At the present stage, there are three main directions of Ukraine’s foreign policy: 1) the development of bilateral interstate relations; 2) European integration; 3) multilateral diplomacy. In the sphere of bilateral relations, the priorities are: relations with neighboring countries and relations with strategic partners and the most influential states of the world (today Ukraine has concluded about 20 agreements on strategic partnership, including with the Russian Federation, the USA, Poland, India, etc.). In the field of European integration, foreign policy activities are aimed at political and institutional rapprochement with the European Union (EU), gradual progress towards the ultimate goal – EU membership, incl. by adapting Ukrainian legislation to EU and Council of Europe standards. The “European vector” of Ukraine’s foreign policy also includes the deepening of relations with NATO as an essential element of the system of European security and stability. In the field of multilateral diplomacy, priorities such as ensuring the effectiveness of Ukraine’s participation in the activities of international organizations can be identified; establishing effective regional and subregional cooperation, strengthening the role of Ukraine in regional and subregional organizations, forums, associations; revitalization of activities in multilateral agreements in the field of disarmament, incl. nuclear; participation in peacekeeping operations, in security systems and control mechanisms. Check computerminus for political system of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s relations with NATO are developing in the 19+1 bilateral format in accordance with the signed Charter on a Distinctive Partnership (2000), as well as on a multilateral basis within the framework of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the Partnership for Peace program. The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) approved the “Strategy of Ukraine towards NATO” (May 23, 2002), which defines the ultimate goal of the state policy of European integration for Ukraine to join the North Atlantic Alliance, recognized as the basis of the pan-European security system. At the state level, a number of decisions have been adopted aimed at starting practical preparations for Ukraine to join NATO.
Since 2001, the domestic political situation has been characterized by a constant change in the balance of political forces, which is associated with the preparation and conduct of two major election campaigns: parliamentary elections were held in March 2002, and presidential elections are coming in October 2004. The entire period after L. Kuchma’s election for a second presidential term is characterized by sharp actions by the opposition forces, who repeatedly tried to compromise the incumbent president and achieve his early resignation. In 2001, opposition parties organized thousands of street rallies and protest demonstrations under the slogan “Ukraine without Kuchma”, and on the eve of the elections to the Verkhovna Rada in 2002 – “Arise, Ukraine!” A variety of compromising evidence was launched: from suspicions of contract killing of an opposition journalist (“The Gongadze Case”) to accusations of corruption and repression against their political opponents (“The Yulia Tymoshenko Case”), as well as illegal sales of weapons to Iraq (Kolchuga anti-missile systems). But the opposition has not achieved its goals: the protests of the population have not become truly massive, and Kuchma is likely to retain his post until the new elections, although his rating is steadily falling.
In March 2002, elections to the Verkhovna Rada were held, which changed the alignment of political forces in parliament. The majority were MPs from the opposition, while pro-presidential factions are represented by less than 220 parliamentarians. The most powerful opposition faction in the parliament is Our Ukraine (leader V. Yushchenko), until recently it was supported by three more factions: the communists – the CPU (leader P. Symonenko), the socialists of the SPU (A. Moroz) and the Yu. Tymoshenko bloc (fraction BYuT). The extra-parliamentary opposition environment in the country is rather marginal.
The main intrigue of the political life of Ukraine in 2003 was the political reform initiated by President Kuchma. The head of state announced the need to carry out large-scale changes in the state structure in the period remaining until the next presidential election, to redistribute powers between the president and parliament in favor of the latter. Kuchma’s package of proposals includes: the election of a president by the parliament, the introduction of a second (upper) chamber, the Chamber of Regions, in the Ukrainian parliament; transition from proportional-majority to proportional system of elections to the Verkhovna Rada; granting the parliamentary majority the right to form a coalition government and appoint a prime minister; holding elections at all levels within one year; election of heads of regions in direct elections. The opposition, for all its heterogeneity, met these initiatives with hostility. In May, a memorandum was published by the “four” opposition leaders (Yushchenko, Tymoshenko, Symonenko and Moroz), in which they expressed their complaints about the reform project and called for the next stage of the anti-presidential action “Arise, Ukraine!” The opposition believes that, hiding behind the thesis of reforming the system of power, on the transition from a presidential to a parliamentary republic, Kuchma is actually seeking to expand the scope of his personal powers using a bicameral parliament. In Ukrainian conditions, the upper chamber, which the president can form, will completely dominate the lower one. In fact, it will be possible to dissolve only the lower chamber, and there are no real possibilities for the dissolution of the upper chamber. There are fears that the influence of the president will increase due to the complete subordination of law enforcement agencies and heads of regional administrations to him, and as a result, the president’s pressure on the judiciary may also increase. The greatest annoyance of the opposition was caused by the point of the proposals to hold the presidential and parliamentary elections in one year. This was seen by Kuchma’s political opponents as an attempt to extend his presidency until 2006, when the next parliamentary elections are due, instead of holding presidential elections in autumn 2004, as stipulated by the current constitution.
Almost all representatives of the political elite are trying to use the “reformist trump card” in the big game around the 2004 presidential campaign. recognize the importance of strengthening the role of parliament in the political and economic life of the country.
In December 2003, the Verkhovna Rada held a vote on the first reading of the bill on reforming the state structure of the country, which was approved by the pro-presidential majority party (Kuchma’s supporters) and the Communists. It is assumed that the reform itself will begin in 2004.
The unstable domestic political situation in Ukraine largely determines the frequent fluctuations in the foreign policy course: the strengthening of the left and the weakening of Kuchma’s personal positions usually cause a situational turn towards the Russian Federation, while the preponderance of right-wing and center-right forces, as a rule, leads to an increase in pro-Western and pro-American sentiments, to calls accelerate European integration and Ukraine’s accession to NATO.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine began to be formed on the basis of military units of the USSR Armed Forces stationed on Ukrainian territory and passed under the jurisdiction of Ukraine after its independence. The process of creating our own army as a guarantor of the country’s independence is based on the political principles of Ukraine’s non-nuclear and bloc-free status. Important legislative acts in the military sphere were adopted: the Concept of Defense and Construction of the Armed Forces and the Military Doctrine, the laws “On Defense”, “On the Armed Forces”, and the resolution “On the Defense Council of Ukraine”.
In 1991-2001, there was a significant reduction in the number of troops and military equipment, strategic offensive weapons were phased out (by June 1, 1996, not a single warhead and ammunition remained on the territory of Ukraine). In the process of military construction, Ukraine signed important interstate agreements with the Russian Federation: “On the principles of the formation of the Naval Forces of Ukraine and the Russian Navy on the basis of the Black Sea Fleet of the former USSR” (Yalta, August 1992) and “On the status and conditions for the presence of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine ” (October 23, 1996), including the terms of the Russian lease of the naval base in Sevastopol.
According to the law “On the Strength of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for 2000-05” (dated December 7, 2000), there are 400 thousand people in their ranks, including: 310 thousand military personnel and 90 thousand civilians. The structure of the Armed Forces of Ukraine includes: Ground Forces, Air Force, Air Defense Forces, Naval Forces. The level of military spending is low – 1% of GDP.
In 2001, Ukraine embarked on military reform. Three stages are planned:
1) in 2001-05, the term of service in the Ukrainian army should be reduced to 1 year, the number of armed forces reduced by 25 thousand people, up to 30% of military personnel transferred to a contract basis;
2) in 2006-10, equipment and weapons will be modernized, the number of contractors will be 50%;
3) by 2015, it is planned to complete the reform of the army, transferring it to a professional basis and strengthening control over the Armed Forces by civil society.
Ukraine has diplomatic relations with Russia (established on December 14, 1992) and the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership (May 1997).