In the context of the military-political crisis provoked by the concentration of Russian troops around the borders of Ukraine, Ukrainian diplomacy has significantly intensified its activity. A special focus was concentrated on interaction with the main partners of the state - the member states of the European Union and NATO. Due to the actions of Russia, including the aggravation in Donbas, a number of telephone conversations were held, in particular with the US Secretary of State, the Foreign Ministers of Germany and Sweden, the High Representative of the European Union and many other foreign representatives, while the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, in turn, came directly to Kyiv to discuss the security situation. The parties discussed the deepening of military and political cooperation and also agreed to make joint efforts to consolidate effective international support for Ukraine in countering Russian military aggression. The ministers paid special attention to the issue of strengthening interaction between Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania in the format of the «Lublin Triangle». A week after the meeting of foreign ministers, Poland called for tougher sanctions against Russia for undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Other traditional allies, the Baltic states, have also shown solidarity with Ukraine, making statements in support of providing Ukraine with MAP. On April 7, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said this would be «a strong signal for Russia», stressing that NATO countries appreciate the course chosen by Ukraine. On the same day, Latvian Foreign Minister Rinkevics said that he would definitely support such a decision, since Ukraine has been trying to join the North Atlantic Alliance for 15 years. And already on April 15, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia made a joint visit to Kyiv.
In early April, a number of states, mainly in the Baltic-Black Sea region, which directly border Russia, expressed their support for Ukraine's accession to NATO and the provision of the Membership Action Plan. In addition to the aforementioned Baltic states and Poland, this position was confirmed by the Republic of Turkey in the joint declaration of the Ninth Meeting of the High-Level Strategic Council between Ukraine and Turkey.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba also raised the issue of obtaining a MAP and Ukraine's accession to the North Atlantic Alliance during a meeting with Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on April 13. This meeting took place in the framework of a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which was convened at the initiative of Ukraine. Dmytro Kuleba, in particular, called on NATO member states to strengthen sanctions against Russia, as well as to provide military support amid the escalating situation in Donbas and around the Ukrainian border.
The Minister noted: «The price, some measures, which we are talking about, may look costly, but the price of prevention, will still be lower than the price of stopping the war and mitigating its consequences. So it's better to act now to prevent Russia from further escalating the situation». In addition, Mr. Kuleba recalled the decision of the Bucharest Summit, which confirmed that Ukraine would become a member of the Alliance in the future.
Jens Stoltenberg, in turn, emphasized that Ukraine is an Enhanced Opportunities Partner and cooperation will continue within this program. The Secretary General also stressed after Ukraine adopts alliance's standards it is for the 30 NATO allies to decide whether Ukraine is ready for NATO membership. According to him, Russia is now trying to re-stablish a sphere of influence, where they try to decide what neighbours can do. «It's a sovereign right of Ukraine to apply for membership, but that is the right for the 30 allies to decide when membership is going to be offered. We are supporting efforts of Ukraine to reform, and modernize, reform is the only path, the best way towards further Euro Atlantic integration, and we strongly reject the idea that we hear from Moscow that Russia has a kind of veto, a right to deny other countries, the sovereign right to decide its own path, including what kind of security arrangements they want to be part of, including a membership of NATO» – underlined Mr. Stoltenberg. On the one hand, the Secretary General assured Ukraine of the alliance's support and sent a clear signal to the Kremlin about the inadmissibility of dividing Europe into zones of influence. On the other hand, the North Atlantic Alliance has not officially provided Ukraine with any guarantees of practical assistance in the event of full-scale aggression from the Russian Federation, at least publicly.
Separately, France and Germany also expressed their position, publishing a joint statement by their foreign ministries on April 3, in which they expressed concern about ceasefire violations in the East of Ukraine. The statement was issued three days after Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron called on Vladimir Putin to stabilize the situation in Donbas during telephone talks. In addition, European leaders offered to hold a meeting in the Normandy format to discuss the implementation of the Minsk agreements. However, the Kremlin is not currently interested in de-escalating the conflict.
According to the Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Ihor Zhovkva, right after the start of the aggravation, Ukraine immediately requested for negotiations with all three representatives of the «Normandy Four». The Kremlin refused. Also, Russia refused to provide explanations about its military activities near the border with Ukraine during a Ukraine-initiated meeting in the OSCE. France and Germany once again condemned Moscow's destructive position and expressed support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. After that, on April 9, it was reported about the preparations for the visit of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Paris.
The Ukrainian and French sides are in constant dialogue with the aim of exchanging information on the situation in Donbas and around the borders of Ukraine. In particular, this week the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Andriy Taran held a meeting with the Ambassador of France, during which he stated that for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the deployment of forward command posts and an extensive command and control system of the Russian Federation troops has been recorded near the Ukrainian borders. «We cannot afford to underestimate the situation and are fully aware that Russia is capable of planning for Ukraine a repetition of the Georgian scenario of 2008. For this, provocations can be used to accuse the Armed Forces of Ukraine of attacking civilians, especially since there are already more than 400,000 people who were issued Russian passports in the occupied territories», Andriy Taran said. In response, the French ambassador promised to convey this information to the leadership of his country.
Realizing the danger to the whole region posed by a possible full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, European states expressed strong support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and condemned Russia's destructive actions, which seek to create an image of a peacemaker and protector of the Russian-speaking population. However, so far Ukraine has not received assurances of EU and NATO readiness to defend Ukraine in the event of the expansion of Russian armed aggression. Also, the issue of providing practical assistance in the form of arms supplies remains unanswered.