RT: EU ‘sleepwalked’ into Ukraine crisis due to poor understanding of Russia – UK Lords

Published time: February 20, 2015 09:37

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (L), Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin (R), Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (2nd R) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Reuters/Thomas Peter)

France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (L), Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin (R), Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (2nd R) and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Reuters/Thomas Peter)

The EU ‘sleepwalked’ into the Ukrainian crisis after a failure to address Moscow’s concerns over Western policies, a UK parliamentary report says. Europeans suffer from poor analytic capacity when it comes to Russia.

The scathing report on the causes and the future of the Ukrainian debacle and Russia-West divide was prepared by the House of Lords, European Union Committee tasked with considering UK’s participation in EU matters.

The report identified policies in both Russia and EU and its member states that prevented them from engaging in dialogue and building trust between each other. Europeans are particularly guilty of lacking analytical capacity to properly understand Russia and predict its responses to EU’s actions.

“There has been a decline in Member States’ analytical capacity on Russia. This has weakened their ability to read the political shifts and to offer an authoritative response. Member States need to rebuild their former skills,” the report said.

Read more: ‘Beyond diplomatic ethics’: Moscow rejects UK comment
that Russia is threat to Baltics

“There is also a reduced emphasis on the importance and role of analytical expertise in the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK’s Foreign Ministry). The FCO should review how such skills could be renewed and how analysis can feed into decision-making processes,” the report added.

As a result,“an element of ‘sleep-walking’ was evident in the run-up to the crisis in Ukraine, and important analytical mistakes were made by the EU. Officials in Brussels as well as Member States’ embassies all participate in the EU foreign policy process, but all seem to have missed the warning signs.”

Russia’s security concerns genuine

The Lords say Western policies towards Russia didn’t acknowledge the genuine concern about the enlargement of NATO.

“For the Russians NATO is seen as a hostile military threat, and successive rounds of NATO’s eastern enlargement have, as the Russians see it, brought it threateningly close to the Russian border. EU enlargement, as it has become conflated with NATO enlargement, has also taken on the aspect of a security threat,” the document said.

“Russian security threat perceptions of NATO have to be acknowledged, and also challenged, in any discussions on European security,” the report recommended.

Russians see the eastwards enlargement of the EU as a process parallel with NATO expansion, the report points out. So the European drive to get Ukraine into the Eastern Partnership program was viewed as not only an attack on Russian economic interests in Ukraine, but also on its national security.

The quick move towards renouncing Ukraine’s military non-alliance status by the new authorities in Kiev, which took power from President Yanukovich in February 2014, strengthened this assessment.

Unrealistic expectations of Eastern Partnership

Economically there was also lack of proper communication between the EU and Moscow in the run-up to the Ukrainian crisis, the report said. The events in Ukraine were triggered by the EU Association Agreement, a free-trade treaty that Brussels wanted Kiev to sign and which the former Yanukovich government chose to postpone. Russia opposed the deal, saying it would hurt its trade with Ukraine and damage the latter’s economy.

“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 report said, adding that Europeans “did not connect the dots” in this case.

Read more: 5 facts you need to know about Ukraine-EU trade deal

The pursuit of the agreement with Ukraine and the entire Eastern Partnership program, which is aimed in integrating Russia’s neighbors closer with the EU are causing turmoil, and the EU is partly to blame, the report suggests.

“There is an unresolved tension between the offer of [EU] membership on the table to Eastern Partnership countries and the political will of Member States to follow through, which is not uniform. This creates unrealistic expectations, and complicates Russia’s relationship both with these countries and with the EU,” the report said.“Member States must clarify whether EU membership is on offer.”

The British Lords acknowledge that “Moscow has a right not to be excluded from the eastern neighborhood” and recommended that the EU engaged “in a fundamental reassessment of their strategic interests” there.

Long-term sanctions withdrawal required

The report approved EU’s sanction policy towards Russia over the Ukrainian crisis, but says a proper long-term exit strategy is needed.

Read more: Strategic rift’: Hungary PM criticizes EU partners trying to isolate Moscow

“There is no evidence that sanctions have caused [Russian] President Putin to shift his stance on Crimea, where Russia has direct and vital security interests through the Sevastopol naval base,” the document states.

“In the long term, three-tier sanctions are detrimental to the EU’s interests as well as to Russia’s. While they could be renewed in the short term, the prospect of the progressive removal of sanctions should be part of the EU’s negotiating position. Genuine progress by Russia in delivering the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine should be the basis for ratcheting down sanctions.”

The report suggests that resolving the legal status of Crimea should be postponed until more urgent matters of stopping the violence in Ukraine and helping its ailing economy are addressed.

Read more: France should recognize Crimea as part of Russia – Le Pen

“The possibility of another referendum on Crimea, under international mediation, is one option,” the report said. “We recognize that there is a danger that any such referendum would be colored by Russia’s domination of the political and media landscape in Crimea. It is critical that there should be an open and honest debate, and that citizens should vote without fear of reprisal. Nevertheless, this option should remain on the table.”

On a wider scale, the report suggests tackling some the issues in the EU that only aggravate the rift with Russia. One of them is “the historical grievance of the rights of ethnic Russians in Estonia and Latvia”that “seem to be a question to be investigated” by the EU. Another is the “events which commemorate our shared pan-European history,” which, according to the report “should stand separate from international disputes.”

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2 Responses to RT: EU ‘sleepwalked’ into Ukraine crisis due to poor understanding of Russia – UK Lords

  1. Robin says:

    I find the House of Lords’ assessment of the Ukraine crisis by declaring that the EU “sleepwalked” into Ukraine as laughable and a total nonsense. What a stupid remark to say that European governments should have taken into account Russia’s response to EU’s actions. EU leaders (puppets of Washington) were forced to comply with Washington’s and NATO’s strategic objectives to force Ukraine to accept the EU association agreement and alienate Russia from having close ties with Ukraine and Europe.

    The report doesn’t lay enough emphasis on the fact that it was Washington and the EU that were responsible for instigating an illegal coup in Kiev and providing support to neo nazis and fascist groups. This was blatant interference in forcing a regime change in a sovereign state. The crisis was incurred by the West when the then president Yanukovich heistated to sign the EU association agreement because of Russia’s better terms.

    The report does not address the fact that it was the Ukrainian army that started to bomb and attack ethnic Russian Ukrainians in the East. Ethnic Russian civilians were being massacred especially when they decided to have a referendum for greater autonomy from the illegal Kiev junta that was imposing their will on the Eastern regions. So the militias were formed by the ethnic Russian civilians in order to defend their homes and right for autonomy from what they considered a fascist regime.

    The report lays too much on Russia’s response when the response came from ethnic Russian Ukrainians themselves who took it upon themselves to protect their homes, their lives and right for self determination in response to a coup. Russia had nothing to do with the crisis and stood by watching as the Ukrainian army shelled civilian homes.

    It is a lie to say that Russia had any interference with the Crimea’s voting referendum that voted to join Russia! Most of the people in the Crimea are Russian and pro Russian. They were articially attached to the Ukraine without their consent by Nikita Krushcev in 1954. And for the report to even suggest that there should be another Crimean referendum because of their biased insinuation that it was Russian influenced is abominable. Why not address the abominable pro Western coup that took place instead?

    I just find the report ridiculous and typical of Western conniving politicans who seemed to suggest that we didn’t know that Russia was going to respond to our agression and interference in Ukraine! Again, it was not so much Russia’s response as it was from the ethnic Russian Ukrainians who responded, and it was their right to respond to attacks by the Ukrainian army that came to the Eastern parts from the West, and not vice versa. The whole Western media, and even these Lords in the House of Parlaiment still blame Russia for everything, from a non existent so-called Russian invasion to the downing of the MH17. Now there is much more strong evidence to show that the plane was shot down by Kiev, and it was a false falg attack to blame Russia. The plane was diverted by Kiev to fly into the war zone, and furthermore it was followed closely by an armed Ukrainian jet. Again it was Russia that supplied satellite pictures showing a ground to air missile vehicle in Ukrainian army’s territory. The question was asked by Russian officials why was a ground to air missile vehicle deployed by the Ukrainain army when they knew that the militias had no military planes?!

    Of course, Western governments and medias blamed the downing of the plane onto Russia without any evidence, and will not disclose satellite pictures to support their views. Because they have no proof. My research tells me that it was Kiev that downed the plane.

    The report fails to acknolwedge full responsibility by Western powers for the crisis, and that it was a planned and aggressive strategic event in order to get Ukraine into the EU, and from there to join NATO, which would allow NATO to put nuclear missiles into the Ukraine on Russia’s doorstep along its borders – totally unaccceptable for Russia and with good reason.

    No, the EU did not “sleepwalk” into Ukraine, it has always been a part of Washington’s and NATO’s agenda to isolate and weaken Russia into servile compliance to America’s world hegemony. Would America like it if Russia started a coup in Mexico installing a pro Russian government and with nuclear missiles along America’s borders? Would the Russians say we miscalculated America’s response to our aggression along her borders?

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