Opinion: Lithuania’s strategy for long-term support to Ukraine

Moscow has currently been implementing its long-term strategy in Ukraine to create a new frozen conflict in Eastern Ukraine by military means.

The key aim behind the creation of chaos in the country is to destroy Ukraine economically and financially, prevent Ukraine from implementing reforms and from establishing closer ties with the European Union, thereby inducing moral and political frustration of the Ukrainian population.

The desperate efforts by the Kremlin – if not to prevent the ratification of the EU–Ukraine Association Agreement, then at least to postpone enforcement of an important free trade part of the Association Agreement (which Moscow has succeeded in achieving) – are a testament to that. This way, Moscow hopes to win some time to discredit European reforms to be implemented in Ukraine, which eventually will allow Russia to recover its political domination over the entire Ukraine.

Both Lithuania and the entire Western world have so far been looking for diplomatic ways, including sanctions, to stop Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Actions of the kind are significant as they are gradually are producing good results. They are nevertheless insufficient to demonstrate to Moscow that it will not succeed in attaining its main goal, i.e., to destroy Ukraine economically and politically.

Therefore, the Western community, together with Lithuania, have to start immediately implementing a strategy for long-term support to Ukraine, which would target not only aspects of direct economic and military assistance but also support for reforms in Ukraine and its long-term foreign policy objective of a full-fledged EU membership.

While being a member of the Western Community, Lithuania has to aim at ensuring that this community has such an assistance strategy in place and implements it. To this end, Lithuania must draft its own strategy for long-term support to Ukraine. We have drafted the key provisions of the strategy and submitted them to the Committee on European Affairs of the Seimas. We believe that they will facilitate further discussions and help to arrive at a consensus over the need for and the content of the strategy.

The key provisions of the draft strategy:

I. Support for Ukraine’s security.

1. Training of high-ranking military officers for the Ukrainian armed forces. The General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania offers studies for 30 Ukrainian military officers. The Academy also develops a partnership programme with the best military academies of the West (USA, Germany) for the training of these military officers.

2. Drawing on the successful experience gained by Lithuania in 1990s when the Danish military shared their knowledge with the Lithuanian officers, the Training Regiment of the Lithuanian Armed Forces stationed in Rukla implements a wide-range training programme for Ukrainian military officers while at the same time providing them with clothing and other necessary equipment.

3. Lithuania accepts a few hundred Ukrainian soldiers who have suffered during the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and undertakes to cover the costs of their treatment and rehabilitation.

4. Lithuania directly and in large quantities supplies the Ukrainian armed forces with the necessary clothing, military vests and other equipment. Insofar as the available capacity permits, Lithuania and NATO partners provide Ukraine with ammunition and weapons.

II. Support for reforms in Ukraine.

1. Lithuania offers “Support for Reforms” package to Ukraine, which consists of a comprehensive list of reforms, a system of expert services and their financing (with the funds from Lithuania, the EU and the World Bank) and a reform implementation scheme. Lithuania offers financial and expert support in its areas Lithuania of necessary expertise and knowledge, including, but not limited to, privatisation, regulation of monopolies; reform of state-owned enterprises, public of procurement, legal and energy systems, financing of political parties and election campaigns; and ensuring transparent business environment.

2. Lithuania implements a Reform Twinning programme in the key areas subject to reform. Under the programme, Lithuanian institutions engaged in the field of reforms are responsible for assisting respective institutions in Ukraine by sending its experts to Ukraine and offering long-term work experience placements to officials from Ukrainian institutions in respective Lithuanian institutions. To this end, Lithuania establishes a necessary institutional framework to ensure smooth transfer of experience and knowledge to Ukraine through the implementation of the entire “Support for Reforms” package.

III. Support for long-term establishment of a modern future of Ukraine.

1. Lithuania establishes 500 grants of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to be offered to gifted students from Ukraine to pursue Bachelor, Master and Doctoral studies in Lithuanian universities.

2. Lithuania implements a special Young Leaders’ Training Programme, which provides young Ukrainian professionals with an opportunity to serve their apprenticeship in Lithuanian high technology companies or innovation enterprises.

IV. Support for Ukraine by exploiting the opportunities arising from Lithuania’s membership of international organisations

1. Lithuania initiates the review of the EU budget 2014–2020 with a view to allocating at least 3 % from the currently available EU budget totalling EUR 1000 billion for the implementation of the new Marshall Plan, thus establishing a financial assistance instrument for Ukraine in the amount of at least EUR 30 billion.

2. Lithuania strives for a clear EU commitment to grant a formal membership perspective to associated Eastern Partnership countries (Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia) at the Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Riga, during the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2015.

3. Lithuania will undertake all measures necessary to conclude the negotiations over a visa-free regime between the EU and Ukraine as soon as possible.

4. Lithuania commences negotiations with Western partners in order to establish a suitable and efficient international mechanism to register and evaluate the damage inflicted on Ukraine by the occupation of Crimea. This would allow Ukraine to demand that Russia compensate for the damage of the occupation.

5. With the participation and mediation of Lithuanian major (traditional) political parties, Lithuania creates and develops a long-term inter-party diplomacy initiative, which is a state-funded platform for cooperation between Western political parties and political forces in Ukraine, with a view to consolidating the political parties in the country and reforming them according to the Western model. The initiative should function according to the model of Western foundations (such as, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Friedrich Ebert Foundation or Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Germany). Such model was successfully adapted for cooperation and transfer of experience in Lithuania and other Central and Eastern European countries.

Andrius Kubilius, is the opposition leader of the Lithuanian Seimas; Audronius Ažubalis is the shadow minister of foreign affairs of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats.

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