“Grand Strategy of Small Alliances” also remains relevant, and regional formats continue to show activity. Therefore, it is now necessary to assess their effectiveness under new circumstances, define priority alliances and fill their activities with content that meets current challenges, to calibrate goals and plans for their implementation following the current international situation.
- Sergiy Gerasymchuk, Deputy Executive Director, Regional Initiatives and Neighborhood Program Director, Foreign Policy Council Ukrainian Prism
- Mykhailo Drapak, European Studies Program Director, Foreign Policy Council Ukrainian Prism
- How should the Grand Strategy of Small Alliances be adapted to meet new challenges?
- How to preserve the dynamic development of the Lublin Triangle by prioritizing security cooperation and logistics infrastructure and increasing the Triangle’s visibility?
- How to ensure the success of tripartite formats such as the Ukraine-Romania-Republic of Moldova, Ukraine-Poland-Great Britain, and the Associated Trio.
- THE ACTIVITY OF SMALL ALLIANCES AND ASSISTANCE TO UKRAINE
In August 2021, the new Strategy of Ukraine’s foreign policy activity entered into force. The document stipulates that “in order to improve the international security environment, foreign policy efforts will be directed to the maximum use of existing regional formats (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Bucharest Nine, Visegrad Group, Lublin Triangle, Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (BSEC), the Weimar Triangle, etc.) to stabilize the security situation in the region through Ukraine’s participation in joint security and defence initiatives”. Prospective vectors were defined as follows: the development of tripartite cooperation between Ukraine, the Republic of Poland and the Republic of Lithuania in the formats of the Lublin Triangle, the Ukraine-Poland-Lithuania Inter-Parliamentary Assembly and the military component (the joint Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian brigade (LITPOLUKRBRIG); establishment of a strategic partnership with Romania given the role of this state in the EU, NATO and its strong position in the system of regional security of the Black Sea region, in particular, its energy component; the initiation of close cooperation in the formats of “triangles” Ukraine – the Republic of Poland – Romania, Ukraine – Romania – the Republic of Moldova to form a common agenda with topical issues in the spheres of foreign policy, security, defence, economy, regional cooperation. Türkiye was also mentioned among the priorities, in particular, it was said that “maintaining political dialogue on outside the heads of state, in particular in the format of the high-level Strategic Council between Ukraine and the Republic of Türkiye, as well as the development of a new mechanism of political and security consultations at the level of foreign ministers and ministers of defence (“Quadriga” format).
The document also separately mentioned the need for further development of “relations with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” and “Strategic partnership with the Republic of Poland in European, Euro-Atlantic, regional and bilateral dimensions.” Subsequently, at the beginning of February, these priorities were embodied in the formation of a new triangle of Ukraine, Poland and Great Britain. Commenting on the launch of the format, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, noted that this format is part of the strategy of small alliances as a proactive foreign policy of Ukraine, mentioned in the Strategy of Foreign Policy of Ukraine. The minister also noted: “Ukraine cannot expect security and prosperity somewhere in the future when it becomes a member of the EU and NATO. Therefore, in this way, today it is already trying to achieve practical strengthening, grouping friendly and close in spirit countries into small alliances.”2
The experts polled by “Ukrainian Prism” generally agree with this statement3. They agree that the key to the success of small alliances, like any other multilateral project, is the presence of common interests and a common vision for their implementation. The magnitude and adequacy of the set goals are decisive for the success or failure of each specific project.
On February 24, 2022, the international political situation changed significantly. The Russian invasion of Ukraine became a trigger for adjusting priorities. On February 28, 2022, Ukraine submitted an application to join the European Union, and on June 23, the leaders of 27 EU member states decided to grant Ukraine the status of a candidate for EU membership. On September 30, 2022, Ukraine submitted an application to join NATO. These decisions meet the expectations of Ukrainian citizens. According to the survey4 organised by the Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism” in partnership with the representative office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Ukraine, in October 2022 (CAWI method, sample in Ukraine – 1,213 people, maximum error within 2.8%) 91% of Ukrainians believe that Ukraine should become a member of the EU. At the same time, 60% believe that this should happen within 1 year. 90% of Ukrainians believe that Ukraine should become a member of NATO, and 63% of them believe that this should happen within 1 year.
At the same time, the “Grand Strategy of Small Alliances” also remains relevant, and regional formats continue to show activity. Therefore, it is now necessary to assess their effectiveness under new circumstances, define priority alliances and fill their activities with content that meets current challenges, to calibrate goals and plans for their implementation following the current international situation.
As noted by the experts interviewed by “Ukrainian Prism”, another key to the success of small alliances is their potential as lobbyists and the ability to use soft power. “The effectiveness of small alliances does not depend on their size, but on the quality of their content, diplomatic and lobbying capabilities. Abilities play a key role here. Another important factor is the cohesion of alliances – to what extent the values of the members coincide, how cohesive are the coordination mechanisms, whether there is a friendly political will to cooperate and promote common goals.”