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15 November, 2021

Digest of Ukrainian news: 8.11 – 14.11.2021

The world through the prism of Ukrainian interests

Trends

  •   Foreign policy and international agenda

    In the domain of foreign policy and the international context around Ukraine, the main events of the past week were related to the reaction of international partners to the spread of COVID-19 in the country, the reform of the Security Service, and new infrastructure projects.

    The Council of the European Union excluded Ukraine from the "green list" for travel due to the high rate of COVID-19 proliferation. The decision is a recommendation, each EU country would decide for itself which travel regime to keep. During the week, the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said that 15 EU countries had confirmed the possibility of fully vaccinated Ukrainian citizens entering their territory.

    The heads of the EU, NATO, and US diplomatic missions, as well as the EU Advisory Mission, called on the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to adopt a law on the Security Service of Ukraine. In a joint article, diplomats call the document "a step towards Ukraine's accession to the EU and NATO."

    The Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine and the International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group) agreed on the details of the first two infrastructure projects for joint implementation. The two roads are mentioned: from Kharkiv to Zaporizhia and from Lutsk to the Ukrainian-Polish border.

  •   Domestic policy

    Last week was rich in events in the domain of internal processes in Ukraine. The main news there was related to the distribution of COVID-19, the completion of the body necessary for judicial reform, and the closure of the English-language edition of Ukraine KyivPost.

    Since last week, the highest level of epidemic danger due to the high rate of proliferation of COVID-19 came into force in the Cherkasy region. Thus, the "red" zone has already covered 18 regions of Ukraine (including Kyiv). At the same time, the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal said that the rate of hospitalizations indicated stabilization of the situation with the spread of the disease.

    The first composition of the Ethics Council was appointed. This institution checks the members of the High Council of Justice of Ukraine for integrity. Thus, the last body necessary for the implementation of judicial reform in Ukraine was formed.

    The English-language Ukrainian media KyivPost stopped working. The staff of the resource stated that on November 8 all employees were fired. Media owner Adnan Kivan claimed the suspension was temporary. He hopes that the media would soon resume activities in a larger and better format.

    •   Security

      The domain of security was marked with many developments last week. The meeting of the National Security and Defence Council, detention of a separatist who has conducted severe violations in Donbas, and multinational exercises in the Black Sea were among the most significant news.

      First of all, the meeting of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine was held on 10 December where a response to a migration crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border was one of the main topics. Thus, law enforcement bodies of Ukraine, especially the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Security and Defence Council, decided to enhance the presence of the State Border Service on the border with Belarus.

      In addition, the Security Service of Ukraine has detained Denys Kulikovsky (aka "Palych"), the former head of the "Izoliatsiya" concentration camp in the temporarily occupied Donetsk. He is accused of numerous crimes including terrorist activities and human trafficking.

      Moreover, Ukraine carried out together with the Navy of the US, Turkey, and Romania a passing exercise (PASSEX) in the Black Sea that was aimed at improving interoperability of the Ukrainian Navy with the NATO fleet.

      Also, the situation in Donbas remains relatively stable with 59 ceasefire violations on the part of pro-Russian forces last week. As a result of the violations, 4 Ukrainian soldiers were injured and 2 were killed.

    •   Bilateral relations
      The bilateral track of Ukraine’s foreign policy was quite fruitful last week. The main developments took place in Ukraine-US, Ukraine-Slovakia, and Ukraine-Poland tracks.

      One of the biggest events last week was the relaunch of the Ukraine-US Strategic Partnership Commission that resulted in the signing of the Charter on Strategic Partnership. It has updated the previous Charter that was signed in 2008 and provides a framework for the enhanced cooperation between the two countries.

      Moreover, the US conducted the 4th delivery of security assistance. This time the United States supplied Ukraine with about 80 thousand kilograms of ammunition.

      At the same time, Ukraine and Slovakia relations were boosted after the meeting between Denys Shmyhal, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, and Eduard Heger, the Prime Minister of Slovakia. The counterparts signed a joint statement and agreed to further cooperation in various fields - from agriculture to trade and green energy.

      In addition, President Volodymyr Zelensky had a telephone call with President of Poland Andrzej Duda. The counterparts discussed a number of security and energy topics including the ongoing migrant crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border, countering the Nord Stream 2 project as well as alternative ways of gas supply.

  • Foreign policy and international agenda

    The Council of the European Union excluded Ukraine from the "green list" for travel due to the high rate of COVID-19 proliferation. The decision was made on November 9. The insignificant trips to the EU are mentioned in the document. At the same time, this step does not automatically prohibit Ukrainian citizens from entering. The decision is a recommendation, each EU country would decide for itself which travel regime to keep. In particular, the authors of the document stressed that the restrictions may not apply to fully vaccinated tourists. During the week, the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said that 15 EU countries had confirmed the possibility of fully vaccinated Ukrainian citizens entering their territory. These are Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden.

    The heads of the EU, NATO, and US diplomatic missions, as well as the EU Advisory Mission, called on the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to adopt a law on the Security Service of Ukraine. The document is awaiting voting in the second reading. In a joint article, diplomats call the document "a step towards Ukraine's accession to the EU and NATO." According to them, it will prepare an important legislative foundation for this process. At the same time, the heads of foreign missions note that the current bill leaves a number of open questions: broad counterintelligence powers, preservation of the right to use physical force, special means and firearms, preservation of temporary detention facilities, insufficient certainty of the SSU staff certification procedure without competition for positions in other departments. Diplomats hope that these aspects will be finalized in the process of implementing the future law.

    The Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine and the International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group) agreed on the details of the first two infrastructure projects for joint implementation. This was announced by the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal during an online meeting with the executive vice president of the company Makhtar Diop. The two roads are mentioned: from Kharkiv to Zaporizhia and from Lutsk to the Ukrainian-Polish border. These are the first infrastructure projects, which would attract funds from private investors. According to Denys Shmyhal, the Government of Ukraine seeks to sign relevant agreements with the International Finance Corporation by the end of this year. The head of the Cabinet of Ministers also said that the state was discussing other pilot partnership projects with foreign partners. In particular, preparations are underway for the concession of the seaports "Olvia" and "Kherson".

    Domestic Policy

    Since last week, the highest level of epidemic danger due to the high rate of proliferation of COVID-19 came into force in the Cherkasy region. Thus, the "red" zone has already covered 18 regions of Ukraine (including Kyiv). At the same time, the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal said that the rate of hospitalizations indicated stabilization of the situation with the spread of the disease: for two weeks it was fixed at 34.2 – 34.5 thousand per week. Health Minister Viktor Lyashko believes that the country has reached the peak of morbidity. It is worth noting that last week the rate of vaccination of Ukrainian citizens slowed down compared to previous figures: 

     

    more than 800,000 people received the first dose of the vaccine when during the previous three weeks this level was not lower than 1 million. To increase the rate of immunization of the population, the Ministry of Health expanded the list of occupations for which vaccination against COVID-19 is mandatory. The list includes employees of institutions managed by public authorities and local governments, strategic state-owned enterprises, and institutions that provide social services to citizens.

    The first composition of the Ethics Council was appointed. This institution checks the members of the High Council of Justice of Ukraine for integrity. Thus, the last body necessary for the implementation of judicial reform in Ukraine was formed. This was reported by the Office of the President of Ukraine. The Ethics Council consists of six members: three representatives of the Ukrainian judiciary, three international experts. Foreign organizations submitted their candidacies in September this year. For a long time, the Council of Judges of Ukraine could not submit its candidacies to fill the remaining seats in the Ethics Council. This blocked the work of the High Council of Justice. However, on November 2, the Council of Judges provided a list of candidates. Now the chairman of the High Council of Justice must approve three of them to work in the Ethics Council. If this does not happen, then, according to the law, the first three candidates from the list will be automatically appointed to the institution. International experts have decisive voting right in the Ethics Council.

    For reference. According to two laws passed by the Verkhovna Rada this summer, Ukraine is creating a system in which the appointment of judges is influenced by three structures – the High Qualifications Commission of Judges, the High Council of Justice and the Council of Judges of Ukraine.

    The High Qualifications Commission of Judges is responsible for the temporary or permanent appointment of a candidate for the position of a judge. It checks applicants for integrity and competence, recommends to the President of Ukraine candidates under the quotas of the President, the Verkhovna Rada, and the Council of Judges.

    The High Council of Justice is responsible for electing the members of the High Qualifications Commission of Judges and for overseeing the activities/dismissal of the courts it has elected.

    The Council of Judges of Ukraine is a grassroots advisory body that represents the interests of the professional community of judges of the country. It considers topical issues of justice and addresses the President, the Verkhovna Rada or other relevant bodies with proposals on the situation in the field. The Council of Judges, through three members of the Ethics Council, also monitors the activities of the High Council of Justice and proposes its candidates to the High Qualifications Commission of Judges.

    The English-language Ukrainian media KyivPost stopped working. The staff of the resource stated that on November 8 all employees were fired. The workers also said that they offered media owner Adnan Kivan to sell the newspaper or transfer the KyivPost trademark. According to them, he did not agree. Media owner Adnan Kivan claimed the suspension was temporary. He hopes that the media would soon resume activities in a larger and better format. Three weeks ago, Adnan Kivan's media manager announced that he planned to support the opening of the Ukrainian-language version of KyivPost. This decision was followed by the appointment of a person associated with the owner to a leadership position in the media. The staff of the resource regarded such a step as an attack on the independence of the media. The heads of diplomatic missions of Germany, the EU, Sweden, and the United Kingdom expressed their concern about the closure of the publication. KyivPost's exstaff received an offer from Adnan Kivan to continue cooperation in the updated media. But managers and journalists abandoned this option because of the risk of pressure on their work. They are ready to create new media.

    Security

    Meeting of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine: 10 November was marked with the meeting of the National Security and Defence Council (NSDC) of Ukraine chaired by President Volodymyr Zelensky. The main topic for consideration was the situation on the state border with Belarus as there is an ongoing migrant crisis on the Poland-Belarus border. "We are deciding to enhance the presence of the State Border Service on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border. The protection of the state border will be reinforced by the National Guard and the National Police of Ukraine"stated Denys Monastyrskyi, the Minister of Internal Affairs.

    In addition, the number of representatives of the State Border Service will be doubled on the border with Belarus. Also, the reserves of the National Guard and the police will be involved too.

    Moreover, Oleksiy Danilov, the Secretary of the NSDC, informed on 14 November that according to the intelligence service there are approximately 16 thousand so-called refugees on the territory of Belarus who are willing to enter the territory of the EU.

    The Security Service of Ukraine detained Denys Kulikovsky (aka "Palych"), the former head of the "Izoliatsiya" concentration camp in the temporarily occupied Donetsk.According to the intelligence service, this man organized and took a direct part in the killings and torture of illegally detained Ukrainian citizens. Later, a former prisoner of "Izoliatsiya", journalist Stanislav Aseiev, reported that Denys Kulikovsky had entered the free territory of Ukraine in 2019 and had been in Kyiv for some time. "Palych" is accused of human trafficking, creation of a terrorist group or organization, creation of illegal armed groups, violation of the laws and customs of war. The Security Service of Ukraine published a video in which Denys Kulikovsky confessed to torturing prisoners, gave the names of some other "Izoliatsiya" officials, and described the preparation of terrorist attacks against Ukrainian security forces. He also confirmed that employees of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation took part in the torture in the concentration camp or were present during it.

    Ceasefire regime in Donbas: According to the Joint Operation Forces reports, pro-Russian militants violated the cease-fire regime 59 times as of 8-14 November. As a result of the violations, 4 Ukrainian soldiers were injured and 2 were killed.

    Naval exercises in the Black Sea: The Ukrainian Navy took part in the PASSEX (passing exercise) together with the Navy of the US, Turkey and Romania in the Black Sea. The aim of the exercise was to work out the interoperability within multinational tactical groups according to NATO standards and increasing the level of interoperability with the fleet of the Alliance. In addition, such exercises help to maintain security in the Black Sea.

     

    Bilateral relations

    Ukraine-US relations: 10 November was marked with the 5th meeting of the Ukraine-US Strategic Partnership Commission. As a result, Dmytro Kuleba, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, and Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, signed a new Charter on Strategic Partnership between the two countries. According to Mr. Blinken, the Charter “affirms the United States unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Let us recall thatthe previous Charter on Strategic Partnership was signed in 2008. Thus, the new one better fits the new reality of international relations and the level of bilateral relations between Ukraine and the United States.

    At the same time, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine noted"The commission we held in Washington would not be a one-off event. We agreed with the Secretary of State to hold regular meetings in this format. The next meeting of the working groups of the Ukraine-US StrategicPartnership Commission will take place next year in Kyiv”.

    Moreover, Dmytro Kuleba and Andriy Yermak, the Head of the Presidential Office, held meetings with Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and Jacob Sullivan, the National Security Advisor. The meetings were focused on the discussion of security, especially the current migrant crisis in the Poland-Belarus border, economic and energy issues including increase in investments in the Ukrainian economy, and the topic of the Nord Stream 2.

    In addition, the US carried out the 4th additional supply of security assistance for Ukraine on 14 November. The supply comprised 80 thousand kilograms of ammunition.

    Ukraine-Slovakia relations: Denys Shmyhal, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, conducted a working visit to Zakarpattia region on 12 November where he met with Eduard Heger, the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic. The counterparts visited the Uzhhorod - Vyšné Nemecké checkpoint at the joint border and specialized secondary school with in-depth study of the Slovak language.The meeting culminated with signing a Joint Statement on the prospects of cooperation between the two countries.

    In addition, the Prime Ministers have defined such spheres for the development of bilateral  relations:

    •   compliance of industrial products for the development of mutual trade;

    •   electronic communications and telecommunication services;

    •   energy;

    •   Green Deal and environmental protection;

    •   financial cooperation and the fight against fraud;

    •   agriculture, phytosanitary measures, hygienic measures;

    •   social policy;

    •   labor relations and integrated border management

    • Ukraine-Poland relations: Volodymyr Zelensky had a telephone conversation with Andrzej Duda, the President of Poland, on 8 November. The counterparts discussed a broad range of topics from the ongoing migrant crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border to the counteraction to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Special attention was focused on cooperation in the energy sector, in particular, on the establishment of alternative ways of gas supply.

    • Foreign Policy Council" "Ukrainian Prism"


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