The foreign minister, Martin Lidegaard, is visiting Ukraine this week to demonstrate Denmark’s interest in playing an active role in resolving the country’s conflict with Russia and assisting with the process of democratic reformation.
Today and tomorrow, Lidegaard is visiting the capital Kiev and Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city, which is located in eastern Ukraine.
Tackling two fronts at once
The conflict with pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country has flared up again, and the country also needs to tackle its problems with corruption and build a stronger democratic foundation.
“It’s all about putting pressure on Russia to resolve the eastern front and about putting pressure on Ukraine to resolve the reform front,” Lidegaard stated on his way to Kiev.
“Both areas are crucial for Ukraine to have an independent future and economy that works.”
Ready to increase sanctions
While Lidegaard cannot imagine the EU would send military support to Ukraine, he is ready to increase sanctions against Russia.
“If Russia continues to escalate the situation – and unfortunately we have in recent days seen bad examples of just that – then we should be ready to increase sanctions,” Lidegaard noted.
“It requires consensus in the EU, but we have already expressed before that we are ready if the situation requires it.”
Reforming energy sector
The Danish government is particularly interested in reforming Ukraine’s energy sector with a concrete plan on increasing the country’s energy efficiency.
Last year, Denmark launched a four-year support program for 40 million kroner.