Ukrainian Prism: Foreign Policy 2017

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Key Partners


In 2015, relations with the United Kingdom significantly intensified owing to its engagement into the processes of Ukraine’s internal reforms and development of its statehood potential. UK active support of Ukraine at international forums was important; yet, it was only supplementary, as this country did not engage in the main mechanism of conflict resolution and is generally playing a passive role in the foreign policy of the EU. Also, the relations were developing in absence of the Ukrainian party’s strategic vision.


2015 saw Ukrainian Foreign Policy under the sign of unity concerning the vision and implementation of strategic policy regarding Canada. Intensive contacts at the high and highest levels helped initialing of the Free Trade Agreement and extended Canadian assistance in the financial, technological and military technical spheres.


In 2015, Kyiv and Beijing managed to make a number of important steps for normalizing their relations and returning to implementation of the tasks planned in the strategic documents as of 2013. Owing to the efforts of the Ukrainian authorities, some directions of practical interaction with China that were under threat of failure after 2014 were restored. But the risks of contracts breach still remain and the political dialogue is rather sporadic.


The year 2015 showed that Ukraine and Poland are interested in developing productive mutual relations. Poland continued to be a consistent strategic partner to Ukraine in both political and security spheres. Unfortunately, Ukrainian authorities grew accustomed to this and accept the situation as something given. Instead, Poland produces new approaches, and with the change of the leadership of Poland, changes in the bilateral relations in other spheres of cooperation, too, have been announced. This becomes a serious challenge for Ukraine


During 2015, Ukraine and Germany experienced an unprecedented intensity of political contacts, in particular within the framework of the Normandy format of negotiations concerning settlement of the situation in the East of Ukraine. The Federal Republic of Germany significantly intensified its financial and economic/investment support of Ukraine. At the same time, the Ukrainian party shows a certain lack of a realistic approach in the relations.


In 2015, there was a considerable intensification of relations between Ukraine and Romania. For the first time in the last 7 years, the President of Romania came to Ukraine with an official visit. Romania consistently supported Ukraine on the bilateral level and in international organizations.


In 2015, Ukraine perceived the United States as its main strategic partner and coordinated with them the issues of both foreign and domestic policy. Still some directions of the interaction — trade, investments, security guarantees from the United States — are somewhat lacking for a strategic partnership.


The year 2015 laid the foundations for intensification of Ukrainian-Turkish relations in the form of negotiations concerning the Agreement on the Free Trade Zone, cooperation in the sphere of the regional security and power industry, etc. It can be considered as a belated preparatory stage for the long-declared strategic partnership with Turkey. At the same time, the impediment factors still are the discordance of countries’ positions concerning the future of the regional security system, cooperation with Russia and the energy security.


The year 2015 brought the breakthrough in French-Ukrainian relations: number and quality of contacts spiked, new directions for cooperation emerged. However, the crisis-related nature of this enhancement and differences in the two countries’ strategic targets render the cooperation unstable, and this became evident after the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13. The main task is still to find the strategic framework to align the interests and enhance the economic and informational components of bilateral relations.

European Integration


The year 2015 showed that Ukraine and countries of the Visegrad Group (V4) are interested in further development of their relations. This is manifested in institutional cooperation between Ukraine and these countries in all spheres of social life, which has been already formalized in treaties and agreements, and in concrete examples of cooperation in the region. The V4 countries express interest in providing assistance in reforming of various spheres of the Ukrainian state, but sometimes there is an impression that Ukraine neglects to observe its interests, leaving them to volition of its Western partners.


2015 saw significantly intensified cooperation between the Energy Community and Ukrainian authorities, first of all, the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine, in elaboration and approval of legislative drafts and legal documents regarding reform of the energy sector.


The ambitious agenda of relations between EU and Ukraine in 2015 was mostly implemented. The EU’s financial support to Ukraine, along with the sanctions against Russia enabled a certain political stabilization in the country. Yet, the slow process of implementation of reforms and corruption scandals cause discontent of European structures and some member countries, and this makes the positive results from EU’s support in 2015 a notable manifestation of political good will.


In 2015, the dynamics of relations between Ukraine and the Baltic states remained quite high. High- level visits were exchanged. The Baltic countries consistently supported Ukraine on bilateral level and at the forums of international organizations.


The following events in Ukraine’s relations with the countries of the Eastern Partnership should be considered as key events: Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga (May 2015); deepening political dialogue with Moldova and Georgia in the context of the common goals of European integration and security in the region; intensifying political cooperation with Belarus; achieving fundamental positions on economic relations in the context of a free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU and beginning of a new stage of dialogue with Azerbaijan.

International Organizations


Despite a low level of political interest to the issues of cooperation with the UN, except for some problems of conflicts resolution and human rights protection, this organization is clearly positioned in the strategic documents and holds a significant place in Ukraine’s foreign policy. Intensive activities of the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the UN in 2015 led to a significant achievement — election of Ukraine as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2016-2017, which was the cause of the Results’ highest rating.


In the course of 2015 there could be seen cooperation with the Institutions of the Council of Europe (The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities). The Action Plan for Ukraine 2015-2017 was agreed upon, with its implementation being financed by the representatives of the European Commission in Ukraine in the framework of the Eastern Partnership funding. Despite the high level of activity and the Commissioner for Human Rights’ visit to Ukraine, the monitors of the Council of Europe did not have the access to the occupied Crimea.


Ukraine’s cooperation with the OSCE in 2015 was marked by a high level contacts, visits and interaction within the framework of different institutions. The most active one was the interaction with the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, the participation of Ukrainian representatives in the Trilateral Contact Group on the peaceful settlement of the situation in Donbas. Yet there is a problematic issue concerning the full implementation of the mandate of the Special Monitoring Mission, monitoring on the entire territory of Ukraine including the Ukraine-Russia border territories and the temporarily occupied Crimea. At the same time, Ukrainian activities regarding other OSCE priorities and Ukraine’s involvement in resolving other issues in the framework of the OSCE outside the country is minimal.


Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO is one of the key issues of its foreign policy agenda in 2015. Despite different approaches of some political parties to the issues of the further Euro-Atlantic integration, Ukraine’s decision to abandon its non-bloc status gave a significant push towards invigoration of cooperation that was taking place at the level of the President, Parliament, Cabinet of Ministers, and other governmental agencies. Conducting negotiations, coordination of positions, signing joint roadmaps and the Trust Fund Agreement, and regular joint military exercises provide grounds to give a good rating to the Ukraine-NATO cooperation.



Year 2015 showed that Ukraine has a rather limited set of foreign-policy and security tools for influencing Russia’s aggressive policy against Ukraine. Destruction of the bilateral international treaties framework, winding down the economic and institutional cooperation make the Russian direction of Ukraine’s foreign-policy activities unattractive for individual political investments of the Ukrainian ruling class, and take away the middle-term perspective of the interstate relations.

Regional Cooperation


Among the key events in the relations of Ukraine and APR in 2015 was a notable progress in achieving mutual understanding with China, extension of cooperation with Japan, and several other countries of the Pacific. The Ukrainian party sent a positive signal by the long-awaited appointment of ambassadors to a number of key countries.


In 2015, the Middle East was on the periphery of the Ukraine’s foreign policy. There was an exception – development of relations with Israel, Turkey and Arab monarchies, which are acknowledged as priority countries of the region for cooperation.


In 2015, the human and resource potential of Latin America was under-evaluated by the developers of the foreign policy strategy of Ukraine in this region. This caused decline of the indicators of Ukrainian export, some image losses (absence of political support to Ukraine in the issue of counteracting the Russian aggression from the power elites, in particular those of Cuba, Argentina, and Brazil), as well as impossibility to confront Russia’s influence on the situation around implementation of the joint Ukrainian-Brazilian project «Alcantara Cyclone Space».


In 2014, Ukraine renounced presidency at the CIS, and in 2015 a totally expected considerable decrease in the level of relations between Ukraine and institutions, and countries of the CIS took place. Considering the fact that Ukrainian membership in the CIS is mainly formal, de-facto Ukraine makes its policy to minimize its representation in the organization, where еру Russian Federation plays a key role. Relations between Ukraine and the CIS-countries are shifted to a bilateral format.


The year 2015 showed that Ukraine is interested in development of relations with the countries of Africa. It shows both in Ukraine’s institutional cooperation with the countries of the African continent in all spheres of social life, which has already been formalized in the treaty framework, and in concrete examples of Ukraine’s activities in African countries. Yet, in spite of all this, a clear manifestation of Ukraine’s interests in the region is still absent.


The Black Sea region has almost disappeared from Ukraine’s foreign policy agenda in 2015. Significant reduction of goods turnover with all countries of the region, freezing of the significant number of multilateral projects, absence of ambassadors in some countries and disregard for multilateral mechanisms form a negative tendency. In fact, Ukraine’s policy was concentrated only on the issues of security connected to the annexation of Crimea and on relations with Turkey and Romania, and sustained a significant loss of support from the countries of the Caucasus.

Multilateral Initiatives


Due to the focus on its domestic events, Ukraine was not, in fact, present in the international discourse on security issues. Decrease of involvement in peacekeeping operations is an objective factor, while the lasting absence of an Ambassador-at-large for Transnistrian settlement, where Ukraine is one of the main mediators, is the factor that negatively affects the image of Ukraine. In fact, most of the statements of Ukrainian politicians and official agencies either were about Euro-Atlantic prospects of the country, or were a response to violations of international security with references to Ukraine (Syria).


To protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, in the reporting period Ukraine was actively discussing the commitments of the parties to Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine applied maximum efforts to prevent proliferation of radioactive materials and technologies from the occupied territories.


In 2015, Ukraine worked on: evaluation of the capacity of the state and of the economy to undertake new commitments within the framework of preparation for the Paris Climate Change Conference; implementation of greenhouse gas emissions reduction projects using the so-called «Kyoto money» from Japan and Spain; the foundations of the state policy in the sphere of climate change; development of the mechanisms of emissions trading and complying with the environmental commitments within the framework of membership in the Energy Community. Quite modest achievements in most fields can be explained to a significant degree by the systemic problem of both the political and governmental structures — poor competence and no sense of responsibility.


In 2015, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the Office of the High Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for human rights showed a high level of activities, including international cooperation for ensuring Ukraine’s international commitments in the sphere of human rights, as well as special attention to violations of human rights on the occupied territories of Ukraine. The main mechanisms used for promotion of the issues of human rights observance in Ukraine were the OSCE institutions, sessions of the UN General Assembly, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and Sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.


2015 was a breakthrough year in terms of shaping a strategic vision and institutionalization of public diplomacy, its transformation into a separate mechanism for promoting Ukraine’s interests in the world. However, the complexity of the tasks of the government in foreign policy and the lack of adequate resource base did not allow experiencing in full manner the result of this mechanism


The year 2015 did not become a breakthrough for Ukraine’s economic diplomacy – with the domestic situation this complicated it is quite difficult to count on success in the foreign economic policy. First steps were made to create additional favorable trade regimes and foundations of institutional support of economic diplomacy were laid.