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14 December, 2021

Digest of Ukrainian news: 06.12 – 12.12.2021

The world through the prism of Ukrainian interests

Trends

  • Foreign policy and international agenda

    The main events of foreign policy and international context for Ukraine last week were related to the conversation of the Presidents of the United States and Ukraine on the concentration of the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the Russian-Ukrainian border. Also in this context, it is important to mention the decision of the UN General Assembly on Crimea (temporarily occupied by Russia) and the tripartite agreement of Georgia, Lithuania, and Ukraine in the field of cybersecurity.

    President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky had a telephone conversation with US President Joseph Biden. The topic of conversation was the security of the Ukrainian state, given the threats from Russia. Both presidents called on Russia to de-escalate the confrontation and stressed that diplomacy was the best way to resolve the conflict.

    The United Nations General Assembly approved an enhanced resolution on the militarization of Crimea, which is temporarily occupied by Russia. The resolution contains words of support for the Crimea Platform, calls on official Moscow to stop the transfer of weapons and troops to the Crimean Peninsula, to stop violations of freedom of navigation in the Black and Azov Seas.

    The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense of Georgia, and the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Lithuania agreed to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding on the Cyber Threat Analysis Group at the Regional Cyber Defense Center.

  • Domestic policy

    The domestic policy sphere did not bring many resonant events to Ukraine last week. Among the most interesting on this topic are traditionally the reports on the spread of COVID-19, as well as the beginning of a ban on the distribution of plastic bags and the beginning of an experiment with an electronic queue for crossing the Ukrainian border.

    The highest level of epidemic danger was removed in eight oblasts of Ukraine and Kyiv due to the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, ten regions remain in the "red zone". The Minister of Health of Ukraine Viktor Lyashko said that the incidence of COVID-19 has been declining in the country for almost a month. At the same time, he warned of a new wave of epidemics in the future.

    On December 10, a law banning plastic bags came into force in Ukraine. At the first stage, the document prohibits the use of packages with a wall thickness of more than 50 micrometers in supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, and other services.

    The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine launched a pilot project "Electronic border crossing queue". The main idea of this initiative is to book the time and place of entry into Ukraine.

    • Security
    The security sector has brought a lot of different news to Ukraine over the past week. All of them were connected to Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

    The Russian Federation blocked about 70% of the Sea of Azov. The Russian side issued warnings about the restriction of navigation, explaining this by conducting artillery exercises in areas near the Ukrainian cities of Mariupol, Berdyansk, and Henichesk.

    The final batch of lethal weapons from the United States arrived in Ukraine from a package of aid approved by US President Joseph Biden in September 2021. It is worth noting that the compromise version of the draft US defense budget for 2022 includes the allocation of $ 300 million to support Ukraine.

    Minister of foreign affairs of Germany Annalena Baerbock said that she saw no reason to launch the completed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. According to her, in its current form, this pipeline can not be commissioned, because it does not meet the requirements of the European energy legislation, and security issues, in any case, remain unresolved.

    The Supreme Court of Cassation of Italy fully acquitted Vitaliy Markiv, a serviceman of the National Guard of Ukraine.

    • Bilateral relations

    The sphere of Ukraine’s bilateral relations was fruitful last week. The tracks with the biggestdevelopments included Ukraine-Croatia track as well as Ukraine-Great Britain and Ukraine- Lithuania.

    First of all, relations between Ukraine and Croatia deepened after the working visit of Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to Ukraine. 5 documents were signed by the two countries,including a joint Declaration on the European perspective of Ukraine.

    Moreover, Ukraine and Great Britain held the meeting within the Ukraine-UK Strategic Dialogue where a joint communique was signed. In addition, the United Kingdom has announced the allocation of additional £1 mln to implement trade and investments projects in Ukraine.

    Also, the relations between Ukraine and Lithuania were strengthened after the visit of ArvydasAnušauskas, the Minister of National Defense of Lithuania. He and Oleksii Reznikov had a fruitful discussion where the Lithuanian counterpart announced that Lithuania has delivered bulletproof vests for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

     

    Foreign policy and international agenda

    President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky had a telephone conversation with US President Joseph Biden. The topic of conversation was the security of the Ukrainian state, given the threats from Russia. The head of the White House stated his commitment to the principle of "no decisions or discussions about Ukraine without Ukraine." He also said that the United States is ready to engage in support of confidence-building measures to advance the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the American partners for supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state. Both presidents called on Russia to de-escalate the confrontation and stressed that diplomacy was the best way to resolve the conflict. They also discussed aspects of support of Ukraine in countering hybrid aggression by the United States.

    The conversation between the Ukrainian and American leaders was held in the background of Joseph Biden's previous online meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. One of the key topics of conversation (but not the only one) was the increasing number of Russian armed units on the Russian-Ukrainian border. Joseph Biden expressed concern about this fact. But the US president stressed that in the event of an escalation of the situation by Russia, the United States and its Allies would respond with economic and other measures. Responding to concerns about the concentration of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine, the Kremlin leader accused NATO of "mastering Ukrainian territory and building capacity there." Vladimir Putin reiterated his desire to obtain "guarantees against NATO's non-expansion to the east."

    The United Nations General Assembly approved an enhanced resolution on the militarization of Crimea, which is temporarily occupied by Russia. The resolution contains words of support for the Crimea Platform, calls on official Moscow to stop the transfer of weapons and troops to the Crimean Peninsula, to stop violations of freedom of navigation in the Black and Azov Seas. «Grateful to all states who supported the resolution. It further consolidates international support for the Crimea Platform and its goals, addresses the progressing militarization of Crimea, sends a deterrence signal amid the ongoing Russian build-up near our border and in Crimea», – said the minister of foreign affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba.

    The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense of Georgia, and the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Lithuania agreed to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding on the Cyber Threat Analysis Group at the Regional Cyber Defense Center.Representatives of Lithuania and Ukraine have already signed the document, and the Georgian side will sign it soon. The group will focus on developing countries' capabilities in cyber threat analysis through the exchange of operational and tactical information on security challenges and vulnerabilities, incident research, and digital expertise.

     

    Domestic Policy

    The highest level of epidemic danger was removed in eight oblasts of Ukraine and Kyiv due to the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, in the "red zone" remain Vinnytsia, Volyn, Zhytomyr, Zaporizhia, Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Sumy, Khmelnytsky, Chernihiv, Cherkasy regions. The Minister of Health of Ukraine Viktor Lyashko said that the incidence of COVID-19 has been declining in the country for almost a month. At the same time, he warned of a new wave of epidemics in the future. He also reminded that from now on, even in the "yellow zone" (medium level of epidemic danger) to visit public places (except for the neediest) citizens must have a vaccination certificate or an actual negative PCR test. Finally, Volodymyr Zelensky signed a law amending the state budget of Ukraine for 2021, which allows allocating 8 billion hryvnias to pay 1,000 hryvnias to vaccinated citizens.

    On December 10, a law banning plastic bags came into force in Ukraine. At the first stage, the document prohibits the use of packages with a wall thickness of more than 50 micrometers in supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, and other services. The regulation still allows the use of ultra- thin packages (wall thickness up to 15 micrometers), but now customers have to pay for their use.

    The next phase of the ban will begin in March 2022, when it will be impossible to use thin (15-50 micrometers), ultra-thin, and oxo-decomposable packages. From January 1, 2023, only biodegradable packages will remain in Ukraine. All other plastic bags will be banned.

    The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine launched a pilot project "Electronic border crossing queue".

    The main idea of this initiative is to book the time and place of entry into Ukraine. According to the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, the project will allow speeding up clearance at the border, and vehicles would not be idle for several days. Comfortable waiting areas for all entry procedures to Ukraine would also be created.

    Security

    The Russian Federation blocked about 70% of the Sea of Azov. The Russian side issued warnings about the restriction of navigation, explaining this by conducting artillery exercises in areas near the Ukrainian cities of Mariupol, Berdyansk, and Henichesk. The Command of the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that such overlaps of the water area occur systematically and impede free navigation in the Sea of Azov. The agency calls the announcement of navigation warnings by the Russian Federation in the Sea of Azov near the bases of the Ukrainian Navy and civilian ports as an open provocation.

    The final batch of lethal weapons from the United States arrived in Ukraine from a package of aid approved by US President Joseph Biden in September 2021. Adviser to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Oleksiy Arestovych reported that 30 launchers of Javelin anti-tank missile systems and 180 missiles were delivered to Kyiv.

     

    It is also worth noting that the compromise version of the draft US defense budget for 2022 includes the allocation of $ 300 million to support Ukraine. That is $ 50 million more than Joseph Biden requested, including $ 75 million for lethal weapons.

    Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany Annalena Baerbock stated that she saw no reason to launch the completed Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Annalena Baerbock noted that the current coalition in the Bundestag in its agreement enshrined the provision that energy projects, including Nord Stream 2, are subject to European energy legislation. According to the Minister, in its current form, this pipeline can not be commissioned, because it does not meet the requirements of the European energy legislation, and security issues, in any case, remain unresolved.

    The Supreme Court of Cassation of Italy fully acquitted Vitaliy Markiv, a serviceman of the National Guard of Ukraine. He was detained in Italy in 2017. The serviceman was accused of involvement in the death of Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli in 2014 during the operation in Sloviansk.

     

     

    Bilateral relations

    Ukraine-Croatia: Andrej Plenković, the Prime Minister of Croatia, held a working visit to Ukraine where he had meetings with Denys Shmyhal, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, and then with the President of Ukraine. During the meeting with Mr. Shmyhal, the counterparts focused on deepening Ukrainian and Croatian cooperation in trade, economic, tourism, digitalization, and education spheres.

    Moreover, Ukraine and Croatia signed a joint Declaration on the European perspective of Ukraine.“Ukraine and Croatia have taken a very important step towards strengthening friendship andcooperation between our two countries. Croatia is already the sixth EU country with which Ukraine isconcluding such an important political document”said Volodymyr Zelensky. The Declaration on the European perspective of Ukraine was one of the 5 documents signed between Ukraine and Croatia during Andrej Plenković’s visit. Other instruments included:

    • Agreement on cooperation between the State Archival Service of Ukraine and the State Archives of the Republic of Croatia;

    • Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine and the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure of the Republic of Croatia on Cooperation in the Field of Railway Transport;

    • Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Metrology between the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine and the State Office for Standardization and Metrology of the Republic of Croatia;

    • Action Plan of the Working Group between Ukraine and Croatia for 2022/2023.

      In addition, the two countries agreed on the action plan of the working group on the transfer of Croatia's experience in the peaceful reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. The corresponding document will be signed in Brussels on December 15, 2021.

      Ukraine-Great Britain: Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba held a working visit to Great Britain on 8-9 December where he had a meeting with Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs. During the meeting, the British counterpart said that the United Kingdom will allocate additional £1 mln aimed at the implementation of trade and investment projects in Ukraine.

      Furthermore, Dmytro Kuleba and Liz Truss held the meeting of the Ukraine-UK Strategic Dialogue on 8 December. As a result, a joint communique was adopted with the main focus on trade, climate, and security issues.

      Ukraine-Lithuania: 8 December was marked with the working visit of Arvydas Anušauskas, theMinister of National Defense of Lithuania, to Ukraine. He had a meeting with Oleksii Reznkikov where a broad range of security and defense issues were discussed. In particular, it was stated that Lithuania has sent a package of bulletproof vests for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

      Foreign Policy Council" "Ukrainian Prism"


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