Wednesday

22nd May 2019

Ukraine crisis creates bad will between Nato and Russia

  • Lavrov (l) was visibly annoyed by Rasmussen's criticism (Photo: securityconference.de)

The Ukraine crisis is creating new mistrust between Nato and Russia.

Nato head Anders Fogh Rasmussen and US secretary of state John Kerry criticised Russia’s conduct in Ukraine and in the former Soviet region in general at a security congress in Munich on Saturday (1 February).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Rasmussen linked Russia’s recent deployment of missiles and fighter jets in Belarus and Kaliningrad to its attempt to draw a line around its former domain.

“I become concerned when I hear of the deployment of offensive, not defensive, but offensive weapons systems … None of us wants a return to the dividing lines and the hostility of the past,” he said.

“Ukraine must have the freedom to choose its own path without external pressure,” he added.

Speaking next to Rasmussen, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov complained of EU and US “incitement of increasingly violent street protests” in Kiev.

He said Russia’s missile deployment is designed to counter the US’ anti-ballistic missile system in the region.

Visibly annoyed, he made a veiled threat against the TV station, Euronews, over its reporting on Ukraine.

Noting that it recently cited leaked information that Ukrainian activist Dmytro Bulatov was “tortured by Russians,” he said: "I would be very cautious about leakages, even from such a respected channel as Euronews, where Russia has 17 percent of the shares."

Kerry, speaking in a separate panel in Munich, also challenged Lavrov.

He said the US and the EU have a duty to support the Ukrainian opposition in its struggle against “corrupt, oligarchic interests” and foreign “coercion.”

“Nowhere is the fight for a democratic, European future more important today than in Ukraine. The United States and EU stand with the people of Ukraine in that fight,” he said.

He added that the creation of an EU-US free trade zone will give the West more power to defend its values overseas.

“If we are ambitious enough, TTIP [the free trade pact] will do for our shared prosperity what Nato has done for our shared security … Our shared prosperity and security are indivisble,” he said.

“Don’t underestimate for a second the difference this would make for courageous people like those in Ukraine.”

For his part, EU Council chairman Herman Van Rompuy defended the EU’s role in the crisis.

“Some people think Europeans are naive,” he said, referring to EU reliance on soft power.

“But … [our] power of attraction brought down the Berlin Wall. Our biggest carrot is a way of life. Our biggest stick: a closed door.”

The Nato chief and the Russian minister underlined that a military clash over Ukraine is out of the question.

Rasmussen said: “I don’t see a role for Nato in Ukraine. It’s for the Ukrainian people to decide.”

Lavrov noted that "military confrontation in Europe has become unthinkable.”

Some Munich delegates, such as one senior French diplomat, said Rasmussen was needlessly provocative.

But even Russia’s biggest friend in Europe, Germany, voiced concern over the trend in relations.

“If we were to think of a European foreign policy without or against Russia then it wouldn’t have a future. But I want to make it clear it’s also up to Moscow to see and define what they have in common with Europe and to state this commitment publicly,” German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

News in Brief

  1. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  2. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  3. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job
  4. May struggling to get Brexit deal passed at fourth vote
  5. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  6. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  7. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  8. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll

Opinion

Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all

The foreign affairs minister of Haiti calls for the replacement EU-Africa, Caribbean, Pacific 'Cotonou' agreement of 2000 to be updated to take account climate change, infrastructure and tourism to help the country transition away from aid-dependence.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us