Foreign Policy

How deep is transatlantic split?

25.05.2018
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ICPS Press

The unity of the West has always been a kind of an axiom for Ukrainian foreign policy. The West is associated with democracy, prosperity, stability and, among other things, unity, based on common values, history and strategic interests.

Such a West requires Ukraine as a guide, a field of gravity and a counterbalance to Russian influence. Integration or even cooperation with such a West today - when non-alignment and multipolarity are discredited, and Russia has become a systemic threat - looks like a foreign policy paradigm without serious competitors. It is within its framework that the talks and declarations of accession to NATO and the EU, which largely replaced the complex foreign policy planning, fall into place.

Under such conditions, the least that Ukrainians would like is a violation of the unity of the West. It generates a number of unpleasant questions, from the capabilities of NATO to maintenance of an anti-Russian sanctions regime. In the long run, the probability of facing one of the largest difficulties which is the choice between those who we consider allies is increasing. If the strategic interests of the United States and the European Union are dispersed, then, of course, not only Ukraine will feel the consequences. A strategic alliance between the two poles of the modern world remains a guarantee of global stability and security, or at least that they have been left behind.

In this context, events of recent months gain added value. The sharp difference between the positions of the United States and major European powers over the agreement on Iran's nuclear program, the US's decision to relocate the Embassy to Jerusalem, and the real prospects of a US-EU trade war make us recall the last-year events and declarations. Donald Trump gave a lecture to NATO's European allies on how they should consider security; and Angela Merkel responded by saying that the times when Europe and the United States could rely on each other went by.

This march, Donald Trump announced the imposition of a duty on imports of steel and aluminum, postponing the entry into force of this EU decision by June 1. Such a step could be the beginning of a conflict between the two largest economies in the world, trade between which reached a mark of 1.1 trillion dollars. Interdependence among them is even better illustrated by the impressive volumes of total sales of American companies affiliated to Europe and European companies affiliated to those of the US, reaching 5.5 trillion dollars.

If the decision on the imposition of American duties will come into force, and Europeans will respond symmetrically - we are talking about the imposition of mirror-image duties on American goods, so far on clothes, orange juice, motorcycles, but the list can be expanded - the effect will be even stronger than the one, which was accompanied by the collapse of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership project (TTIP). Of course, this effect will be negative for a strategic partnership between the United States and Europe. But will it affect political cooperation?

To this end, it is worth adding exceptionally deep differences in the views on the issue of international security. Europeans have responded critically to the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem - a step that, in the opinion of many, violates the balance and prospects of the Middle East conflict settlement. The situation with a nuclear deal with Iran deeply criticized by Trump, which has not, however, stroke a chord among European partners, is even more potentially dangerous. As a result, the United States came out of a multilateral agreement, providing Iran with an opportunity to set uneasy conditions for Europeans if they want to keep it in place. In some way what has happened can be seen as a shifting the problem from the US to the EU. This is rather risky not only concerning the Middle East, but also in the non-proliferation regime.

Differences in the views and attitudes of Europeans and Americans seem to become commonplace. To what extent can they cross the line?

For Ukraine, this issue is of practical importance in view of at least two factors - the effectiveness of NATO and support for the anti-Russian sanctions regime. They are the basis of a non-alternative foreign policy strategy of recent years. The good news is that NATO will remain as effective as it has been, even in the wake of the deteriorating global climate of transatlantic relations. Saving a uniting front of anti-Russian sanctions will be harder. But - and here the news is not so good - a simple strategy "trying to be friends with the West against Russia" will work worse.

Despite the deepening of the contradictions in certain spheres, the transatlantic alliance holds together strategic interests. The balance of power in the world is changing rapidly: in the 15-20 years, China and India will play a leading role, and the EU will try to keep its place in the club of great powers. Historical and normative unity makes the United States and Europe almost natural allies, and a long period of peaceful and constructive cooperation gives reason to trust each other. NATO, as an embodiment of this trust, is also beneficial to all, as it creates a sufficient deterrent potential. For Europe, NATO is the best way to strengthen its own security. The US, no matter how much talk about the burden of spending on the common good, also gets from NATO more than it spends on it. Pragmatic interests will ensure the continued functioning of both NATO and other key institutions of the West. Truth be told, this does not mean that Ukraine will easily join them.

The future of the anti-Russian sanctions regime looks vaguer. Intensifying disputes between Europe and the United States will lead to a revision of priorities and a temptation to turn positions on sanctions into a subject for trading on other issues. Europe is likely to suffer more from the imposition of trade duties, and the US position on sanctions looks more coherent and consistent. Against the backdrop of worsening relations and economic losses in Europe, demand for rhetoric about weakening or abolishing sanctions imposed on Russia may well increase. The danger of a tariff war between the United States and the EU for Ukraine is precisely the fact that, struggling for the economic interests of Europeans, it will strengthen the positions of those who want to compensate loss by deeper cooperation with Russia.

The civilization split in the West or the destruction of its key institutions will not happen: even the Kremlin is unlikely to dream about that. However, concerning temporary exacerbation of contradictions and contradictory positions on important issues for Ukraine it is quite possible. In these circumstances, we will probably need a more subtle approach to the western vector of our foreign policy.

Publications with tag «Foreign Policy»
Foreign Policy

ICPS participated in the Eastern Partnership Conference in Vienna

Expert of the International Centre for Policy Studies Yehor Kyian participated in the conference “Ten Years of EaP: Today's Achievements, Tomorrow's Goals”, which took place on May 28-29 in Vienna. The event was attended by representatives of diplomatic departments, governments and leading think-tanks in Europe. In general, all participants of the EaP Conference supported positive rhetoric and noticed significant achievements in cooperation. The Conference consisted of three closed and one public panel. Participants of the first closed panel “How to keep all stakeholders on board” tried to solve the problems of heterogeneity of the EaP countries. At the same time, the emphasis was placed on the need to avoid the “division” of the EaP countries due to their heterogeneity, but to focus on finding commonalities. The aspect of possible restrictions within the framework of the Eastern Partnership has been discussed during the closed panel “The EaP’s “external relations“ and third-party co-operation”. The emphasis was on increasing trade between countries. It was noted that it is necessary to improve cooperation not only with third parties and the EU, but also with each other within the framework of the Eastern Partnership. During the open panel discussion on general topic of the conference, the representatives of the European Commission and countries such as Austria, Romania, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova have exchanged successful experience in implementing reforms and cooperation within the framework of the Eastern Partnership. “It is not necessary to consider the entrance into the EU for the very purpose, because in implementing reforms, countries first of all improve their lives for themselves and should be interested in them,” ICPS expert Yehor Kyian conveys the ideas of one of the participants of the event. - Despite the support and assistance of the EU, some countries have observed bilateral trends - that is, not only the implementation of European values, but, on the contrary, exception to them. First of all, it is about oppression of freedom of speech and media.” During the “Transformation, approximation to EU standards and values, regional cooperation - Experiences and challenges across the wider European region” panel it was highlighted on the experience of the Balkan countries. Their representatives noted that it is necessary to give more clear benchmarks from the EU side regarding the prospects of joining. In their opinion, delaying integration processes can create internal opposition and loss of confidence / support from the public regarding accession to the EU. According to Yehor Kyian, participation in such events by the official Ukrainian delegation will allow our country to better demonstrate its position on the international arena and maintain a close dialogue with Europe.

03.06.2019
Foreign Policy

International conference “Ukraine's relations with its Western neighbors. A chance for rebooting”

On May 22, ICPS conducted an international conference devoted to the analysis of Ukraine’s policy towards V4 countries with the participation of diplomatic missions’ representatives, expert community, think tanks, representatives of the state authorities and media. The conference was organized as part of the project “Ukraine and V4 countries: promoting better understanding” with the support of the International Visegrad Fund and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The International Centre for Policy Studies (ICPS) in cooperation with the experts from Poland, Hungary and Slovakia have analysed the trends of relations development in the region and presented recommendations on implementing the new neighbourhood policy between Ukraine and the countries of Visegrad Group. Ensuring good neighbourhood and stable relations between Ukraine and its Western neighbours is a necessary prerequisite for regional stability, given the existing security threats and challenges in the region. Elaboration of a new, improved approach on the relations between Ukraine and the countries of the Visegrad Group is necessary to improve and strengthen regional cooperation, as well as to prevent new divisions in the future. The experts came the conclusion that in order to limit the scale of problems in relations between Ukraine and its Western neighbours, as well as creating a more favourable environment, countries should discourage aggressive rhetoric towards one another in internal political discourses. Secondly, they should expand mutually beneficial areas of cooperation and try to develop common approaches. They should include regional security, energy security and transnational issues. Thirdly, countries should pay more attention to supporting democracy in the region. And, finally, more attention should be paid to the ways of mutual protection of ethnic minorities. In turbulent times, strong Central and Eastern Europe - in the security, economy, and social development potential - will be in the interests of not only regional states, but also Europe as a whole. The expert recommendations are entailed in a policy research “Ukraine’s neighbourhood policy towards V4 countries: promoting better understanding”.

22.05.2019
Foreign Policy

Ukraine and V4 countries: promoting better understanding. Briefing for diplomatic missions in Ukraine

International Centre for Policy Studies (ICPS) has conducted a briefing for diplomatic missions in Ukraine as part of the project “Ukraine and V4 countries: promoting better understanding”. ICPS experts presented the analysis of the current state of relations between Ukraine and the V4 countries as well as their expert recommendations on improving the neighbourhood policy of Ukraine. Ensuring good and sustainable neighborhood relations between Ukraine and its Western neighboring countries is crucial for regional stability with a view of the existing security threats and challenges in the region. Elaboration of a new updated approach towards the relations between Ukraine and its V4 neighbors is necessary to improve and strengthen regional partnership and prevent the occurrence of new contradictions in the future. A deeper understanding of mutual interests may open space for compromise and logrolling. Deteriorating regional security is a challenge for all; and cooperation with the view to restore fundamental institutions may bring more benefits rather than continuation of disputes. To achieve this it would be useful to concentrate on long-terms achievements rather than on short-term gains. Spheres of common priority, i.e. energy security, transportation and transit capabilities, security cooperation, should be given special attention. Hostile rhetoric should be discouraged at all possible levels. Strengthening democratic institutions, enhancing rule of law, protecting human rights, improving solidarity, as well as promoting tolerance may become common goals, capable of contributing into a positive agenda of relations between Ukraine and its Western neighboring countries. The project “Ukraine and V4 countries: promoting better understanding” is implemented with the support of the International Visegrad Fund and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

16.05.2019
Foreign Policy

Minsk Format, Budapest Plus or Anything Else?

Ways to tackle long-term effects of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and to resolve a conflict between the two are in the focus of presidential campaign in Ukraine. But after elections are over, the issue will still remain on the top of the regional security agenda. For five years geopolitical effects of Kremlin’s aggressive decisions on Ukraine have been downgrading security architecture in Europe. This is not only a problem of Ukraine, but a common challenge. Lack of trust, application of violence, and institutional weakness are making Europe a more dangerous place.  The Minsk format, designed to contain the conflict in the East of Ukraine, has been the basic framework for managing the conflict. One thing is evident so far: it is apparently not enough. It proved helpful in containing Russian advance and freezing the conflict to a level of 100-150 battle casualties from each side annually. On the other hand, at some point it may also have become useful for making the conflict protracted, just like in a number of other post-Soviet cases. Disputed areas, separatists supported from Kremlin, Russian interference are common features of a geopolitical landscape in this part of the world. Seen as instruments for advancing Russia’s geopolitical interests, these conflicts, however, are often utilized by local elites for mobilizing internal and foreign support. But that is a risky game: benefits of that kind are covered by long-term security expenses. Frozen conflicts not only undermine security of home countries for decades, but also affect neighboring countries, which have to share the risks. So far there hasn’t been any reason to believe that Minsk format would be able to resolve the conflict in the East of Ukraine. A stalemate of Minsk raises the issue of possible alternatives. One of them has always been around: breaking away from the agreement. Supported by hardliners in Ukraine, this option could hardly improve the country’s chances in struggling against Russia and at the same time places international sanctions against Russia under threat. Ukraine remains a weaker side to an asymmetric conflict, which means that a bad agreement is usually better than no agreement at all. Another alternative has recently appeared on the agenda of Yulia Tymoshenko, one of the favorites of the presidential campaign in Ukraine. It is called “Budapest Plus”, referring to the Budapest memorandum of 1994, according to which Ukraine got security assurances in exchange for giving away its nuclear weapons. The main idea behind Budapest Plus is to engage the US, the Great Britain, France, China, Germany and the EU into an extended format, which would replace Minsk as a principal tool for conflict resolution. There are at least two advantages such a format could bring about. First, a military conflict in Donbas is a part of a broader problem, which is security deficit in Eastern Europe. For various reasons, the region is facing elevated security risks. This is a problem for many, not just for Ukraine. Expanding a circle of mediators would follow the simple fact that states do care. Moreover, Russia’s actions against Ukraine have damaged mutual trust so much, that now it seems that bilateral issues can be approached only within a broader task of rebuilding security in Europe. This is something major powers can take care about. Secondly, Budapest Plus may help not only increase pressure on Russia, but also to create a more favorable framework for Ukraine to deal with Russia in the long run, in particular over the issue of occupied Crimea. Along with providing Ukraine with more leverage, a broadened format could also be more effective in restoring elements of world order, ruined by Russia’s decision to occupy Crimea in 2014. In the end most countries would benefit from restoration of international institutions, recharging of international law, and return of justice. Reference to Budapest memorandum underlines a connection between Ukrainian security and durability of non-proliferation regime, something most major powers are especially interested in. Getting major powers on board would be hard – probably, the most challenging part of Tymoshenko’s plan. However, it doesn’t seem impossible. Europeans are already in, they just need to be persuaded to get a bit more involved – and get more security on their eastern borders in return. China is expanding its cooperation with Eastern Europe. Even though Ukraine is not taking part in the 16+1 format, the country’s instability and military standoff with Russia is negatively affecting the region in general, especially in areas which are priorities for China: infrastructure and energy. If Beijing wants more presence and more influence in Eastern Europe, it has to consider bigger responsibility for security concerns. The US strategic goal of deterring Russian revisionism would play in Ukraine’s favor. However, Kyiv must be very precise in calculating its value as an ally for the US. Americans don’t seem to be willing to engage at any terms. Ukraine will have to increase its credibility and effectiveness. That could be seen as a part of preparatory work for launching Budapest Plus. Approaches to dealing with the conflict in Donbas can surely be modified and expanded. But they have to bear two key components to be effective: mechanism for compensating Ukraine’s weakness against Russia and a way to include risks Ukraine is facing into a broader security agenda in Europe. Author: Mykola Kapitonenko

27.03.2019
Foreign Policy

Assessment of security challenges: consequences for Ukraine's foreign policy after the elections

International Centre for Policy Studies presented the analytical paper “Assessment of security challenges: consequences for Ukraine's foreign policy after the elections”. Former foreign ministers of Ukraine, diplomats, international experts participated in the expert discussion. While presenting the research, ICPS Associate Expert Mykola Kapitonenko identified the trends, challenges and threats to Ukraine's foreign policy and national security. In turn, ICPS Chief Adviser Vasyl Filipchuk outlined the tasks and priorities for Ukraine's foreign policy after the elections. “The world is changing rapidly, destroying the traditional notions of international security and the form of interaction between states, - reads the introductory part of the study. - Institutes of multilateral cooperation are in deep crisis. International law and other non-forcible means of regulating international relations are losing efficiency, while the demand for hard power is growing. States have less trust to each other and increasingly accept international politics as zero-sum games. Non-traditional threats are increasing and those that were on the agenda for a long time - for example, the proliferation of nuclear weapons - is becoming more acute. In such conditions, Ukraine is increasingly turning into an object of international relations, as well as losing its influence on regional processes, while non-mention of global ones. The space for maneuver in foreign policy is narrowing; the tools and resources to achieve their own goals are becoming less. The implementation of current foreign policy, characterized by mixing priorities and lack of realistic assessment of the international situation, further weaken Ukraine's position on all key issues: in conflict with Russia, in dialogue with Western partners and in relations with the majority of its neighbors,” the authors believe. According to them, the continuation of this state of affairs will lead to Ukraine's consolidation in the “gray zone” of Europe's security for decades. The authors consider that the only chance to avoid this scenario is the presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine in 2019. Although the results of these elections are difficult to predict, without doubt, one can predict for several years that the urgency of Ukraine's challenges in the field of foreign policy and security will not diminish, and their solution will occupy a priority place among the new leadership of the country. “It is probable that the reset of executive and legislative power will open a window of opportunity to solve existing foreign and security problems, but the external environment will remain as complex or even less favorable for Ukraine, - the research reads. - The domestic institutional or economic weakness of the country, even under conditions of rapid and successful post-election reforms, will continue to aggravate its foreign policy for a long time, and the absence of such reforms will further limit its foreign policy capabilities.” One of the conditions for a successful new foreign policy is an adequate reassessment of the foreign policy and security environment of the country, challenges, threats, its own resources and opportunities to achieve its goals. “No matter what developments have taken place, Ukraine will need much more professional, decisive and flexible diplomacy in the coming years. This diplomacy, in turn, will require a lot of attention and great resources. We will be forced to learn to think about safety issues not as they used to do in the past. And this can prove to be a serious test”, - the authors of the study conclude. During the discussion participants also critically expressed their views on the current work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and foreign policy of the state as a whole. Both Kostyantyn Gryshchenko and Borys Tarasyuk, other heavyweights of Ukrainian diplomacy and expert environment emphasized, in particular, the problem of weak management in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Research via the link (Ukrainian version): LINK

ICPS Press
15.03.2019
Foreign Policy

Expert discussion: “Who will stop the war in Donbas and return Crimea? Foreign Policy and National Security in the Pre-election Strategies of Candidates”

International Centre for Policy Studies presented the analysis of the pre-election strategies of presidential candidates in foreign policy and national security. “Recommendation No. 1 for all of our candidates is to begin by rethinking the current international situation and adequately assessing the current world political processes. We are always ready to help as an expert environment,” ICPS expert Iryna Ivashko said. According to the expert, the main international tendencies in the medium-term perspective are: the crisis of the world order, the return to hegemony of national interests, the lack of security, the growth of force forms of pressure, the weakening of international institutions. In turn, the director of the Institute for Global Transformations, Oleksiy Semeniy, noted that issues of foreign policy in the election race “do not play a leading role”. “The approach for Ukraine - it is necessary to work with people, and by means of experts, and to engage in “political education” in the field of basic foreign policy issues in order citizens to understand what they say to them and that it really means. This is a difficult path, but it is the only one. Candidates respond to ratings: there is a positive for the rating - I will say it; there is no - even if I am convinced, I will not say that,” - the expert said. Semeniy also suggested that the experts agree on two or three main concepts of foreign policy, based on the short-term basis, and suggest to these or other candidates to determine this issue. ICPS research (Ukrainian version): LINK

ICPS Press
15.02.2019