Thursday

14th Dec 2017

UK leak indicates limits of EU action on Ukraine

A leaked British document indicates that Europe is less likely than the US to react forcefully to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

The leak took place in London on Monday (3 March), when a freelance photographer, Steve Back, got an image of a classified document being carried by a British official into a meeting of the country’s National Security Council.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Media pack in Downing Street, London (Photo: Downing Street)

It said the UK backs EU-level "visa restrictions/travel bans" on Russian officials and supports "deployment of OSCE and/or UN (but not EU) monitors in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.”

But it added that Britain does “not support, for now, trade sanctions … or [to] close London's financial centre to Russians."

It also said the UK will “discourage any discussions (e.g. at Nato) of contingency military preparations."

The information reflects an agreement by EU foreign ministers in Brussels the same day to threaten Russia with “targeted measures” if it does not end its occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

But it indicates that British PM David Cameron will not be willing to harm British trade or financial interests vis-a-vis Russia when EU leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the Ukraine crisis.

It also indicates that Poland - which called for Nato talks on Tuesday, saying the crisis threatens Polish security - will not get much from the Nato meeting beyond nice words.

The UK is one of the EU's top foreign policy powers. It has a special role on Ukraine because it signed - along with Russia, Ukraine, and the US - the so-called Budapest memorandum in 1994, which obliges it to protect Ukraine's territorial integrity.

By contrast, the US on Monday already implemented a first tranche of sanctions against Russia.

Its defence spokesman, John Kirby, noted that "there has been no change to our military posture in Europe or the Mediterranean.” But he said the US has “put on hold all military-to-military engagements between the United States and Russia … this includes exercises, bilateral meetings, port visits and planning conferences.”

A US trade spokesman added: “We have suspended upcoming bilateral trade and investment engagement with the government of Russia.”

Neither the UK or the US have spoken out on the British leak.

A state department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said on Monday the EU and the US are working in “lockstep” on Ukraine and described the EU as “an important and vital partner.”

She underlined the US prefers action to purely verbal diplomacy, however. “I would refute the notion that we are talk, talk, talk. We are very much walk, walk, walk,” she said.

Meanwhile, the US and British ambassadors took the same line at a public meeting of the UN Security Council in New York on Monday.

The British UN ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, said Russia’s claim that ethnic Russians in Crimea are at risk “have simply been fabricated to justify Russian military action.”

The US envoy, Samantha Power, accused Russia of “trying to convince the world community that up is down and black is white.”

For his part, Ukraine’s Yuriy Sergeyev said Russia has deployed 16,000 troops in Crimea in the past week. He spoke partly in Russian to indicate the post-revolutionary authorities in Kiev are not Russophobes. “You call it a coup d'etat. We call it a revolution of dignity,” he told Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin.

But Russia, which convened the UN meeting to put forward its view, did not back down.

Churkin held up a letter from ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych, who is in exile in Russia, urging “Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin … to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation for the restoration of the rule of law, peace, law and order.”

The Russian ambassador noted “our task is not to return Yanukovuch to power.”

But he said the only way to end the crisis is to revert to a 21 February accord, countersigned by France, Germany, and Poland, which says Yanukovuch should remain President of Ukraine until new elections in December.

Correction: The original text said Poland called a Nato meeting on Wednesday. The meeting is on Tuesday. Sorry

EU to approve €1.1bn Ukraine aid package

The EU commission will officially agree to offer Ukraine €1.1 billion in emergency aid on Thursday, part of which will help to pay for Russian gas.

Feature

Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees

Lebanon hosts over one million Syrian refugees, and has received some €1bn in EU funds. Caught in a geo-political tug of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon's domestic politics have cast a longer shadow over its Syrian 'guests'.

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty

The EU and its members states have signed up to 'Faustian pact' with Libyan authorities in the their effort to prevent migrant and refugee boat departures towards Italy, says Amnesty International.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Pro-Kremlin trolls targeted Scottish referendum
  2. MEPs vote to allow phosphate additives in kebabs
  3. Babis government sworn in in Czech Republic
  4. Russia looks to crypto-currencies to evade EU sanctions
  5. Juncker embroiled in Luxembourg wire-tapping trial
  6. Kurz close to forming new Austrian right-wing government
  7. Ministers reach deal on fish quotas but overfishing continues
  8. UK parliament to vote on right to veto final Brexit deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  2. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  3. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  4. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  7. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  8. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  9. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  10. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  11. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  12. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe

Latest News

  1. Tusk migration note prompts institutional 'hysteria'
  2. Migration looms over summit, as Africa pledges fall short
  3. Brits in EU-27 are uncertain, alone and far from protected
  4. 2018 fishing quotas agreed - but Brexit muddies waters
  5. Medical HQ to spearhead EU military push
  6. Facebook to shift ad revenue away from Ireland
  7. EU renews glyphosate approval, pledges transparency
  8. Romania searching for EU respectability

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  2. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  4. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  5. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  6. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  7. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  8. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  10. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives
  11. EPSU-Eurelectric-IndustriAllElectricity European Social Partners Stand up for Just Energy Transition
  12. European Friends of ArmeniaSignature of CEPA Marks a Fresh Start for EU-Armenia Relations