July 22, 2016

The Main Aspects of the Ukrainian-American Strategic Partnership

 

Yuriy Radkovets

A series of strategically important meetings and negotiations of the highest political leadership of Ukraine and the United States took place in July this year.

Thus, July 7, US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Ukraine, where he held talks with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Andriy Parubiy, Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, and with other Ukrainian politicians.

This visit of a senior US diplomat was a landmark for Ukraine, because it was held the day before the NATO Summit in Warsaw, within which had been scheduled to discuss the conceptual basis of the new strategy of global and regional security of the Alliance.

In fact, the US Secretary of State's visit to Ukraine became evidence of the weighty political support to our country in protecting its national sovereignty and constitutional order in the face of the continued Russian military aggression.

During the talks with the political leadership of Ukraine, John Kerry focused on three key aspects of the Ukrainian-American strategic partnership.

Firstly, Ukraine has received a clear “political signal” that the United States together with the European Union and NATO will continue providing political and diplomatic support to Ukraine in matters of countering Russia's military aggression and de-occupation of the Crimea. At the same time, the American side has strict intentions to “make Russia pay a high price for its aggression against Ukraine” and the price will keep growing.

It was also focused on the fact that in the 21st century, no one is allowed to violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states with the use of military force, as “modern Russia does, having occupied a part of Ukraine's territory”.

Secondly, the principled position of the American side is the need to maintain political and economic sanctions until Russia's full implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

At this, the US Secretary of State again emphasized the fact that Russia must fully comply with its obligations under the Minsk Agreements and to ensure strict implementation of a set of measures of the Minsk Agreement of February 12, 2015.

At the same time, the American side also called on Russia to withdraw its troops and weapons from the Ukrainian territory; to create the conditions needed to ensure the safety of the Donbas; to ensure the OSCE's unhindered access to all places in the zone of the conflict; to return to Ukraine the control of the eastern sector of the Ukrainian-Russian border; to put pressure on the separatists in order to organize elections according to the Ukrainian Law and the OSCE's standards; to immediately release all the prisoners of war, hostages and illegally detained persons.

At the same time, the United States pointed out that a significant progress had been made by the Ukrainian side in the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. At this, John Kerry drew attention to the necessity of Ukraine's continuing the implementation of its commitments under the Minsk Agreements. First of all it means the constitutional reform, organization of the elections for the local authorities in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as amnesty for persons who have not committed serious crimes.

The United States supported Ukraine's position is that the elections in the Donbas, the constitutional reform, as well as issues of amnesty should be allowed only after the creation of the necessary security conditions in the zone of military conflict and restoration of Ukraine's control over the entire section of the state border with Russia.

Thirdly, another key aspect of the Ukrainian-American strategic partnership is the US financial assistance to Ukraine in political and economic reforms, combating corruption, as well as in the reform of our national security and defence sector. Among the main priorities of this assistance there Ukraine's American partners' allocation of 223 million US dollars to reform the Customs Service of Ukraine.

Apart from this, in the US Congress, at the final stage of discussion is the issue of granting Ukraine a non-lethal military equipment worth 500 million US dollars.

At the same time, common positions on issues of peaceful settlement of the military conflict in the Donbas were agreed in the format of bilateral talks by President of Ukraine P. Poroshenko and US Secretary of State J. Kerry. The key theme of these talks was discussion of the issues of complex military-technical assistance to Ukraine within the framework of the NATO Summit in Warsaw (8-9 July this year) and the American side's participation in the reform of the security and defence sector of Ukraine.

The talks also discussed a range of issues related to the United States' providing Ukraine with additional consultative, expert and financial assistance to implement the strategic reforms in the country and to fight corruption.

 

It should be pointed out that the promising directions of the Ukrainian-American strategic partnership (cooperation) were also the keynote in P. Poroshenko and B. Obama's talks within the framework of the NATO Summit in Warsaw (8-9 July this year).

Thus, as a result of bilateral negotiations, the parties pointed out that in today's geopolitical realities, the USA remain Ukraine's main foreign partner to combat Russia's ongoing military aggression against Ukraine. At this, B. Obama declared the USA's non-recognition of Russia's occupation of the Crimea, and the need to maintain sanctions against Russia to its full implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

During the negotiations within the framework of the NATO Summit, the Ukrainian side received a weighty political and diplomatic support in the “Big Five” + Ukraine format (with the participation of the leaders of the USA, the UK, Germany, France and Italy) and in the format of the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the highest level (July 9, 2016), as a result of which, the comprehensive package of assistance to Ukraine in more than 50 spheres was agreed on.

At the meeting in the format of the “Big Five” + Ukraine, the United States urged the leaders of the European Union and NATO to extend the scope of the political and military assistance to Ukraine in order to counter the Russian military aggression. Besides, they agreed that the United States, Ukraine, the EU partner countries and NATO should create a concept document, providing for guarantor states’ of Ukraine international guarantees for the protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity in today's “hybrid wars”.

Leading international experts point out: the most important political result of the negotiations of the President of Ukraine P. Poroshenko with the leaders of the USA, the UK, Germany, France and Italy is the agreement on the parties' readiness to hold political consultations on peaceful settlement of the military conflict in the Donbas in the nearest future, which may actually mean their joining the process of settlement of the crisis in the East of Ukraine. Which mechanism for the peaceful settlement of the armed conflict will be used and in what format — is still unknown, but it seems that it has been clear for a long time now that the Minsk negotiation process in the “Normandy format” has proved to be ineffective.

 

As a conclusion, it should be noted that Ukraine and the United States share common values and the understanding that in the civilized world only joint efforts can guarantee global and regional security, as well as effective counteracting any attempts to destabilize the global system of international security.

The results of US Secretary of State J. Kerry's visit to Kyiv on the 7th of July and the results of P. Poroshenko's bilateral talks with B. Obama, as well as the talks in the “Big Five” + Ukraine format within the framework of the NATO Summit in Warsaw (8-9 July this year) suggest that today the USA is Ukraine's strategically important foreign partner in matters of countering Russia's military aggression and in defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our State.

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