Expert - Failure of EU countries to act jointly on the Ukraine crisis should be regarded as normal | Eurasia Diary -

6 May, Thursday

Expert - Failure of EU countries to act jointly on the Ukraine crisis should be regarded as normal

We should also understand that there is no miracle formula that will promote the peaceful solution of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in the Donbas region

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According to a number of European analysts, the European Union has failed to carve out a common approach in its strategy and proactive political mechanism for dealing with Russia.

It should be noted that in Brussels, the panel was organized for the discussion of the current EU-Russian relations and interdependence in the fields of energy and security by SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research.

In the panel, senior European analysts talked about and shared views concerning the main problems in the current EU-Russian relations.

In talks, they admitted that the European Union was subjected to the failure in the implementation of the common strategic approach and political mechanism for solving problems with Russia and Ukraine crisis.

It was acknowledged that Moscow capitalizes on the divergences among the members of the EU.

They also accused Russia of projecting conflict in the east of Ukraine, as well not respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbours.

Speaking to Eurasia Diary, Professor Irfan Kaya Ulger, talked about the circumstances in the current EU relations with Russia and Ukraine.

Yazar: Prof. Dr. İrfan Kaya ÜLGER || GLOBAL SAVUNMA - Strateji - Güvenlik -  Savaş Teknolojileri - İstihbarat

- Mr Irfan, what is a main reason of European Union’s failure to carry out a common political mechanism for solving problems and normalizing relations with Russia? 

- The EU's position in the Russia-Ukraine conflict should be reviewed preciously. There is no doubt that the EU is one of the actors most deeply affected by the resurgent conflict between Ukraine and Russia in the Donbass region. The EU has both close trade and political relations with Ukraine, but also it has energy dependence on Russia. According to the EU official documents, Ukraine is a member of European Neighbourhood Policy. Moreover, some EU officials prefer to consider Ukraine as a "potential EU country.  It should be noted that the Association Agreement representing comprehensive relations signed between Ukraine and the EU based on legal basis. In addition, the agreement envisions the establishment of a joint trade zone between two sides.

But, on the other hand, the members of the EU have difficulties to come together in the common policy to be promoted against Russia. Germany is especially more sensitive on this issue. We should mention that Germany is a country that works on the completion of the second North Stream pipeline, which transports Russian natural gas from under the Baltic Sea to Germany.   However, the US sanctions caused pipeline project to be slowed down nowadays.

We should also understand that there is no miracle formula that will promote the peaceful solution of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in the Donbas region. After this time, no one expects Russia to admit that it made a mistake in Crimea and return the region to Ukraine. Although the annexation of Crimea caused panic and irritation, it is already implicitly accepted by the EU countries. Furthermore, there is a possibility that Moscow could experience a similar situation in the Donbas region. We do not know what the EU will do in the resistance to the Russian intervention in eastern Ukraine. It now seems that the EU is trying to not escalate the conflict, but at the same time it strongly insists on the protection of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. 

- Moscow has been taking advantage of divergences among the EU member states. What is the main reason that the EU cannot come together in common strategic policy towards the solution of the crisis in Ukraine and other issues connected to Russia?      

- There is no consensus among the member countries on the strategy to be promoted against Russia. I mentioned above Germany is more sensitive on this issue. In addition, countries such as Austria, Finland, Sweden and Iceland defining themselves as neutral within the EU and find it wrong for the EU to engage in military activities. Some of the EU members are NATO countries, some are not. There are frequent calls for the admission of Ukraine to the EU. But which Ukraine we talk about? There is not a single Ukraine. Some of its lands have been annexed and some are occupied. How can you establish a full membership relationship with a country without territorial integrity? This is not possible.

Moreover, when we look at the strategic documents of the EU, we see that it pays more attention to the Western Balkans. Nowadays, it is only interested in the Balkan geography. On the other hand, the EU has been struggling with its own serious problems, such as economic difficulties, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and the refugee problem. Therefore, under these conditions, the failure of the EU countries to act jointly on the Ukraine crisis should be regarded as normal. 

- Why the Minsk agreement and Normandy format for the solution of Ukrainian conflict does not work or is three need for a new process for the elimination of escalation?

- I do not think that any agreement or solution will affect Russia's determination. There is no miraculous solution to the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. The number of Russians in Ukraine's population of 44 million is 8 million. They generally live in the coastal areas of the Azov Sea and the Black Sea, east of the Dnieper River. Russia is arguing to protect the rights of Russian minorities living here. Moscow is encouraging them to revolt against the central government and support them with paramilitary forces. The so-called administrations in the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk, now known as Donbass, are likely to operate in other regions.

Moreover, Russia considers Kiev as a motherland. The first Russian state was established in Kiev. In 989, Byzantine Empire spread Christianity to the Slavic peoples through mediation of Kiev, and then all Slavs became Christian.

 The region inhabited by the Russian minority in Ukraine is called “New Russia” (Novorossiya). Moreover, Russia is bringing to the agenda that Crimea was Russian territory and was annexed by Khrushchev in 1954 to Ukraine. There is a port for the navy in Sevastopol and they don't want to give up there. Russia wants to become a superpower again after the USSR and therefore Moscow considers Ukraine's accession to NATO or the EU as the encirclement of Russia. For all these reasons, I do not expect Russia to back down. Either by war or referendum, Moscow will annex entire Russian populated territories of Ukraine to Russia.

- Senior policy anslyst Amanada Paul said that Russia has no intention of changing its course and is not interested in building constructive relations with the EU. How is it true to blame Russia for the determination of diplomatic relations with the EU?

- Today, Russia only promotes its relations with the EU in terms of energy perspective. Moscow sees the EU as a big market for its natural gas. As for the Ukraine crisis, Russia blames the EU for the occurrence of conflict in eastern Ukraine. Moscow believed that it was the EU to put pressure on former President Yanakovich to sign the Association Agreement, as well hold European politicians responsible for the start of organizations in Ukraine. Russia keeps a severe position against Ukraine's accession to both NATO and the EU. For Moscow, these two organizations are modern forms of imperialism. Moreover, Russian politicians and military officials still consider the inclusion of the former Warsaw Pact and former USSR member Baltic countries into the EU and NATO as a great threat for the geography of Russia. For this reason, the Kremlin decided to resist in Ukraine. With the conflict or through referendums, Russian leadership seems determined to divide Ukraine. We are facing a new wave of conflict that will last for decades. If one day Ukraine is divided into two, the Western part can join NATO and the EU. We see that Russia, under the Putin administration, showed determination on this issue. The opposition also fully supports Putin in foreign policy. The Communist Party of Russia wants the revitalization of the former USSR. Jirinovsky's party dreams of the restoration of Russian empire. Putin does not want to compromise on Ukraine issue, and he wants to annex the places where the majority of Russians populated. 

by Yunis Abdullayev


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