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8 November, 2021

Digest of Ukrainian news: 1.11 – 7.11.2021

The world through the prism of Ukrainian interests

Trends

  •   Foreign policy and international agenda

    The main events for Ukraine in the foreign policy arena last week were related to environmental issues, new steps in cooperation with the Council of Europe and the EU’sresponse to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the country. Thus, during his speech at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky stated that the Ukrainian state seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65% by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2060. He also reminded the world community that due to the temporary occupation of part of Ukrainian territory by Russia, the country received two "eco-bombs" – in the Crimea and in some areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

    Ukraine has also started joint work with the Council of Europe on the preparation of an action plan of this organization for the country for 2023 – 2026. This was stated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba during the visit of the SecretaryGeneral of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić.

    Finally, the Council of the European Union prepared a decision to exclude Ukraine from the list of countries whose citizens can make tourist trips to the EU. This step is a response to the current epidemic situation with COVID-19 in Ukraine and the general deterioration of the situation in Europe. At the same time, it is a recommendation, not an obligation, for EU member states.

  •   Domestic policy

    The main internal processes in Ukraine last week concerned the spread of COVID-19, changes in the Cabinet of Ministers and the transfer of another public service to the digital space. Thus, during this time, Ukraine has reached new peaks in the daily number of patients and deaths from COVID-19. At the same time, the country continues to have a high rate of vaccination: over the past week, more than 1.1 million people received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

    The Verkhovna Rada has also appointed five new ministers to the Ukrainian government. Oleksiy Reznikov became the Minister of Defense, Iryna Vereshchuk became the Deputy Prime Minister for the Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories, Yulia Svyridenko became the Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy, Pavlo Ryabikin became the Deputy Prime Minister for Strategic Industries, and Ruslan Strilets became Minister of Environmental Protection.

    The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the law according to which it will be possible to change the registration of a place of residence online without entering data into paper documents. Since now the process will take no more than 24 hours, will not require personal contact with employees, will not force to clarify information in several bodies.

    •   Security

      The domain of security was quite monocentric last week. The main event, that was widely discussed, encompassed the topic of possible Russian military build-up near Ukrainian- Russian borders. Other prominent developments included the situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and the greater presence of the US and NATO in the Black Sea.

      According to The Washington Post and Politico, Russia is deploying more of its troops, especially tanks, near Ukrainian-Russian borders. However, the Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine as well as the Presidential Office has denied this information stating that there are no unusual deployments on the part of Russia. At the same time, Defence Intelligence has informed that the number of Russian troops near the Ukrainian-Russian borders and in the temporarily occupied territories comprise about 90 thousand military personnel.

      Moreover, the situation in Donbas remains stable with the decreasing number of ceasefire violations. Pro-Russian forces violated the ceasefire regime 57 times last week resulting in three deaths and four injuries on the part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

      In addition, the occupation authorities are limiting access to the territory under Ukrainian control in Donbas. According to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, the numberof people who passed through the “Stanytsia Luhanska” checkpoint decreased by 60% inOctober 2021 compared to September 2021.

      Moreover, the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney” has entered the Black Seato take part in NATO maritime operations. This showcases the greater presence of the US and NATO in the Black Sea region.

    •   Bilateral relations

      The bilateral track of Ukraine’s foreign policy was fruitful and eventual last week. This was due to numerous bilateral meetings on the sidelines of COP26 – UN Climate Change Conference 2021. Other most active tracks included the Ukraine-US one and the one related to the development of energy cooperation with the US and Great Britain.

      The President of Ukraine has more than a dozen bilateral meetings on the margins ofCOP26. This contributed to broadening Ukraine’s diplomacy and strengthening itssecurity, according to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

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      In addition, one of the most prominent events during these meetings included signing a joint Declaration on the European Perspective of Ukraine with Slovakia.

      Moreover, meetings with Joe Biden and Antony Blinken also took place on the sidelines of COP26. But the most significant news related to Ukraine-US bilateral track was the announcement of the Ukraine-US. Strategic Partnership Commission to be held in Washington on November 10, 2021.

      Furthermore, energy diplomacy was also in the spotlight of bilateral relations last week. So, Ukraine will deepen energy cooperation with the US on decarbonization and will develop atomic energy as well as alternative one with the assistance of Great Britain.

      Foreign policy and international agenda

      Ukraine seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65% by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2060. Such plans of the state were declared by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky during his speech at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow. He also reminded the leaders of other states that due to the temporary occupation of part of Ukrainian territory by Russia, the country received two "eco-bombs". Thus, the Crimean peninsula with its unique flora and fauna became a Russian naval base. And in some areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, there is constant flooding of mines, soil degradation, lack of drinking water. All this poses an environmental threat not only to Ukraine but to the whole world.

      Ukraine started joint work with the Council of Europe on the preparation of an action plan of this organization for the country for 2023 – 2026. This was stated by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba after a meeting with the Secretary-General of the Council ofEurope Marija Pejčinović Burić. According to him, the parties have started a new page in the relations that were suspended after the return of the Russian Federation to the ParliamentaryAssembly of the Council of Europe in 2020. At his meeting with Marija Pejčinović Burić, Presidentof Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky thanked her and the organization she heads for supporting Kyiv in the de-occupation of the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula.

      The Council of the European Union has prepared a decision to exclude Ukraine from the list of countries whose citizens can make tourist trips to the EU. This step is a response to the current epidemic situation with COVID-19 in Ukraine and the general deterioration of the situation in Europe. The Council of the European Union is likely to issue a formal recommendation based on this decision next week. At the same time, the final conditions of tourist trips of Ukrainian citizens are adopted by each EU member state separately. At the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine emphasizes that, given the progress in vaccination around the world, the EU has recently changed its approach to travel restrictions and recommended EU member states to open borders for fully vaccinated travelers. Therefore, the institution urges Ukrainian citizens to be vaccinated so as not to experience any restrictions.

       

      Domestic Policy

      Ukraine reached new peaks in the daily number of patients and deaths from COVID-19.

      Thus, on November 3, 27,377 cases of the disease were detected, and on November 4, 793 people died as a result of the disease. Also last week, the Volyn oblast moved to the red level of epidemic danger in terms of the rate of spread of COVID-19. Thus, today in 17 regions of Ukraine (including Kyiv) there are the highest quarantine restrictions. At the same time, the country continues to have a rapid pace of vaccination: over the past week, more than 1.1 million peoplereceived the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. First Deputy Minister of Health of Ukraine Oleksandr Komarida predicted that the increase in the number of cases in the country would continue for another two weeks. After that, he believes, the situation might stabilize.

      The Verkhovna Rada appointed five new ministers to the Ukrainian government. Former Deputy Prime Minister for the Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Oleksiy Reznikov became Minister of Defense. In this position, he replaced Andriy Taran. Former MP from the pro-government Servant of the People (Sluha Narodu) party, Iryna Vereshchuk, took the chair of Deputy Prime Minister for the Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories. The Verkhovna Rada also replaced Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Oleksiy Lyubchenko byDeputy Head of the President’s Office Yulia Svyridenko, and Deputy Prime Minister for Strategic Industries Oleh Urusky by former Head of the State Customs Service Pavlo Ryabikin. In the end, instead of Roman Abramovsky, his deputy Ruslan Strelets became Minister of Environmental Protection.

      The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the law according to which it would be possible to change the registration of a place of residence online without entering data into paper documents. Citizens can now online notify the responsible authorities about the change of residence through the Unified State Web Portal of Electronic Services with the subsequent entry of such information in the register of territorial communities. Previously, to perform these procedures, it was necessary to collect data in three institutions and wait 30 days. Now theprocess takes no more than 24 hours, does not require personal contact with state employees, does not force to clarify information in several bodies (on request, the system autonomously checks the data in electronic registers).

      Security

      Possible Russian military build-up near Ukrainian-Russian borders: The Washington Postand Politico published materials that there was an unusual deployment of Russian tank division and tank army as well as military equipment not far from Ukrainian-Russian borders. Both media outlets referred to satellite images that showed the military build-up, however only Politico provided actual satellite pictures. Nevertheless, according to the Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, no additional deployment of Russian divisions, weaponry, and military equipment was detected as of November 1, 2021. The Defence Intelligence added that information published in mass media and the Internet about military build-up was an element of special information and psychological actions and, in fact, represented a simple deployment of Russian troops after exercises.

       

      Furthermore, the Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine has stated that there are about 90 thousand Russian military personnel near the Ukrainian-Russian borders and the temporarily occupied territories as of the beginning of November 2021.

      In addition, the potential Russian build-up was widely covered in the US. For example, Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor, noted at the press briefing in the White House on November 1: “We had the opportunity to consult over this past weekend with key allies and partners on the issue of Ukraine and ensuring that we’re defending Ukraine’s — or supportingUkraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Similar statements were also made by the US Department of State and the US Department of Defense on November 5.

      Meanwhile, Oleskii Reznkov, the newly appointed Minister of Defence of Ukraine, has said the following on the matter“Publications in outlets have drawn the attention of the US and European society to the war in Ukraine. At the same time, we are carrying all the necessary consultations at all necessary levels. The Armed Forces of Ukraine are ready to withstand and conduct theassigned tasks”. In addition, Sergii Nykyforov, the spokesperson of the Presidential Office, has indicated that the Office does not have any supporting information that has been spread by Western media about Russian military build-up near the Ukrainian-Russian borders.

      Ceasefire regime in Donbas: According to the Joint Operation Forces reports, pro-Russian militants violated the cease-fire regime 57 times as of 1-7 November. As a result of the violations, 4 Ukrainian soldiers were injured and 3 were killed.
      In addition, separatists started to limit the entry of Ukrainians from the temporarily occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk to the territories controlled by Ukrainian authorities. According to 
      the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, in October the number of people who passed through the“Stanytsia Luhanska” checkpoint to the territory under the control of the Ukrainian governmentdecreased by 60% (less than 27 thousand persons) compared to September 2021 (71 thousand people). 

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      Greater US and NATO presence in the Black Sea region: The amphibious command "USS Mount Whitney” has entered the Black Sea in order to carry out maritime operations with NATO members and partners. Dmytro Kuleba, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine noted: “Ukraine has been calling for and strongly supports the enhanced presence of our U.S. and NATO partners in the region. We are ready to work together on strengthening the Black Sea security. Additional 18,400 tons of diplomacy are surely helpful to this aim”.

       

      Bilateral relations

      Bilateral meetings on the margins of COP26: According to Dmytro Kuleba, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky carried out over a dozen bilateral meetings onthe margins of the COP26 in order to strengthen Ukraine’s security and broaden the geographyof Ukrainian diplomacy. In particular, the president of Ukraine had meetings with the Emir of Qatar as well as with the chancellor of Germany, presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, Egypt, North Macedonia, Finland, Cyprus, and the Republic of the Congo. There were also meetings with prime ministers of Great BritainCanadaGreece, and India.

      Moreover, during the meeting with President of the Slovak Republic Zuzana Čaputová, the counterparts have signed a joint Declaration on the European Perspective of Ukraine. Thus, Slovakia has become the fifth EU member state to sign the given document. Let us recall that Ukraine has previously signed the joint Declaration on the European Perspective of Ukraine with Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, and Estonia.

      Ukraine-US relations: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky had meetings with Joe Bidenand Antony Blinken on the sidelines of COP26 on November 2. Later the Office of Spokesperson within the US Department of State has provided additional information on the meeting with the US Secretary of State that reads as follows: “Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorialintegrity. He welcomed Ukraine’s steps to address corruption and underscored that, together with our allies and partners, the United States would continue to reinforce Ukrainian energysecurity, including by reducing the risks posed by the Nord Stream 2 pipeline”.

      In addition, Dmytro Kuleba, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, has announced that the meeting of the Ukraine-US Strategic Partnership Commission is to be held in Washington on November 10. "On November 10, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and I will hold a meeting of the Ukraine-US. Strategic Partnership Commission in Washington, where we will sign a new Strategic Partnership Charter," Dmytro Kuleba stated.

      Energy diplomacy: Ukraine has joined the US initiative “Net-Zero World” at COP26. Theinitiative represents a new partnership between countries working to implement their climate ambition pledges and accelerate transitions to net zero, resilient, and inclusive energy systems. By joining the initiative, Ukraine would get access to studies of 17 scientific laboratories of the US Department of Energy to carry out pilot projects on decarbonization. The initiative will also provide deeper cooperation in the field of atomic energy.

      In addition, Great Britain will contribute to the diversification of nuclear energy supplies as well as the generation of alternative energy for Ukraine. This was the main focus of the meeting between Herman Halushchenko, the Minister of Energy of Ukraine, and Louis Taylor, the Chief Executive of UK Export Finance – the UK’s export credit agency.

      Foreign Policy Council" "Ukrainian Prism"


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