During the visit Mr Lidington met representatives of Ukraine’s government, including Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and the recently appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin, as well as Mayor of Kyiv Vitaliy Klitschko.
During the meetings Mr Lidington restated the British Government’s continuing support for the Ukrainian people and government as they take action to bring about deep and sustainable political and economic reform. The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, which was recently signed by Ukraine, promises closer commercial cooperation with Europe and a framework for bringing Ukraine’s legislation into line with EU norms and standards.
The Minister also recognised efforts to de-escalate tensions in eastern Ukraine and reaffirmed the UK’s condemnation of the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia.
Mr Lidington visited Dnipropetrovsk in eastern Ukraine, where he met Deputy Governor Boris Filatov and heard how their team has maintained stability in the city, in the face of a volatile situation. He also met members of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and thanked them for their invaluable contribution in challenging circumstances.
Following the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia in March, and the ongoing hostilities in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed illegal armed separatists and Ukrainian security forces, Mr Lidington encouraged the Government’s efforts to de-escalate tensions. He called for all parties to engage constructively with President Poroshenko’s peace plan.
Mr Lidington said:
The UK stands squarely behind Ukraine’s government and people as they work towards greater economic development, political reform and increased cooperation with the European Union.
Visiting this week, I was struck by the hope that people from across Ukraine had for better future, free from the corruption that has prevented this country from achieving its full potential. It is important that political will is now translated into concrete action in order to implement the deep and wide ranging reforms necessary to take full advantage of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.
But without an end to hostilities in eastern Ukraine, this process will be all the more challenging. I call on the Russian leadership to take practical steps to stop the violence in eastern Ukraine, to use its influence to get separatists to disarm and to prevent the shipment of weapons across the border. The European Council has made it clear that we are ready to impose further sanctions on Russia if it fails to take the necessary steps to end military hostility. It is in everyone’s long term interests, including Russia’s, for this crisis to be resolved.