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Ukraine And European Security - International Mechanisms
As Non-Military Options For National Security Of Ukraine.
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Chapter 3. "Gradual" Approach
Section 3. Central And Eastern European States
3.2. Bilateral Cooperation
Ukrainian leaders have also tried to establish security cooperation on bilateral level, and foremost with Poland - the biggest state among "Vishegrad-4" and important element in the stability of the region.
Indeed, with Ukraine's independence, the Polish security has considerably been strengthened: as a result of the new geopolitical fora, Poland found itself, with no common border with Russia, separated mostly by Ukraine, and to a lesser extent by Belarus' and Lithuania. Following the negotiated agreements on military cooperation with Belarus' and Lithuania(211), Poland signed a similar agreement with Ukraine in February 1993, which promoted various low-level forms of cooperation such as sharing military training facilities and organizing military exchange programs.
Poland was also interested in continuing to service its aircraft in Ukraine, which is an important source of spare parts for much of Poland's military equipment. During the visit of Polish Prime minister Suchocka to Kiev in January 1993 a series of bilateral economic agreements were signed. In addition, shortly before Polish President Walessa visited Kiev in May 1993, a President's consultative Committee was created to promote relations between the two countries.
In middle 1993 Poland, howeverer, altered to move away from its previous plans to promote the creation of political and security frameworks with the Soviet successor states, and began to emphasize economic relations with these countries.
Respectively, the attitude of Poland towards its Eastern neighbours may be illustrative for understanding the position the Central Europeans took in relations with Ukraine. In 1990-1991 Warsaw supported the attempts of the neighbouring Soviet republics to reduce their dependence on Russia. However, the Polish government did do anything to evoke anger in Moscow.
This cautious position reflected the interests of Poland in the demise of the USSR and subsequent withdrawal of Soviet troops from its soil and latter, its economic interests in Russia. These developments quite clearly shows the Polish desire to improve and balance its relations with both Russia and Germany. Consequently, to improve the relations with the former, it could not engage in too close relations with Ukraine.(212)
Another prerequisite of Ukraine's failure to reach a level of close cooperation with CEE countries in almost general terms, is the swift decline of the Ukrainian economy, which made the country an unattractive partner. This has been especially proven by Ukraine's relations with the Czech Republic, which have been generated in a diluted level in comparison to the relations with other Vishegrad Group Countries.
To some extent, such shape of relations with Ukraine reflects believes of the Czech authorities, that cooperation in the external sphere with less prosperous and less stable neighbours can only delay rapid Czech accession to the Western political fora.(213) To a lesser degree it indicated some kind of misperception of Ukrainian policy dealing with nuclear arsenal, as well as unclearness of Ukraine's future (214).
Together with external economic factors, Ukrainian foreign and security policies have thus far had the greatest influence on the country's attractiveness for the Central Europeans. The first official visit of the Czech authorities to Ukraine has taken place only in April 1993 and the Ukrainian Foreign Minister visited Czech republic in March 1994. The outcomes of both visits, hoverer, reflected only general intentions to cooperate, mostly on economic level. The same can be said about several meetings in between. For instance, between the former Ukrainian President Kravchuk and Czech Prime-Minister Vaclav Klaus in October 1993 during the Vartelsman Forum, which repeatedly proved the countries' friendly, but cool relations.(215)
It is also important to mention, that on their side, Ukrainian leaders have also shown inadequate intention in developing ties with the Czech Republic. The official visit of Ukrainian president to the Czech republic was postponed several times during the period over two years and have taken place only in April, 1995.
Unlike bilateral relations with Czehia, Ukrainian-Slovakian relations have been largely predetermined by internal political situation in Slovakia after independence, when country has found itself somewhat politically isolated and its foreign policy seemed to be rather unclear.
In June 1993, a friendship and cooperation agreement has been signed by Slovakia and Ukraine, and as a follow-up of it Slovak Defence Minister Imrich Andrejchak signed a military cooperation agreement with his Ukrainian counterpart Vitaly Radetsky. Hoverer, as Andrejchak stressed that this document is not a military pact, but an evidence to cooperate in general terms. Since then, there have been no signs of neither any significant discords, nor weighty cooperation, between Slovakia and Ukraine.(216)
Following, while having a poor image in both Western and Central Europe, largely because of its policy towards national minorities, the Slovak leadership has made special efforts to forge ties with Russia. During the visit of Russian President Boris Eltzin to Bratislava on August 26, 1993, a friendship agreement and an accord on military cooperation were signed, which initially undermined all Ukraine's prospects to engage Slovakia in close defence cooperation.(217)
The similar situation has also been met by Ukraine in its intentions to find allies in the Black Sea region. For instance, Bulgaria, with which Ukraine tried to establish some level of security cooperation, also seemed to follow a policy of cultivating good relations with Moscow, partially because of solid traditions, closeness to unstable Yugoslavia and dependence on Russian military industrial complex. Indeed, Bulgaria's cooperation with Russia is a natural result of the disintegration of the Soviet-led alliance system and absence of strong country's allies within neighbouring area.(218)
Section 4. The implementation of the strategic goals of Ukrainian policy to the countries of Eastern-Central Europe.
When examining the relations of Ukraine with the CEE countries during the period of 1992-1994, one can admit that Ukraine generally failed to accomplish the main goals of its East-European policy - if the attempts of the Ukrainian leadership to foster reasonably cordial relations with the Central and Eastern European states were more or less successful, this cannot be said about its endeavors to enhance cooperation with them to the level of political, economic or military union.
The greatest expectations of Ukraine from Eastern-Central European States, especially Vishegrad countries have led to big disillusionment. The country was not able to use the organizations of the East-Central European countries neither as a means for its main European goals: establishing closer cooperation with the Western organizations, nor was it able to secure their support in disputes with Russia.
On their side, Eastern Europeans judged soberly the possible gains and losses from cooperation with Ukraine, and the expenditures seemed to outweigh the gains. Ukraine with its decaying economy and strained relations with Russia was not of some specific interest for Westwards-oriented Central Europeans.
In addition, Ukraine's policy in resolution of issues, concerning nuclear arsenal on its soil significantly damaged its image not only in the West, but also among CEE states. Such policy was recognized as reactive, and caused even unwillingness of Eastern Europeans cooperate with Ukraine. For instance, it was reflected by the decision of the heads of governments of the Central European Initiative (CEI)(219) on the issue of Ukraine's prospective membership of organization. Though the CEI members agreed to allow Ukraine to participate in working groups of the organization, they declared that "the expansion of the CEI is premature".(220)
The goal that the Ukrainian policy-makers unsuccessfully pursued was the creation of a regional transitional establishment to join European organizations. Ukrainian proposals raised serious concern in the world community and added significantly, as was said above, to a virtual international isolation of Ukraine.
As it was previously mentioned, Central and Eastern European states were formerly interested in some kind of regional security cooperation, but in general terms, they have given preference to integration with NATO and the European Union.
Visible shifts in attitudes of the Central Europeans towards Ukraine appeared only after the compromise on the fate of the nuclear weapons was reached. Consequently, Italy, which is a member of the Central Eastern Initiative, initiated the creation of the Association Council, which Ukraine, along with Belarus, Bulgaria and Romania, was invited to join. The first meeting of the Association Council took place on 24 June, 1994. The necessity to help Ukraine has already been acknowledged by most of the CEE states. However, much less clarity was exists when discussing practical ways of the possible CEE assistance to Ukraine - the biggest country in the region. In addition, other CEE are facing their own economic challenges.
One can observe recent changes in Ukraine's view of its relationship with Central Europe. Since Mr. Kuchma was elected President, the relations between Ukraine and other CEE countries have lost some of their dynamism. Focusing on the relations with the West and Russia, Kiev currently pays lesser attention to its CEE neighbours.
The Director of the Ukrainian National Institute for Strategic Studies, Serhiy Pirozhkov, argued that although the development of economic and political links with these countries Ukrainian statehood would strengthen, Ukraine should not engage itself in too close relations. Pirozhkov asserted that the East-Central European countries were struggling with the numerous problems similar to those of Ukraine and they would be of no help in any possible clash with Russia.(221)
Therefore, one can conclude that by the middle 1994 the Ukrainian elite started to see relations with East-Central Europe as subordinated to the goal of balancing Russia, not isolating it.
Indeed, Ukraine's ties with Central European states have not been productive, as they were desired, and do not in any case guarantee Ukraine's security. Military agreements have been signed with all CEE neighbouring states except Russia and Romania, but these agreements do not constitute pacts and term "strategic partners" was used to describe low-level bi-lateral cooperation. Even within the Vishegrad group only limited joint measures, mostly based on bilateral cooperation agreements signed by the Defence ministries have taken place.
In relation to the Southern European states, the situation seems to be the same. Several meetings among the commanding officers, which were mostly initiated by Ukraine show that the aims of this meeting had nothing to do with security alliances, but with far more trivial subjects, as repairing of military equipment, joint training, etc.(222)
It has also become obvious that the CEE states, are more likely to be competitors in entering Western security institutions than to engage in close collaboration with Ukraine or other Eastern European states. As experience of previous years shows, they want to ensure their security by joining NATO but not by creating sub-regional military pacts.
According to the preceding analysis, it seems to be quite understandable that in current situation Ukraine's full integration to any of existing Eastern-European assembles can not efficiently and practically promote current Ukraine's needs.
It is also questioning, that any of this organizations can be employed by Ukraine as effective link to the Western Europe. Furthermore, the first possible option, the integration to the CIS could not be of use for this purpose, because presently the CIS creation is developing rather outwards of West. In addition, in Ukrainian vision, the Eurasian option has always been charged by Ukrainian leaders with difficulties, as if at least for historical reasons.
However, as above also demonstrates, Ukraine's security is largely tangled to Russia's attitude to its international goals and if Ukraine enters any security institution, where Russia does not participate, it would cause for Ukraine serious outcomes.
This is especially true in spite of current international situation and given Russian fears to be isolated. Thus, the Central European way of sub-regional integration, which has often been much perceptible for Ukrainian policy-makers, is currently not likely.
Finally, during an inter-mediate period, Ukraine should perform its policies reliably, by associating with some states in field of common economic interests, and with others on sphere of security.(223)
Following this way, Ukraine will be able to preserve its security for transitional period of several years. This time may allow to balance its economy and other domestic problems and to develop coherent national policies.(224)
Since then Ukraine can became more potent in its relations with Russia, and appear as more attractive and stable partner for the Western and Central European countries.
Such a strategy, however, can be achieved only in close cooperation with international organizations. Therefore, the next chapter will focus primarily on Ukraine's "evolutionary" strategy in its participation in the international security process, and particularly in the OSCE workings, which seem to be fully aviable for Ukrainian leadership.