Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Foreign Policy Research Institute

tel. +38 (044) 287 52 58

Strategic partnership backed by real actions

The strategic partnership between Ukraine and the United Kingdom has been developing rapidly over the past two years. The joint maneuvers of the military of the two countries in the south of Ukraine within the framework of the Joint Efforts exercise in the fall of 2020, the landing of the British airborne troops in Mykolayiv region, became the first strong signal of the growing partnership. After that, the Strategic Cooperation Agreement was concluded between the states, and this summer the British destroyer HMS «Defender» passed through the territorial waters near the occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea, thus demonstrating the invariability of the policy of non-recognition of the occupation of Ukrainian territories. There are a number of preconditions for the rapprochement between Ukraine and Great Britain. The first factor is the withdrawal of Great Britain from the European Union. Immediately after Brexit, the country reconsidered its role in the international arena and formed a new foreign policy strategy, as well as began looking for new partners. The second factor is the gradual deterioration of relations with the Russian Federation, which has resorted to criminal activities in the UK, such as the Salisbury poisoning in March 2018, as well as cyberattacks. Such a real Russian threat has forced the British ruling establishment to better understand Ukraine's security problems. So it is no coincidence that Ukraine is mentioned in the foreign policy doctrine «Global Britain». It is indicated that the United Kingdom will contribute to the development of the capabilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Cooperation between the two countries covers a wide range of issues, such as cooperation in the field of security and defense, military-technical cooperation, trade, counter-terrorism, reform, etc. The principles of cooperation between Ukraine and the United Kingdom were enshrined in the Agreement on Political Cooperation, Free Trade and Strategic Partnership between Ukraine and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Over the past year, the principles set out in this agreement have been effectively implemented. Ukraine was granted a loan of 2.5 billion British pounds at a rate of 2.5% in euros and 3.5% in pounds sterling. Half of this amount is intended for the development of the country's navy. As we have already written before, Ukraine uses this money in Ochakiv and Berdyansk bases construction, the construction of which is planned to be completed by 2024 with the help of British contractors. Also, the British have to build eight modern missile boats for the Ukrainian Navy. Only the first two hulls of the new boats will be built on the shipyard in the UK, and the other six - in Ukraine. Thus, Ukraine will also be provided with technologies that will allow to localize production and intensify economic activity in the production, where construction will take place. In addition, two Sandown-class minesweepers will be handed over to Ukraine. Ukraine also purchased British icebreaker James Clark Ross for the National Antarctic Research Center. The research icebreaker was given the symbolic name «Noosphere», in honor of the teachings of Ukrainian scientist Volodymyr Vernadsky, and will provide logistics for the Ukrainian Antarctic station «Academician Vernadsky».

Economic cooperation between the two countries has significantly intensified. In the first half of this year, bilateral trade has increased by more than 70%. This was noted during a meeting between Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Borys Johnson during their participation in the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. In New York, the Heads of states also discussed further political dialogue activities at the highest level, including the inauguration meeting of the Strategic Partnership Dialogue. Volodymyr Zelenskyy invited Borys Johnson to pay an official visit to Kyiv, but it is likely that the next meeting will take place not in Ukraine, but in a Great Britain. Ambassador of Ukraine Vadym Prystaiko said that a high-level delegation headed by the President is expected in the near future and announced a meeting between Ukraine and the United Kingdom at the level of foreign ministers as part of a strategic dialogue. The ambassador also said that Ukraine would receive missile weapons and warships from Great Britain. «Four areas that will strengthen the capacity of our navy will be implemented and announced in the near future... I am convinced that two operating ships will be purchased in the near future, i.e. they are already constructed, and will immediately become part of the Navy forces. Also the work will begin on the construction of two naval ports, and the construction of smaller ships will begin in Ukraine and Great Britain».[1]

According to The Times, it is about the sale of surface-to-surface missiles for Ukrainian patrol boats and air-to-ground missiles for the aircraft. According to the publication, the British Ministry of Defense is discussing the sale of naval missiles of the «ground-to-ground» class, which can hit a «swarm»of targets at the same time and will be placed on ships of the Ukrainian Navy. The countries are also discussing Brimstone air-to-ground missiles, which are estimated to cost more than £ 100,000 each for Ukrainian aircraft. The British Air Force used Brimstone missiles against Islamic State because they could hit small, fast-moving targets.[2] The meeting of the leaders of the two countries and the signing of the agreement will probably take place in November, after the G-20 summit in Rome.

Cooperation between Ukraine and the United Kingdom has intensified in recent years. The large number of high-level meetings confirms the strategic nature of relations between the two states, which aim to counter Russian aggression. The agreements signed by the parties are being effectively implemented and have a positive impact on building Ukraine's resilience and strengthening its military capabilities. The greatest efforts are aimed at building the Ukrainian fleet. The United Kingdom has become one of Ukraine's most powerful partners in the context of Volodymyr Zelenskyy's strategy of establishing of a bilateral strategic partnership with a number of countries, as well as regional alliances involving countries with shared concerns about Russia's aggressive policy in the Baltic-Black Sea region.