Tuesday

19th Feb 2019

EU 'missed warning signs' in run-up to Ukraine crisis, report says

The European Union and its national governments made “important analytical mistakes” and “missed the warning signs” in the run-up to the crisis in Ukraine, a report by a group of members of the UK's House of Lords has concluded.

The authors, members of the upper parliament's EU committee, wrote that the EU lacked proper intelligence-gathering and misread Russia's intentions.

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

  • The EU's enlargement policy in eastern Europe has created “unrealistic expectiations” says the report (Photo: European Commission)

“An element of ‘sleep-walking’ was evident in the run-up to the crisis in Ukraine”, said the report, published Friday (20 February).

Part of the sleep-walking was a result of a lack of Russia experts in foreign ministries, the authors write.

“A loss of collective analytical capacity has weakened Member States’ ability to read the political shifts in Russia and to offer an authoritative response.”

The EU did not accurately judge the combination of factors that led to the crisis in Ukraine, which started when the then Ukraine president Yanukovych unexpectedly refused to sign a trade agreement with the EU.

Pro-Russian president Yanukovych’s fled Ukraine following mass protests. Following Yanukovych’s exit, Russia annexed Crimea and Russian-backed separatistst have waged war in eastern Ukraine.

A ceasefire accord struck last week is unravelling, while Russia continues to flex its muscles.

“Collectively, the EU overestimated the intention of the Ukrainian leadership to sign an Association Agreement, appeared unaware of the public mood in Ukraine and, above all, underestimated the depth of Russian hostility towards the Association Agreement.

The authors also criticised a “decline” in national governments' ability to oversee the evolution of the EU-Russia relationship, which was "based on the optimistic premise that Russia has been on a trajectory towards becoming a democratic ‘European’ country”.

“EU enlargement, as it has become conflated with NATO enlargement, has also taken on the aspect of a security threat. These views are sincerely and widely held in Russia, and need to be factored into Member States’ strategic analyses of Russian actions and policies.”

The report said the EU's enlargement policy in eastern Europe has created “unrealistic expectations” in former Soviet Union states that are part of its Eastern Partnership programme, and “complicates Russia’s relationship both with these countries and with the EU”.

The report suggests that the EU assess its stategic interests in the eastern neighbourhood, and subsequently “put forward a strategy to communicate the EU's future policies to Russia”.

Ukraine calls for international peacekeepers

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has called for international peacekeepers to be deployed in the east of Ukraine amid a crumbling ceasefire. An EU police mission is the best format, he said.

Opinion

Ukraine's new lease of civic life

Civic activism born on the Maidan is the strongest guarantee that Ukraine can prevail by avoiding the mistakes of the past.

EU to revise relations with turbulent neighbourhood

A decade after launching it, the EU is trying to bring new life to its Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which has been rendered largely irrelevant by developments in Ukraine and around the Mediterranean.

News in Brief

  1. Visegrad countries meeting with Israel called off
  2. EU ministers call climate change 'direct and existential threat'
  3. Seven MPs leave Britain's Labour Party
  4. Czech PM: May's EU elections 'most important ever'
  5. 'History will judge us': May tells MPs on Brexit
  6. Trump warns EU on release of Islamist fighters
  7. Venezuela expels 'conspiratorial' MEPs
  8. Holocaust dispute upsets Israel's EU lobbying

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Italian populists could be second biggest force in EU parliament
  2. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars
  3. British MPs condemn Facebook CEO's misrule
  4. EU's chance to step up on Hungary and Poland
  5. ESA pushback against new EU space agency plan
  6. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  7. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  8. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us