Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Foreign Policy Research Institute

tel. +38 (044) 287 52 58

The security of Europe must be underpinned by subregional integration


On July 28, 2020, a meeting of the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania took place in Lublin, as a result of which a new format of cooperation between the three states was created - the «Lublin Triangle». During the period of existence of this institutional mechanism, Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland have developed a strategic partnership through joint consultations and coordination of positions within international organizations. Meetings were held at the level of Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs as well as at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The foreign ministries of the countries also contributed to the development of the youth dimension of the Lublin Triangle to intensify contacts at the civic level. In December 2021, two summits took place within the Lublin Triangle, on December 2 in the format of a video conference, and on December 20, the leaders of the three states held the first summit at the Synyohora residence in Ivano-Frankivsk region.

Prior to the meeting of the presidents, the countries of the Lublin Triangle demonstrated a fairly close level of cooperation. Against the background of the migration crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border, the Ministers of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania held consultations and discussed possible options for response on the part of law enforcement agencies. According to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Denys Monastyrskyy, the heads of the Border Guard Service, the National Police, the National Guard and the relevant leaders of the other two states were involved in this process. The security situation was also discussed at the level of Deputy Foreign Ministers, who met on December 11 at Lubart Castle in Lutsk. In addition, the 11th session of the Interparliamentary Assembly was held in December, at which the parliamentarians of the three countries called on the international community to strengthen restrictive measures and sanctions against the Russian Federation until full restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders.

The current Ukrainian leadership has relied on the promotion of regional initiatives as a means of gradual integration into Euro-Atlantic structures and strengthening the security conditions around the country. This year, Lithuania and Poland were among the first countries to sign the Declaration on Ukraine's European Perspective, recognizing that Ukraine has a European perspective under Article 49 of the EU Treaty and reaffirming their intention to assist the country in this path. The two states have in fact become Ukraine's lobbyists in the EU and NATO.

This is happening against the background of the rift in the North Atlantic Alliance, since Western European countries have a different from Eastern Europe position on Russia. Obviously, the vast majority of the continent's states recognize the Russian threat, however, offer different approaches to deterring it. In this respect, the position of Lithuania and Poland coincides with the position of Ukraine. In late November, Andrzej Duda proposed to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to increase the readiness of NATO forces on the eastern flank, to consider increasing the military presence, as well as strengthening missions such as Air Policing or any surveillance missions. According to him, such actions should show all potential aggressors that NATO is ready to protect Allies, as well as pay attention to the security of non-NATO allies.[1]

First of all, the President of Poland meant Ukraine, which is at risk of a full-scale Russian invasion. Andrzej Duda's position is supported by the general opinion of the population. According to a poll conducted by SW Research for Rzeczpospolita, 61.9% of Poles believe that in the event of a Russian attack on Ukraine, NATO should provide military support to Kyiv.[2] Lithuania, in turn, represented by Defense Minister Arvidas Anushauskas, has stated its readiness to hand over lethal weapons to Ukraine amid a threat from Russia. It is symbolic that this statement was made by the Minister during a joint briefing with the Minister of Defense of Germany, a country that still refuses to supply and sell weapons to Ukraine.

Common security threats contribute to the integration of the three states. The issues of security and defense became central in a joint statement adopted following the first summit of the Lublin Triangle in Guta, Ivano-Frankivsk region. The parties expressed particular concern at the continuing deterioration of the security situation and stability in the region and agreed on the need of joint efforts to strengthen their resilience in the face of those threats in order to counter them in a more efficient and coordinated manner. The Nord Stream 2 project, the migration crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border, as well as Russian aggression are listed among the threats in the statement. Poland and Lithuania reaffirmed their full support for Ukraine's membership in the EU and NATO. This support is based on the democratic tradition of the three countries, which is also indicated in the adopted document.

In this context, the struggle for democracy of the Belarusian people is mentioned. This point indicates that the Lublin Triangle is currently incomplete and in the long run a democratic Belarus should join this Eastern European project. In the last section of the statement, the Lublin Triangle countries called on the international community to step up sanctions on the Russian Federation over its ongoing aggression against Ukraine and once again urged the Kremlin to deescalate the situation by withdrawing its troops from the Ukrainian borders and temporarily occupied territories. There is a fundamental difference in the approach of the Lublin Triangle countries to relations with Russia. The three states have no illusions about the essence of Russia's policy and therefore call on the international community to strengthen sanctions now. The pacification of the Russian Federation is not working, and the sanctions imposed ex post facto will certainly not be able to prevent full-scale Russian aggression.

At the summit, Andrzej Duda recalled the words of former Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who in 2008, when Russia attacked Georgia, stated: «Today it's Georgia, tomorrow it will be Ukraine, then it will be the Baltic States and later it may well be my own country, Poland».[3] In the absence of an adequate joint response to Russian aggression from Europe and the United States, the Lublin Triangle states, which share common interests and a sense of threat, are deepening their strategic partnership. This contributes to the resilience of the participating countries, as well as to the strengthening of the European security system as a whole. Volodymyr Zelenskyy's strategy to create regional initiatives leads to Ukraine's de facto integration into NATO and the EU, but leaves open the question of a political decision on the country's accession to the Alliance.