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Monday, April 14, 2014

The EU stands united in the face of Russia - or does it?

So, about Ukraine...
Arriving in Luxembourg this morning to discuss events in Ukraine with his European counterparts, British Foreign Secretary William Hague called for a "clear and united" EU response to Russia's 'escalation' of the crisis.

Hague added:
There is very little doubt -- there can't really be any real doubt -- that this [the unrest in Eastern Ukraine] is something that has been planned and brought about by Russia. The forces involved are well armed; well trained; well equipped; well coordinated and behaving in exactly the same way as what turned out to be Rusian forces behaved in Crimea, before the full Russian military takeover of Crimea.
He added:
I don't think denials of Russian involvement have a shred of credibility.
Meanwhile, Jean Asselborn, the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, arriving at the same meeting did not seem to get the memo. He said the following:

I cannot actually imagine -- just how the EU could not identify with the men dressed in black in the Maidan -- I cannot imagine that the Russian side identifies with the men in black, with guns and weapons, that are occupying administrative buildings and government buildings in Eastern Ukraine.
He added:
I am still convinced after I heard President Putin, and the Russian Foreign Minister, that the Russians do not want to destabilise East Ukraine and do not want to occupy Eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile Frans Timmermans, the Dutch Foreign Minister, opted for a more cryptic message, mixing his ducks with horses. Asked if he thought forces in Eastern Ukraine were acting under Russian directions, he replied:
If it looks like a horse, and it acts like a horse, then it is probably a horse -- not a zebra.
As clear as mud.


Denis Cooper said...

Why should I believe Hague?

He went into print in the Sunday Telegraph boasting that he'd passed a "referendum lock" law to make sure that the British people would have democratic control over how the EU developed.

Then he used fine print that he'd deliberately written into that law to block two referendums - one on the radical EU treaty change to provide a legal basis for the ESM bail-out fund, the other on whether we wanted to allow Croatia to join the EU.

The man is a shyster and not a word that he speaks or writes should ever be taken at face value.

Jesper said...

Luckily the EU is divided, if it wasn't then the war-mongers might succeed in their wish for war.

The dissolution of Czechoslovakia was peaceful. Not sure why the same couldn't be allowed to happen if the people living in the Ukraine desired a split?

The threat of use of military force is so far done by the Ukrainian government. Since that threat should be taken seriously what should a responsible leader for the ones wishing a separation do?

Should a separatist leader faced with a real military threat seek support from a friendly neighbour?

The eastern part of Ukraine is currently being pushed into the arms of Russia. Was that the plan?

Rik said...

Politicians like Hague show time and time again that they are totally disconnected with their (potential) voterbase.
Which is a suicide pill when there is an alternative like now in the IP.
In some circumstances you can get away with it, but extremely unlikely here (as in present UK political climate). And definitely not when roughly every month there is some credibility eroding event.
With Hague probably being the posterchild for this in the current cabinet. And exactly like here on the issues on which is the raison d'etre of the new competition. And the issue that is most in the spotlight: integration of Europe's own 3rd world in the EU and the effect that has on budgets and immigration.

What is worse after having lost the undereducated, disenfranchised voters this is another 'great attempt' to get rid of the more educated disenfranchised voter. Basically by simply insulting their intelligence.
It is the same sort of drivel as with Syria's chemical weapons, they simply cannot come up with convincing proof hereof. And look like a bunch of idiots when they have to. Assad's people probably used it. But a) that isnot Assad and b) evidence sucked (and c) so did the presentation). You can blame credibly a guy like Putin when you have a perfect trackrecord. When yours is even more crap than Putin's in the case in question, you should not burn your fingers.

This is 2014 for GS. Most people get their news via the net and from all sort of sources. A lot of people have lost confidence in the traditional media and rightly so imho. The reporting on this was simply crap. And it doesnot really help when you put time and time again all your dirty laundry on the frontpage. Or have others do that for you.

Anyway all the popular support for a hardly Mother Theresa kind of figure simply shows that trust in Western leaders is rapidly eroding. While it was already much too low anyway. Hard to see that only on the stuff here (allthough the F the EU was a great attempt) Putin could have been so popular.
It is the fact the Nobody wants a war or even something close over the Ukraine and nobody wants that blackhole even close to the EU (as in having to pay taxes for that). But probably more that confidence/trust in Western leaders is simply tanking. People have started to see the enemy of my enemy as an ally. Very worrying sign.

Rik said...

Of course Putin doesnot want to destabilise the East of the Ukraine, he wants to destabilise the whole of the Ukraine.

And unlikely his preferred option is occupying the East of the Ukraine. His preferred option will be having a large bufferstate and not having to buy (better pay for) it. The country is even from a Russian pov a financial blackhole. The last thing Putin wants is huge amounts in extra costs, he already has a problem there. Possibly he will accept it when there is no other option however, but definitely not the preferreed alternative. Voters forget after some time and donot like to pay for all sort of stuff from then on.
To have the whole country as a buffer he needs the East being part of it.

However there are some other issues playing.
1) This has gone pretty far and likely as with the oil and thew oligarchs Putin's preferred option will be settling the thing for once and for all.
2) There are minority issues all over the place. Russian and effectively any other minority are often treated as second class citizens in a lot of countries. He will want to give a firm warning here as well.
Very weak point of the EU if it would consider any other minority it would give rise to massive outrage, but as it are Russians it is for some strange reason accepted. While it rubbished the relation with the EUs most important on strongest neighbour. Stupid strategy.
3) Public opinion is a partly unknown. Both at Putin's homefront as well in places like the East of the Ukraine. Nobody cn properly oversee this.

Anyway the 2 main groups in the Ukraine seem simply incompatible. You will keep the present mess (like even substantially increase it) when this term it is EU-friendly and anti-Russian and the next Russia friendly and Euro-sceptic and visa versa. Simply doesnot work and the more is happening the more difficult it will be.
You need some form of federation or split the country, to stabilise it. Seen the fact that both backers unlikely want a split therefor a federation of some sort.
As that is a Russian suggestion likely a problem with the West.
However basically the only 2 things the EU wants about the Ukraine is a stable transmitting of gas and no massive immigration. You need the parties to live next to each other without making an issue about the gas every few years. Looks to me the only workable option.

Basically the Kievs are not seen as credible trustworthy by the people in the East. With several different sorts of consequences.
Some want them simply out, others move asap to Russia and several others in between. Which will be a complicating factor.

Freedom Lover said...

Ukraine's friends - ie all the EU & NATO member states - should be encouraging Ukraine to act immediately over 2 separate but related matters. These are (i) the breakdown in law & order in Eastern Ukraine caused by the illegal acts by Russian-speakers all acting & claiming to be pro-Russia separatists, & (ii) the calls for union with Russia by all other pro-Russia but non-violent separatists in Eastern Ukraine. Those who have illegally seized government buildings (& indeed any buildings that are not theirs) should be removed promptly - behind a wall of tear gas etc if need be. Preferably with as few casualties as possible, but all these intruders need to be exhaustively interrogated to identify how many are genuinely from Ukraine, & how many are from Russia - including identifying tall hose who are currently active members of the Russian Armed Forces (quite a few, I bet!).

At the same time, the Ukrainian government should be encouraged by the West to announce that all provinces may have a referendum if they wish on their future status in a united Ukraine - as long as, eg, 100,000 (or maybe 200-250,000) bona fide & verifiable signatures can be collected requesting such a referendum. This referendum would be held a year or close to it after the signatures have been verified by a neutral (if necessary, international) body - & as long as there has been no interference, threats, intimidation used. This restriction against intimidation should also apply during the whole period prior to the referendum, with strict penalties (including imprisonment) for any breaches. The Ukrainian government should also offer this to Crimea, saying if Crimea allows this process to go ahead, it will accept Crimea's decisions, but if not it will refuse to acknowledge Crimea's new relationship with Russia far into the indefinite future, & find ways to sanction Crimea until it accepts Kiev's proposals.

The EU & NATO member states should at the same time remind Russia & the rest of the world that the Ukrainian government - & only the Ukrainian government - is the legitimate authority in Ukraine. And say that when Ukraine acts to restore order when its government buildings have been over-run, that it is acting quite correctly & as legitimately as any sovereign government can, regardless of what any other nation (including Russia) may say!

All this should have been the West & Kiev's policy long ago. It better start being so soon, or with every day's delay, chaos will creep steadily closer!

Rollo said...

The EU has shown itself to be totally ashtonised and irrelevant. First it encourages Ukraine to foment revolt and condones occupying buildings when done by a pro EU faction; then condemns the opposition for doing the same. It has no idea how Ukraine is going to power itself, once they lose subsidised Russian fuel. It offers to pay the backlog for energy, without any idea how Ukraine will pay for future supplies. A total shambles of a position. I am embarrassed to be a party to this fiasco.

christhai said...

The EU having started this Ukraine problem in the first place and given Putin the excuse to annexe the Crimea, now criticises the Pro-Russians in the Ukraine of copy-catting what the EU did itself.

The EU needs to publicly confess what it did to start this Ukrainian Conflict.

The Russians should withdraw to pre-Crimean occupation lines.

A Conference to discuss Referenda to ask the Ukrainians what THEY want should be set up.

EU and Russian delegates should only be observers - not participants.

The EU should be banned by the UN from bribing / subverting whole Parliaments in order to gain new members at the expense of the people of those countries.

Forthwith the EU should hold National Referenda in all Member states asking whether the people of that country wish to remain as members or not.

Anonymous said...

Open Europe == being the Eurofascist organization it is -- is still spreading its pro-EUSSR propaganda.

Same old same old...

Denis Cooper said...

Freedom Lover -

"The EU & NATO member states should at the same time remind Russia & the rest of the world that the Ukrainian government - & only the Ukrainian government - is the legitimate authority in Ukraine."

Take it from one who has actually bothered to check the relevant provisions in the constitution of Ukraine that the government in Kiev is not a constitutionally legitimate authority, it is a revolutionary government.

christhai said...

A Question.

If the EU had not meddled/interfered in the affairs of the Ukraine would the Russians have or have been able to "annexe" the Crimea?