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Ukraine-Belarus: state and prospects
Material posted: Publication date: 10-02-2011

Count separate a qualitatively new stage of bilateral relations at the level of political contacts can be considered as the fall of 2008, after the parliamentary elections in Belarus. Although the Ukrainian official position regarding the dialogue with Minsk traditionally been oriented towards the West, in this period there is a clear correction of the foreign policy positions of Kiev after Brussels.

The current state of political relations between Ukraine and Belarus

Confirmation of this position would be the fact that the statements of Kiev in unison with Brussels about support for liberal steps in Belarus.

At the same time, despite the failed summit of heads of state, the European direction has given a common platform for rapprochement of Ukraine and Belarus, as far as possible in terms of the differences in political systems and foreign policy priorities. The impetus for this was two things. First, strengthening the search of contacts between Belarus and the EU, manifested in the establishment of the preliminary conditions of cooperation. Second, this understanding in Brussels of the need to diversify approaches to third countries in the framework of the European neighbourhood programme, which has led to the emergence of new initiatives

"Eastern partnership" for Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. The results of the parliamentary elections in Belarus in September 2008 and the preliminary preparation for them, on the basis of previously assumed Minsk commitments, though given the Foundation of the European institutions to record significant positive changes in the political situation in the country, but at the same time not become a prerequisite for a new round of tension.

This signal has been clearly perceived in Ukraine as a "green light" for implementation of its mediating role in the rapprochement between the EU and Belarus. In October 2008, Minsk hosted consultations of the MFA of Ukraine and Belarus, where they discussed possible joint actions in relations with the European Union.

But the real breakthrough in the relations was observed from the first months of 2009, when the renewed channel of interstate communication at the level of heads of state. January 20, 2009 in the city of Chernihiv held a meeting of presidents of Ukraine and Belarus. The agenda of the meeting allows you to talk about the real new qualitative content of the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations.

Signed a number of bilateral documents, which reglamentary cooperation in the energy sector, consular relations and the intensification of bilateral trade and economic cooperation amid the global financial and economic crisis.

The role of Kiev as a mediator in the European Union's relations with Belarus, as well as focus on the development of energy projects have been publicly declared by A. Lukashenka during the meeting. The European platform was also the basis of the agenda of the working meeting of the presidents Lukashenko and Yushchenko in Gomel on may 6, 2009.

At the meeting in addition to discussing promising cooperation projects and solutions to existing problems, they also talked about the possibility of supporting Ukraine in deepening of contact between Minsk and Brussels, in particular, in the format of full-fledged participation of Belarus in "Eastern partnership". It is symbolic that the meeting took place on the eve of the Summit Eastern partnership in Prague on 7 may 2009.

Further confirmation of the birth of a new format of Belarusian-Ukrainian relations can be bilateral meeting on 9 October 2009 of the President of Belarus with the President of Ukraine in Chisinau in the framework of the summit of Heads of States-participants of the CIS.

The attempt to develop a joint position of Belarus and Ukraine towards Russia became a powerful signal about the readiness of the Belarusian side to go further in deepening our contacts with Ukraine, areas that are rather more acute for Russia.

Undoubtedly, the most meaningful for the Belarusian-Ukrainian agenda was an official visit of the President of Belarus A. Lukashenko to Ukraine on November 4-6, 2009, during which they signed a series of landmark agreements, including on cooperation in the framework of the "Eastern partnership".

Improving the efficiency can attest to the level of the work of the foreign ministries of Belarus and Ukraine. In October 2009, a working visit to Belarus Minister of foreign Affairs of Ukraine P. Poroshenko. And on 22 November 2009 trilateral meeting in Kiev of foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania. The main issue discussed was the possibility of implementing tripartite projects in the framework of the "Eastern partnership". During the meeting the sides discussed the possibility of using the transit potential of Belarus for the supply of Ukrainian electricity to Lithuania. There was also a question about the interaction in the framework of the project of combined transport train "Viking" development of transport infrastructure, including the construction of the highway Minsk — Kiev.

In February 2010 in Ukraine the results of the presidential election campaign the presidency was Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of the opposition that are partly influenced by previous agreements and areas of cooperation.

Minsk is optimistic about the change of elites in Ukraine. Already on 24-25 February 2010 the working visit of the President of the Republic of Belarus to Ukraine to participate in the inauguration ceremony of President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych.

29 April working visit of the President of Ukraine to Belarus, where he was tried and tested promising directions of Belarusian-Ukrainian cooperation. However, in may a visit of Alexander Lukashenko to Ukraine, where they were supposed to be the exchange of instruments of ratification of the Treaty on the state border.

This may indicate the appearance of certain tensions in Belarusian-Ukrainian relations, related to the change approaches the head of the Ukrainian state to solve the problems on the agenda.

Overall, at the beginning of 2010 between Ukraine and the Republic of Belarus have signed over 180 bilateral instruments – 9 inter-state; 1 – parliamentary; 76 – intergovernmental. Also signed a number of interdepartmental and inter-regional documents.

Today we can say that the first stage in the development of bilateral relations, which were characterized by the implementation of management decisions concerning the preparation and signing of major interstate and intergovernmental agreements, is almost completed.

Belarus and Ukraine cooperate on the international arena, particularly in the UN, OSCE, CEI, CIS, but their positions on some issues are not identical, although the confrontational nature are not worn and are a means of finding mutually acceptable solutions. It should be noted that in comparison with the bilateral relations of Belarus with other neighbouring States, relations with Ukraine can be defined as the most neutral. The traditional problems of Belarusian-Ukrainian political dialogue has never taken the form of violent conflict, while political events in Ukraine in 2004-2005 has not led to deterioration in bilateral relations.

Problematic issues of Ukrainian-Belarusian political relations

The unresolved bilateral issues of a political nature and the existence of fundamental differences in matters of building of domestic and foreign policy States are not allow to reveal the full potential of cooperation between Belarus and Ukraine.

The most sharp and chronic issue for the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations is the ratification of the Belarusian party to the Treaty on the state border. Despite significant progress in this direction, chronic failure to address the issue of the Belarusian side is a significant barrier to the development of bilateral Belarusian-Ukrainian relations.

Background: on 12 may 1997 by presidents of Belarus and Ukraine, an Agreement was signed between Ukraine and the Republic of Belarus on the state border. The agreement was ratified by the Ukrainian Parliament on 18 July 1997, while the issue of ratification of the document by the Belarusian side is still open. Despite the fact that the official Minsk has repeatedly stated about the absence of territorial claims to Ukraine.

The nominal reason for the delay in the ratification of the Treaty is the desire of the authorities of Belarus to settle the matter with the payment of Ukraine's debt of dubious legal status, formed in 1992. At that time, Belarusian companies working with Ukrainian within the framework of joint production networks, transferred to the accounts of enterprises in Ukraine the money released, but never received products. Belarus has repeatedly appealed to Ukraine with a demand to pay the money, but the Ukrainian leadership did not react properly.

The ratification of this important intergovernmental agreement gave the opportunity to attract the attention of Kyiv to the problem. However, for 12 years the problem you can't solve, given the rigid positions of the negotiating parties.Belarus insists on the appropriation debt of the state status, while Ukraine insists on its corporate nature. There are also significant discrepancies in the determination of the size of the debt, given the different calculation methods. Minsk was first mentioned a figure of 220 million U.S. dollars, later reduced to 113 million dollars. Kiev is ready to consider the claims in the amount of approximately $ 50 million.

Ukraine is not going to recognition the debt of business entities as a state, but expresses a willingness to seek redress mechanisms recognized amount of debt in the form of financial resources or of certain material values. For example, by the arrangement of the Ukrainian-Belarusian border crossing points.

A compromise solution was prepared in 2002, but the Belarusian side refused adoption. In 2003, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has acknowledged the problem of debt. Later, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych signed a Protocol that defines the amount of debt in the amount of 134 million dollars. However, with the change of political elites in Ukraine in 2004, the problem fell back to its original place. President Viktor Yushchenko has not recognized the debt.

This problem for 2006-2008 has become a stumbling block in the preparation of the meeting of heads of Belarus and Ukraine. Significant progress was achieved in 2009.

During the stay of the President of Belarus in Ukraine in November 2009, an agreement was reached by President of Ukraine on ratification of the agreement on the legal registration of the Ukrainian-Belarusian state border and dealing with the issue of debt obligations of Ukraine by granting preferential prices to the Ukrainian electricity supply to Belarus.

To the implementation in 2009 of obligations, 26 April 2010 the Council of the Republic National Assembly of Belarus ratified the intergovernmental Agreement with Ukraine on the state border.

This move was positively received by the Ukrainian side on the eve of the working visit of the President of Ukraine to Belarus on April 29.

However, before the exchange of instruments of ratification never came. The visit of President of Belarus to Ukraine, which is scheduled for the end of may, never took place. One of the reasons for delaying the official Minsk is "unsettled" question of compensation Kiev debt. At the same time, the Ukrainian side declares full compliance with the agreements reached earlier.

At this time the official representatives of the Belarusian authorities say about the ongoing negotiation process and the closure of this question, depending on the agreements with the Ukrainian side in the economic sphere.

In the context of the unresolved issue of the Belarusian-Ukrainian border, a particular problem in bilateral cooperation, in particularly interregional, creates an incompleteness of the construction of the checkpoints.

Currently on the border of the Republic of Belarus with Ukraine has 13 checkpoints for road transport of which on a permanent basis working only 5. This amount is clearly insufficient for the increased traffic and flow of people who cross the checkpoints in regard with stable trends of increasing trade and economic cooperation, tourism development, revitalization of the exchange of delegations of offices, business and cultural circles.

Unfortunately, has not received development and practical solutions to strategic issues in the economic sphere, but require significant political will of the leaders of the States suggesting a degree of independence from external centers of influence. It is, above all, about the creation of the Eurasian oil transportation corridor, the organization of Ukrainian electricity transit to the Baltic States, the expansion of international

Cooperation of Ukraine and Belarus in trade-economic sphere

Ukraine was and is one of the main trade partners of the Republic of Belarus. In 2009 the volume of trade turnover with Belarus, the Ukraine ranked second among CIS countries and the fourth in total volume of foreign trade. In turn, among the trade partners of Ukraine, Belarus took the 7th place.

For the effective promotion of economic cooperation was created the minimum necessary institutional and regulatory framework. In 1996 began the work of the Interdepartmental Ukrainian-Belarusian Commission

trade and economic cooperation. As of September 2009 held 16 meetings of this body. 11 December 1998 an Agreement was signed between the Republic of Belarus and Ukraine "on economic cooperation for 1999-2008 year", part of which was the interstate program of long-term economic cooperation between the Republic of Belarus and Ukraine

1999-2008 year. 20 January 2009 was signed a Memorandum between the governments and national banks of Belarus and Ukraine on the development of a system of measures to intensify bilateral trade and economic cooperation amid the global financial and economic crisis.

May 29, 2010 first Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko and Andrei Klyuev signed a joint action Plan for the implementation of priority directions of Ukrainian-Belarusian cooperation, formed after the meeting of the Presidents of Belarus and Ukraine in April 2010. This kind of "road map" implementation of promising directions of bilateral cooperation in the medium term.

From the moment of establishing trade relations the first peak of bilateral trade occurred in 1997, when the trade volume reached almost 1.4 billion U.S. dollars. But due to the Russian financial crisis, the trade turnover already in 1999 decreased to $ 400 million. USA.

Inflation, deterioration of financial state of enterprises, the payment failure, and the advantages of Belarus in the relations with Russia led to the loss of competitiveness of some Ukrainian goods to the Belarusian market.

The second peak in the increase in trade fell in 2008, almost reaching 5 billion U.S. dollars. However, the positive trends of increasing trade turnover between Ukraine and Belarus remained from 2003 until 2009, before the global financial and economic crisis.

Table 1

Dynamics of foreign trade of the Republic of Belarus with Ukraine

million dollars. USA

Periods T/turnover Export Import Balance

1997 1392,9 425,4 967,5 -542,1

1998 1126,8 696,3 280,6 -135,1

2000 900,3 559,7 340,6 of 219.1

2001 699,2 421,8 277,4 144,4

2002 562,3 271,6 290,7 -19,1

2003 705,6 343,5 362,1 -18,6

2004 1085,0 539,8 of 545.2 -5,4

2005 1801,7 907,8 893,9 13,9

2006 2458,7 1234,0 1224,7 of 9.3

2007 3006,4 1472,1 1534,3 -62,2

2008 4 905,0 2 790,0 2116,0 674,0

2009 2982,5 1693,1 1289,4 403,7

according to the National statistics Committee of Belarus

The main Belarusian export goods were traditionally machinery, agricultural machinery, petroleum, food, chemical industry.

The imports from Ukraine are metal products, electric power, pharmaceuticals, sunflower oil, confectionery products, building materials.

In June 2009, was renewed supply of Ukrainian electricity to Belarus at the level of 700 million kWh, while in 2010 they discussed the possibility of increasing the supply to 5 billion kW/h. the Reality of this increased supply of electricity has been confirmed at the highest level in November 2009 arrangements on

reduced price for the Belarusian side as the payment of the Ukrainian debt. In January-August 2010, Ukraine supplied to Belarus 1.9 billion kWh of electricity, which is 77.8% of all exported Ukrainian electricity.

Belarus has maintained a focus on creating commodity distribution networks in Ukraine. At the end of 2009, these networks engaged in dealing and distribution functions, there were more than 150. In Ukraine there are the following Belarusian companies-the flagships of industrial production: Minsk automobile plant, BelAZ, Minsk tractor works, "Belenergo", "Gomselmash" Lida plant of agricultural machinery.

Among Ukrainian large enterprises in Belarus represented the interests of "Naftogaz of Ukraine", plant "Lenin's smithy", Poltava Turbomechanical plant Corporation "Interpipe", Donetsk metallurgical plant.

An important sector of the Belarusian-Ukrainian trade and economic relations is inter-regional and cross-border cooperation. Successfully developing cooperation of Ukraine with Belarus in the framework of the Euroregion “bug”, which is composed of the Volyn region and two districts of the Lviv region (Ukraine), Brest region (Republic of Belarus) and Lublin province (Republic of Poland) and the Euroregion “Dnepr” in the Chernihiv (Ukraine), Gomel (Belarus) and Bryansk (Russia) regions. The focus within these cross-border associations focused on the development of trade-economic cooperation.

Issues of bilateral trade-economic cooperation

Although in may 2010 the governments of the two States was well-established "road map" of development of promising areas of Belarusian-Ukrainian cooperation at the moment there is no strategic basis for the implementation of economic cooperation between Belarus and Ukraine. In 2008, over the validity of the Interstate program of long-term economic cooperation between Belarus and Ukraine for 1999-2008 year and the agreement between the Republic of Belarus and Ukraine "on economic cooperation for 1999-2008 year." In place of these strategic documents in the field of economic cooperation have not yet developed the foundations of a new regulatory platform for the long term.

At the same time, there was a lack of understanding of the ability of transit of Ukrainian electricity via Belarus to the Baltic States. Along with certain technical difficulties, such situation is also conditioned by the interest of Minsk to buy and sell Ukrainian electricity, not to speak of its transit.

Despite the positive dynamics of growth of trade turnover between Belarus and Ukraine, problems remain that hinder the expansion of trade and economic cooperation. Increasingly the solution to these problems lies in a legal plane.

The Belarusian side has still not ratified the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Belarus and the Government of Ukraine about free trade, adopted in 2007. This, in turn, provides opportunities for the imposition of restrictions by each of the parties for the purposes of protectionism. With the entry of Belarus into the Customs Union of the positive decision of this question becomes more remote.

According to the Ukrainian commodity producers the government was taking stringent measures of non-tariff regulirovaniia trade, in particular the licensing and allocation of import quotas for tobacco, alcohol, confectionery and other products from Ukraine. Economic entities of Belarus shall apply preferences in bidding, with the participation of Ukrainian firms.

Appropriate measures are being taken by the Ukrainian side, in particular a number of anti-dumping measures regarding certain types of Belarusian products.

Very low is the level of mutual investment between Belarus and Ukraine. For example, in 2009 the volume of Ukrainian investments to the Belarusian economy amounted to about 2 million US dollars, while Belarusian economic entities invested in this period approximately 37 million U.S. dollars. According to expert estimates, the limiting factor of mutual investment flows remains the intervention of state bodies in management of economic entities, the limited business activity in the absence of available funds from economic structures, as well as insufficient number of representative offices of Ukrainian banks in Belarus and Vice versa.

We should also focus on issues of cross-border and interregional cooperation. In this area the problems connected with questions of national regulation of inter-regional relations and local approaches in their implementation. Legislative base of Belarus and Ukraine differs significantly in the regulation of interregional and border cooperation, both at the level of laws and regulations.

In Belarus, the development of integration at the level of the Euroregions impeded by the absence of a special law regulating this form of relations defining the status of subjects and their powers in the territorial education.

In the Law of Ukraine "About transborder cooperation", which defines the main concepts and directions of development of Euroregions.

The prospects of the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations Minsk should consider quite advanced relations of Ukraine with the European Union, intense negotiation process on the Association Agreement, free trade area EU and Ukraine. Ukraine can offer Belarus mediation in the dialogue and the normalization of its relations with the EU, facilitating the active participation of Belarus in the processes of European integration and the country's emergence from political and economic isolation.

In this context, one of the promising directions of interaction of Ukraine with the Republic of Belarus in the international arena is the deepening of cooperation in the framework of the EU program “Eastern partnership” in particular. The Ukrainian side, as well as Belarus, saw promise in deepening cooperation at the regional level, including in the course of implementation in the framework of Eastern partnership project on creation of international transport corridor Baltic sea - Black sea. This project was updated in may 2008 by signing the Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania, the tripartite Agreement on development of cargo transportation in the direction Baltic sea - Black sea. This corridor provides for the connection of transport by land through Minsk two ports – Ilyichevsk on Black sea and Klaipeda on the Baltic. When you connect this project to other States of the Baltic and black sea regions the project may include Belarus and Ukraine in new system of transport coordinates, providing political and economic dividends.

Ukraine could become objectively one of the drivers of elimination of Belarus from the difficult political and economic situation, which de facto happened because of internal and external political circumstances. This can promote the mutual interest of Belarus and Ukraine in cooperation in energy, transit and trade areas, the resumption of industrial cooperation relations. An example with the transportation of Venezuelan oil to Belarusian refineries shows the potential of finding common solutions in the field of energy security. Particularly promising is the cooperation in the gas sector, given the reliance of both countries on natural gas supplies from the Russian Federation. Therefore, there is a mutual interest in alternative embodiments the receipt of natural gas.

Unfortunately, Minsk at this stage is quite cool about the idea of the Ukrainian electric energy transit, aiming at the bilateral level to buy it and resell in Lithuania and Poland. At the same time, cooperation on ensuring parallel work of power systems of Belarus and Ukraine and import of Ukrainian electricity can be mutually beneficial

The impact of the global financial and economic crisis on the economy of Belarus is enhanced, given the country's lack of structural reforms, save, command-administrative methods of management of an economic complex, and also slow privatization. Due to the overall problems related to the effects of the crisis, the governments of Belarus and Ukraine there is a need for a common search of ways to stabilize national financial systems, ensuring currency exchange rate stabilization, control of economic decline, resume the handling of national economies, given their focus on compensation or limit the negative social consequences of the crisis.


Gennady Maksak


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