The EU and the Ukrainian Crisis: Paralysis as An Approach


2014-01-24  The Ukraine remains within the Russian zone of influence is the stark reality of global politics today.

The Euro crisis and the pressure on NATO to operate within the Euro-Med region leave it with precious few resources to add members.

The result has been the Russians working hard to bring back into its sphere of influence any key states which it can.  With the looming withdrawal from Afghanistan, the next states to feel pressure will by those states which have supported US and NATO deployments, such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan.

Protesters clash with police in Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, January 19, 2004.
Protesters clash with police in Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, January 19, 2004.

According to a piece published today by the EU Observor written by Andrew Rettman, the EU is sending mixed messages on Ukraine to the Ukrainian government which is cracking down on citizens who wish Ukraine to support the EU.

The EU is sending mixed messages to Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych, amid a growing death toll and fear of mass disorder in one the EU’s biggest neighbours.

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso told him by phone on Thursday (23 January) that he risks EU sanctions, or, in his words, “possible consequences for bilateral relations,” if things do not get back to normal. 

Some EU countries have voiced similar views, including Lithuania, Poland and Sweden. 

But the same day, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told press in Berlin that: “Sanctions against Ukraine are not on the order of the day … What is important now is to stop the violence.” 

The lack of clarity at the top is reflected lower down. 

“I have no instructions from my capital on where I’m supposed to go or what I’m supposed to be doing,” a diplomatic source at one EU embassy in Kiev told this website.

With regard to the influence process, Rettman added:

For his part, Eerik Kross, a former director of Estonia’s intelligence service, told EUobserver: “I don’t think Yanukovych takes orders from Moscow, but Moscow has plenty of channels of influence in Kiev.” 

Looking at the wider picture, Kross noted that Russia sees EU and Nato efforts to build closer ties with Ukraine, as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova, as a “fight for a zone of influence.” 

“Ukraine is on the brink. Russia already has Armenia. Belarus is gone. Georgia is a big question mark and Azerbaijan, for other reasons, is not so interested in the EU,” he said.

“Right now, the West has only Moldova, and even here 20 percent is occupied by Russian troops,” he added, referring to Russian “peacekeepers” in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transniestria.

But not to worry, as the Ukrainian government cracks down on its citizens, they have support from George Clooney, John McCain and the US government is adding its words to the concern.

The U.S. said Sunday it was “deeply concerned” by the violence, but said the clashes were a “direct consequence of the government failing to acknowledge the legitimate grievances of its people.” 

The statement, which was released by National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden, added that the Ukraine had weakened its democracy and “criminalized peaceful protest.” The statement added the the U.S. had not ruled out imposing sanctions. 

During December’s protests, Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy traveled to Kiev to give their support to the opposition. “To all Ukrainians, America stands with you,” McCain told the crowd. 

Hollywood star George Clooney also posted a video last month in which he told the demonstrators: “When you look to the West, know that we are looking back at you with great admiration.”

Credit Photo: Vladislav Sodel / Kommersant via Getty Images.

And for those tracking, the Russian return to the world stage, the Syrian crisis put them dead center in “resolving” problems in the Middle East, including growing influence in Cyprus, Iran, etc.

Now add Ukraine to the list of the “re-set” of Russian power politics.