A Talk by Dr Olena Bordilovska on ‘The Foreign Policy of Independent Ukraine’

Security is the number one issue for every country. Many now say it was a mistake on our part to give up nuclear weapons. People do miss the socialist era in Ukraine. We see our ties growing with Pakistan. Watch Video

Pakistan is considered to be a reliable and practical friend of Ukraine and Islamabad and Kiev are finding new ways to strengthen economic ties between the two countries. On 8 May 2017, Dr Olena Bordilovska spoke at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on the problems presently confronting Ukraine, which, of course, is still plagued by Russian imperialism long years after the failure of communism and the dismantling of the USSR. Ukrainian ambitions of European Union membership raised eyebrows in Moscow. Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko says that his country intends to apply for EU membership by 2020 and dubbed the signing of the economic part of the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement in 2014 as Ukraine’s “first but most decisive step” towards that goal. In 2014, Ukraine became a major flashpoint in international relations because of Russian meddling in Ukrainian affairs. As the world watched many innocents lost their lives.

The Obama administration waged a war of words against the Kremlin but since Obama’s bark was clearly worse than his bite, Putin decided to put Ukraine on the back burner and an emboldened Russia decided to expand its military activities by entering the much bloodier arena of the Syrian war. Among other things, the 12-point Minsk Agreement ensured: an immediate bilateral ceasefire in Ukraine; the monitoring and verification of the ceasefire by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); decentralisation of power; the permanent monitoring of the Ukrainian-Russian border; immediate release of all hostages and illegally detained persons; and the withdrawal of illegal armed groups and military equipment as well as fighters and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine.

However, Moscow has elected to continue its belligerent behaviour in what used to be its backyard, i.e. the former USSR’s third largest constituent republic. Consequently, the Trump administration – which may well have been elected as a consequence of Russian interference and electioneering – has threatened to enhance the sanctions against Moscow.

Reportage of Dr Olena Bordilovska’s talk is available below.

‘Ukraine reducing UN peacekeeping missions to deal with own conflicts’ in Dawn

Ukrainian soldiers have served as peacekeepers with Pakistani soldiers in Bosnia but Ukraine is reducing its participation in such activities now because the country has its own conflicts to look into for which it needs its men, said Dr Olena Bordilovska, an expert on international relations, during her talk at PIIA on Monday.

However, she said, Ukraine is a peaceful country.

“We don’t want any disputes with our neighbours,” she said coming to their being the third biggest country with tactical as well as strategic military weapons. “But we signed the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances document to give up our nuclear arsenal,” she added.

Dr Bordilovska, associate professor at the Institute of International Relations, Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University, Ukraine, was speaking on the ‘Foreign Policy of Independent Ukraine’.

She explained that the country gave up its nuclear arsenal:

because although we were the third largest potential nuclear power, we could not control it because the control was still with Russia though we were no longer a part of USSR. It was also very expensive to take care of for Ukraine.

And Dr Bordilovska remarked further:

Then there were also pressure from the world on Ukraine as we could not be trusted as a peaceful country with our nuclear weapons … so we gave it all up, which many now say was a mistake on our part.

Enmity with Russia

She said that the enmity with Russia affected their economy, while antiterrorist operations claimed the life of some 10,000 Ukrainians. “But it has made our army stronger. In strength it is eighth in Europe,” she added.

“We have been a member of the United Nations since 1945, when we were a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and at the moment we are a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council,” she said.

During her talk, she also explained why the people of her country identify themselves more with Europeans. “We want to be considered a part of the European Union because we are in Europe,” she said.

“Located in central Eastern Europe and positioned between West Europe and Russia and Europe and Asia, Ukraine, a democratic state for the last 25 years, faces several challenges. Though we want to be good and reliable neighbours to all, we have many territorial disputes with Russia,” she said.

Speaking about the GUAM Organisation for Democracy and Economic Development, which has four post-Soviet states – Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova – as its members, she said the organisation promoted democratic values and worked to enhance regional security while looking forward to European integration.

The Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, a regional international organisation focusing on multilateral political and economic initiatives aimed at fostering cooperation, peace, stability and prosperity in the Black Sea region, could have borne fruit but for the sanctions on Russia. “Many of its projects were stopped due to this,” she said.

She also brought up the Ukraine and Nato partnership since the 1997 charter. “Security issue is the number one issue for every country,” she said. “The partnership helped our country experience a change in standards of military equipment. The joint exercises are very helpful as well.”

Pak-Ukraine relations

Coming to Ukraine and its relations with Pakistan, Dr Bordilovska, who speaks good Urdu, said that they had a lot of Pakistani students at their university.

“When I was in Islamabad earlier, I saw long lines at the Ukrainian embassy there for visa. Many people here want to visit [Ukraine]. Recently, there was also an MOU signed between your Quaid-i-Azam University and Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University,” she said.

“We also had a common friend in the Muslim scholar Allama Mohammad Asad, who played a part in the penning of Pakistan’s Constitution. He was from the part of Austria which is now Ukraine,” she said.

“Pakistan Army’s Al-Khalid tank also has Ukrainian transmissions,” she added.

“Ukraine, which was once the bread basket of USSR, produces pulses, which are imported [for] Pakistan. We also grow sunflower. Our sunflower oil is also imported by your country. On the other hand, your citrus fruit is growing very well in our country,” she concluded.

‘Ukrainian researcher says Pak-Ukraine ties are strengthening’ in The Express Tribune

A Ukrainian teacher, foreign policy analyst and researcher who has written as many as 70 research articles, including on the Kashmir issue and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, spoke at length about issues regarding her country at PIIA on Monday.

Olena Bordilovska, an associate professor at the Institute of International Relations of the Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University, discussed her country and its ties with Pakistan and the world. She said:

Formerly we were the bread basket of the USSR but today we can feed the people with our agricultural produce and we see our ties growing with Pakistan.

She argued that what had really hit her country hard was the Crimean annexation in 2014. Though they had given up their rights to the use of nuclear assets, the global powers did not abide by their promise to safeguard Ukrainian territory.

Bordilovska said Ukraine had warm relations with all its neighbouring countries but Russia’s supremacist attitude was troublesome for them and remarked:

For the past two years Ukraine has not been dependent on Russian gas. We are neighbours, but not partners.

In the recent annexation, she said Russia had occupied 12 per cent of Ukrainian territory and killed 10,000 of its citizens. She attributed these as, “sad stories which have resulted in conflict, leading to the deaths of 10,000 Ukrainian citizens from 2014 to 2017”.

On a positive note, she shared that many Pakistani students travelled to Ukraine to study medicine or engineering. About the Ukrainian youth, she noted, they hoped to be a part of the European Union someday.

She pointed out that Ukraine was in a transition mode and said:

Though we said our final goodbye to communism 25 years ago and Ukraine is now a liberal democratic set-up where communism is prohibited, the older generation misses the socialist policies when they were offered free healthcare and education.

‘People do miss socialist era in Ukraine’ in The News International

People who are old enough do miss the era of socialism in Ukraine when it was a constituent of the USSR as the living of every citizen there was subsidised by the state and the individual was provided all necessities of life. His welfare was the total responsibility of the state.

This was stated by Dr Olena Bordilovska, associate professor at the Institute of International Relations, Kyiev Taras Shevchenko National University, while speaking at a roundtable discussion on Monday evening at PIIA in reply to a question in that regard.

She said people who were old enough did miss that era most nostalgically because the state took responsibility for the welfare of every citizen and life was far easier then, but that could not be said for the youngsters, the under-25s, as they had not seen the socialist era and thus were not able to speak about it.

Presently, Dr Bordilovska said, they had the system whereby there were institutions in the private sector too, apart from government universities and hospitals in the public sector.

Presenting a profile of Ukraine, she said that it was the “biggest country in Europe”, with a population of 43 million and a landmass of 603.700 square kilometers. Ukraine, she said, was a founding member of the United Nations (1945) and the WTO (2008).

Talking about Ukraine’s foreign policy, she said Ukraine did not participate in any Russia-led integrational projects.

She said that currently, Ukraine attached a lot of importance to its ties and cooperation with Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), and every year joint military exercises with the organisation were held.

She said Ukraine’s Europe-oriented policy did not restrict development of relationships with other regions of the world. She said South Asia, China and other countries of the region figured prominently. She said there were lots of Pakistani students in Ukraine, mostly studying medicine and engineering.

Dr Bordilovska said Ukraine was broadening trade and economic cooperation avenues and the giant AN-132-N aircraft that had been developed with the Saudi Arabian Corporation had just been test-flown.

“Right now our army stands at 250,000, the largest in Europe,” she said.

Recently, she said, the European parliament had voted to give Ukraine a visa-free status. She said cooperation within the region was carried on within the framework of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).

Asked by a questioner about Ukraine’s stand on the Kashmir issue, she said:

No. Ukraine has never participated in this debate. Can’t say anything about Kashmir.

When pressed by the questioner for a definite answer who cited the gross human rights violations taking place in Kashmir, like state-sponsored killings, physical torture and rape, she replied, “Human Rights violations have been taking place all over the world and cited human rights violations in Crimea when Russia “annexed” it.

Posted by Editor

As explained in an earlier post, in November 2017, PIIA will be hosting some special events in relation to our Seventieth Anniversary. Coverage of our recent events can be found via the links below:


Filed under Disarmament, Discussion, Energy, Europe, Human Rights, Pakistan Horizon, Russia, Ukraine

5 responses to “A Talk by Dr Olena Bordilovska on ‘The Foreign Policy of Independent Ukraine’

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