Saturday

24th Feb 2018

Don't forget Russia in EU talks, Ukraine says

  • View through Ukrainian artillery sight on Russian positions in east Ukraine (Photo: Christopher Bobyn)

As leaders meet in Bratislava to try to stop EU fragmentation, Ukraine has highlighted Russia’s role in trying to “shatter” the bloc.

“I strongly believe that every threat you will discuss - ongoing migration waves, large-scale propaganda and misinformation, rising populism and right-wing extremism, undermining of values and instigation of N-exits - are all servants of Russia’s hybrid warfare”, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko said in a letter, seen by EUobserver, to EU institutions and capitals on Thursday (15 September).

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.

  • Poroshenko depicted the war in Ukraine as the front line in defending Europe's post-Cold War order (Photo: president.gov.ua)

“The Kremlin scenario is to shatter the EU’s unity and the trans-Atlantic alliance and to impose an ‘alternative Europe’, based on integration fatigue, national egoism, [and] hatred”, he said.

Russia relations are not on Friday’s agenda, with EU leaders to discuss them at a summit in October instead.

But the Kremlin’s attempts to “weaponise” refugees, in the words of one Nato general, and its financing of far-right, anti-EU parties have shown that Europe’s problems are not just internal.

Russia’s media campaign, on TV and on the internet in almost every EU language, has also fed anti-EU populism.

In Germany, earlier this year, fake Russian news that migrants had raped a girl prompted street protests. In France, last year, journalists exposed Russian loans, worth millions, to the far-right National Front party.

Sanctions

The EU imposed economic sanctions on Russia two years ago due to its invasion of Ukraine.

But in the run-up to the October summit, some EU leaders have said sanctions did not deter Russia or that they impeded diplomatic solutions.

For Poroshenko, Moscow would take EU concessions as a green light to commit more “crimes”.

“Any debates on easing the restrictive measures … are counterproductive and instigate the Kremlin to further violations”, he said in his letter.

He said the sanctions were “a powerful tool” and that they “keep the Kremlin at the negotiating table both in the Minsk process and in the Normandy format”.

The Minsk ceasefire accord says “foreign” troops must leave east Ukraine and that Kiev must devolve power to war-torn regions via local elections.

The Normandy format - meetings in which France and Germany speak for the EU in talks with Ukraine and Russia - authored the Minsk deal.

Minsk sequencing

The EU’s position is that Russia must fully comply with Minsk before it relaxes sanctions.

But EU diplomats said that the October talks could “decouple” sanctions from Minsk, freeing Europe to undertake “selective engagement” with Russia in return for smaller, positive steps.

French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, in Kiev on Wednesday, also said Ukraine should move forward on devolution because Russia-controlled fighters had called a truce.

A Ukrainian official, who asked not to be named, told EUobserver there was a risk that the EU could blame Ukraine for Minsk non-compliance, even though it cannot hold elections in Russia-occupied regions until Russian forces pull out.

The official said that if elections went ahead, it could, “paradoxically”, see the EU reward Russia on Minsk progress due to concessions made by Ukraine.

“Only sequencing of the Minsk commitments can provide us with transparent benchmarks and sound guarantees for implementation”, Poroshenko’s letter noted.

The president, who is to attend the EU’s October summit, also warned that Russia used “controlled escalation” to undermine the peace process when it did not go its way.

Escalation

With Russia surging troops toward Ukraine’s borders in summer, that risk of escalation was highlighted in a UN report on Thursday.

“The situation along the contact line remains deeply unstable … there is a real risk that a new outbreak of violence could happen at any time”, the UN’s human rights envoy, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said.

The Ukrainian official said it was a good thing that the French foreign minister, and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, toured the conflict zone on Thursday because it would help them to “understand the reality of Russia’s hybrid war”.

He said the Ukrainian army is better equipped today than it was last year to resist Russian aggression.

Speaking to EUobserver in Brussels last week, Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian MP and former soldier, who regularly visits the front line, said that if Russia invaded Ukraine “It would be very bloody. There would be a brutal reaction by every Ukrainian man and woman. We would fight to the last man”.

“It would be the most pessimistic and drastic situation for Russia’s own existence”, she said.

EU extends Russia blacklist by six months

Oligarchs, Kremlin aides, and security chiefs remain banned from EU until at least March next year, but Brexit could help Russia to get off the hook on economic sanctions.

Focus

Denmark leads Ukraine anti-corruption drive

The EU has unveiled an anti-corruption scheme for Ukraine, amid concerns that its officials and lawmakers are undermining a key reform in the fight against villainy.

Little to celebrate at EU-Ukraine summit

EU leaders have pledged to uphold sanctions on Russia in the run-up to a summit this week, but the declaration comes amid multiplying uncertainties on future ties.

Opinion

EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy

Not extending the EU fisheries deal with Morocco to fish off the disputed coast of Western Sahara could deprive the Sahrawi people of much-needed income - and throw into question future EU foreign policy in the name of human rights.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?