Saturday, October 1
Укр Eng
Log In Register
PoliticsNeighboursEconomicsSocietyCultureHistoryScienceOpinionsArchive
21 December, 2021

Digest of Ukrainian news: 13.12 – 19.12.2021

The world through the prism of Ukrainian interests

Trends

  •   Foreign policy and international agenda

    Last week, the main news in the domain of foreign policy for Ukraine was related to the adoption of several important declarations for official Kyiv.

    The sixth summit of the Eastern Partnership took place in Brussels. Following the meeting, the Council of the European Union adopted the declaration. According to the document, the institution recognizes the European aspirations of the Eastern Partnership countries but does not mention the possibility of membership or coordination of steps to achieve it for any of the participants in this neighbourhood policy. At the same time, the European side recognized that each partner has the sovereign right to choose its own level of ambition and goals in relation to Brussels.

    Instead, the Associated Trio countries prepared their own statement based on the results of the Eastern Partnership summit. Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine welcomed the declaration of the EU Council and the approval of the new economic and investment plan for the neighbourhood policy. The leaders of the three countries stressed their commitment to strengthening the association with the EU and implementing the relevant agreements to meet the Copenhagen criteria. They reaffirmed their determination to work towards the membership of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine in the EU.

    The UN General Assembly approved an updated and strengthened resolution "The situation of human rights in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine." The document calls on Russia to stop unjustified detentions and arrests of Crimean residents and to release Ukrainian citizens illegally detained in prisons.

    The European Parliament passed the resolution calling on Russia to immediately withdraw troops that threaten Ukraine. Members of the institution said that any aggression should cost the Kremlin a high economic and political price. According to the European Parliament, Russia's build-up of forces is a tool for obtaining political concessions from the West at the expense of Ukraine.

  •   Domestic policy

    Last week’s main events in the field of Ukraine’s domestic policy were traditionally related tothe spread of COVID-19. Also, alarming news came from the energy sector. Finally, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was active, passing several notable laws in the last plenary week of this year.

    In Ukraine, the situation with the spread of COVID-19 continues to stabilize. The highest level of epidemic danger was removed in Vinnytsia and Khmelnytsky oblasts due to the reduction in the number of new infections and the load on hospitals. Thus, today eight regions of Ukraine remain in the "red zone": Volyn, Zhytomyr, Zaporizhia, Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, and Cherkasy regions.

    Last week, the Security Service of Ukraine warned the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in a letter about the threats to cut off heat and electricity supply to the population due to coal shortages. In response, the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal said that the problem of the coal shortage in Ukraine is now solved.

  •  

    The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed amendments to some laws on public health protection from the harmful effects of tobacco and banned the smoking of e-cigarettes in public places. The law now prohibits the advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of smokeless tobacco products and smoking cessation devices introduces labeling requirements and prohibits the use of flavouring and aromatic additives that mislead consumers.

    The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted amendments to the Law on Public Procurement. According to this law, Ukraine will establish for government agencies a special regime for the next 10 years to purchase engineering products through open tenders: the supplier must ensure the localization of production at 10% in 2022 to 40% in 2028.

      Security

    The security domain was quite eventful last week. The key developments were focused on the preparation for multinational military exercises in 2022, and the discussions on a meeting within the Normandy format.

    The Verkhovna Rada has adopted a draft law allowing foreign military personnel to take part in 9 multinational exercises in the territory of Ukraine with a view to training and enhancing defence capabilities of the Armed Forces.

    In addition, leaders of Ukraine, Germany, and France discussed the need to hold a meeting within the Normandy format to address the current security situation in Donbas. They called upon Russia to resume the work within the given format, and President Zelensky suggested using Nord Stream 2 to make Russia follow the peace process.

    At the same time, the ceasefire regime in Donbas witnessed 37 violations on the part of pro-Russian militants during 13-19 December. As a result of the violations, 3 Ukrainian soldiers were injured and 1 was killed.

      Bilateral relations

    Ukraine’s bilateral relations were also fruitful last week. The main tracks included Ukraine-

    Sweden one as well as Ukraine-US.

    Relations between Ukraine and Sweden were intensified due to Oleksii Rezkinov’s workingvisit to Stockholm where he signed an updated agreement on defense cooperation and agreed with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) to deepen cooperation with Ukraine.

    Also Ukraine-US relations were on a rise due to Oleskii Reznikov`s meeting with the US Congressional deledation, and Dmytro Kuleba`s meeting with the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. Security stood as the main discussion point which was further raised during Dmytro Kuleba’s interview for CNBC. The Minister for ForeignAffairs of Ukraine determined three main priorities on how the US may counter Russian aggression. These priorities are granting Ukraine modern weaponry, deepening intelligence sharing, and imposing economic sanctions against the aggressor.

    Foreign policy and international agenda

    The sixth summit of the Eastern Partnership took place in Brussels. Following the meeting, the Council of the European Union adopted the declarationAccording to the document, the institution recognizes the European aspirations of the Eastern Partnership countries but does not mention the possibility of membership or coordination of steps to achieve it for any of the participants in this neighbourhood policy. At the same time, the European side recognized that each partner has the sovereign right to choose its own level of ambition and goals in relation to Brussels.

     

    The Council of the EU also noted the efforts of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine to establish an Associated Trio. However, there was no mention of the division of the Eastern Partnership into different tracks in the institution's declaration.

    Finally, the EU Council mentioned the destabilization and violation of the principles of international law in many parts of the Eastern Partnership region. However, the document does not name the initiator of these actions (which is the Russian Federation), nor does it specify ways to counter them.

    Instead, the Associated Trio countries prepared their own statement based on the results of the Eastern Partnership summit. Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine welcomed the declaration of the Council of the EU and the approval of the new economic and investment plan for the neighbourhood policy.

    The leaders of the three countries stressed their commitment to strengthening the association with the EU and implementing the relevant agreements to meet the Copenhagen criteria. They reaffirmed their determination to work towards the membership of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in the EU. In this regard, the countries consider it necessary to strengthen cooperation within the Associated Trio.

    The statement also mentioned Russia's occupation of Georgia, the continuation of Moscow's aggression in eastern Ukraine, and the temporary occupation of Crimea, as well as the unresolved conflict in the Transnistrian region of Moldova as a threat to the region and Europe as a whole. The authors of the document condemned the violation of the sovereignty of a number of Eastern Partnership countries.

    The UN General Assembly approved an updated and strengthened resolution "The situation of human rights in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine." The document demands that Russia must stop unjustified detentions and arrests of Crimean residents, release Ukrainian citizens illegally detained in prisons, including Emir- Usein Kuku, Halyna Dovgopol, Server Mustafayev, Vladyslav Yesipenko, Nariman Dzhelal and others. The resolution calls on the Russian Federation to end the policy of forced change in the demographic composition of Crimea, condemns Russia's census.

    The European Parliament passed the resolution calling on Russia to immediately withdraw troops that threaten Ukraine. Members of the institution said that any aggression must cost the Kremlin a high economic and political price. According to the European Parliament, Russia's build- up of forces is a tool for obtaining political concessions from the West at the expense of Ukraine. Considering Ukraine's aspirations to join NATO, the authors of the resolution emphasized that the choice of any country cannot be subject to approval by a third country. That is why the European Parliament rejects Russia's attempts to include some countries in its "sphere of influence".

    Instead, MEPs mention the possibility of imposing sanctions in response to possible military action against Ukraine. The document states that any new package of restrictions should include a Russian officer corps involved in planning a possible invasion, as well as the oligarchs in the orbit of the Russian president and their families. Sanctions should also include the freezing of financial and physical assets in the EU, travel bans, Russia's exclusion from the SWIFT payment system, targeting sectors important to Russia's economy, and disrupting funding for the country's intelligence services.

    Domestic Policy

    In Ukraine, the situation with the spread of COVID-19 continues to stabilize. The highest level of epidemic danger was removed in Vinnytsia and Khmelnytsky oblasts due to the reduction in the number of new infections and the load on hospitals. Thus, today eight regions of Ukraine remain in the "red zone": Volyn, Zhytomyr, Zaporizhia, Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, and Cherkasy oblasts.

    Also last week, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine reported that 40% of the adult population in the country were fully vaccinated. Thus, according to Minister Viktor Lyashko, Kyiv has reached the figure for 2021 recommended by the World Health Organization.

    Last week, the Security Service of Ukraine warned the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in a letter about the threats to cut off heat and electricity supply to the population due to coal shortages. The agency reports a difficult situation due to fuel shortages and increased debt. According to the authors of the letter, this could lead to possible uncontrolled growth of tariffs for electricity and heat production for end users.

    In response, the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal said that the problem of the coal shortage in Ukraine is now solved. According to him, the country's fuel balance is now positive: Ukraine produces and imports about 2 million tons of coal per month for consumption of 1.7 million tons per month.

    The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed amendments to some laws on public health protection from the harmful effects of tobacco and banned the smoking of e-cigarettes in public places. The law now prohibits the advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of smokeless tobacco products and smoking cessation devices, introduces labeling requirements, and prohibits the use of flavouring and aromatic additives that mislead consumers.

    The document also introduces new rules for the packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products: at least 65% of them must be dedicated to warning about the harmful effects of smoking, which must include photos of the consequences of this process.

    The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted amendments to the Law on Public Procurement.According to this law, Ukraine will establish a special regime for government agencies for the next 10 years to purchase engineering products through open tenders: the supplier must ensure the localization of production at 10% in 2022 to 40% in 2028.

    This law does not apply to goods produced in countries with which Ukraine has concluded agreements on access to public procurement. These are the EU (Association Agreement), the United States, and a number of other countries (WTO Agreement on Government Procurement), which are subject to rules or principles "provided by other international treaties of Ukraine, approved by the Verkhovna Rada."

    However, if a localization assessment mechanism is in place, restrictions on the purchase of engineering products will apply to Turkey, Belarus, Russia, etc., with which Kyiv does not have such agreements.

    Security

    Multinational military exercises in Ukraine: The Verkhovna Rada has approved draft law 6359 which allows foreign military personnel to take part in multinational military exercises in the territory of Ukraine in 2022 to train units of the national Armed Forces. These exercises include multinationalexercises “Joint Efforts-2022”, Ukrainian-US exercises “Rapid Trident-2022”, Ukrainian-Britishexercises “Cossack Mace-2022”, multinational exercises “Svitla Lavyna-2022”, Ukrainian-Polishexercises “Silver Saber-2022”, Ukrainian-US exercises “Sea Breeze-2022”, Ukrainian-Romanianexercises “Riverine-2022”, multinational exercises “Maple Arch-2022”, and multinational exercises“Viking-2022”.

    Discussions on a meeting within the Normandy format: 15 December was marked with a meeting of Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, Olaf Scholz, the Chancellor of Germany, and Emmanuel Macron, the President of France. The counterparts agreed that the measures to 

    stabilize the situation in Donbas are needed to ensure compliance with the ceasefire, mutual release of detainees, and the opening of two new checkpoints. Also, Ukraine, Germany and France called upon Russia to resume the work within the Normandy format.

    In addition, the President of Ukraine said that the country is ready for the next meeting of the Normandy format to settle the security situation. "This is exactly what the leaders of the Normandy format are to convey to the Russian Federation, and the result should be a meeting in the Normandy format. If Russia is really interested in resolving this issue", Mr. Zelensky highlighted. The President of Ukraine also stated that the US could play a significant role in the process of negotiations within the Normandy format or some other formats and that the Nord Stream 2 might be used to meet with the Russian President and advance the peace process.

    Ceasefire regime in Donbas: According to the Joint Operation Forces reports, pro-Russian militantsviolatedthecease-fireregime37 timesasof12-19December.Asaresultoftheviolations, 3 Ukrainian soldiers were injured and 1 was killed.

    Bilateral relations

    Ukraine-Sweden: Relations between the two countries were intensified due to a working visit (13- 15 December) of Oleksiy Reznikov to Stockholm. He had a meeting with his counterpart Peter Hultqvist, the Minister of Defense of Sweden, where the officials discussed prospects of developing bilateral cooperation. Among them are training and professional preparation of military personnel,countering cyber threats, and deepening defense cooperation. “I am pleased to note that our defensecooperation with Sweden is diverse and intensified. It has a potential for further development”, stated Oleksii Reznikov.

    Furthermore, the Ministers of Defense of Ukraine and Sweden signed an updated agreement on defense cooperation and discussed countermeasures against Russian military build-up near Ukrainian borders.

    "It is necessary to make the price of escalation unacceptable for Russia, and the cost of temporary occupation of part of Ukrainian territory is constantly growing. Then we will be able to prevent the worst and continue the political and diplomatic process," highlighted Mr. Reznikov.

    The Ukrainian Minister of Defense also visited the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) where he and the Institute's experts agreed to continue the expert dialogue on issues of common interest during the Black Sea Security Conference (25-26 February) within the Crimean Platform to be held in Ukraine in 2022.

    Ukraine-US: Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov met with the US Congress delegation in Kyiv on 17 December. The counterparts discussed the current security situation in Donbas andCrimea as well as developments regarding Russia’s build-up near Ukrainian borders. Let us recall that the US delegation was represented by congressmen Jason Crow (D-Colorado), Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), and Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas).

    In addition, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine met with Karen Donfried, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. The counterparts coordinated positions of thetwo countries before Ms. Donfried’s visit to Moskov. Later, during his interviews for the US channel,CNBC Dmytro Kuleba highlighted three priorities of the US assistance in countering Russian aggression. They include granting Ukraine modern weaponry, deepening intelligence sharing, and imposing economic sanctions against the aggressor.

    Foreign Policy Council" "Ukrainian Prism"

Related publications:

Copyright © Ukrainian Week LLC. All rights reserved.
Reprint or other commercial use of the site materials is allowed only with the editorial board permission.
Legal disclaimer Accessibility Privacy policy Terms of use Contact us