Documents to download

Situation around Ukraine: “fluid and unpredictable”

The situation in and around Ukraine “remains fluid and unpredictable” according to NATO’s Secretary General. NATO Foreign Ministers discussed Russia’s intentions towards Ukraine, amid recent build-up of Russian troops along Ukraine’s border, at a meeting on 30 November in Latvia.

Commenting before the meeting, Liz Truss, the UK Foreign Secretary, said any aggressive action by Russia would be a “strategic mistake.” Following the meeting Jens Stoltenberg said any further Russian aggressive “would come at a high price” for Russia.  The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, speaking after bilateral talks with his Russian counterpart, warned Russia against any further aggressive action against Ukraine.

For its part, Russia denies any plans to invade Ukraine and says it is the Alliance’s deployment of an anti-missile defence system along its eastern front that is bringing back the “nightmare scenario of military confrontation”. Further discussion of Russia’s build-up of military forces in April 2021 can be found in Library briefing paper: Crisis averted in Ukraine? CBP-9205.

Ukraine/NATO relations

Relations date back to Ukraine’s independence in 1991, when it first joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. Since then, relations have deepened and Ukraine has actively contributed to NATO-led operations and missions.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 sparked a further deepening of relations and NATO’s practical support for Ukraine is set out in the Comprehensive Assistance Package. This supports Ukraine’s goal to implement security and defence sector reforms according to NATO standards through capacity building programmes. In June 2020 Ukraine was granted Enhanced Opportunity Partner status in the Alliance which gives the country preferential access to NATO exercises, training and exchanges of information. Detailed information and further background is available on NATO’s website: Relations with Ukraine.

Ukraine reaffirms intent to join NATO

Ukraine has long aspired to join NATO and in 2019 amended the constitution committing the country to becoming a member of the Alliance. Ukraine’s 2020 National Security Strategy similarly aspires to membership of NATO. NATO’s 2021 summit ended with a reaffirmation of the 2008 decision for Ukraine to become a member through a membership action plan (para 69 of the Brussels Summit Communiqué). However, it gave no timetable to do so and NATO’s Secretary General has said Ukraine “needs to do more” to fulfil promised reforms.

Ministers have reaffirmed the UK’s support for Ukraine’s NATO membership aspirations, including during an adjournment debate on Ukraine in May 2021.

UK military assistance to Ukraine

UK military assistance to Ukraine is longstanding but has been expanded, at the request of the Ukrainian government.

In 2015 the UK launched Operation Orbital, a non-lethal training and capacity building operation to support the Ukrainian armed forces. The MOD has also gifted non-lethal military equipment. Further information on this, and other western support to Ukraine, can be found in Library briefing paper: Military assistance to Ukraine, SN07135.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin, reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to Ukraine’s security and territorial integrity during a visit to Kyiv in August 2021 to mark the country’s thirtieth anniversary of independence.

The UK is supporting Ukraine’s efforts to boost its naval capabilities. The UK, Ukraine and industry signed a Memorandum of Implementation in June 2021 that will see Ukraine receive two Royal Navy Sandown-class minehunters, assistance in building new naval bases in the Black Sea and Azov Sea, and the development and joint production of eight new missile vessels. Babcock International is the primary partner, with funding made available by UK Export Finance. In November the UK and Ukraine signed an Intergovernmental Framework Agreement further progressing these joint projects.

Documents to download

Related posts