Diplomatic victories and defeats of Ukraine: Kiev with whom to be friends in 2017

Expiring 2016 brought a geopolitical shock to the world. The results of the referendums in the Netherlands (according to the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU) and the UK (Pexit — for withdrawal from the EU), elected Donald trump President of the United States and the growing euroscepticism in Europe stirred up the key world capitals. The war in Syria, of Russia’s hybrid war, coup attempt in Turkey, a series of terrorist attacks in Europe, streams of refugees from the Middle East, the whole year events and processes that undermine the established world order. Ukraine has to adapt to rapidly changing trends, so as strongly to affect world policy in Kiev is not. But, for example, to establish relationships with the offices of the opposition Ukraine politicians who have all chances to win elections in France, the Kiev forces and even necessary. At least to avoid the same mistakes, as in the case of the us elections, when Ukraine made a bet on the victory of Hillary Clinton. To develop the relationship you will have with Poland, Turkey and Israel, as problematic issues in relations with these countries were many. But in relations with Russia it, probably, depends not only from Ukraine, but from the position of the newly elected President of the United States, and Germany and France after the elections there. “Segodnia” I have assessed the relationship of Ukraine with its neighbors and key global partners, and what mistakes to Kiev will hold in 2017.

Mission possible: how Ukraine to reboot relations with allies in the EU

The first test in early 2016 in relations between Ukraine and the EU were the results of the Advisory referendum April 6 in the Netherlands. Against the Association with Ukraine in favor 61% of participants in the referendum, more than 38% (the turnout was of 32.28%). The leaders of Ukraine and the EU was convinced that the Dutch voted not so much against Ukraine, but against the current EU policy, which led to the migration crisis, and Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte. From April until mid-December the EU was looking for the legal loophole on how to put the ratification of the Agreement with Ukraine, and results of the Dutch referendum to be considered. Although to consider them not necessary, since the referendum was Advisory.

“At the end of October was a critical situation with the ratification of the Association Agreement. The Prime Minister of the Netherlands mark Rutte has called President Petro Poroshenko and said that after tomorrow, recalls the signature of the Netherlands under the Association Agreement. Ukraine has mobilized all the international channels, including the Vice-President of the United States Joe Biden (in order to convince Holland — approx. ed.) spent more than 20 telephone conversations with our Western partners,” — said a source in AP. Later, according to the source, there have been attempts to put to a vote in the Senate of the Netherlands the signatures to the Agreement and the question of confidence in the government (initiated by the opposition — approx. ed.) but did not have the votes.

All this resulted in the development of the additional agreement-clarification to Holland, the text of which was approved at the EU leaders ‘ summit on 15-16 December. The document States: 1. The agreement does not provide for Ukraine’s membership in the EU; 2. The agreement gives Ukraine access to EU structural funds; 3. The agreement gives Ukraine security assurances; 4. The agreement gives Ukraine the right to participate in defence alliances; 5. The agreement does not give the Ukrainians the right to work in the EU. “Zradoyu” this is not because the law forces such Supplement is a clarification to the Agreement with Ukraine does not matter, but “Peremoga” is difficult to call. In pursuit of the votes of the opposition electorate before the parliamentary elections in the Netherlands in March 2017, the leaders of Ukraine and the EU (especially the EU) is not enough political will to convince Mark Rutte to find another compromise output.

The next challenge for Ukraine is turbulence in relations with Poland. It all began with the recognition of the Polish Sejm Volyn tragedy as genocide of poles. In response to the actions of the Polish Sejm at the beginning of September, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a statement which condemns the unilateral actions of the Senate and the Sejm. And this in spite of the official visit of the President of Poland Andrzej Duda to Kiev just in time for the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence and an agreement with Petro Poroshenko on the continuation of dialogue on complex historical issues.

“The decision of the Verkhovna Rada correct. We don’t have to go into the story — it should be left to historians. We tried to call this and our Polish colleagues. The politicization of history is the Soviet totalitarian approach. Calling for cooperation, we are confident that we can continue to build our relationship already as requested by the challenge. And the time complex — we all know that it is always in the confrontation between the Ukrainians and poles, the winner was Russia,” — said Vice-speaker of BP and the co-author of the Declaration Oksana Syroid.

Experts have a different opinion. According to the Director of the Institute for foreign policy Alyona Hetmanczuk, Ukrainian-Polish relations will reach a new level, while the Ukrainian Parliament did not vote the amendments to the law “On the legal status and the memory of fighters for independence of Ukraine in XX century”. In the law it is important to clarify that the status of fighters for Ukraine’s independence does not apply to persons whose actions qualify as a crime against humanity.

Summing up Ukraine’s relations with partners in the European Union, it is necessary to remember two key allies in the “Normandy format” talks with Russia — Germany and France. For Kiev the support of Paris and Berlin are extremely important. Especially Berlin, which plays the role of the violin in decision-making in the EU, including the renewal of anti-Russian sanctions. The good news for Ukraine is the leading position of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the eve of elections to the Bundestag next year. The fourth time it has presented its candidature for the post of Chancellor and according to the latest opinion polls show Merkel’s support for more than 56% of Germans. The only thing Ukraine should worry about are the chances of the current head of the German foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to become the next President of Germany. For Ukraine, Steinmeier is an ambiguous figure. On the one hand in the negotiations, “Norman Quartet”, he adheres to Ukrainian interests, on the other — should remember his statements about rapid implementation of the Kiev political part of Minsk agreements.

But if in Germany the situation is less favorable for Ukraine, in France, where in April-may next year will be presidential elections, it is not rosy. According to recent opinion polls, the second round out two Pro-Russian politics — the winner of the primaries of the French right-wing and centrist former Prime Minister Francois Fillon and the leader of the party “national front” marine Le Pen. For Fillon ready to vote 26%, Le Pen — 24%. In Ukraine, marine Le Pen know as sympathetic to the Kremlin. She has advocated the abolition of sanctions against Russia, France’s withdrawal from NATO and the formation of a military Alliance with Moscow. The main enemy is Le Pen, françois Fillon, the Pro-Russian rhetoric has gone far. “Fillon was 5 years Prime Minister during the Sarkozy presidency, when Putin was the official Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. They have since maintained a good relationship, and Fillon the one that sold the Russian government a place to build a new Church near the Eiffel tower (the Russian Orthodox spiritual-cultural center in Paris, the Quai Branly — approx. ed.). Fillon was Prime Minister Sarkozy when he sold the “Mistral” of Russia”, — said in an interview “Segodnia” Cecile Vessey, doctor of political Sciences, Professor of Russian and Soviet studies at Rennes University.

The balance of French politics, and the EU can change dramatically from the results of the presidential elections in France. “For Ukraine it is important now to establish a connection with the teams those candidates who are in the lead in France. That did not work like America. Ukraine should be proactive, make contacts and present its position on the settlement of the conflict in the Donbass”, — said the Deputy Director of the Institute of world policy Kateryna Zarembo.

Besides, France is a participant in the negotiations in the “Normandy format”. Though experts say that the official Paris in this matter rather abide in the shadow of Berlin, but the outcome of the presidential election will determine who will represent France at the negotiating table on Ukraine. In the case of the coming to power of a Pro-Russian policy to replace the current foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault can come the same Pro-Russian diplomat.

War schedule: Russia banned the transit of Ukrainian goods, Ukraine is threatened by the introduction of a visa regime

In addition to the continued military aggression of Russia in the Donbas and further occupation of the Crimea, beginning in 2016 in the Russian-Ukrainian relations were marked by a new round of trade war. Russia has suspended to Ukraine, the Treaty on the CIS free trade zone, imposed duties on certain types of our products, and on products — embargo. Ukraine went on the mirror sanctions and from 2 January, the Cabinet imposed sanctions and tariffs on Russian goods and products. Also from 1 January 2016, Russia banned the transit of Ukrainian goods through its territory, extending it in July and for the transit of Ukrainian goods to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and other countries.

All of 2016, like previous ones, experts are frightened by the possible full-scale invasion from Russia. “Of course, Russia can do it, — said in an interview “Segodnia” research fellow at the Royal Institute of international Affairs James Sherr. — One area where Ukraine and the West may be surprised — the launch of naval operations against Ukraine in the direction of Mariupol. I’m not saying that these things will happen. All I’m suggesting, the possibility that these things can happen in the next six months. And this should be taken very seriously.”

Fortunately, this did not happen, but clearly the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence, Russia launched military exercises on the Eastern border and, according to the representative of Kiev in the political subgroup of the Trilateral contact group Yevhen Marchuk, publicly and in large quantity delivered to the Donbass and in the Crimea a lot of heavy military equipment, mostly offensive. According to the information of the Main intelligence Directorate of the defense Ministry of Ukraine, today on the territory of Russia-occupied Crimea are more than 24 thousand troops, 40 tanks, more than 550 armored vehicles, about 100 artillery pieces, 50 rocket launchers.

That 2016 can be attributed to the victories of Ukraine at the front of a hybrid war with Russia, so this is a history associated with breakthrough of the Ukrainian subversive groups in the Crimea. In early August, the Russian FSB accused of “Ukrainian subversive group” in terrorism in Crimea and murder of two Russian soldiers. Feesbeshniki said that he prevented the attacks, which allegedly was prepared by the main intelligence Directorate of the defense Ministry of Ukraine. Russia, even emergency UN security Council meeting on the issue convened. But no one sided with the Kremlin. According to the Ambassador of Ukraine to the United Nations Volodymyr Yelchenko, Russia’s actions are strongly condemned at a closed meeting of the security Council. Even China did not discuss this issue once again reminded Russia that the Crimea is Ukraine.

Continuing to work up the hysteria, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said about the possible rupture of diplomatic relations with Ukraine. Later, the Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov backtracked, Curling that while talking about the introduction of a visa regime is not. But just a week ago about the introduction of a visa regime with Russia once again talking to the Ukrainian foreign Ministry. “We have several millions of our fellow citizens in Russia. And Russia knows what kind of provocation to do when we are going to introduce a visa regime. Now it is analyze and then come out with a proposal on how we will do and in the time frame (the introduction of a visa regime with Russia — approx. ed.)”, — said the Minister of foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin.

Many politicians and experts advocating for the introduction of the visa regime, citing the example of Georgia, which broke off diplomatic relations with Russia in September 2008 in response to Russian aggression and recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Now her interests in all international Affairs is Switzerland. Even a visa for entry into Georgia the Russians have the diplomatic missions of Switzerland. However, railway and air traffic between the two countries stopped was not, as trade and economic ties.

As regards implementation by Russia of the Minsk agreements, the parties here have not advanced a single step. And the latest military escalation by militants on the arc Svetlodarsk — another proof.

In fact, did not bring results and the first year for the meeting of leaders “Norman Quartet” on 19 October in Berlin. Though the parties agreed to develop and present till end of November Road map — a step by step plan of implementation “of the Minsk agreements” — Russia’s position document are unable to agree. All failed more or less agree, it is a truce for the upcoming new year. However, assurance of compliance with the ceasefire, no one gives. Throughout the rest of the experts agree that the Kremlin is waiting and not making any sudden moves against Ukraine and the Donbas, until you understand what will be the policy of the new owner of the White House (especially on sanctions), and who is the new President of France.

The new occupant of the White House: can Obama’s attention to be replaced by indifference trump

Relations between Ukraine and the United States in 2016 can be divided into pre-election and post-election period. In the foreign policy agenda of Barack Obama, the Ukraine has always been a top priority. But such actions of States was dictated by the rather aggressive actions of Russia than the interest of a superpower to Ukraine. This year the Ukrainian army has received more than thousands of American night-vision devices, radar systems, medical equipment, secure communications and tactical drones. American instructors continued to train the battalions of the armed forces and special operations Forces and help to develop a long-term program of military training.

In 2016, the United States granted Ukraine substantial financial aid — 335 million dollars on the development of security and defense, as well as $ 1 billion in loan guarantees with a maturity of 5 years. By 2017 the plans of the American authorities on the needs of the Ukrainian defense industry to allocate 350 million dollars. “The increase in aid demonstrates the continued support of Ukraine by the Congress in the face of Russian action in the Donbass”, — said the former US Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer. His opinion was shared by former US Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst. However, according to diplomats, it is still unknown whether some of that money to go on granting Ukraine lethal weapons. As you know, in late September, Congress passed a law “On support of stability and democracy in Ukraine”, which, among other things, provides for the possibility of granting Ukraine lethal weapons. But the further adoption of legislation in the Senate blocked the Obama Administration. “Obama is unlikely to do that (unlocks the adoption of the law — approx. ed.) in the last weeks of stay in office (in White house — approx. ed.). We will have to see who will be in the Administration of the tramp at the highest levels, and what policies will be developed by the Administration,” said John Herbst.

However, according to experts, the American President determines how the allocated financial assistance to Ukraine. “And it is likely that trump will not allow you to spend 350 million or part of them into a lethal weapon. Most likely, the money will go to education (and training the Ukrainian military — approx. ed.) non-lethal weapons, and so forth,” said Professor of political science at Rutgers University in Newark (new Jersey) Alexander Motyl.

Moreover, the foreign policy of the White House will affect the Secretary’s office. And the trump candidate for this position raises concerns. For the position nominated Rex Tillerson — the former head of oil company Exxon Mobil, knight of the Russian order of Friendship, awarded personally by Vladimir Putin, worked for many years with Russia and advocated the abolition of sanctions. According to American analysts, it may be the first step to establish relations with Russia. After all, even during an election campaign trump has repeatedly said that he could meet with Putin to solve pressing problems. But, according to many experts, has already forgotten that the same statements are made and Barack Obama during the presidential election in 2008.

And the Ukrainian government, which relied for victory, Hillary Clinton, is on an expedited basis to establish a relationship with the office of Donald trump to the fate of Ukraine is not solved behind Ukraine itself. According to sources “Segodnya” in the presidential Administration of Ukraine, the diplomatic offices of the Ukrainian and American presidents are preparing to meet Poroshenko and trump in the first months of 2017. It is possible, according to sources, it will be February. In addition, as experts recommend, it is important to strengthen the existing bipartisan consensus in the House of representatives and the U.S. Senate. “Congress should not only be a reliable ally of Ukraine, but also to help make the new US administration is an ally of Ukraine. Active inter-parliamentary activities necessary for the adoption of Senate bill No. 5094 “Act of stability and democracy in Ukraine.” This bill provides for the refusal of the United States to recognize the Russian annexation of Crimea and the necessity of restoring Ukrainian control over the border as a condition for the lifting of sanctions,” — said the Director of the Institute of world policy Alyona Hetmanczuk.

Tel Aviv and Kiev disagreed: from the allegations of the involvement of the OUN in the Holocaust to a diplomatic scandal in the UN security Council

Before the events of recent months, which led to an open diplomatic confrontation between the Kiev and tel Aviv, the Ukrainian-Israeli relations developed very slowly, not to say that all is not developed. Though during the visit Petro Poroshenko in Israel in December 2015, the official authorities of Israel and condemned Russian aggression in Donbas and annexation of Crimea, officially in the international arena they chose not to speak. However, the last resolution on human rights in Crimea, which has recognized the Peninsula occupied by Russia, tel Aviv is still supported (but this is five important for Ukraine to UN resolutions Israel has abstained from voting).

Since the beginning of the military aggression of Russia against Ukraine, Israel, which for more than 60 years is war, and did not provide Ukraine with military assistance, despite numerous appeals of Kyiv. At the same time, Israel constantly pays for the treatment and rehabilitation of Ukrainian soldiers and officers, and agreed to the arrival of 20 thousand Ukrainian builders under the ratified agreement on the temporary employment of Ukrainian workers in some sectors in the labor market of Israel. In November Ukraine, in turn, sent to Israel two Antonov An-32 for the elimination of large-scale forest fires near the city of Haifa.

The first hints of tension in bilateral relations came after the speech of the President of Israel Reuven Rivlin at the end of September in the Verkhovna Rada. He called the fighters of the OUN (banned in Russia organization — approx. ed.) complicit in the Holocaust. Then it caused a wave of indignation in the Ukrainian society and among experts.

“During his speech, Reuven Rivlin allowed himself, in my opinion, some incorrect and undiplomatic assessment of certain tragic pages of Ukrainian history, in particular, of the OUN. I am very sorry that the President of Israel have not heard the previous speeches, where the Righteous, the leaders of Jewish communities, representatives of various religious denominations, the Ukrainian patriots, as, for example, academician Ivan Dzyuba, who first loudly raised the issue of Babi Yar, recalled the innocent victims and their saviors, among whom there were many ordinary Ukrainians. Who risked their lives and traditions to their children, to rescue Jewish families and Jewish children,” — wrote in his Facebook the first Vice-speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Irina Gerashchenko.

The second time a diplomatic incident, Israel had fanned 24 December, after a vote in the UN security Council on a resolution demanding that Israel stop the construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied 1967 Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.

The adoption of the resolution, according to European media, made possible by the position of the United States: they block the consideration of how constantly did before, but only abstained in the vote. All the other 14 security Council members, including Ukraine, supported the resolution that caused a negative reaction of tel-Aviv. And so negative that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cancelled a visit of the Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to Israel. A wave of indignation rose in the Ukrainian expert environment. But rather because as long as Israel was already criticized Ukraine (and according to unofficial information, Netanyahu called on the eve of the voting the draft laws and were asked to influence the position of Ukraine during the voting in UN), the Ukrainian foreign Ministry was silent. The response of the Ministry followed only two days after the start of a diplomatic scandal.

According to the spokesman of the foreign Ministry of the Mariana Betsy, Ukraine could not abstain in the UN vote, as this would in fact mean recognition of the Russian actions in Crimea. But the Ministry’s position is not shared by the deputies. And do not stop the rumors that to support the resolution of Ukraine asked the United States. “When Ukraine did not support Israel, it looked very strange on the international stage. One can draw an analogy to the occupation of the Crimea with the situation that is happening in Israel… In Parliament, a lot of people do not support the position of the representatives of the foreign Ministry. I think that soon this will be official statements,” — said the head of BP group on Interparliamentary relations with Israel Georgy Logvynsky.

According to Volodymyr Groysman, it is not necessary to increase the degree and to aggravate the situation. The offices of two Prime Ministers continue to consult and dialogue, and in the near future visit of the Ukrainian Prime Minister in Israel will take place. However, Israeli experts are offended by the position of Ukraine believe that Kiev came under the influence of Washington and may soon Wake up in a world where he did not remain friends. Ukrainian experts with such categorical arguments do not agree, but recognize that Ukraine’s foreign policy lacks strategy and coordinated action, including against Israel.

The point of no return: why Kyiv and Ankara has put the bilateral relationship on pause

If to speak about the relations between Turkey and Ukraine, to the middle of 2015 they have evolved more in the direction of Ukrainian-Israeli relations. In words, the Turkish authorities supported us, but officially in the international arena, this support never showed, except for the question about the Crimean Tatars and support Ukraine in the UN on the Crimean issue (in November this year Turkey was one of the sponsors of the resolution, in which Russia is called state-occupier). But Turkey never joined the anti-Russian sanctions of the West. June 2014 Turkish Airlines regularly fly in occupied Simferopol. Economic sanctions against the Kremlin, Ankara also supported and even earned on the export of agricultural products to Russia after it imposed retaliatory embargo for the same products from Europe.

Development has taken a sharp turn after Turkey shot down a Russian su-24: the Kremlin is actually forbidden to sell tours to Turkey and imposed economic sanctions on imports of certain Turkish products. Trying to compensate for economic losses from actions of Russia, which according to various estimates, reached $10 billion, Turkish tour operators were doing 20-30% discount Ukrainians on holiday in Turkey and were actively interested in investments in Ukrainian infrastructure. In the Ukrainian-Turkish relations have been warming, and in February an official visit to Kyiv to establish bilateral cooperation came the Prime Minister of Turkey.

“Ukraine for us is not just a neighboring country, a country with whom relations have a strategic character. For us is a fundamental value of the territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine, so we perceive the Crimea as an integral part of Ukraine”, — said the Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu.

Petro Poroshenko was even the idea to involve Turkey in the negotiation format “Geneva+” to return to the Crimea. But, as in the case of “Budapest” format, Russia refused to take part in it. But Turkey saw that at the expense of Ukraine and other countries losses from Russian sanctions to compensate for the failed went to the rapprochement with Russia. In late June, Erdogan apologized to Russia for the downed plane, which, according to former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst, is common practice for the Turkish leader. Moscow immediately welcomed such actions of Turkey and the abolition of all economic sanctions, including restrictions on the sale of the tours.

However, in this question there is another point. Rapprochement with Russia, Turkey went even and because of the position of the European Union. Until the summer of this year discussed the possibility of package vote in the European Parliament and the Council of the EU on the abolition of visas for four countries — Ukraine, Georgia, Kosovo and Turkey. But then the EU authorities, despite their promises, excluded Turkey from visa package that has pushed Ankara closer to Moscow and Brussels for repression against the opposition after the failed Turkey’s coup — to threats to suspend the dialogue on the EU membership.

Despite pessimistic forecasts of experts, the rapprochement of Turkey with Russia the number of tourists from Ukraine to Turkey have not diminished. As the trade turnover: according gosstata, the volume of Ukrainian exports to Turkey exceed imports in January-September this year to 826 million dollars, or exactly 50%. You can not say about the political component — the official diplomatic relations between Kiev and Ankara seems put on pause, and both sides.