above-mentioned circumstances show a complete failure of the Russian leadership's hopes for reaching compromises with the USA and improvement of Russian-American relations after the talks between the two countries' Presidents. Moreover, D. Trump's flirting with Russia (which was presented in Russia as Putin's “another geopolitical victory”) has led to toughening of Washington's policy towards Moscow.

At this, the USA's “Crimean Declaration” finally ruled out Washington's recognition of “Russian affiliation” of the Crimean Peninsula, and also confirmed Moscow's absolute incomprehension of current political realities.

D. Trump's flirting with Russia (which was presented in Russia as Putin's “another geopolitical victory”) has led to toughening of Washington's policy towards Moscow

 

Other Important Issues Concerning Ukraine's Interests

NATO and leading European countries remain firm in their positions on the issue of supporting Ukraine in resolving the conflict in the Donbas. An indication of this was the meeting of Political Directors of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the countries-participants of the “Normandy Four” on July 26, 2018 in Berlin, during which were discussed the principles of the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

As before, representatives of the Federal Republic of Germany and France sided with Ukraine, demanding the deployment of peacekeepers throughout the conflict zone and transferring to them the control over the relevant section of the Ukrainian-Russian border. In turn, the Russian side agreed only to providing peacekeepers with OSCE observers protection functions, and also again urged the need to coordinate the plans for deployment of the mission with the leaders of the “DPR” and “LPR”.

Given the fundamental differences between Ukraine and its Western partners on the one hand and Russia — on the other, no decisions were made. The negotiators agreed only to continue the consultations.

The meeting of Political Directors of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs from the Normandy format countries was held on July 26, 2018 in Berlin
The meeting of Political Directors of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs from the Normandy format countries was held on July 26, 2018 in Berlin

Against this background, rather illustrative were Russia's attempts to bring to its side the leaders of Germany and France. Thus, on the eve of the meeting of the “Normandy Four” at the level of Political Directors of the Foreign Ministries, on Moscow's initiative, on July 24, 2018, there was a meeting of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia S. Lavrov and the Chief of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces V. Gerasimov with the Federal Chancellor of Germany A. Merkel (in Berlin) and President of France E. Macron (in Paris).

The plans for deploying a peacekeeping mission in the Donbas and V. Putin's initiative on holding a referendum in the “DPR” and “LPR” were considered. Despite the attempts of Russian representatives to impose their vision of these issues, the positions of the leaders of Germany and France remained unchanged, as shown by the meeting in the Normandy format.

Based on the Russian leadership's positive (at that moment) impressions from the results of the meeting between V. Putin and D. Trump, Moscow obviously tried to consolidate the “successes achieved” also at the level of the leaders of Germany and France. At the same time, such attempts of the Kremlin confirm an increase in its being interested in speeding up the process of resolving the situation around the Donbas, which is the result of further growing negative impact of Western sanctions on the Russian economy.

 

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