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Foreign Policy Research Institute

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“Lublin Triangle” Expresses solidarity in support of Ukraine on prospects for EU and NATO Membership

On May 3, 2021, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy paid a working visit to the Republic of Poland. During his visit, Volodymyr Zelenskyy took part in the celebrations marking the 230-th anniversary of the Polish Constitution and in a discussion with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, during which the prospects for the future of the European Union as a whole and Ukraine's possible accession to the EU were discussed. Thus, the states expressed their vision of the development of the European Union and the place of Eastern European countries led by Poland in the organization. The Baltic countries, together with Poland, traditionally support Ukraine against the background of Russian armed aggression, and with the start of the “Lublin Triangle” between Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania, practical cooperation between the states was institutionalized and gained the prospect of increasing the weight of the participating countries in the Eastern European region.

This time, the leaders signed a joint document reaffirming their countries' commitment to the principles of freedom, sovereignty, territorial integrity, democracy, the rule of law, equality and solidarity. Accordingly, the document demonstrates the solidarity of states against the background of Russian aggression in Ukraine and its policy in the Baltic-Black Sea region as a whole. In this context, the affiliation of states to European civilization was emphasized. There is also a clear message about the position of the signatory countries to Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic course: «A uniting Europe should remain open to all countries and nations which share the above-mentioned values. We approach with understanding and support the persistent strivings of all the peoples of our region, with whom our nations are joined by common historical fate, and who wish to enjoy today, just as we do, the blessings of freedom and democracy while courageously demanding that their rights be respected». The President of Estonia even suggested considering the possibility of providing funding from the funds of the Three Seas Initiative to support Ukraine.

Separately, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Andrzej Duda signed a joint bilateral Declaration on Ukraine's European perspective. This is the second such document concluded between Ukraine and the European Union state. Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed the same declaration with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda in March this year. The text of the joint declaration of leaders stipulates Ukraine's European perspective in accordance with Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, and Poland thus assures the Ukrainian side of its intention to support Ukraine's accession after the implementation of the Association Agreement subject to the Copenhagen criteria. On May 8, Latvia became the third country to sign such a declaration.

Duda also reaffirmed that Poland and other friends of Ukraine in NATO support the provision of the NATO Membership Action Plan to Ukraine in the near future. The Polish president said that the leaders of the two countries «discussed the upcoming NATO summit to be held in Brussels in mid-June ... Summit participants will discuss a formal definition of the path which Ukraine should follow towards membership in the North Atlantic Alliance - a roadmap to this membership». According to Duda, this is now «a fundamental cause» which Ukraine is fighting for.[1] In addition, Duda accepted the invitation of Volodymyr Zelenskyy to take part in the Crimean Platform summit, which will be held during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence in August this year. Volodymyr Zelenskyy also noted that the historical issues that exist between the two countries will soon be resolved, since both sides want this.[2]

The topic of Ukraine was also raised at the summit of the Bucharest Nine, which took place on May 10, 2021. The Bucharest Nine, an initiative launched by Romania and Poland after the Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014 to discuss and coordinate a common security policy, is considered to be the voice of NATO's Eastern flank. This year's summit was aimed at developing a common position of the nine states at the NATO summit in June. The meeting was held in a mixed format - the presidents of Poland and Romania - Andrzej Duda and Klaus Johannes were joined by video conference by the presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia, as well as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Joe Biden, the President of the United States. Biden's presence at the summit demonstrates the US role and interest in the security situation in the Baltic-Black Sea region.

The parties discussed security issues in the context of countering the threat posed by the Russian Federation and discussed the vision of the future North Atlantic Alliance. The states in their joint declaration, in particular, condemned Russia's aggressive maneuvers around Ukraine's borders, in the Black Sea and in the territory of the illegally occupied Crimea. The Bucharest Nine also condemned Russia's sabotage actions in the alliance's member states, as evidenced by the explosions in Vrbetice and what in fact is a gross violation of international law. Concerns were expressed about similar actions in Bulgaria. The tenth and eleventh paragraphs of the declaration outline the commitment to NATO's open door policy in line with the alliance's decision at the 2008 Bucharest summit, and call on countries aspiring to join the alliance to continue implementing the necessary reforms. This message is addressed to Ukraine and Georgia, as well as Moldova, whose Euro-Atlantic aspirations the G9 states intend to support. «We also reaffirm our firm support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, within their internationally recognized borders. While pursuing their respective European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, these countries will continue to benefit as well from our support in their efforts to strengthen their resilience against any external interference».[3]

Given the passivity of the EU leaders France and Germany and differences in views on relations with the Russian Federation, the eastern member states of the European Union seek to increase their weight in the European Union through closer cooperation. In the security dimension, the North Atlantic Alliance is considered as the main instrument for countering the Russian Federation, and the role of the United States and its readiness to support Eastern European states plays a key role in the prospect of these states to be heard. Although Ukraine is not a member of the EU and NATO, Eastern European countries openly show support for Ukraine, in particular, lobbying for potential accession to NATO and the EU, while cooperation in regional formats actually brings Ukraine closer to this goal. In this context, the signing of the Declarations on Ukraine's European Perspective with the leaders of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia and the statement of Andrzej Duda in support of granting Ukraine a MAP were indicative.