On April 12, amid escalating tensions along the Ukrainian border, Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran expressed concern that “Crimea’s infrastructure is being prepared for potentially storing nuclear weapons” (Radio Svoboda, April 14). Even though Mr. Taran did not supply evidence for this claim, it is plausible to assert that such nuclear potential in occupied Crimea certainly exists.
The foreign affairs ministers of Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova signed a memorandum of understanding on establishing cooperation on European integration in Kyiv on May 17, forming a trilateral alliance called the “Association Trio.” The primary goal of the new alliance is to make a concerted move toward European integration, as the document outlines their EU membership goal. “[A]s European states, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine have a European perspective and may apply to become a member of the European Union,” the document stated (Mfa.gov.ua, May 17).
While attention this month has shifted to the foreign policy sphere, the unprecedented offensive recently launched by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy against Ukraine’s hitherto seemingly all-powerful oligarchs has intensified.
BRUSSELS – In advance of the 2021 NATO Allied Leaders summit on June 14 in Brussels, the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) calls on global Ukrainian communities and friends of Ukraine to petition leaders of NATO-member countries to accelerate a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Ukraine. This summit takes place amid the unprecedented escalation of Russian aggression in the region clearly indicating that Russia is an imminent threat to Europe and all NATO member countries.
Within the last three weeks, a series of decisions by leading Western powers seems to indicate a downgrading of Ukraine on the scale of Western policy priorities. Taken partly in deference to Russia, these decisions risk demotivating Ukrainian reform efforts (hesitant though these are) and eroding Western credibility in Ukraine.
Along with United States President Joseph Biden greenlighting Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 project, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken giving Ukraine’s concerns short shrift preparatory to Mr. Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (see Part One in Eurasia Daily Monitor, May 27), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has unexpectedly toned down its endorsement of Ukraine’s ambition to join the alliance in the future, while Germany and France have given Kyiv reason to conclude that their position is weakening vis-à-vis Russia in the “Normandy” negotiations on the war in Ukraine’s east.
For Ukraine, which lost more than 70 percent of its naval assets after Russia’s forcible annexation of Crimea, the ability to effectively deter and adequately respond to further aggressive Russian actions at sea is extremely important. The crucial nature of properly addressing this threat was reconfirmed earlier this spring (March-April), amidst the buildup of Russian heavy military forces around Ukraine’s borders, which notably included the deployment of offensive units to Crimea as well as the strengthening of its naval forces in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, April 13, 27 , May 3).
To the surprise of the sceptics, panic of those targeted and a cautious thumbs up from those who domestically and externally had called for such developments, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has reaffirmed his determination to end the oligarchic set-up in Ukraine that has dominated economic and political life for so long.
Ukrainian law enforcement authorities have detained Viktor Medvedchuk, head of the pro-Russia parliamentary opposition, to prosecute him on treason charges (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, May 13). President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has publicly hailed (President.gov.ua, May 14) the move against this personal protégé of Russian President Vladimir Putin;
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his closest entourage sometimes raise public expectations of what the United States can deliver to Ukraine to unrealistically high levels. Furthermore, they tend to discount the close relationship between what the U.S. is actually delivering to Ukraine and the latter’s own performance on economic and governance reforms. These twin tendencies of Mr. Zelenskyy’s team can generate public disappointment after undue expectations, confronting the U.S. with a problem of expectation management in Ukraine (see Part One in Eurasia Daily Monitor, June 6).