Ukrainian Prism: Foreign Policy 2018 got B- again

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Ukrainian Prism: Foreign Policy 2015Ukrainian Prism: Foreign Policy 2016Ukrainian Prism: Foreign Policy 2017

Ukraine’s overall grade of success and implementation of its foreign policy did not change in 2018 compared to 2017. It is fair to say that this grade is quite high and Ukraine’s authorities have succeeded in keeping up the pace of diplomatic work to match the established cooperation priorities. The Activities indicator ranked the best compared to others.    

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For four consecutive years, we have been preparing the report based on clear measurable indicators. Firstly, this allows us to trace dynamics of the foreign policy activities of the Ukrainian authorities by vectors. Secondly, this enables a comparison between different directions of foreign policy to see improvement or barriers to progress.

The unique feature of this analysis is its comprehensive approach to analysing activities of all actors, not just the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and its research of all regions in the world, which no other publication offers. This annual report looks at the political interests of the key Ukrainian players in individual areas of foreign policy, available mechanisms of coordination and strategic vision, as well as at the practical work and achieved results. This analysis can become a basis for the White Book on foreign policy as a background for conceptual documents.

This year, the methodology we developed in 2015 and improved annually, no longer required corrections. This signalled that, as we aspired to an improved and all-encompassing approach, we have found one that best serves the analytical design. 


The darker the color on the map, the higher is the score for ccoperation with a given country 


The overall score for the political interest/engagement – «4 -»

The year 2018 was a rather intense year considering level of interest to the foreign policy issues expressed by Ukraine’s main political actors. Traditionally political interest was focused on countering the Russian aggression, relations with main partners and issues of European and Euro-Atlantic integration. It is possible to speak about a consistently high interest to foreign policy on behalf of the President of Ukraine, Government Office for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, and the Head of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, however, there is evidently lower involvement in foreign policy issues coming from Ukrainian MPs.

Taking into account the lack of a single strategy or concept of Ukraine’s foreign policy, the main guides to consider may be the Annual Address of the President of Ukraine to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine “On the Internal and External Situation in Ukraine”,

as well as statements made at the Ambassadorial meetings or meetings with the heads of the diplomatic missions and international organizations accredited in Ukraine. In 2018, all three events took place and thus provided a possibility to determine certain strategic priorities of the President Petro Poroshenko.

At the 13th Ukrainian Ambassadorial meeting that took place in August 2018, the President of Ukraine singled out the following priorities: keeping and enhancing the Transatlantic coalition to support Ukraine, countering Russian aggression, European and Euro-Atlantic integration as ways of guaranteeing Ukraine’s security and a value-based, economic diplomacy and actions to hold Russia legally accountable for its actions according to the international law. Moreover, the attention is traditionally drawn to the strategic nature of relations with the USA and special relations with Germany and France. Petro Poroshenko also emphasized the necessity of more active work with neighbouring countries (Romania, Slovakia, and Bulgaria), especially with those countries that Ukraine has some difficulties in bilateral relations (Hungary, Poland, and Moldova). These above-mentioned topics were pointed out at by the President of Ukraine during numerous international meetings and addresses.

A more detailed position regarding separate geographic or functional directions of the country’s foreign policy is traditionally presented in the analytical report to the Annual Address of the President of Ukraine to the Parliament 2018, however, it is difficult to state how exactly the National Institute for Strategic Studies’ expert propositions correlate with the political position of P. Poroshenko.

Compared to the President, a position of the Prime Minister of Ukraine V. Groysman is not as expressive,

however, in political statements and meetings the same priorities of Ukrainian interests on the foreign policy arena can be observed. In particular, a special focus was made on international solidarity to counter Russian aggression, European integration, development of international trade and new markets, using macro-financial assistance and humanitarian aid to restore the suffered territories and to implement reforms. As for the governmental level, the First Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine S. Kubiv as well as Vice Prime Ministers I. Klympush-Tsintsadze and H. Zubko were the most active in articulating political interests.

The VRU also took an active part in forming the country’s foreign policy agenda. According to the analysis of relevant statements, addresses, and parliamentary public activities, the MPs paid more attention to the following issues: countering Russian aggression, human rights protection, energy security, preventing Russia’s involvement in Ukrainian elections as well as normalization of relations between Ukraine and Poland. Adopting in the first reading and with 331 votes a draft law on amendments to the Constitution regarding Ukraine’s strategic course on becoming a full-fledged EU and NATO member can be regarded as a sign of a common political interest.

The most active parliamentary advocates for the country’s foreign policy interests were the following: the Chairperson of the VRU A. Parubiy, First Deputy Chairperson of the VRU I. Gerashchenko, Deputy Chairperson of the VRU O. Syroyid, the head of the Parliamentary committee on foreign affairs H. Hopko as well as committee members V. Ariev, S. Zalishchuk, and B. Tarasyuk.

In 2018, some politicians already started their unofficial presidential and parliamentary campaigns.

For instance, Y. Tymoshenko presented her programme “The New Course of Ukraine”, in which she reveals her vision of the country’s foreign policy line. In particular, it is suggested to change the negotiation format of “Normandy Four” to “Budapest Plus” including the USA, the United Kingdom and Russia as well as France, China, Germany and the EU. The following directions remain among the strategic priorities: NATO and EU membership as well as harsher sanctions against Russia. Even though other potential presidential candidates also voiced their ambitions, not many of them offered a program vision of their foreign policy agenda.

In general among the directions of the relevant research the highest political interest was demonstrated towards the Baltic countries, Canada, Germany, Poland, the USA, Turkey, EU, NATO and the Council of Europe. On the contrary, the least attention coming from the political actors was paid to Iran, energy relations with Russia, Latin America and Central Asia, climate change and international security issues (apart from the issues of the Russian aggression in Ukraine).



The overall score for institutional cooperation – «4 -»

The coordination of efforts between Ukrainian institutions involved in forming and implementing the country’s foreign policy has its own features and established forms. Occasionally such interinstitutional initiatives do not get enough media coverage, which may create an impression of the lack of systematic work. Moreover, frequently there is ad hoc interinstitutional cooperation following certain events and not systematic work aiming to develop predictable and balanced foreign policy in a certain direction.

In 2018, the most systematic and resourceful event was the 13th Ukrainian Ambassadorial meeting (August 2018). For several days heads of the Ukrainian foreign missions abroad had an opportunity to discuss best practices and new instruments of diplomacy with representatives of other state and non-governmental institutions, to hear about new priorities and operational objectives in medium-term and long-term perspectives. In 2018, aside from traditional meetings at different levels and training, accompanied by the President Poroshenko Ukrainian diplomats spent the first day of the meeting in the East of Ukraine, in Avdiivka, where they had a chance to meet the leadership of the Joint Operational Command of the AFU, which provided a better understanding of the situation in order to further explain it abroad and thus to form the international support for Ukraine.

The direction of the European and Euro-Atlantic integration is traditionally complemented by a high level of coordination.

The Government Office for the Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration as well as relevant structural departments in ministries and agencies provide for the necessary institutional background. As for the implementation of the Association Agreement, in order to optimize the interinstitutional coordination, the Roadmap for the implementation of the Association Agreement with the EU 2018-2019 containing a list of 57 draft laws that need to be adopted by the VRU with relevance to the AA chapters was approved. Even though the level of implementation improved in 2018 compared to 2017, including on the parliamentary level, it is still rather low.

Aiming to implement provisions of the Communication Strategy in European Integration for 2018-2021, a relevant Coordinating Council was created under the Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration with relevant NGOs participation.

In October, the Decree of the President of Ukraine # 298/2018 “On Annual National Programs under the auspices of Ukraine-NATO Commission” proposed a new proceedings for  development and evaluation of the Annual National Programs aimed at better planning coming by different state bodies involved in the process of program’s implementation.

Measures taken to popularize abroad reforms held in Ukraine draw considerable attention of the government structures and the parliament. On June 27, 2018, the second international Ukraine Reform Conference was organized by the Ukrainian side together with European partners in Copenhagen (Denmark). It is worth mentioning that a numerous government delegation head by the Prime Minister of Ukraine V. Groysman prepared the conference and participated in it.

Another good example of interinstitutional cooperation was organization of the Forum of Regions of Ukraine and Belarus in October 2018 in the city of Gomel (Belarus) that was marked by active institutional cooperation between the MFA and other central and regional authorities. The official Ukrainian delegation at the forum was made up of over 700 participants and included respective representatives of ministries and agencies, leadership of 17 regions and management of some Ukrainian companies.

The traditional format of coordinating meetings included meetings of the Ukrainian sides (delegations) in joint bilateral working groups or consultation committees preceding meetings in the international format. Normally such meetings take place prior to the meetings of intergovernmental bilateral mixed committees on the issues of trade and economic cooperation that assume a rather broad intersectoral agenda.

Within the context of economic diplomacy and based on the advisory and consultative body “Export Promotion Office” under the  Ministry of Economy, a state body “Ukraine’s Export Promotion Office” was created, which in December 2018 started its independent work on supporting Ukrainian business and promoting Ukrainian export. However, the Export Credit Agency has not begun its work by the end of the year (while the decision to launch it was adopted on February 7, 2018) due to the VRU refusing to provide costs for its first shares issuing. Potentially this could interfere with promoting interests of Ukrainian business in some regions of the world.

Several meetings of the Interagency Commission on Popularizing Ukraine under the MIP took place. An important achievement can be considered as follows: adopting the decision regarding a single brand for Ukraine “UKRAINE NOW” (adopted at the meeting of the CMU on May 10, 2018). At the same time, there is not enough coordination in the field of public diplomacy and there is a discrepancy present due to prevailing of hosting separate events and having parallel tracks of providing information to Western partners instead of presenting joint projects.

In 2018, Ukraine’s MFA actively operated a program on sending Ukrainian independent experts abroad in order for them to take part in relevant public events.

The MFA together with the Public Council at the MFA of Ukraine hosted three visits of foreign journalists to Ukraine as well as initiated a series of bilateral expert forums.

On December 19, a new law “On diplomatic service of Ukraine” entered into force and its provisions make an impact on some aspects of building interinstitutional cooperation and coordination of positions. In particular, according to the provisions of this law, an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine is Ukraine’s top official representative abroad who is also in charge of managing and control over all state representatives that visit the country with official purposes. It is an attempt to resolve a chronic problem when delegations visited countries without coordinated positions and clear terms of reference that sometimes significantly complicated communications with international partners. The law’s new edition also expanded an economic component of Ukraine’s diplomatic activities adding to the main functions of diplomatic service coordination of trade and economic issues that are carried out by Ukraine’s diplomatic missions abroad. The law also regulates diplomatic service of the representatives of other state bodies.

Despite the norms of the new law being quite progressive, the process of its development and adoption demonstrated a confrontation of different branches of power regarding some of its provisions. On April 5, the Parliament adopted the law, however, the President vetoed it and returned for reconsideration.  The main stumbling point was article 14 that provided mandatory consultations in the relevant committee of the Verkhovna Rada in order the MFA of Ukraine to submit for the President’s consideration a proposition of appointing Ukrainian ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary, permanent representatives for international organizations, Ukrainian representatives and head of the missions to international organizations. On June 7, the VRU adopted the new edition of the law taking into account the President’s remarks, who viewed there are some infringement as for his own constitutional powers in the previous version. The compromise was achieved by the President signing Decree # 168/2018 that provides for replacing consultations with to-be-appointed candidate being presented to the Parliamentary Committee responsible for the issues of diplomatic service.

In general, according to experts, the highest coordination in Ukraine’s foreign policy is implemented in the following directions: Belarus, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, economic cooperation with the EU, Euro-Atlantic Integration and public diplomacy. The lack of domestic cooperation was present in the country’s foreign policy regarding Sub-Saharan Africa, Iran and energy relations with Russia.



The overall score for strategic vision – «3+»

In 2018, the scope of Ukraine’s strategic documents determining the country’s foreign policy and creating relevant instruments to counter Russian aggression was replenish. On the one hand, elaboration of concepts and strategies in separate directions of foreign policy is a positive development. On the other hand, there have been no practical steps on official level with regard to developing a single unified document of strategic level in the sphere of foreign policy.

As of the beginning of 2018, the system of strategic documents determining priorities and objectives in foreign policy included the following: the National Security Strategy of Ukraine, the Military Doctrine of Ukraine, the Strategy for Sustainable Development “Ukraine-2020”, EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, IMF-Ukraine Memorandum, Charter on Distinctive Partnership between Ukraine and NATO, Doctrine of Information Security of Ukraine, Energy Strategy of Ukraine for 2035, Export Strategy of Ukraine – Strategic Trade Development Road Map 2017-2021, the National Human Rights Strategy, the Ukrainian National Action Plan for the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security till 2020, Concept of Ukraine’s Popularization in the World and Promoting Ukraine in the global information space, Strategy of the Peace-keeping Activities of Ukraine, Ukraine-NATO Annual National Program etc. A set of objectives and measures in energy diplomacy, European and Euro-Atlantic integration is also included in the Medium-Term Priority Government Action Plan to 2020.

One of 2018’s important steps was an initiative of the President of Ukraine to secure in the Constitution of Ukraine its strategic course on becoming a full member of the EU and NATO. In November, following a positive review of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, the VRU supported with 331 votes in its first reading the bill # 9037 on “Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine (concerning Ukraine’s strategic course on a full membership in the European Union and NATO”).

The Association Agreement remains a key strategic document in the medium term for the Ukraine-EU relations.

Moreover, in December 2018, the EU-Ukraine Association Council for the first time made a decision on possible review of the Association Agreement in separate sectors, which in general opens new horizons to Ukraine on its way to the European integration.

The President’s decree on “Annual National Programs under the Auspices of Ukraine-NATO Commission” signed in October 2018 launches new approaches to setting goals and objectives, their implementation and reporting, which, in its turn, can demonstrate attempts to strategically reconsider the ways of promoting Euro-Atlantic integration.

In February, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe approved Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2018-2021. It is symbolic that for the first time it is mentioned that fulfilling objectives under this action plan also helps achieving the objectives set by the EU Association Agreement. The Council of Europe key partners from the Ukrainian side are central and local authorities and non-governmental organizations.

In February, the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine launched the second stage of developing Export Strategy of Ukraine – Strategic Trade Development Road Map 2017-2021, within which frames sector and cross-sector export strategies should be were developed. They would include current assessment of each prospective sector, a list of challenges and solutions to overcome them. In June, the Strategy of the Military and Industrial Complex of Ukraine development till 2028 was approved, and it assumes Ukraine’s bigger presence at world markets, active promotion of new modern arms and military equipment made in Ukraine at the foreign market. The issues of Ukrainian diplomats’ facilitation for promoting Ukraine’s military and industrial complex were brought up by the President of Ukraine during his meeting with heads of the Ukrainian missions abroad in August.

In May, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved a State program of cooperation with Ukrainians worldwide up to 2020. The priority for the nearest years is to counter the anti-Ukrainian propaganda and to establish a positive image of Ukraine in the world. The determined tasks are planned to be implemented by providing financial support to diaspora communities (using the funds of Ukraine’s state and local budgets).

The situation is unclear with regard to the action plan to implement the Concept of Ukraine’s Popularization in the world and promoting Ukrainian interests in the global information space that was approved back in 2017. There is no information regarding its implementation neither in public domain or relevant MIP reports in 2018. Moreover, work has not been finished concerning Public Diplomacy Strategy that was announced by the Office of Public Diplomacy under the MFA of Ukraine in 2017.

Unfortunately, the majority of geographical and functional foreign policy directions remained without medium-term plans or mentioning in strategic documents, which in its turn makes a negative impact on developing and implementing efficient and fruitful policy.

The following directions are most strategically secure: Canada, the USA, political dialogue with the EU, Euro-Atlantic integration, forming international support to counter the Russian aggression, establishing framework of political relations with Russia, and the Council of Europe. According to the experts, there is almost a lack of strategic frames when it comes to relations with France, Hungary, Iran, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America, Central Asia as well as international security issues and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.



The overall score for activities – «4+»

Yet another year in a row, active involvement of all state authorities in the sphere of foreign policy can be observed. According to the results of expert reviews of the country’s foreign policy in 49 directions, Ukraine takes a pro-active stand, constantly increases and diversifies official contacts and improves its foreign policy instruments.

As for its foreign policy, Ukraine got the highest results with five G7 states (the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, the USA, France), which can demonstrate its focus on achieving specific targets among separate foreign policy priorities. It is worth mentioning a very active dialogue at the highest level (during bilateral visits and on the sidelines), close intergovernmental and inter-parliamentary contacts as well as meetings of joint bilateral institutions.

Good opportunities to meet the heads of states and governments were presented by summits and international forums, such as: Munich Security Conference (February), NATO Summit in Brussels (July) and Paris Peace Forum (November), where P. Poroshenko met D. Trump, E. Macron, A. Merkel and T. May. The UK’s Prime Minister received an invitation but did not visit Ukraine due to domestic reasons, however, for the first time since 2014, the Chancellor of Germany A. Merkel came to Kyiv (November).

As for the institutional level, there are considerably more active efforts and differentiation of bilateral platforms with G7 countries.

For instance, the following events were held in a new format: the US-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission meeting, the second US-Ukraine Cybersecurity Dialogue as well as the eighth meeting of the US-Ukraine Trade and Investment Council. The 10th meeting of the Ukraine-Germany high-level group took place in Berlin, and the third German-Ukrainian Business Forum. Moreover, more active efforts are being made in the direction of Canada, but attention to Japan decreased.

Parliamentary diplomacy played a greater role in implementation of Ukraine’s foreign policy. Aside from important political statements and addresses by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, special attention was paid to the issue of enhancing bilateral parliamentary cooperation. For example, in April, a delegation headed by the heads of friendship groups “France-Ukraine” in the Senate and the National Assembly visited Ukraine, while in June, the chairperson of the VRU A. Parubiy visited Paris having been invited by the Head of the French Senate. For the first time since 2009, the Head of the VRU visited the United Kingdom (June). Also 2018 saw the first-ever visit of the parliamentary delegation of friendship group between Ukraine and Canada to Canada, headed by the First Deputy Chairperson of the VRU I. Gerashchenko and a co-head of the interparliamentary group I. Krulko (June).

Many events took place in the framework of the Euro-Atlantic integration, political dialogue with the EU and participation in the Eastern Partnership.

In 2018, the number of meetings, joint events and telephone conversations at the political level held by the Ukrainian authorities with their EU and its member-states partners increased against previous years. The dynamic of meetings of joint institutions within the AA framework is positive. Throughout the year, the fourth meeting of the EU-Ukraine Association Committee was held as well as the second meeting of the Ukraine-EU Sub-Committee on Trade and Sustainable Development and the fifth meeting of EU-Ukraine Association Council.

The establishment of new cooperation formats was made possible with the help of the inaugural meeting of the Council on Trade and Sustainable Development and the first meeting of the Ukrainian side of the Advisory Group on Trade and Sustainable Development.

The President of Ukraine had a series of meetings with the NATO Secretary General, in particular, in Munich (February) and in Brussels (July, December). Despite Hungary still blocking the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the highest level, regular meetings were held at the level of ambassadors and representatives as well as meetings in trilateral format including Georgia (North Atlantic Council meetings with Georgia and Ukraine). A significant role had a constant and active involvement of the Government Office for the Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration. There are more contacts now between security and defence bodies.

Security agenda and the necessity to counter the Russian aggression made Ukraine push for active efforts in keeping its stand and backing its interests in the OSCE, the UN and the Council of Europe.

Since the beginning of 2018, Ukraine is no longer a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, the activities of the Ukrainian delegation within the UN framework concentrated more on the Ukrainian issues and became more active within the UN General Assembly, with Ukrainian top officials participating in international events.

It is quite traditional that within the OSCE Ukraine has been rather active both on the account of the Permanent Mission of Ukraine in Vienna and in the format of the Trilateral Contact Group, it facilitated OSCE SMM monitoring and cooperation with other institutions. The head of the Italian MFA A. Alfano at the beginning of Italy’s OSCE Chairmanship as well as OSCE PA President G. Tsereteli visited Ukraine.

As for cooperation with separate countries, special attention should be paid to bilateral relations with Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova and Poland where efficient bilateral dialogue took place at the highest level as well as in the intergovernmental format.

As for the regions, Ukraine’s efforts were more intensive when it came to the Baltic countries and Northern Europe, as well as in the Middle East. It is worth noting that in March P. Poroshenko made a first in 15 years presidential visit to Kuwait and visited Qatar as well. Visits to Saudi Arabia and the UAE became important steps to give a boost to Ukraine’s presence in the region.

In 2018, the VRU additionally launched three groups on interparliamentary relations having increased the general number of such groups to 94. Within the framework of the interparliamentary cooperation, the Parliament’s leadership and the respective committee welcomed delegations of the foreign parliaments committees that deal with foreign affairs (Australia, Albania, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Estonia, Lebanon, Germany, the UAE, the USA, Turkey, Finland and others). Another crucial step was a creation of the interparliamentary Assembly “Georgia-Moldova-Ukraine”.

As for economic diplomacy, 2018 saw enhanced practice of trade missions visiting other countries. At the beginning of April, the first Ukrainian trade mission to Ghana and Nigeria took place headed by a trade representative N. Mykolska and consisting of representatives of 14 Ukrainian companies. Trade missions to Austria, Israel, Germany and Turkey also happened. A series of bilateral economic forums and meetings of intergovernmental committees aimed at improving trade, economic and investment cooperation between Ukraine and other countries took place as well.

As for functional directions, public diplomacy deserves a separate mention. Ukraine’s MFA together with the Ukraine’s missions abroad held a significant number of communication campaigns that covered an audience of approximately 14 mln foreign citizens, namely: a campaign supporting Crimea’s de-occupation (#CrimeaisUkraine, #CrimeaisBleeding), a campaign supporting Ukrainian prisoners of war (#FreeUkrainianPOWs), a campaign on correct transliteration of Ukrainian toponyms (#CorrectUA, #KyivnotKiev) etc. The MFA was also doing a lot of work on launching the Ukrainian Institute and developing a concept of its activities and resource capabilities.

Yet an extremely low level of activity can be observed in the regions of Central Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, Iran and China, as well as in such areas as non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, climate change and international security. Ukraine’s relations with Hungary were quite problematic in 2018.

Ukraine’s activities in the Black Sea region were inconclusive as they concentrated only on problems of Crimea and the Sea of Azov.

Not sufficiently active were Ukrainian authorities in relation to the European Energy Cooperation, the Visegrad Group (as an international initiative) and cooperation with Ukrainian diaspora. The low level of Ukrainian activity may occasionally be explained by unfavourable dynamic of bilateral relations and the lack of interest coming from the opposite party. For instance, a good example here would be Hungary and the Visegrad Group, intensity of contacts with which was determined by the hard line of the Hungarian authorities.



The overall score for the results – «4 -»

In 2018 just as in the year before, the main focus of attention was drawn to priorities that could be reached in relations with different geographical directions. First of all, it concerns forming international support in order to counteract Russian aggression, enhancing economic diplomacy by expansion to new markets and strengthening positions at traditional ones, as well as protecting rights of the Ukrainian citizens. European and Euro-Atlantic integration were key in order to build both bilateral relations and to implement initiatives of multilateral nature.

Ukrainian authorities were quite successful in forming an international coalition of partners to support its own territorial integrity and sovereignty and continued to actively use the present international instruments to draw and keep attention of international partners for keeping a solidary stand against Russia.

Despite certain risks, both personal and sectoral anti-Russian sanctions were extended, enhanced and prolonged during the year. At the end of December, resulting from an active discussion at the level of the EU top-authorities, preliminary understanding regarding the necessity of applying stronger sanctions against Russia was achieved, taking into account an open act of the Russian armed aggression against Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait on November 25, 2018.

Active cooperation with political groups in the European Parliament allowed to get the following EP resolutions: with demand to the Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release O. Sentsov and other illegally detained in Russia and on the Crimean peninsula Ukrainian citizens (June 14); with calling on Russia to guarantee the freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait and in the Sea of Azov and calling on the EU and its member states to deny Russian vessels coming from the Sea of Azov access to the EU ports unless the Russia Federation guarantees the freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait and in the Sea of Azov (December 12).

International organizations and initiatives that Ukraine is a member of have remained an active ground to counter Russian policy. Vigorous diplomatic work was done at the level of the Council of Europe. On September 4, Ukraine made a voluntary contribution of USD 400,000 to the Council of Europe aiming to weaken Russian financial blackmail. In addition to a series of the CoE pro-Ukrainian resolutions adopted in 2018, in October, thanks to joint coordinated position of the Ukrainian delegation in PACE, Permanent Representation of Ukraine to the Council of Europe and civil activists it was possible to persuade PACE members to decline the draft resolution on rules’ changes that would allow Russia to renew its membership in the assembly.

Much was achieved in the UN framework even though Ukraine is already not a non-permanent member of the SC. Against the context of countering Russian aggression within the frames of the UN General Assembly, a resolution “The problem of militarization of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine), as well as parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov” (December 17) was adopted as well as the resolution on “Situation with human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine” (December 22). Ukraine’s initiative to include in the agenda of the 73rd UN General Assembly session a new item “The situation on the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine” that simplifies organization of further meetings on the issue of Crimea and Donbas looks rather promising for further organization of work.

During Italy’s 2018 OSCE Chairmanship, significant shifts towards de-escalation of situation in the occupied territories of Donbas did not occur. The conditions of the OSCE SMM mandate implementation did not improve due to the constant opposition of the Russian Federation and militants supported by Russia. Ukraine’s proposition on constant monitoring of the entire borderline between Ukraine and Russia, a draft of which is presented the third year in the row, is still blocked by Russia. Against this backdrop, adopting the Berlin Declaration of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (June) is a positive development, an important part of which is the Ukrainian delegation’s resolution on “Ongoing violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)”.

In 2018, Ukraine’s aspirations regarding its NATO membership again were acknowledged.

Despite Hungary blocking, there were some significant achievements. Another crucial step was voting for changes to the Constitution and new procedures for preparing Annual National Program. A series of agreements were signed allowing the launch of the practical phase of implementing NATO Trust Fund for Explosive Ordnance Disposal, while some measures were taken to improve interoperability of the forces and to introduce them to NATO standards with considerable financial support aimed at transforming the armed forces. Yet in general, lower results against last year can be observed.

Among G7 countries, the biggest results were achieved in 2018 in the country’s relations with the United Kingdom and Canada that received the maximum scoring. From the standpoint of solidarity, it is worth mentioning G7 foreign ministers’ statement on the events in the Kerch Strait (November 28). Unfortunately, it was not possible to secure the support of all partners in countering “Nord Stream 2” project, which is one of the issues the USA and Germany view differently.

Another important factor of support is military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. It is crucial to mention the US assistance – security assistance of USD 250 mln was approved as part of the US 2019 defence budget. Ukraine’s purchase of Javelin anti-tank missiles was approved while the country also received two Island-class patrol boats. The UK and Canada also extensively supported reforms in Ukraine and held joint military exercises.

In general, international political and legal support for Ukraine in fighting Russian aggression is getting bigger, yet some influential regional and global leaders (Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, China, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa) are far from being in focus of Ukrainian diplomacy attention. The results of work in the regions of South Asia, Africa, Latin America and Central Asia are traditionally low, which points at the necessity of a more active and thorough policy coming from the Ukrainian diplomatic team. Against this backdrop, it is interesting that Ukraine provided humanitarian aid to Yemen, the Republic of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to help overcome hunger (Presidential Decree №380 signed on November 22).

Concentrating on the issues of countering the Russian aggression, Ukrainian authorities considerably lowered its participation in resolving other conflicts, peacekeeping activities and cooperation in fighting terrorism and illegal migration.

For example, Ukraine did not increase its participation in NATO mission in Afghanistan “Resolute Support” despite the official statements. The decision regarding making changes to the Agreement between the Government of Lithuania, the Government of Poland and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on launching a joint military unit looks quite promising, with special provisions added on being ready to take part in international operations (in December the VRU ratified the relevant Agreement on making changes).

As for achievements in the sphere of economic diplomacy, first of all it is important to mention the government’s work on reviewing and optimizing instruments of joint intergovernmental committees (the Cabinet of Ministers’ resolutions # 505 from May 23 and # 675 from August 29). In 2018, 21 meetings of joint intergovernmental committees were held, two meetings of working groups within the framework of joint committees as well as three meetings of co-heads. There is a positive dynamic when it comes to economic and trade contacts, for instance, an agreement was signed with Qatar on launching a Joint committee on economic, trade and technical cooperation.

Aiming to diversify markets for Ukrainian goods, six meetings of Exporters and Investors Council under the MFA of Ukraine took place. Within the framework of implementing Ukraine’s export strategy a state agency “Ukraine’s Export Promotion Office” was launched, while a significant amount of work was done to establish “Export Credit Agency” PJSC. Ukraine’s export brand and exhibition brand-book were developed and distributed.

On February 1, Ukraine joined the Regional Convention on pan-Euro-Mediterranean preferential rules of origin (PEM Convention). In order to implement provisions of the Convention, changes need to be introduced to the free trade agreements signed by Ukraine and other Members of the Convention (EU and Georgia).

On November 21, Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers approved Free Trade agreement with Israel, while Free Trade agreement between Ukraine and Turkey has not been finalized yet despite both countries authorities promise to do it until the end of 2018.

The EU remains Ukraine’s main aggregated trade partner. The EU share in Ukraine’s foreign trade is over 40%, while the foreign trade turnover demonstrates a consistent growth trend. The CMU reports that in 2018 approximately 15 000 companies exported to the EU, while over 200 enterprises received a status of an authorized exporter. The most comprehensive account of Ukraine’s success in European integration was provided in the Joint Statement following the 20th EU-Ukraine Summit that took place in Brussels on July 9, 2018. As a result of implementing Memorandum of Understanding and Loan agreement between Ukraine and the EU regarding the fourth program of macro-financial assistance, funds of 1 billion euros were made available to Ukraine. According to the results of the fifth meeting of the Association Council between Ukraine and the EU on December 17, a series of agreements in infrastructure, energy efficiency and technical cooperation were signed.

In 2018, public diplomacy got a more systematic approach yet there is still a gap in fulfilling unified state coordination of educational and scientific programs of cultural exchanges and making Ukraine more popular in the world etc. The Ukrainian Institute did not end up working in its full power as most work was done in relations to preparing the sufficient legal framework in order to open the Institution offices abroad. However, the Institute team has been created, with the strategic session held and active communication within Ukraine launched.

As for bilateral cooperation, the highest appraisal in 2018 was given to Ukraine’ s foreign policy results regarding only three states – the UK, Canada and Lithuania.

The majority of cooperation results with separate countries got “4”, and only Italy, China, Turkey and Hungary – “3” while Iran got “2”.

According to the experts, the highest results were achieved following Ukraine’s diplomatic efforts in the UN and the Council of Europe. Its political dialogue with the European Union has also been highly evaluated. The lowest scores were given to the results of the Ukrainian foreign policy towards Iran and in the region of Central Asia. The average score that demonstrates considerable untapped potential of Ukraine’s foreign policy was received by the following: economic diplomacy, cooperation with the European Energy Community, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, Visegrad Four and the Black Sea region, as well as all issues of multilateral diplomacy (protection of human rights, climate change, international security, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons etc.). At the same time, a low estimate of the results of its political dialogue with the Russian Federation is pre-conditioned by the reality and the current situation and not by Ukraine’s low involvement.


G -7 countries cooperation

В+ United Kingdom

C+ Italy

A- Canada

В+ Germany


B- France

C+ Japan

European Integration

A- European Union

B- Eastern Partnership

C+ European Energy Community

Euroatlantic integration

A- Euroatlantic integration

Bilateral relations

B+ Belarus

B- Georgia

B- Israel

D- Iran

C+ China

A- Lithuania

B- Moldova

B+ Poland

B- Romania

B- Slovakia

B Turkey

C- Hungary

C+ Russian Federation

Regional Cooperation

C+ Asia-Pacific Region

B- Middle East

B- Western Balkans

B+ Baltic States

B Northern Europe

C- Latin America

C+ South Asia

C- Sub-Saharan Africa

D Central Asia

B- Black Sea Region

C+ Visegrad Group

International Organizations

B+ United Nations

A- Council of Europe


Multilateral Initiatives

B- Human Rights

C Climate Change

C Nuclear Non-proliferation

C- International Security

Public Diplomacy

B+ Public Diplomacy

C+ Ukrainians abroad

B+ Build-up of international support on countering Russian aggression

C+ Economic diplomacy