Foreign Policy

Ukrainian issue on the Munich Security Conference 2017

ICPS Press

On February 17-19, 2017 the 53rd Munich Security Conference was held. The Security Forum was attended by more than two dozen heads of state and government (including Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, President of Poland Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister of Turkey Binali Yıldırım, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko), Vice President of the USA Mike Pence, Secretary General of the UN António Guterres, Secretary General of the NATO Jens Stoltenberg, dozens of foreign ministers (France, Germany, the Great Britain, China, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Turkey, Saudi Arabia), defence ministers and prominent politicians, diplomats and experts. Participants discussed the problems of the European Union, the NATO, transatlantic relations, democracy, terrorism, the Syrian crisis, the situation in East Asia and other challenges to international security. The Chairman of the Munich Security Conference was a prominent German ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger.

On the first day of the Conference the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko delivered a speech. In the President’s speech, there are the following messages:

  •  to refrain from appeasement of Russia not to repeat the experience of the Munich Agreement in 1938 on Nazi Germany;
  •  to strengthen the transatlantic unity;
  • ​ "Supporting Ukraine is the cheapest investment into security of Free World";
  • ​ No deals on Ukraine's future behind Ukraine;
  •  to continue sanctions until Russia withdraws its troops from Crimea and Donbas;
  •  to deepen rapprochement between the EU and Ukraine as " Ukraine now is the most Euro-optimistic nation on the European continent".

Poroshenko's speech contains a lot of calls to the West for supporting Ukraine and countering Russian aggression. However, apart from continuing sanctions, the President of Ukraine did not submit any new proposals to restrain Russia. Poroshenko also said nothing about the contribution that Ukraine was could make into the European and Euro-Atlantic security. Primarily, key partners are interested in Ukraine’s possibilities in addressing common challenges, and not only in solving the problem of Crimea and Donbas.

On the second day of the Conference a meeting of the Normandy Four Foreign Ministers (Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia) was held. The diplomats agreed that the ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons should be a precondition for the start of the political process. In addition, the parties agreed to provide access of the Red Cross to the occupied territories of Eastern Ukraine. However, it was stressed that negotiations in Normandy format should not be extended by the State Secretary of US Rex Tillerson.

The meeting in the Normandy format has not shown any breakthrough. Instead, it was once again emphasized that the implementation of the political provisions of the Minsk agreements should be preceded by the creation of a proper security environment. The main innovation was the German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel first participation in Normandy Group.

In general, this year's Munich Security Conference has not provided a separate panel for Ukrainian issue n. The conflict in Donbas and the annexation in Crimea were only indirectly mentioned during the discussion of other international security issues. Meanwhile, world leaders were waiting for concrete proposals from Ukraine to address common security challenges, but not the repetition of the old messages.

Publications with tag «Foreign Policy»
Foreign Policy

Round table "International interim administration as a model of Donbas conflict settlement"

International Centre for Policy Studies supported by the International Fund “Renaissance” held a roundtable discussion “International Interim Administration as a model for conflict resolution in Donbas”.  The event is the continuation of series of ICPS's developments devoted to conflict resolution. In particular, on October, 2016 the experts presented the study “Models and costs of Donbas conflict  settlement: International Experience and Ukrainian Realities”. It should be noted that since the Minsk agreements have been deadlocked, the conflict resolution requires new ideas and suggestions. In this regard the establishing of the International Transitional Administration in non-controlled territories can unlock the Minsk process and promote the peaceful settlement and reintegration of uncontrolled parts into Ukraine. Within the project “Modeling the implementation of the Minsk agreements” ICPS experts presented a study in which the opportunities and obstacles to the establishing of the Transitional Administration in non-controlled territories were analyzed. ICPS Chairman Vasyl Filipchuk as the moderator of the event stressed the importance of analyzing the practical aspect as how is it possible to restore the sovereignty.  The Deputy Minister of temporarily occupied territories and IDPs George Tuka noted that Ukraine should do everything to return under control the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas and not to abandon the region. Senior ICPS analyst Evgeny Yaroshenko during the presentation emphasized that the mechanism of the transitional administration is the international practice that allows us to establish on the transitional period the legitimate government in a certain territory which has been gripped by conflict or become the victim of aggression of another state. Introduction of administration provides problem solving in military and civilian spheres. In particular, the task of the military sphere is to maintain peace through deployment of the "blue helmets" which has to reduce the violence from both sides. In turn, the civil sector concerns establishing the public order, creating and training the police forces and holding local elections. There are many examples in the world of how the interim or transitional administration has contributed to the return of the states territories. Such administration operated in Kosovo, eastern Slavonia (region of Croatia) and East Timor. “From the perspective of Ukraine, the most revealing example is the peaceful reintegration of Eastern Slavonia by Croatian example. In the information space, we usually understand the forcible return of the territory under the Croatian scenario. If clarify most of the territory of the Serbian margin, which in the early 90s was controlled by the Croatian government troops, it was returned by force. But Eastern Slavonia was re-integrated into the Croatian constitutional space due to the important international mechanism, as the transitional administration”- said Yevgeniy Yaroshenko. 

ICPS Press
Foreign Policy

Yevgeniy Yaroshenko commented the statement by the German Ambassador Ernst Reichel

The German ambassador to Ukraine Ernst Reichel has suggested that local elections in the uncontrolled part of Donbas could be held even before the Kremlin withdraws Russian forces from the occupied territories. “It does not mean that elections in Donbas can take place only when there are no Russian troops or with a Ukrainian flag on every city administration building”, said the ambassador. He also noticed that the last parliamentary elections in the GDR were held in the presence of the Western group of Soviet troops and under the Communist regime in East Germany. Moreover, the ambassador considers that the parties have to change circumstances in order to make the elections possible. This statement by the German ambassador demonstrates that Germany is aimed at boosting implementation of the Minsk agreements. As a leader responsible for European security, Berlin seeks to avoid expenses on “Ukrainian crisis”. As a result, German diplomacy considers that local elections in the occupied part of Donetsk and Luhansk regions should be a first step towards activating Minsk process.  Regardless of the diplomatic statement made by the ambassador, the conditions of elections in East Germany and occupied territories of Eastern Ukraine cannot be compared for the following reasons/ Firstly, there was no armed conflict between East and West Germany. As a result, East Germany had favorable conditions for the elections. Meanwhile, the situation in the occupied territories of Eastern Ukraine is totally opposite as the fighting is ongoing and it is impossible to conduct elections in such conditions. Secondly, despite the ideological and political differences, the GDR was a subject of international relations, enjoying all rights and responsibilities. The legitimacy of the GDR was recognized even by West Germany, and both German states supported the dialogue long before the reunification. In contrast, Ukraine considers so called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics as terrorist organizations and fears that the elections in the occupied territories of Donbas without proper security environment will help to legitimize pro-Russian militants. Thirdly, the elections in East Germany took place at the end of the Cold War when the socialist camp had collapsed and the regime in East Germany had been delegitimized. These elections were preceded by the German reunification, which actually meant the capitulation of the USSR in confrontation with the West. Instead, while the local elections in the occupied territories of Eastern Ukraine is the first step towards reintegration of these areas, these elections in the presence of Russian troops and mercenaries will lead to Ukraine’s actual surrender to Russia given disadvantages of the Minsk agreements.

ICPS Press
Foreign Policy

Diplomatic Briefing: "Ukraine and new geopolitical realities"

International Centre for Policy Studies has held the diplomatic briefing Inside Ukraine - "Ukraine in new geopolitical realities." The first chapter "Public policies" dedicated to the Ukraine’s place in US policy under the administration of Donald Trump. The аnalyst Yevgen Yaroshenko presented the three possible scenarios. First scenario: the «big deal» If Trump’s administration manages to come to an agreement with the Kremlin, the normalization of American-Russian relations will be reached at the expense of Ukraine’s interests. Second scenario: confrontation The aggravation of the US-Russian confrontation may occur for many reasons. In this scenario, Russia could be ready to apply tough measures varying from the renovation of full-scale hostilities in Donbas to new cyber-attacks against the US and the EU. In turn, the USA could impose new sanctions towards Russia, provide Ukraine with lethal weapons and strengthen conventional military forces and its nuclear arsenal. Third scenario: freeze of the «Ukrainian crisis» There might be an alternative scenario if the USA and Russia do not reach an agreement concerning Ukraine, although they both will realize that the temporary freezing of the current conflict might be more acceptable than further confrontation.  Senior economist Vasyl Povoroznyk told about the risks of the nationalization of PrivatBank and the probability of IMF tranche for Ukraine. The final chapter "Political competition" dedicated to the political attitudes among Ukrainian oligarchs. The domestic political agenda in Ukraine continues to depend on the international geopolitical situation. The main political players are waiting for the first steps towards Ukraine from the new US administration in order to adjust their activities in accordance with the new geopolitical realities.  

ICPS Press
Foreign Policy

Electing President of the European Parliament: what matters?

January 17, 2017 the European Parliament elects the president. Seven candidates from different factions compete for the position. But the best chances of winning have candidates of two largest factions of the European Parliament - Antonio Tajani of the European People's Party and Gianni Pittella of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. President of the European Parliament is elected for 2.5 years. The President of the European Parliament is one of the highest political positions in the EU.There is such an informal practice that the President of the European Parliament in turns is elected of the two biggest factions - the European People's Party and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats - to simplify the procedure of adopting the EU legislation. But this time because of Brexit, the growth of nationalist parties and other issues there is no mutual understanding between the major European factions. In particular, the candidate of the Socialists and Democrats Gianni Pittella opposed the monopolization of power in the EU by the EPP, as the representatives of the latter now hold the post of President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council. As a result, without the support of other factions, including sceptics, neither Tajani nor Pittella can expect to win. This year's presidential elections demonstrates the European crisis of management in the EU institutions, which takes place against the backdrop of Brexit, migration challenges, financial challenges and strengthen anti-European forces. The political struggle for the post of President of the European Parliament becomes acrimonious, as this is the only EU body, whose members are directly elected by the EU citizens. Elections of the President of the European Parliament may have an indirect impact on relations between Ukraine and the EU. The political battle for the presidency of the European Parliament once again demonstrates how difficult it is for the EU institutions to take decisions in turbulent times. The lack of consensus in the European Parliament is one of the reasons for the EU delay with visa-free regime for Ukraine.

Yevgeniy Yaroshenko
Foreign Policy

The settlement of Cyprus conflict: lessons for Ukraine

Usually when it comes to frozen conflicts, the post soviet space is mentioned. But the Cyprus problem is one of exception. It is for more than 40 years as conflict remains frozen. The reason to intensify the search of solutions began in 2012, when in Cyprus shelf, mostly around the northern Turkish part of the island, was found deposits of gas. The same time, Egypt and Israel began to conduct energy exploration in their water area of the Mediterranean. The discovered fields were so large that the gas could be exported gas to Turkey, Greece and later in other European countries. Then the leaders of these countries realized that the Cyprus problem hinders the development of energy projects: it is impossible to lay the pipeline through the northern part of Cyprus as it is the unrecognized by the state. During the last two years there is a great progress in the negotiations, but still certain aspects block the process. Firstly, the territorial issue: it is unknown how the communities are going to reach an agreement on borders. Secondly, the issue of united Cyprus representation in future: it is unclear what kind of political system they are going to choose, maybe like in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Still Turkey tries to preserve main instrument of influence keeping its armed forces on the island and it is hard to resolve this problem. Turkish side argued that its military presence is needed to protect Turkish people on the island if Greece is get involved. But there is a great challenge which is controlled by external players such as Greece, Turkey or Great Britain. That is an aspiration of both sides to unite by making an agreement. The situation has changed from the referendum of 2004, when majority of Greece-Cypriot where against this plan. The only effective factor of negotiations is a pragmatic interest; all sides want to benefit from energy. It seems like an agreement is going to be made in the next several years. Besides, Turkey is interested in renewal of the EU membership negotiations, that’s why Erdogan is ready to reduce tensions in relations with Greece and Cyprus. For Turkey it is a way to compensate failures in internal policy by external policy achievements. The EU is also interested in successful negotiations as after the Arabian spring there were no meaningful results on international scene. And the Cyprus conflict settlement may demonstrate the EU diplomacy effectiveness. The only country not interested in the Cyprus conflict settlement is Russia. There are three reasons: geopolitical, financial and energetic. The offshore territory of Cyprus is the main financial reason. It is hard to forecast the future financial policy of Cyprus after possible uniting. Even if Putin says “it is time to take your money back” the answer of oligarchs will be “where would we hide them instead?”. Geopolitically Russia wants to have its own territory of exclusive influence in the Mediterranean, as it is Russian ambition since 18-th century “to reach the warm sea”. Also to support Assad regime Russia needs a developed logistic facilities and Cyprus can be a part of it. Russia has already made several attempts to solidify in the region. Russia has provided Cyprus with financial support, as decreasing the bailout rates and postponing the payments the same time. That is the reasons why Russia is not interested in uniting and demilitarization of Cyprus. Especially it is afraid of Cyprus to become the NATO member. As other involved countries (Greece, Turkey and Great Britain) are the members of the Alliance. Also Russian Federation is not interested of Cyprus to become the regional gaz-transit hub in the East Mediterranean. Russia has close relationship with the Geek part of Cyprus, as with the government, so with the opposition. Besides, financial investments and tourism has made this part of the island dependent from Russia. So the question is if the citizens of Cyprus are ready to change profitable cooperation with Russia for pragmatic energy cooperation. Surely, Russia can try to influence political and financial groups in power of Greek Cypriots to spread its ideas, like it was in Greece (warm relations with Tsipras). After the financial crisis Cyprus is also unsatisfied with the EU policy and it will be used by Russia. This is also a possibility to create anti-EU party and to support such a discontent among Cypriots. If nothing extraordinary happens in Turkey, Greece or Syria it is possible that the leaders of Greek and Turkish communities will reach an agreement during the next several years. But still it is unclear if they are able to implement such an agreement and to achieve the population support and to approve the plan on the referendum. Ukraine may have a lesson of the new negotiation on Cyprus reunion which can be used in reintegration of the Donbass. But such a reunion of Ukraine and occupied by Russia Donbas territories can take more than several decades. Without the political will of external players it is hard to reach an agreement. Besides, without the local population support both sides hardly unite the country. The Donbass reintegration can’t be done on the conditions in Cyprus analogy way as Ukraine and Russia has diametrically opposed view on regional security issues.

Yevgeniy Yaroshenko
Foreign Policy

Results of the foreign policy of Ukraine for 2016

Ukraine’s foreign policy agenda has been defined by post-Maidan challenges: Russian aggression, conflict in Donbass, European integration aspirations, economic decline of the country. During 2016, Ukraine managed to strengthen its positions in national security area and increased its military capacities but failed to advance any of its priorities in foreign policy. Moreover, there is a deadlock on Minsk, increasing hostilities with Russia, growing challenges with the EU, uncertain US future policy on Ukraine, more problems with neighbors in the region. In 2017, Ukraine’s international situation may change for the worse if Kyiv will continue with its current rich militaristic rhetoric and poor reforms records. Minsk process In 2016, Ukraine appeared at the crossroads of the Minsk process and has been facing an uneasy dilemma: either to continue implementing political provisions of the Minsk agreements under external pressure or withdraw from such unpopular obligations under public pressure. Kyiv opted for imitating implementation of the Minsk agreements that allowed the government to balance its dependence on foreign and domestic factors, buy time and prolong sanctions against Russia. As a result, there was no significant progress in the Minsk process throughout 2016. Meanwhile, the war in Donbas remains a low intensity conflict. First of all, there were no changes in implementing the political provisions of the Minsk agreements. Conducting local elections in uncontrolled Donbas, deploying an OSCE police mission in Donbas and elaborating a roadmap on implementing the Minsk agreements were the most frequently discussed issues during the meeting of heads of state in Berlin (October 2016) and several meetings of foreign ministers in the Normandy format (Ukraine, Russia, Germany, France). The members of the Normandy Group did not meet a deadline to agree on roadmap (November 30, 2016) due to divergent views on the sequence of implementing political and security provisions. In early 2016, Ukrainian diplomacy demanded that conducting elections in uncontrolled Donbas shall be proceeded by deploying OSCE armed police mission along the disengagement line, uncontrolled part of the border and future polling stations. Despite a preliminary agreement on the OSCE police mission, the members of the Normandy Group did not agree on its mandate and areas of presence. Besides, a pressure by Russian, French and German diplomats did not convince Ukraine to adopt a law on local elections in uncontrolled Donbas before necessary a security environment is met. Just as elections in uncontrolled Donbas, changes in the Constitution of Ukraine and amnesty for pro-Russian insurgents were not on the agenda in Kyiv due to a lack of parliamentary support and a risk of public anger. However, regular meetings of the Trilateral Contact Group (Ukraine, OSCE, Russia) produced some results in implementing the security provisions of the Minsk agreements. In particularly, the parties agreed to withdraw troops and hardware in Zolote, Petrivske and Stanytsia Luhanska, which has already taken place in the former two settlements. Moreover, a number of Ukrainian POWs were released from Russian prisons or DPR/LPR capture and subsequently exchanged, including Nadiya Savchenko, Yuriy Soloshenko and Hennadiy Afanasiev. At the same time, 109 Ukrainian citizens are still held in prison (as of November 2016). Their future is dependent on Russia’s position that binds prisoner exchange with Ukraine’s political concessions. The changing international environment will make it harder for Ukraine to resist the pressure from Russia and the West in 2017 with regard to a new composition of the Normandy Group following presidential elections in France (François Hollande will not run for a second term) and parliamentary elections in Germany (Angela Merkel may lose the battle for chancellor). Ukraine-Russia relations There were no grounds for mitigating Ukrainian-Russian confrontation in 2016 as a result of the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas. Despite maintaining diplomatic relations, Kyiv and Moscow attempted to compromise mostly by means of multilateral channels (Normandy Group, Trilateral Contact Group, Ukraine-Russia-EU negotiations) or some individual contacts between Ukrainian and Russian politicians. Ukraine managed to revive the Crimea issue on the international agenda. It was preceded by tougher political persecutions by Russian authorities in Crimea (namely, banning Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People) and stirred-up efforts by the Ukrainian diplomacy. The militarization of Crimea and violations of human rights in the annexed peninsula were mentioned in the European Parliament resolution ‘On the human rights situation in Crimea, in particular of the Crimean Tatars’ (February 4, 2016), two PACE resolutions ‘Political consequences of the Russian aggression in Ukraine’ and ‘Legal remedies to human rights violations on the Ukrainian territories outside the control of the Ukrainian authorities’ (October 12, 2016) and the annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities by the Office of the ICC Prosecutor (November 14, 2016). Moreover, the UN General Assembly is expected to vote on the draft resolution on human rights situation in Crimea in the near future that was approved by the Third Committee, which may become the first UN document where Russia is recognized as an occupying power. Besides, higher attention was paid to Crimea due to an incident in Armiansk in August 2016 and the Russian parliamentary election in September 2016, which was held in the annexed peninsula. A number of documents covering the conflict in Donbas were also adopted. Namely, the above PACE resolutions and ICC Report are the only multilateral documents so far that provide that the situation in Eastern Ukraine has features of international armed conflict involving Russia. The Ukrainian-Russian enmity has naturally affected Ukraine’s foreign economic activity. There was a higher drop in trade between Ukraine and CIS countries in 2016. It cannot be ruled out that the Ukrainian-Russian conflict may face a transformation in 2017 after Donald Trump is sworn in as US president, the EU becomes increasingly involved in domestic disparities and early parliamentary elections are held in Ukraine. Ukraine-EU relations In 2016, Ukraine expected to benefit from the advantages of European integration that were achieved after 2014. However, such expectations were not delivered due to increasing ‘Ukraine fatigue’ in Europe and the unprecedented systemic crisis in the EU. As a result, Kyiv and Brussels came closer to a crisis of mutual trust. Ukraine lacks efficient incentives to continue necessary reforms. At the same time, EU domestic problems made relations with Ukraine secondary to Brussels. First of all, the ratification of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement was not completed due to the Dutch advisory referendum in April 2016, in which 61% of voters were against ratifying the agreement. As a result, the agreement continues to be provisionally applied, while its formal entry into force depends on negotiations between the Dutch government and EU leaders. A way-out of this situation is likely to be postponed until Dutch parliamentary elections in March 2017. Amid the drastic decline in Ukraine-EU relations in 2014-2015, the Ukrainian economy has not benefited from the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) so far applied from January 1, 2016. Trade turnover between Ukraine and the EU (both export and import) started to increase in Q2 2016 for the first time since 2013. Though Ukraine carried out all requirements pursuant to the Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP), including launching e-declaration of incomes, the EU has not granted a visa-free regime to Ukrainian citizens. Migration fears in some EU member-states have made granting the visa-free regime to Ukraine dependent on revising the visa suspension mechanism. In November 2016, Brussels held the EU-Ukraine summit, which brought modest achievements amid Ukraine’s European aspirations. Ukraine managed to receive € 170 mln totally in support for public administration reform, fighting corruption and strengthening the rule of law. During the summit, the parties also signed the Memorandum of Understanding on a Strategic Energy Partnership which assigns Ukraine a role of EU key transit partner. However, the EU-Ukraine summit did not bring any progress in completing the ratification of the Association Agreement and granting the visa-free regime for Ukraine. Ukraine-EU relations are expected to become even less intensified in 2017 with regard to turbulent political developments in Europe: Brexit talks, elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany as well as far-reaching consequences of the Italian referendum on constitutional changes held in December 2016. Ukraine-US relations Though Ukraine has been secondary to US priorities, Washington remains Kyiv’s key strategic partner in countering Russian aggression. Under the presidency of Barack Obama, the US never hesitated over prolonging sanctions against Russia. Furthermore, in 2016, the US provided $335 mln of military-technical assistance aimed at training Ukrainian soldiers, non-lethal weapon and advisory support for reforming the defense sector. Besides, Ukraine held US-led Rapid Trident and Sea Breeze multinational exercises involving a number of NATO member-states. However, the US has been distanced from conflict resolution in Donbas since 2014, shifting responsibility for European security to Germany and France. At the same time, the ‘Ukrainian crisis’ was an agenda item during Russia-US channels – Lavrov-Kerry and Surkov-Nuland talks. The US presidential elections have become a primary source of uncertainty regarding further Ukraine-US relations. The Ukrainian political elite mostly favoured Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, who has been perceived as the ‘pro-Russian’ candidate given several controversial statements on developments around Ukraine. Such incautious acts will complicate bilateral relations under the Trump administration. Ukraine and the whole world await the first steps taken by the 45th US president to understand how Trump’s foreign policy will coincide with his election program. The future US president is unlikely to pay higher attention to Ukraine than his predecessor. This may result in diminishing US financial and military assistance to Ukraine under Trump. Moreover, a possibility of ‘geopolitical deal’ between Trump and Putin is also a subject of debates.

ICPS Press