Tuesday

22nd Aug 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 and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

'Killer robots' are not about Terminator

A European signatory of an open letter about autonomous weapons says the imagery of fictional killer robots is distracting from a seriously dangerous issue.

News in Brief

  1. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  2. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  3. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings
  4. Putin sends EU-blacklisted ambassador to US
  5. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  6. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  7. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  8. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference