Online Survey: Romania – Ukraine bilateral agenda. Assessing the security and defence sector


Between May 1 and July 4, 2019, within the project The Romanian – Ukrainian Civil Society Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation”, supported by the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, a project of the German Marshall Fund, was conducted an online survey. The aim of the survey was to analyze and evaluate the Romania-Ukraine bilateral agenda in the security and defense sector.

Key Findings of the Online-Survey: 

– We have found low interest in bilateral relations and evolutions in Ukraine. Instead, interest in the Black Sea region is of great interest.

– The state of bilateral relations was mainly assessed as unsatisfactory and to a lesser extent, satisfactory.

– Regarding the security environment, the most important topic is the regional one, which is explained by the Russian military presence that is growing in the Crimean peninsula. Respondents have said that the European security environment in which the bilateral relationship evolves is less favorable, and the trend remains global. The opinion is generalized about the unfavorable regional environment that explains the skepticism related to the development of the relations between Romania and Ukraine.

– Most experts have appreciated that the theme of Ukraine should be an essential topic in the National Defense Strategy of Romania. This majority view is in direct contrast to the lack of provisions in the Romanian strategic documents on Ukraine. Romania’s interest in other areas and the concern over the Russian Federation’s activity in the Black Sea explains the unsatisfactory state of the bilateral agenda.

– This disinterest towards Ukraine, coupled with the high interest in risks and threats from the Russian Federation, explains why Romanian experts believe the security situation differs between the two countries. Another possible explanation is NATO’s membership and the US military presence in Romania as a security guarantee.

– The most critical finding in the interviews is the central role of the Russian Federation in the bilateral relations between Bucharest and Kyiv. The leading three causes (the Russian military presence in the Crimea and the Black Sea, Russia’s hybrid and informational war and the existence of frozen conflicts) that influence bilateral relations are related to the actions of the Russian Federation. This finding should generate a rethink of Romanian foreign policy in identifying solutions that provide a better framework for cooperation with neighbors regardless of Moscow’s actions.

– The most important forms of cooperation (strategic dialogue, joint training and information exchange) highlight the importance of strategic dialogue on security and defence issues. This framework can be a good start for harmonizing perceptions of risks and threats at national and regional levels.

– The advantage offered by this framework is that it involves the technical part, the military expertise, besides the high-level political dialogue.

– Regarding regional cooperation and NATO integration, the participants in the study considered it useful to have a trilateral dialogue Romania-Moldova-Ukraine in the sphere of security and defence. Currently, the trilateral business forum Romania- Ukraine- Moldova is more active, but it does not respond to priorities in the field of regional security. The second priority is Romania’s support for the process of Ukraine’s integration into the EU and NATO.

– From a military point of view, cyber-security, maritime security and the dialogue of chief military chiefs of staff are significant bilateral military priorities for the respondents.

– Two themes are appreciated and known in Romania, the promotion of Euro-Atlantic values and reform the security sector, and they have been a constant priority over the period when Romania has applied for NATO membership. The same evaluation of both themes is for Ukraine.

– Three-quarters of the respondents estimated that in the next ten years, bilateral relations would have a positive course, which is an indicator of the perceived degree of closeness between the two states.

– Regarding the security domain, the overwhelming majority of those asked appreciated that the non-governmental sector should play a more significant role in the development of bilateral relations. It is a suggestion that in recent years if there have been any efforts from the non-governmental sector, they have not been capitalized at the official government level as would have been desired.

The survey results can be found here: ESGA Online Survey Report.

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