Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has signed a decree explicitly naming Russia as a “military adversary” of his country and accusing Moscow of an “aggressive foreign and military policy” that may lead to conflict in Europe.
The new document, published on Thursday, outlines Kiev’s plan for the “return” of land it believes is illegally occupied by Russia, while also emphasizing the need to deter any possible escalation.
The decree defines full NATO membership as one of the country’s foreign-policy goals, noting that Ukraine does not want to achieve “military parity” with Moscow, and instead wishes to work alongside the US-led bloc.
The strategy defines another of the state’s aims as ending “Russia’s temporary occupation of part of Ukraine’s territory.”
“At the national level, Russia remains a military adversary of Ukraine and carries out armed aggression against Ukraine,” the decree alleges, accusing Moscow of occupying Crimea, Sevastopol and Donetsk/Lugansk, and also of using “military, political, economic, informational, psychological, space, cyber and other means” to threaten the country’s independence.
Crimea was re-absorbed into Russia in March 2014, following a referendum. That vote is unrecognized by Ukraine and most of the world, with the majority of nations viewing the region as illegally occupied by Moscow. Last week, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called efforts by Kiev to “reclaim” the peninsula as “illegitimate” and a “threat of aggression.”
The Donetsk and Lugansk regions are two areas in the east of Ukraine, and make up the Donbass. It has been the location of a civil war for almost seven years, with separatists now controlling large swaths of land. While Russia does not recognize these breakaway states, Kiev accuses the Kremlin of supporting them.
Outside of Ukraine, the document also claims that Russia threatens the national security of other states, namely in the Black Sea and Baltic regions, and risks provoking an international armed conflict in Europe.
Furthermore, it revealed that the country’s army expects to abandon military conscription, replacing it with professionally serving armed personnel.
Earlier this year, Ukraine became part of NATO’s Partnership Interoperability Initiative, alongside Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan, and Sweden. The country has also been recognized by the military bloc as an aspirant member state.
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