PARTNER-ATLAS

UKRAINE

as a partner for strengthening a values and rules-based world order

01 — The key questions for the Partner-Atlas

RELEVANCE: What relevance does Ukraine have for Germany with regards to "strengthening a values and rules-based world order"?

Since the beginning of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and the unlawful annexation of Crimea, parts of the country have not been under the control of Kyiv. It is in Ukraine that it will be decided what significance internationally recognised borders will have in 21st century Europe, whether territories can be unilaterally altered, and whether the right of the (militarily) stronger will again take precedence over the sovereignty, self-determination, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders.

These principles have been recognised by all OSCE states. Each country is free in its foreign policy orientation and in its own choice of alliances. Not only Germany’s security, but also our prosperity in a united Europe depends on maintaining these principles and thus on the current European peace order. As a consequence of the Second World War, Germany had to struggle for a long time to achieve its unity and self-determination. The political, military and societal anchoring of the Federal Republic in the West formed the basis for its eventual unification in freedom.

Ukraine’s self-determination, on the other hand, is being challenged from the outside, through no fault of its own. This is why it is even more crucial for the international community to firmly support the country now when it comes to reaffirming its self-determination and territorial integrity. Ukraine’s tragic conflict experience is also closely linked to the preservation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. After the demise of the Soviet Union, Kyiv agreed to surrender the nuclear weapons remaining on Ukrainian territory in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994. In return, respect for independence, sovereignty and existing borders was confirmed by the signatories, including the Russian Federation.

The annexation of Crimea has thus cast a shadow over future disarmament initiatives, as the value of such guarantees has been significantly diminished, reducing the overall willingness to disarm. For Germany, on the other hand, this international control regime for non-proliferation is of central importance for global disarmament.

WILLINGNESS: To what extent is Ukraine willing to work with Germany in realising this interest?

Ukraine has made numerous official statements on democratic values and a rules-based world order and is an active member of many European and international organisations. Since independence, more than 34,000 Ukrainian peacekeepers have participated in UN operations. German and Ukrainian UN peacekeepers serve together in South Sudan and Kosovo. Overall, there is a very high willingness to cooperate internationally, especially with Germany.

Ukraine is also availing itself of international legal means in the conflict with Russia: Kyiv has brought litigation before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights and the WTO Court, while observation and humanitarian missions rely on international organisations such as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) or the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

In the health sector, Ukraine works closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO), for example in dealing with the humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine, reforms in the Ukrainian health system, or the fight against infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, measles or, more recently, Covid-19. Furthermore, Ukraine has – involuntarily – had to gain a wealth of experience from the conflict in the east and the pandemic when it comes to disinformation and fake news disseminated from abroad – an issue that is widely recognised to be a threat to democracy.

In addition, Kyiv is striving to join integrated structures, such as NATO and the EU, whereby it wants to subject itself to directly binding international law. All of this makes Ukraine a credible partner for Germany in creating a rules-based world order.

STATUS QUO: How close is Germany and Ukraine’s current cooperation in this area?

Germany is seen as one of Ukraine’s most important and reliable partners. In many respects, it is centrally involved in international diplomacy relating to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. This particularly applies to the Normandy Format, but also, for example, to the United Nations and the OSCE. Germany has been and is a driving force in establishing and upholding targeted sanctions against Russia as a consequence of its breach of international law. Additionally, Berlin also provides intensive support to Ukraine in its reform efforts, both bilaterally and at the European level. Within the framework of the EU, Germany is working towards a mutually agreed regulation of Ukrainian-Russian energy relations.

POTENTIAL: What is the potential for strengthening the partnership between Germany and Ukraine in this area?

Along with Ukraine’s sovereignty and self-determination, the entire concept of international law is currently being questioned right in the heart of Europe. This is why the country is a key partner when it comes to defending international law as the core component of international relations. Central to this are the reforms that the country has initiated since 2014 and remain unprecedented in its history. Germany should strongly support these efforts towards more good governance, because a country based on the rule of law and democracy will also apply these values to its international behaviour.

Ukraine also plays an important role in the region: successful reforms in a large country of some 40 million people and a long history as part the USSR would be a powerful symbol beyond the country’s borders. Geographically, Ukraine has a leading role to play in the defence of European values.

Finally, there are a number of concrete issues around Ukraine that need to be addressed with a view towards strengthening international legal principles. This especially includes the Sea of Azov, where Russia is currently trying to override maritime law. Additionally, there are significant long-term risks stemming from the militarisation of the Crimean Peninsula and the Black Sea. A joint approach with NATO partners and other neighbouring countries is recommended here.

Ukraine also plays an important role in the region: if the reform process is successful for a post-Soviet state with a population of more than 40 million, that will generate considerable influence and have symbolic value. Geographically, Ukraine has a leading role to play in the defence of European values.

There are also a number of specific problems associated with Ukraine that need to be addressed in order to enforce international legal principles. This especially includes the Sea of Azov, where Russia is currently trying to override maritime law. In addition, a massive build-up of arms is evident in the Crimea and the Black Sea, which poses long-term dangers. A joint approach with NATO partners and other neighbouring countries is recommended here.

POLICY RECOMMENDATION: What in German foreign policy has to change in order to fully exploit this potential?

Germany should take a comprehensive approach to defending the values and rules-based world order. Breaches of the rules must continue to be clearly sanctioned, since the long-term consequences of accepting behaviour contrary to international law would outweigh the short and medium-term costs of economic sanctions and travel bans. Any relaxation of the European sanctions’ regime must be made clearly dependent on concrete steps within the framework of the Minsk Agreements. To this end, German diplomacy should continue efforts to persuade other partner states that Europe’s unity and peace order are being defended in Ukraine. The country itself should be able to look ahead towards an EU membership perspective in the long term. On the way there, Ukraine should be offered concrete benefits for increasing convergence that need to be clearly tangible for the population.

When it comes to the debate on Nord Stream 2, Germany’s diplomats should work towards a credible international legal framework that awards Ukraine predictability when it comes to energy and its finances through continued deliveries of natural gas via Ukraine to Europe. To this end, Germany should work on a multilateral solution with the European Union, Russia and Ukraine.

In order for historical reconciliation to be credible, Germany needs a culture of values and remembrance, which adequately encompasses all the successor states of the former Soviet Union.  It also should recognise the suffering and the millions of victims of the Second World War in today’s Ukraine and raise public awareness.

Finally, Germany should continue its support for Ukraine’s reform efforts. This continued engagement must be linked to verifiable progress to prevent democratic backsliding.

Tim B. Peters heads the KAS Office in Ukraine (Kyiv); Toni Michel is Trainee at the KAS Office in Ukraine (Kyiv).

UKRAINE

  • Population: 43,733,762
  • Capital: Kyiv
  • Interest: Strengthening a Values and Rules-based World Order
  • Region: Europe and North America
  • Potential partner countries: Ukraine, Switzerland

04 — The region

Europe and North America

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SWITZERLAND

In many ways, Switzerland is a central partner for Germany in terms of values and interests, particularly in the area of trade and innovation. The economies of both countries are closely intertwined: Germany has been Switzerland’s most important trading partner with more than 22 percent of foreign trade. Conversely, Switzerland is also a key economic partner for Germany: in 2018, it was number 9 among Germany’s foreign trade partners (and thus the fourth largest non-EU country after the USA, China, and the United Kingdom).

  • Population: 8,654,622
  • Capital: Bern
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SERBIA

Serbia is of central importance for Germany in terms of regulating global migration flows. Since the beginning of the refugee crisis in 2014, a large proportion of refugees from the Middle East, Central and South Asia have been traversing the “Balkan route”. Its main route leads from Turkey and Greece via Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Serbia to Hungary and Croatia which form the border of the EU. Continuing on from there is difficult because the Hungarian government in particular undertakes very rigid border controls to prevent entry without valid travel documents.

  • Population: 8,737,371
  • Capital: Belgrade
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UKRAINE

Since the beginning of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and the unlawful annexation of Crimea, parts of the country have not been under the control of Kyiv. It is in Ukraine that it will be decided what significance internationally recognised borders will have in 21st century Europe, whether territories can be unilaterally altered, and whether the right of the (militarily) stronger will again take precedence over the sovereignty, self-determination, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders.

 

  • Population: 43,733,762
  • Capital: Kyiv
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BELARUS

Belarus is often perceived negatively in the West due to its deficits in terms of democracy and civil liberties. This fails to take into account that the country can be seen as an anchor of stability in terms of security policy, with its position in the centre of Central Eastern Europe, and that it has been committed to international conflict resolution for some time.

  • Population: 9.449.254
  • Capital: Minsk
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RUSSIA

Economic growth and employment in Germany largely depend on key, energy-intensive industries, such as chemical or metal production. Despite the increasing importance of renewable energies, petroleum and natural gas – the first and second most important energy sources in Germany – play an important role for these industries.

  • Population: 145,934,462
  • Capital: Moscow
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