Ukrainian Prism experts analyse 12 parties that ran in the snap parliamentary election on July 21. They reviewed programs of the political parties, their websites, speeches and interviews of their leaders and speakers. Also, they sent formal enquiries so that the parties could clarify their positions. Anatoliy Hrytsenko’s Hromadianska Pozytsia (Civic Position) was the only party that responded.
Focus on NATO
All parties, except the Opposition Bloc and the Opposition Platform – For Life, advocate for continued Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration. However, they narrow down this cooperation to approximation to NATO standards while ignoring other mechanisms of engagement.
Petro Poroshenko’s European Solidarity pays the greatest attention to the Euro-Atlantic vector. In addition to meeting the criteria for EU membership, it points to the possibility of obtaining NATO Membership Action Plan in 2023, as well as to Ukraine’s accession to NATO’s Enhanced Opportunities Program.
Syla i chest (Strength and Honor) adds to its priority list the formation of regional security pool for NATO countries and partners to ensure security in the Azov-Black Sea region, to prevent its militarization and nuclearization as well as to develop Baltic-Black Sea economic, political and defense cooperation.
Holos (Voice) party adds some extra details, including professional development for Ukrainian military medical staff in its platform. This would be implemented through internships and trainings at NATO entities.
Wording in Sluha narodu’s (Servant of the People) program was confusing. The party pledged to “resume reforming the Armed Forces of Ukraine according to NATO standards”.
However, the party did not explain what this resumption means or when Ukraine stopped reforming in line with NATO standards.
The reasoning of two opposing parties clearly reflects the basics of their general ideology.
The Opposition Platform – For Life’s program rejects Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration as it plans to ensure active neutrality for Ukraine in the military-political sphere and non-participation in any military-political alliances. Party council chair Viktor Medvedchuk believes that joining NATO poses risks for Ukrainian statehood.
The Opposition Bloc advocates for a non-aligned course as well, but does not rule out a referendum on this.
Relations with the EU
None of the parties overlooked relations with the EU, although the degree of europopmsitism between individual political actors was dramatically different.
The European Solidarity and Volodymyr Groysman’s Ukrainian Strategy come out as the most euro-optimistic parties. Representatives of these forces support Ukraine’s European integration and declare the expected dates of accession to the EU. The European Solidarity gives 2030, while the Ukrainian Strategy looks at 2026.
Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) and Servant of the People favor membership in the EU and find it necessary to implement the Association Agreement. Holos is euro-optimistic as well.
The Civic Position and the Radical Party hold a slightly different approach. Although representatives of these forces agree that European integration is a foreign policy priority, they propose to focus on domestic reforms and build Europe in Ukraine in order to join the EU as equals.
Strength and Honor believes that a referendum on EU membership is needed.
The Opposition Platform – For Life and the Opposition Bloc are on a radically different position. These parties believe that European integration is against Ukraine’s national interests and may lead to a loss of sovereignty.
Cooperation with the United States
Most political parties do not have a clear position on cooperation with the United States in their election programs, but their position is reflected in their leaders’ speeches. The US is mostly mentioned in the context of engagement in the Normandy Format or as a provider of military assistance.
Both Svoboda and Batkivshchyna emphasize in their programs the need to engage the United States in the Normandy Format by creating a Budapest Format.
Strength and Honor offers an unconventional approach, highlighting that there is no greater guarantee of security for Ukraine against Russian interference than the presence of major US corporations.
Establishing allied relations with the US is a foreign policy goal for Hrytsenko’s Civic Position. From this party’s perspective, Ukraine needs to strengthen its foreign relations bilaterally now as NATO membership is not an option in the short-term prospect.
The Radical Party toys with this idea as well, aiming that Ukraine should become America’s major military and political ally outside of NATO and that it should conclude bilateral defense agreements with the US.
Groysman’s Ukrainian Strategy is the only party that focuses on the energy aspect of cooperation and insists on an alliance with the US in energy confrontation with Russia, stressing that Kyiv is interested in buying liquefied gas from the US.
The international front against Russia
The majority of political parties look at the problems of a solution for the Donbas and Crimea as domestic political challenges.
In fact, the main foreign policy aspects that parties pay attention to are in the Minsk and Normandy Formats.
Strength and Honor, the Radical Party, Batkivshchyna, Civic Position and Samopomich propose to change the negotiation format to engage the US and the UK. Servant of the People does not exclude this possibility.
Samopomich proposed expanding the negotiating format to include “the countries for which the Russian threat is urgent, especially Poland and Baltic States” in addition to the US and the UK.
The Radical Party strongly opposes the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, recognizing them as illegal. In the eyes of Oleh Liashko’s party, Ukraine is primarily responsible for restoring peace and should not wait for help from the outside.
The European Solidarity’s election program stipulates that pressure on the aggressor and guarantees of international support can bring peace.
Creation of a powerful international coalition to keep the Kremlin regime under sanctions is an accomplishment. Maintaining such international support is necessary to strengthen the sanctions regime. In this context, the party would be working to keep the international community’s attention on Crimea and the Donbas, and to hold Russia accountable.
The European Solidarity is the only party speaking of a UN-mandated peacekeeping operation in the Donbas.
Batkivshchyna is the only one that talks about work with international parliamentary platforms. In order to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity, Batkivshchyna plans to actively participate in international organizations such as the Council of Europe and the OSCE, as well as to use institutional channels of communication with European political groups, such as the European People’s Party.
Holos paid the greatest attention to the situation in the occupied territories of the Donbas and Crimea in its party. It proposed to use all available diplomatic tools to accomplish a ceasefire as soon as possible and to settle the situation in the Donbas, as well as to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity eventually. The main focus is Ukraine’s active and systematic diplomatic activity at international platforms. The priority is to increase international pressure on the Kremlin, including via continued sanctions on Russia and its isolation on the international arena.
The Servant of the People is very reserved in pledging to provide legislative support for Volodymyr Zelensky’s initiatives aimed at restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
There is no political substance to this provision on the program, possibly as a result of Zelensky’s approach of building his communication with the voters as neutrally as possible.
Civic Position proposes to involve not just France and Germany, but also the US and the UK in the effort. It explains its choice by saying that the two countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council, have strong economies, military power, powerful military-industrial complex and are signatories to the Budapest Memorandum, and can make decisions and implement them quickly, unlike all international organizations.
Relations with neighbors
Most parties running for Parliament have similar priorities in relations with neighbor-states.
The European Solidarity, Strength and Honor and Svoboda propose to focus on cooperation with the Baltic States and Poland to form the Baltic-Black Sea Alliance, which should be a union of like-minded states. Cooperation with Poland and the Baltic States is a priority for Holos, while Servant of the People has clearly underlined that relations with Warsaw comprise the priority vector in relations with neighbors.
Still, most political forces are also in solidarity in criticizing current relations with Hungary and the official Budapest for its unbending stance. The Civic Position, Samopomich, the Radical Party, Svoboda, Ukrainian Strategy and even the Opposition Bloc share a similar position on this issue.
The stance of the Opposition Platform – For Life differs fundamentally. Its greatest sympathy goes to Belarus, while Moldova is appreciated for its president Ihor Dodon being pro-Russian.
Dr. Hanna Shelest, Editor-in-chief of UA: Ukraine Analytica, Board Member at the Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism”
Sergiy Gerasymchuk, Expert at Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism”
Originally published in Ukrainian by European Pravda