• Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook

Search This Blog

Visit our new website.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How does the EU solve a problem like the Ukraine?

Update 13:45 - According to Antonio Delgado, Spanish Public Radio's EU correspondent, "diplomatic sources" have indicated that the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Bulgaria are all "not keen" on sanctions, although the Italian Foreign Ministry issued a statement claiming that “In the event of the continuation of violence, we don’t rule out resorting to exceptional restrictive measures”.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on the other hand is optimistic:

*****Original Post*****

The escalation in violence in Kiev yesterday and overnight poses a huge challenge to the EU. What, exactly, can it do here to prevent continuing civil disorder on its doorstep?

As ever when it comes to EU foreign policy, the first hurdle is to actually secure an agreement among 28 member states which is difficult in itself. As we've said on a number of occasions, Catherine Ashton's European External Action Service cannot magically replace 28 foreign policy positions - this has been proved time and again over Israel/Palestine, Libya, Syria etc. When it comes to the Ukraine, these differences have been apparent in how to deal with Russia in the first place, how hard it was to push for the EU-Ukraine trade agreement, then over how to deal with the anti-government protests, and now it looks likely they will appear in whether to impose sanctions. Here is a round-up of where the key EU countries stand on potential sanctions:

UK - Europe Minister David Lidington has condemned the violence and urged "all parties to return to the path of compromise and genuine negotiation" - no explicit reference to sanctions.

Poland - As the biggest supporter of Ukraine's eventual integration into the EU, Poland has consistently taken a hard stance on the issue. Speaking in the Polish parliament this morning, Prime Minister Donald Tusk called for targeted sanctions against those individuals "responsible for the Ukraine's misfortune". However, he conceded these tended to have limited effectiveness, but argued they sent a "moral" signal. He also slammed Russian pressure and warned that a civil war was possible. In a rare outbreak of political unity, the sanctions were also backed by the opposition Law and Justice party.

Germany - The German government (and the SPD in particular) has traditionally been very cautious when dealing with Russia so as not to alienate Moscow unnecessarily. For this reason they had opposed sanctions - supported by many in the European Parliament - but Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier yesterday noted that personal sanctions will now "surely be considered". Chancellor Merkel will discuss the situation with President Hollande later today.

France - French President Francois Hollande said that he “agreed with [Polish PM] Tusk on the need for swift European sanctions, targeted at the main responsible for these acts.”

Italy – It is unclear whether Rome's position will change following the recent developments and/or the appointment of Renzi's new cabinet but the existing position was to oppose sanctions, with Foreign Minister Emma Bonino arguing a couple of weeks ago that "it has always been easy to announce [sanctions], but it has never been easy to apply them in a coordinated fashion. To me, this doesn't seem the way to go.”

Sweden - Another strong supporter of Ukraine's EU ambitions and of the anti-government protectors, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bild is as expected shouting the loudest, accusing Ukraine's President Yanukovych of "having blood on his hands".

Of course agreeing on a course of action is one thing - implementing it is another and the EU simply struggles to back up its rhetoric with 'hard power' due to the nature of the EU itself. The key will be how Putin responds if the situation continues to get out of hand - how will the EU respond if Moscow intervenes more directly? As the 2008 Georgian crisis showed - when the EU initially tried to present a common front - the Russians are very adept at exploiting any divisions and they still wield substantial leverage due to the reliance of many EU members on their energy resources.

Notwithstanding the need for a political solution to Ukraine's internal problems, there is surely a wider need for the EU and Russia to come to a sensible compromise over Ukraine's future - as the map below shows, geopolitically, the Ukraine is trapped between two large political and economic blocs (the map shows the respective customs union and potential members), and any closer political and economic integration of the Ukraine into the EU triggers Russia's age-old fears about 'encirclement'.


Jesper said...

The situation in the Ukraine is about corruption and horribly bad governance, it might marginally have something to do with the EU.

Sanctions directed at the persons responsible for these acts might work but in this modern world it is unlikely that they will work.

The money that has been plundered by oligarchs are safely hidden away. Look at how some African nations have been plundered and how much has been recovered to see how well sanctions regarding money/property would work.

So sanctions regarding money/property are unlikely to have much effect.
A little effect might be enough to justify the implementation of sanctions but I suspect the main reason would be PR.

We might later see someone blaming the lack of co-ordination for the lack of effect. That would of course justify a call for more co-ordination to be done by?

Jim Kemeny said...

I am still completely in the dark over what the problem is from the start. I know the EU has been trying to negotiate - but not about what, nor what the EU was offering. Was this an invitation for the Ukraine to join the EU? I believe a large sum of money was involved. If so who sanctioned the spend, and why have we not been consulted whose taxes go into the EU to fund it. I don't find the media reports at all clarifying. It is almost as if it is set up to goad the Ukrainian people to leave the Russian Republic and join the EU. The whole thing does not make sense.

I should add that most of the links to this issue are now dead, but this one, to Ron Paul Institute archive was still active:

Rik said...

Like Egypt and Syria a crisis which is for a large part of the EUs own making(and US, why invest 5 Bn in a country's opposition and F it up to use the speech of Mrs Nuland).
It went in head first without overseeing the playingfield.

Their boxingpoodle was a clear risk from the start and iso trying to control what would happen they just let him go (at least so far that this situation was very likely to develop).
This was the moment where things most of the time run out of control (end of mass demonstration when the protesters only got marginally what they want. Starting to burn cars etc, what does anybody think the other side would do (and with Putinesque figures it was more or less guaranteed). Made worst again by Merkel's poodle going for more violence and so further escalation.
Anyway it had gone too far already before that. You can not enter a game play dirty when you cannot back that up with hardware 9and the otherside can and will).

Like with Syria damagelimitation is the best thing on the table now. Uprising at least in essential parts will be putdown. It is in the nature of things. Might leave some not essential areas out in order not to make a bigger mess themselves.
Hardly the stuff to start a war for even if you had the stuff at hand (which is not but the other side has).

All the sanction stuff will put the country only deeper into the Russian corner and closer to a Belarus scenario.
Like with Egypt (and kicking Mubarak's party out) and Syria letting religious nutcases do much of the fighting (and donot consider that there were always 2 sides that hate each other), Difficult, probably impossible to reverse.

Anyway imho pretty good news for the civilised but intellectually challenged world. They donot end up owning another large size manuregap. No strategic treath whatsoever so who needs a bufferstate that probably cost 10-20 Bn a year (min) and likely/possibly is to swamp you immigrants on top of that. If the EU didnot have enough problems of the own making.
Neutral would have been better but as said that looks spilt milk.

Rik said...

These are all PR disasters for the EU. Likely a small majority couldnot care less anyway what is happening in the Ukraine, Syria, BoraBora or Timbuktu to start with. Probably not as bad as with Syria which had the Muslim label on top of things, looks like people it is easier to relate to.

These people simply want their politicians and the EU to clean up the mess at home first.
Talking about large sums of money going that way will make things only worse.
EU is still fully in 1970s mode. Any humanrights stuff that comes up and from which some dogooder lefty is making an issue they have to preotest against. Let's save the whole world. Looks however that most ordinary people have left this behind and have moved on. They are not interested and certainly not when it will cost a lot of money (what it usually does). Especially as the last couple of interventions got completely out of control.

Simply indication no 3858756636 that the link between politics and large parts of the population is simply broken.
And the EU is in the spotlight of that.
And as it seems to be a thing people change their votingbehaviour about and is playing over more than one election cycle already and likley a few more to come the EU clearly has a problem.
And nothing is done to remedy it. Next EP period looks to be very similar with frEUtcakes determining the public image.

The EU is by far best served by a stable Ukraine. Not one where it has the max influence. Better not it has financial black hole written in huge neon letters all over it.

Top priority in the East is good relations with Russia and guaranteed energy (including the Iran file). Ukraine is hardly of any importance in that respect, only for people who didnot receive the email that the Cold War was over.

Anyway never any solution without Russia and taking into consideration the Russian speaking part of that country would be realistic and/or stable.
If you want to get involved a 60-40 or so compromise was always the maximum realistically achievable.
Now it moving into the other direction. Could be even so much that that isnot stable at all as well. Looks that way to me at least.

Anonymous said...

It didn't help that the Ukrainian Government was telling people they would be getting free money from the eussr, although it was always clear that Ukraine was more likely going to be a net contributed, they have had a lucky escape by not joining but it will take time for that to trickle down to the people who believed the propaganda.

christhai said...


Then the EU and Russia deserve them in equal parts.

Ask Germany who was bribing the Ukrainian MPs and they will tell you that it was, "The EU."

When hundreds of millions of euro had been accepted by Ukrainian MPs - they voted No to the EU.

Berlin and Brussels furious they sent more millions to set up the protesters.

Then the Russians tried to out-bribe the EU.

And we have what we have NOW.

These two mafiosi are the same in moral decrepitude.

But the EU is promoting a Civil War and the psychotic Putin will be delighted to send in his shock troops to "Save the Ukraine."

The Commissioners in the EU and the senior politicians in Germany and Russia should be tried at the International Court for crimes against humanity.

Germany - you cannot have the Ukraine's oil and wheat - it's belonged to the Russian thugs for decades.

Anonymous said...

The irony is that the European Court Of Human Rights (of which Ukraine is a member) gives full legal backing to the authorities to use live ammunition against the protesters.

Although the „Right to life“ is established by the ECHR, so is the right of the State to take life under a variety of conditions:

‘Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:

(a) in defence of any person from unlawful violence;
(b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
(c) in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.’

(b) Article 2 of Protocol No 6 to the ECHR:
‘A State may make provision in its law for the death penalty in respect of acts committed in time of war or of imminent threat of war; such penalty shall be applied only in the instances laid down in the law and in accordance with its provisions (…)’.

Source: Explanations relating to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, (2007/C 303/02)

Rik said...

I took a bit of a short cut on this issue.

Uks president is hardly in Putin's class but 2 or 3 division lower. He reacts not acts and certainly not directs the action (like Putin does).

Which means that his reactions are highly depending on coincidence (simply what happens that day and what is the mood of the day).
Very difficult to predict.
But simply not able to work realistically to a solution.

Merkel's poodle eh boxer is and has never been a true protest leader. in the way that he leads the protesters. Only optically for the media and some braindamaged Western politicians.
The protesters are a very diverse group.
-Democrats anti-corruption;
-anti-dodgy Russophile president and policies/Ukrainian nationalists;
-riot makers (small group most lefty like in the West looking), but can have massive influence by simply turn to violence;
-real protestors;
-real protesters but subsidised by interest groups;
-paid protestors.
Lot of overlaps btw.

Just to mention a few. Several of these groups have an own agenda and are only going with the masses as that suites that agenda.

On the poodle. Probably good intentions. However that has never been tested properly. In countries like the Ukraine even basically honest people become dodgy in the political process simply to get things done. And a lot become simply dodgy and corrupt for no other reasons than their Swiss bankaccount.
Way too naive on one side.
Simply not on top of the matter and certainly not the one that is followed by large parts of the protesters. Nice playing the leader but to stop the violence you need to be the leader (and he simply isnot). Like in Egypt the protest are getting the media face that the West likes to see.
In Egypt unorganised kids that are a few percent at best of the population and are unorganised, here the Boxing poodle that looks like a nice fellow.

So we have a situation where violence has run out of control. And 2 more or less (more more than less) incompetent leaders. With the ones that are starting the physical unrest (from the protest side) with an own agenda and probably have a leader but not the poodle (& Co).
While one thing the dodgy president doesnot want will be that it becomes clear he is not able to deal with violence. Letting that slip will simply show he is not up to the job.
If things get violent from the other side he has to react.

Rik said...

From there hard to see this getting brought under control by a deal between the 2 socalled leaders. There are uncontrolled people around with an own agenda. And if they start violence the other side simply has to react. Basically an ideal situation for those that want things to run out of control btw.

Very unlikely therefor this can be brought under control. It could calm down by its own. More likely than via 'leader'ship but still unlikely.
The situation has simply run out of control and becomes unpredictable. At least as far as the sort of reactions go, however not of the nature thereof. These are very likely violent and increasingly violent.

And poodle & co going for verbal confrontation (and violence de facto) simply means that the other side must react.
The trick from their side would have been having the other side beat the excrements out of them in front of the media.
At the end of the day much more effective. Russia is not likley to back massive violence against peaceful demonstrators. Not in the open. Water under the bridge.

This most of the time when it becomes fully clear that violence is there to stay, makes the strongest party (likely the government as here) pushing things through. But if it is done too late (like in Syria, where that was basically caused by mainly gulfstate and Western intervention) you could end up in a large mess (again like in Syria).
And as said the dodgy president is not on top of things.

Civil war Syrian style unlikely. Parties are split geographically and a lot more civilised for what that is worth.
But if things get really nasty. Putin is the only realistic answer. Russia will never allow Western peacekeepers and because they are next door going against Russia is way too dangerous. Next to Putin is the only one with boots close by anyway.

Hard to see the West getting much (or better losing little) out of this. At least seen from their strategic objectives side. Still wonders me why anybody wants to buy that 3rd world excrements opening.

Opens a whole bag of new discussions how in countries with huge spending and budget problems this can happen. It still seems to be possible to spend billions (via defence or via aid) for security objectives that have hardly any practical use or like here cost a lot of money with no assets to show for it when they are achieved. Often with alienating the own population in the process.

Anonymous said...

The question is : What benefit does having the Ukraine in the EU give us all?

The answer is nothing.

It is just another corrupt and bankrupt eastern-European basket case that does not belong in the EU. It will just exacerbate the current issues wrt budgets and immigration et all.

Of course, what is good for the EU and what actually happens are two different things. Our political dictators in Brussels are trying to build an empire for themselves to (mis)manage.

This is a complete clash of interests for the EU and even more so for the interests of all EU member states.


Average Englishman said...

How does the EU solve the Ukraine problem? Answer, it doesn't.

The EU should look to sort out its own democratic deficiencies first before trying to tell other states how to behave. As Christai said, this is just one corrupt regime battling another one, with the people of the Ukraine getting wasted in the middle.

Rik said...

1. Like with adolescents it is a phase they have to go through. Adolescents for becoming adults.
And here to get the thing properly organised (aka reformed) or Brexited (if reform isnot possible).

The EU is simply a way too large and powerful organisation to have that happen in a one day decision.

You need a popular platform for a reform (or exit if that isnot possible) and things like this is creating that.
-Electoral unpopular foreign intervention. Check
-Messing things up for the X times. Check.
-Lot of money waisted. Check.
-Going for an naive looking candidate which looks the most like yourself (iso is able to do the job) a socalled poodle. Works short term but not when things start to run out of control at that side it will become different. Check.
-Pub(lic) opinion said that beforehand. Check.
-Let your own garbage becoming public. Like Nuland telcos and vote buying. Check.

Simply a high risk PR move and very likely electorally to end badly.
And tbo the electorate is the main worry (or should be) now. lePen, Wilders and AfD are since a year or so collecting votes of normal voters. When these start to move in big numbers it is game over. Wilders/LePen have become normal candidates (aka alternatives) now.

Of course the EU will not solve the Ukraine problem. Would even be a great achievement to get the present genie back in the box. (Do not see that happening. But that hardly matters if this violent street theater starts again in a few months. And likely more violent. Everybody will carry arms next time even if they are only there for protesting. Simply because they donot trust the other side. And with every violence upgrade things get more difficult to solve (even if the people doing that were competent, quod non).
The only guy on top of the matter is Putin. The rest are clowns, and clown with guns.

Anyway the EU is placing itself in the middle of a situation that is very likely to end badly.
And being seen as dodgy (votebuying); incompetent (as things get worse) and part of a mess (people never like that) is a PR disaster. One they could well have do without as if they didnot have enough of them.

2. EU/British business is afraid of the populists. Now apparently as well because they expect they will only for the home audience oppose bogus legislation. Simply to let the thing run further out of control (and create an electoral platform for the IPs).

And they are right. Unlikely in the UK however Cameron is not served by that. There is a EU PR disasters overload for him probably. In the way that it creates all sort of problems at the homefront and it doesnot seem necessary for a platform for change. He is more in need of a platform for reelection.

What they should do imho is push the national governments to get the thing back on track. EU itself is clearly not able to do that, they seem to reding full speed to the edge of the cliff.
Get the sustainable popular platform for European cooperation back which is now eroding rapidly.
And get rules/a legal system that make it possible to compete longer time with Chinas of this world.
The uncertainty is created because the population has had enough of it and there doesnot look a way back if nothing changes drastically.
Also for them Cameron's set up is as good as it gets. This is not far from becoming Swiss otherwise which for the UK means Brexit. Not getting into the discussion on that, but it is not something they want. They have to realise that this referendum genie is not going to be pushed back in the bottle. In fact it was there and was there to stay way even before Cameron changed his policies.
He is just trying to manage it.
Give the referendum genie a proper (notBS) dose of change and avoid future set up problems is the only way to get it back in the bottle (read stabilise things agian with EU Common market intact.

Rik said...

By letting the 'Drama Queen' back in this is probably beyond repair now.

There were 2 totally undigestible politicians. The Dodgy President and the equally dodgy Drama Queen.

Now for the second time the unacceptable for the other side Drama Queen will likely form the government. We have seen what a success that was last time (and in fact with the 2 x Dodgy President as well when he was in power how having an undigestible PM works out).

The EU/US but especially the EU they have an unstable neighbour should have kept this woman out until she couldnot do any harm.

This simply leads to a situation that the Eastern half of the country will repeat what now the Western half is doing. So much for a solution.

With an increased violence level. Likely to be topped up as well in next 'revolution'. At least that is what you usually see happening.
Now people even normal ones will go protesting armed. Simply increases the chance of something going badly wronmg.

These groups have to find a way to coexist next to each other. Not every few years 'revolusionise' the other side out. And it won't help if the leader of one group is simply undigestible for the other side.
Until this is done there is no stable country.

The Dodgy President looks to have overstayed his useful life. Clearly lacks support at home. And Putin is clever enough to see that with him only the influence of the pro-Russian camp would further erode. So he simply has to drop him as well.
Doesnot mean that much will change. Likely a new man will arrive leading the Eastern camp, but optically at least a lot less dodgy. But in the bigger picture (and in the powerstruggle) do/acts the same.
Might have opened some opportunities for a solution. However with a similar obstacle now in the other camp very unlikely. And by the time they finally have dumped the Drama Queen the Dodgy President 2.0 will also have become unacceptable.

This might calm down short term. But all the ingredients why the country is unstable are still present. Even worse they have added one more now.

So expect medium and longer term this to continue (only people changing hats ones and awhile like before, maybe even change leaders). Not unlikely as the Drama Queen seems to keep pushing.

Only it seems that the EU has (partly at least) now bought the thing.
So good luck with that, they will need it.
And a lot of it as this has big mess (and unpopular at home) written all over it.

Rollo said...

How does the EU solve a problem like Ukraine? Ashtonise it. Irritate everyone involved. Cause divisions. Pretend to support solutions without actually supporting solutions. Make things worse through incompetent meddling. The Russians and the Americans had it right: "f*** the EU.