Dilemmas of Ukraine’s Foreign Policy in 2018

  • Post category:Issue XIX

Mykola Kapitonenko
Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of the Institute of International Relations of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Candidate of Political Sciences

DOI https://doi.org/10.37837/2707-7683-2018-33

Abstract. The year of 2018 has not become a unique one for Ukraine’s foreign policy. As in earlier years, the issue of resolving the conflict in Donbas and preventing a war with Russia has remained its most imminent challenge. Given the decrease in domestic resources, the problem of weakening political institutions of the state and the decline of its positive image on the international scene because of pervasive corruption, lack of reforms, and democracy deficit, together with the bulk of negative tendencies in the relations with the key partners – the EU and Russia – have become the greatest challenge. All of these factors further limit the leeway in supporting Ukraine in withstanding the Russian aggression and generally weaken its position in the regional international system. Such developments are taking place under deteriorating geostrategic prospects for Ukraine, resulting from the intensification of Russian pressure in the course of the ongoing hybrid war and hostilities in Donbas.
The issues brought about, in the first place, by the Russian military aggression, occupation of Donbas, and annexation of Crimea have predetermined the sluggishness, reactivity, and contradictory character of Ukraine’s foreign policy. Due to the alarming settings Ukraine has faced, it is often referred to as a ‘troublesome country’ or a ‘weak state’, which is a disturbing message. After the frustrating failure of all the hopes about the Budapest Memorandum, a search for allies represented by the US and NATO became an urgent task of Ukrainian diplomacy, accompanied by the need for effective diplomatic means of ‘appeasing’ Russia. These are the major areas, on which Ukraine has focused its diplomatic efforts in 2018.
The Russian issue will for many years remain the most complicated, cumbersome, and critical for Ukrainian foreign policy. Mistakes in its regard will come at the highest price, while simple solutions will be the least effective. The correlation of powers, the style, and priorities of Russia’s foreign policy, asymmetric interdependence, and intricate history turn Ukrainian-Russian relations into a knot of contradictions, which is hard to unravel even in regular circumstances. Today, as Crimea is occupied and part of the territory of eastern Ukraine is taken hostage, it will be even more difficult to build relations with Russia.
Keywords: NATO, Russian-Ukrainian war, Helsinki summit, European Union, American-Russian summit, PACE.

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