Saturday

18th Nov 2017

Putin redraws map of Europe

Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Tuesday (18 March) signed a treaty annexing the Ukrainian region of Crimea, shortly before the Russia-Ukraine confrontation claimed its first casualty.

He justified the step in a long speech to MPs which described the Black Sea peninsula - given by the USSR to Ukraine in 1954 - as quintessentially Russian in cultural and historical terms.

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.

  • Putin with Crimean separatist leaders in Moscow on Tuesday (Photo: kremlin.ru)

He said Ukraine is now run by “neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, and Russophobes.”

He also framed the crisis in a geopolitical context, accusing Western powers of trying to stop him from creating a Eurasian Union by orchestrating “controlled” revolutions.

“We understand what is happening, that these actions were directed against Russia and against integration in Eurasia … But everything has its limits. And in the case of Ukraine, our Western partners crossed the line, they were rude, irresponsible.”

With Russia’s ratification of the Crimea treaty to be completed in the next few days, the annexation looks like a fait accompli.

But there are fears Putin will go further.

He noted in his speech that ethnic Russians in the Ukrainian cities of Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Kiev are “still” appealing for his help and he described Kiev as the “mother of all Russian cities," adding: "Ancient Rus is our common source and we cannot live without each other.”

He has amassed military forces on Ukraine's north and eastern borders.

If he is going to absorb Crimea, he will also need to take control of the electricity and water infrastructure which feeds it and which is located on the Ukrainian mainland.

Shortly after Putin stopped talking, the Ukrainian PM, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, accused Russian forces of shooting dead a Ukrainian officer at a base in the Crimean capital of Simferopol.

He called for a meeting with UK and US defence chiefs and said the crisis has entered a “military stage.”

For his part, Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yushchenko, told EUobserver in an interview in Brussels the same day: “He [Putin] is a maniac who is obsessed with the idea of recreating the Soviet Union and, sadly, he is not the only one like this in the Russian political establishment.”

The former commander-in-chief praised the Ukrainian army's restraint, but said that if it comes to war, then Russia has “underestimated” its opponent.

“Our army is technologically advanced, very professional, and highly educated. We have the same types of weapons the Russians have … and a very strong spirit."

EU countries and the US also reacted to Tuesday’s developments with strong words.

US vice-president Joe Biden, while visiting Warsaw, said the US will impose extra sanctions on top of its earlier blacklist of Russian officials and MPs: “Russia is alone. It’s clear that Russia’s economic isolation will increase if it stays on this path."

British foreign minister William Hague tweeted: “preparatory work now underway for a third tier of [EU] sanctions, including economic & trade measures.”

EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso also said EU leaders at a summit on Thursday will “agree on a united European response.”

Meanwhile, a European Parliament committee named 32 Russians who it says should be on an EU blacklist for their role in murdering a Russian anti-corruption campaigner, Sergei Magnitsky.

With MEPs voting 53 to one in favour, the move, albeit symbolic, indicates the mood in the EU capital.

Punitive measures aside, Yushchenko added that the “biggest sanction” the EU and US could impose on Putin would be economic and political support for Ukraine.

He listed a clear EU and Nato membership perspective and EU visa-free travel as the most important elements.

He also warned the West that all may not be as it seems in Ukraine.

Reports in some Russian media say that Yushchenko's old rival, former PM Yulia Tymoshenko, cut a deal with Putin - to give him Crimea in return for helping her to regain power.

She told EUobserver earlier this month it is "anti-Ukrainian propaganda."

But Yushchenko said it is “quite strange” that Ukraine's Tymoshenko-dominated government has done nothing to secure the Crimean electricity and water infrastructure on the mainland. He said it is equally strange Ukraine did not close its border with Russia to stop Russian agitators from going to Donetsk and Kharkiv.

“I belong to this group of people [who believe there is a Putin-Tymoshenko deal],” Yushchenko said.

“This is one of the biggest mysteries for Europeans … The line of relations between these two people have been significantly underestimated and Europe risks falling into their traps,” he added.

Khodorkovsky: Putin fears Ukraine 'revolution'

Russian oligarch-turned-dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky has said the Kremlin “fears” the Ukrainian revolution, but warned Ukraine not to expect too much help from the West.

MEPs ponder how to fight tax havens

After the Paradise Papers brought new revelations about tax dodging across the globe, including in the EU, the European Parliament wonders how to step up the fight.

News in Brief

  1. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  2. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  3. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  4. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  5. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  6. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  7. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  8. German coalition talks in near collapse

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Step Up Water Management Cooperation
  2. CECEMachinery Industry Calls for Joint EU Approach to Develop Digital Construction Sector
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersMale Business Leaders Gather in Copenhagen to Advance Gender Equality
  4. EnelNo ETS Deal Means It Can Still Be Strengthened
  5. EU2017EEEstonia Anticipates More Digital Cooperation With Sweden
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina Launches Campaign to Protect IPR of Foreign Companies
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Condemns Attacks on Ruta Vanagaite and the Shredding of Her Books in Lithuania
  8. Bio-Based IndustriesDiscover the Future of the Bio-Based Economy. Register Now for the BBI Stakeholder Forum!
  9. European Free AllianceWelcome Catalonia!
  10. UNICEFGrowing Number of Unaccompanied Refugee Children in Greece in Need of Shelter
  11. Counter BalanceNature Destruction Cannot Be Compensated For, Say NGOs
  12. CES - Silicones EuropeSilicones - Enabling the Next Big Leap in Prosthetics and Health