We are glad to present a special issue of the annual analysis — Ukrainian Prism: Foreign Policy 2022. We focus on annual assessments of Ukraine’s foreign policy accomplishments and failures on a regular basis. However, this issue is special for many reasons.
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Firstly, this report may not have appeared. The decision to prepare it was difficult for the Ukrainian Prism team as the war affected each of us. Some of our experts survived the horror of a full blockade, massive shelling and air strikes against their cities in Ukraine. Some were forced to leave their homes and become displaced persons. Some experts prioritised advocacy of Ukraine’s interests internationally for the duration of the war. It was not until the second half of 2022 that the Ukrainian Prism managed to resume its full-fledged program work. It was then that we decided to continue the analytical work on this annual publication that has been issued since 2016 while adjusting it to the present time and the challenges Ukraine’s diplomacy was facing in 2022.
Secondly, our methodology for assessing foreign policy in a relatively peaceful time had to be updated in order to cover all the nuances and specifics of the work of Ukrainian diplomats, politicians and civic activities who are fighting for our freedom and the right to peaceful and just existence through communication with the outside world. Wartime diplomacy is complex politics with its objectives and a specific toolkit. With this in mind, we had to adjust the research methodology to the new functional and geographic requirements of the present time. This special issue features new countries and thematic elements of Ukraine’s bilateral and multilateral foreign policy agenda. The indicators of the assessment changed, too.
Thirdly, despite our scores, we are aware that victories over the Russian aggressor on the diplomatic front are as critically important as the progress of Ukraine’s Armed Forces on the battlefield. Every decision in favour of Ukraine is invaluable. Therefore, our indicators serve as hints as to where and how the work for victory over the enemy can be strengthened.
Finally, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine demonstrated again that Ukraine’s victory and resilience in the fight against the aggressor lie in the unity of Ukrainian society and joint efforts on the political, diplomatic, and civic levels. This special issue shows how vitally important, proactive and creative our joint political and diplomatic efforts were in 2022.
Glory to the Armed Forces of Ukraine!
Glory to Ukrainian diplomats!
Glory to Ukraine!
FOREIGN POLICY OF UKRAINE IN 2022
- Political interest/engagement B+
While the war with Russia began in 2014, the full-scale invasion in 2022 drew the attention of Ukraine’s political leadership on diplomatic work with foreign and international partners. Proactive efforts to expand the areas where partners can show solidarity with Ukraine began in January. In addition to the conventional work on strengthening preventive pressure on Russia through sanctions in an attempt to minimise the risks of wide-scale aggression, top Ukrainian officials and diplomats were focused on strengthening Ukraine’s military capabilities, as manifested in their statements and political position.
However, February 24, 2022, became a new starting point in building comprehensive war-time diplomacy. From the first hours of the full-scale invasion, diplomatic communication switched to the format of 24/7 crisis management with intense contacts with partners and an extensive agenda.
Ukrainian top officials focused on the following issues: seeking the terms for political and diplomatic de-escalation and stopping the war; provision of defence assistance to Ukraine in its resistance against the aggressor; minimising the scale of humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine; recording and documenting war crimes and other serious crimes committed by the Russian occupiers; increasing sanctions against supporters of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine; building mechanisms to hold Russia’s leadership accountable for the crime of aggression; financial and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine from international partners and international organisations amid staggering losses and risks of Ukraine losing financial stability; ensuring proper conditions for Ukrainian refugees abroad; engaging foreign funding in reconstruction of damaged infrastructure in Ukraine; establishing the necessary institutional framework; confiscation of Russian assets abroad and elaborating mechanisms to further channel these resources for the restoration of Ukraine; drafting and promotion of the President’s peace formula; security guarantees for Ukraine and more.
Geographically, Ukrainian politicians and top officials focused the most on cooperation with the partners that are part of the G7, EU, and NATO. The priority tasks of the Ukrainian political leaders and diplomats were the political focus on consistent diplomatic work with these countries and building parallel solution tracks with member-states of these alliances through international organisations and bilaterally.
Ukraine’s key foreign policy decision-makers highlighted the importance of exploiting the available universal international mechanisms, such as the UN and its agencies and institutions, to stop Russia’s war on Ukraine and minimise the humanitarian crisis for Ukraine and the world. Ukrainian politicians and diplomats grew more interested in the so-called Global South in an effort to seek wide international support for pro-Ukrainian decisions.
Speeding up Ukraine’s EU and NATO integration was met with strong political consensus and interest from various political parties and actors in Ukraine. Joint statements on this matter came from the President of Ukraine, the Prime Minister and Verkhovna Rada’s Speaker. Individual countries and regions in focus included the US, UK, Baltic States, Poland, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Building an international coalition for the reconstruction of Ukraine, sanctions policy, and military diplomacy were the top priorities for all political actors in Ukraine.
- Strategic communications B+
Strategic communications with partners were the foundation for establishing international coalitions to counter Russia’s aggression in 2022. Ukraine needed to keep foreign states constantly focused on its developments and have decisions passed quickly on various issues. President Zelenskyy’s telephone diplomacy since the first hours of the full-scale invasion, regular addresses to parliaments of other countries and events along with online campaigns on social media and regular interviews for international media allowed Ukraine to promote its national interests and stay in the spotlight of international audiences at the level of institutions in charge of foreign policy and beyond.
The President’s addresses to the parliaments of other countries and official meetings of international organisations proved to be an efficient tool of strategic communication. Parliaments became a successful platform for the President’s addresses for a number of reasons.
Firstly, parliaments, as political institutions, are directly connected to voters in their countries. Secondly, many parliaments appoint governments and play an important role in approving decisions on assistance to Ukraine. This communication format with Western audiences became quite popular and drew a lot of interest. Foreign communication experts analyse President Zelenskyy’s addresses while publishers print collections of his speeches. In 2022, President Zelenskyy spoke 35 times to parliaments across Europe, Asia and North America, as well as the parliaments of Israel, Australia, and New Zealand.
Visits to the liberated towns of Kyiv region were a powerful instrument for drawing the attention of the EU, NATO, and partner-state leaders to Ukraine and showing them the depth of the human tragedy caused by the Russian aggression. Foreign partners could witness the war crimes of the Russian military there. The leaders of the EU institutions, among others, visited Bucha, Irpin, and Borodianka.
The engagement of First Lady O. Zelenska in information campaigns and international humanitarian campaigns was helpful in terms of putting Russia’s war against Ukraine and Ukraine’s needs in the spotlight. Her addresses to US and UK lawmakers, major international conferences, and interviews strengthened Ukraine’s communication abroad.
Exclusive interviews of President Zelenskyy, First Lady Zelenska, Foreign Minister Kuleba, Defence Minister Reznikov, and Commander in Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces Zaluzhnyi were conventional in terms of the format yet impactful in terms of their sense.
Verkhovna Rada's leadership and MPs were engaged in advocating decisions that required the approval of national parliaments or the European Parliament and parliamentary assemblies of international organisations.
Massive awareness-raising campaigns in foreign capitals and cities and advocacy campaigns on social media on behalf of the Ukrainian State and Armed Forces, supported by the citizens and NGOs, contributed too.
At the same time, Ukraine’s strategic communication sometimes lacked uniformity; clarity on who is authorised to comment on matters of war, peaceful resolution and relations with partners. It also lacked an individual approach to some countries and regions.
- Activities B+
Ukraine’s activity was mostly focused on building an international coalition to counter Russia’s aggression, receiving the necessary security and humanitarian assistance, and dealing with the impact of war throughout 2022. While some conventional diplomacy tools could not be used because of martial law and a change of priorities, Ukrainian foreign and domestic political actors – including the President, the President’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, the Verkhovna Rada and others – exploited the available toolkit and intensified their efforts in many areas. Many diplomatic missions abroad intensified their efforts, too.
Ukraine was permanently in the closest possible and top-level contact with the US, the UK, Poland, Baltic States and Central European states. Their leaders visited Ukraine repeatedly. This was illustrated by the fact that a number of Central European partners quit purely nationalist ideas and slogans in favour of stronger practical sectoral cooperation. Overall, presidents and government leaders of 39 countries in Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, and Australia visited Ukraine in 2022.
Seeking to build long-term security guarantees, Ukraine launched an international working group led by the Head of the Office of the President, A. Yermak, on behalf of Ukraine, and former NATO Secretary General, A. F. Rasmussen, on behalf of the international community. With over 20 foreign experts, the group designed the Kyiv Security Compact plan. The Compact was to offer security guarantees for Ukraine until its membership in NATO. It was met with varying political and expert reactions. Ukraine’s leadership then decided to push for the security guarantee track along with Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s 10-point Peace Plan proposed later in 2022.
The Yermak-McFaul working group was established to keep close contact with partners on the preparation and implementation of sanctions. It was tasked with delivering comprehensive solutions for pressuring Russian entities linked to the war against Ukraine with sanctions. The group shared its recommendations on important steps regarding sanctions with representatives of the US, EU and other partners.
President Zelenskyy was constantly in contact with the leaders of all partner states through telephone conversations and tried to garner the support of more countries. His numerous addresses to the parliaments of various countries resonated with societies. Amid his usual online addresses, President Zelenskyy’s appearance in person in the US Congress in December helped strengthen the positive impact on the audience of the US lawmakers and minimise the threats of losing bipartisan support for Ukraine.
Proactive high-level political dialogue and intense advocacy by Ukrainian politicians and civil society led to progress in Ukraine’s EU integration. While Ukraine and the EU did not manage to have the EU-Ukraine summit in 2022, the parties worked intensely through the bilateral entities established under the Association Agreement. For example, a number of important bilateral agreements were signed to strengthen Ukraine’s sectoral integration with the EU’s internal market during the EU-Ukraine Association Council in Brussels in September. Moreover, Ukrainian officials have participated in Council of the European Union meetings since Ukraine became an EU candidate.
Ukraine’s political move of applying for NATO membership in the fall of 2022 was not met with the same response from its members. Work with individual NATO member-states did not become systemic in 2022.
The consistent work of Ukraine’s Defence Ministry and state defence companies allowed Ukraine to ensure supplies of weapons and move to joint projects of ammunition production on the territory of EU countries. These are primarily Central European states. The meetings of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, also known as the Ramstein group, seriously positively impacted security cooperation with over 54 countries.
Ukraine had an intense dialogue with its foreign partners on building a platform for recovery and engaging international donors and investors in post-war reconstruction. Supported by its foreign partners, Ukraine was present at a high political level in the respective international conferences in Warsaw in May, Lugano in June, Berlin in October, and Paris in December, as well as in other fora in support of Ukraine. Ukraine was working proactively within the international organisations where it is a member and within partner organisations, such as G7. Work and advocacy within the UN got a new impetus and engaged all branches of government.
Ukraine’s MFA intensified its work with the countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America despite Russia's extensive political and economic influence there.
The African tour of Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Kuleba was important in this context. Also, the MFA appointed a Deputy Minister responsible for developing relations with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean in the fall of 2022. He was tasked with developing a strategy for the MFA to work with the LAC region. Also, a Special Representative was appointed for the Middle East and Africa in 2022.
Overall, 2022 saw a serious replacement of ambassadors in the countries of importance for Ukraine. While this was mostly a scheduled rotation of Ukrainian ambassadors, some changes resulted from poor delivery in war-time diplomacy. New ambassadors were appointed to Australia, Egypt (March); the UAE, Cuba, North Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, and Montenegro (May); Tajikistan (June); Mongolia and Germany (September); Morocco and Slovakia (October); Switzerland (November); Argentina, Bulgaria, Latvia, Nigeria and Peru (December). Also, ambassadors with concurrent accreditation were appointed to Bahrain, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, and New Zealand. Still, embassies in Algeria, Angola, Belgium, Brazil, Armenia, Georgia, Ethiopia, Iraq, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, China, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Thailand, Hungary, and the Czech Republic remained without ambassadors by the end of 2022.
Civil society made an important contribution to Ukraine’s foreign policy activity. Their advocacy visits to important capitals across the world complemented Ukraine’s official agenda.
- Results B-
In the political and diplomatic dimension, Ukraine’s partners condemned Russia’s full-scale invasion both within international organisations and nationally. Giving Ukraine the status of an EU candidate country was the political breakthrough of 2022.
The ongoing coordination of decisions on Ukraine by G7 and the EU enabled serious progress in approving sanctions, financial and humanitarian assistance, and shaping the foundation of the future mechanism for reconstructing Ukraine and attracting investment. The scale of sanctions imposed by Ukraine’s partners turned out to be unexpected for the Kremlin. EU member-states mastered political will and consensus for nine sanction packages against Russia. They covered energy, banking, the defence industry, media in Russia, and many legal entities and individuals. Other European countries that are not EU member-states, Australia, Japan, etc., joined the sanctions.
The political leadership of partners in some areas allowed Ukraine to strengthen advocacy in communication with the states that are hesitating about clear support for Ukraine.
The US and the UK remained the key partners in strengthening Ukraine’s defence capabilities and shaping military-political coalitions. The launch and active work of the Ramstein format, a platform for military assistance for Ukraine and strengthening the capacity of its Armed Forces, is an important accomplishment of Ukrainian war-time diplomacy. Its political and practical components are equally important. With the US leadership, the format united over 50 of Ukraine’s partners on the political level, allowing countries to agree and coordinate the supplies of weapons and ammunition on the practical level. Overall, over 30 countries provided lethal and non-lethal assistance to Ukraine.
The EU’s decision to allow the use of the European Peace Facility funds to reimburse the EU member-states for the necessary armaments and munitions they provide to Ukraine is another important political accomplishment. EUR 3.1bn was allocated for Ukraine as of the end of 2022 out of the European Peace Facility’s total budget of EUR 5.7bn.
Besides military equipment and munitions, Ukraine is vitally interested in training its military in the territory of partner-states. The UK was leading in this in 2022. Together with partners from NATO member-states, it launched massive training of new Armed Forces of Ukraine units. By the end of 2022, the long-awaited official launch of the EU Military Assistance Mission took place. The mission has a two-year mandate to train the Ukrainian military in the territory of EU member-states.
Approving the Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine at the NATO summit in Madrid was another important sign of solidarity with Ukraine from NATO member-states, even if this support was non-lethal.
Representatives of Ukraine were active on various UN platforms in an effort to draw attention to Ukraine and increase international legal pressure on Russia. With the UN’s mediation, the Grain Deal was signed in July to export Ukrainian grain by sea. It was extended in November. Ukraine enjoyed unprecedented support for its resolutions at the UN General Assembly. Over 140 countries voted in favour of condemning the Russian aggression, the annexation of Ukrainian territory, reparations, the suspension of the Russian Federation from the UN Human Rights Council and more.
While Ukraine received uneven and sometimes insufficient monthly assistance, grant and lending support from international financial institutions throughout 2022 allowed Ukraine to stay solvent and keep its financial system stable. After February 24, Ukraine’s international partners channelled over USD 28bn to the Ukrainian budget. The US, EU, Germany, Canada, and the UK made the biggest contributions.
Ukraine was offered a range of trade preferences in relations with its partners. This allowed Ukraine to increase its export revenue amid a crisis in its economy. The EU, the UK, and Australia suspended import duties for Ukrainian exports.
Despite the war and the damage caused by it, Ukraine managed to avoid a catastrophe in international trade. It exported USD 44.17bn worth of goods, or 64.9 per cent of the 2021 amount, and imported USD 59.51bn worth of goods or 81.7 per cent of the 2021 amount.
As part of the Grain from Ukraine initiative supported by its Western partners, Ukraine delivered grain to a number of Middle East countries, including Yemen, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Oman.