The looming political changes in the U.S. have once again sparked an active discussion in Ukrainian political and expert circles on how they will affect Ukraine's relations with the West? Will Western support, so vital for Ukraine, remain in place? What place will Ukraine occupy in U.S. foreign policy?
However, today's domestic discourse in Ukraine seems to boil down to discussing the details from the biography of the new American Dream Team members, making attempts to interpret their first press releases, and harboring somewhat naive hopes that Ukraine will become a new foreign and security policy priority for the new administration in Washington D.C.
It's obvious that for Ukraine, the time of simple solutions in foreign policy has passed
Instead, the country should move onto a more strategic level, seeking real answers to the pressing questions facing Ukraine today: how exactly should we act to secure Western support in the confrontation with Russia, and what should we do about it?
It's obvious that for Ukraine, the time of simple solutions in foreign policy for Ukraine has passed. Old-school approaches only aggravate things and make policies ineffective. Today, the country's course should be pursued consistently and flexibly at several levels: ranging from communication with the leadership of major international alliances, including the European Union and NATO, to constant and pro-active bilateral cooperation in all areas.
After the obvious failure in the Belarusian direction, it's more than positive that Kyiv has finally shown solidarity with the EU countries in their position on Minsk, with the latter now being openly supported by Moscow. The latest joint Russian-Belarusian innovation is the creation of a so-called "single sanction perimeter" that will align today's Belarus even more tightly to Russia's anti-Western stance.
Undoubtedly, Ukraine should pursue this line in the future
Undoubtedly, Ukraine should pursue this line in the future – to actively condemn the human rights violations by the Lukashenko regime and speak openly about it, especially in the European media. This will not only bring Kyiv closer to the EU politically, but will ultimately do much more for Ukraine's image in Europe than a dozen government meetings (which, of course, are much needed, as well).
Cooperation with NATO should also get Ukraine involved in political discussions on the future of the Alliance, joint response to challenges and threats, in particular in the Black Sea region, and relevant cooperation projects in defense industry.
Comprehensive development of relations with partner countries that really help our country in deterring Russian aggression should become an unconditional priority for the country's leadership. Moreover, the importance of these relations for the country is increasing from year to year and should already be considered politically and practically as an integral part of national security.
We need to constantly expand and strengthen our relations with the US, UK, Canada, Poland, Romania, and Lithuania. Relations with Turkey should be developed on a pragmatic basis. Other European countries should not be left out either. We also need to have a meaningful dialogue with them, arguing the importance of Ukraine's security for the indivisible security of Europe, constantly emphasizing the growing threat to peace on our continent emanating from Russia's aggressive policy.
That is, paraphrasing the well-known statement by U.S. President John F. Kennedy, don't ask what the West can do for Ukraine – ask what Ukraine can do to bring relations with the West to a completely different level – a stable, predictable, and true partnership.
Maybe then no one will have to once again look for hints between the lines in press releases.
Oleg Belokolos is Chairman of the Board at the Maidan of Foreign Affairs Foundation