U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba have signed an updated text to a charter on a strategic partnership that reaffirms that the relationship between the United States and Ukraine is based on shared and common values.
The document provides for cooperation between the two countries on security and defense, democracy, and the rule of law, as well as the economy, including in the energy sector.
The charter goes into detail on Ukraine’s energy security, saying that the United States intends to support Ukraine’s efforts to become energy independent, decarbonize its economy, and deregulate its energy sector among other goals.
In addition, the United States declares its intention to “prevent the Kremlin from using energy as a geopolitical weapon.”
The United States also vows to support Ukraine’s efforts to counter armed aggression and malicious cyberactivity by Russia, including by maintaining sanctions on Russia, and applying other relevant measures.
On defense matters, the charter says Washington supports Ukraine’s efforts to maximize its status as a NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner to promote interoperability and Ukraine’s “right to decide its own future foreign policy course free from outside interference, including with respect to Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO.”
The parties also recognized the 2021 Strategic Defense Framework 2021 as a basis for further in-depth cooperation on defense and security and intend to work to advance shared priorities, including implementing reforms, deepening cooperation in areas such as Black Sea security, intelligence sharing, and countering Russian aggression.
The previous text of the charter was signed in December 2008. The parties agreed to review its text every 10 years or earlier by mutual consent.
Kuleba underscored the importance of support from the United States and added that Ukraine would benefit from any potential defense cooperation that would strengthen its capabilities including intelligence sharing or air defense systems.
“We are in a situation where we cannot allow losing or wasting any time and we are looking forward to working with the United States in this field,” he said.
Blinken expressed concern about a large buildup of Russian military forces about 260 kilometers north of the Ukrainian border, not far from the border with Belarus.
He warned that Russia would be making a “serious mistake” if it were to try and repeat what it did in 2014 in Ukraine, and he said Washington was concerned by reports of “unusual Russian military activity” near the Ukrainian border.
“We’re concerned by reports of unusual Russian military activity near Ukraine,” he said. “Any escalatory or aggressive actions would be of grave concern to the United States.”
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry last week said up to 90,000 troops remained in those locations despite the conclusion of military drills, when the units had been expected to return to the regular bases.
Blinken told reporters that the U.S. authorities were unclear about Russia’s intentions with Ukraine, but that Washington’s commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity was “ironclad.”