The Ukrainian crisis.- Calling Russia to dialogue while showing the economic and troops’ fangs

The fact that Ukraine could join NATO and the slow but sure rapprochement with the European Union that began after the fall of and the election of President Zelensky has triggered the survival mechanism in the Russian federation. Moscow has been losing more and more influence over a Europe, the communist by force after the Second World War, which, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, launched itself in search of economic development and, to a greater or lesser extent, democratic.

The European Union is opening its arms to Eastern Europe, while Russia sees how its relevance and economic influence, still largely linked to its natural resources of fossil fuels (gas, oil, coal) will come to an end sooner or later.

As Europe moves towards a green economy based on renewable energy Russia loses gas as one of its strengths to negotiate.
Another serious loss in power for a country used to switch down the tap in the Ukranian gasoduct and make Central Europe dance to the Russian rithm for getting their gas supply.

With an autocratic President against whose permanence in power more and more critical voices are raising, despite the political repression he applies, Vladimir Putin (the current President of Russia) could seize the “trump card” of the external enemy and the recovery of the military control of Russia’s former area of ​​influencea. A crusade to sell the Russian people and thus justify his keeping the presidential seat at the Kremlin.

The annexation of Crimea and the situation of control in Donbass through the pro-Russian separatists are two examples of Putin’s strategy in this regard.
In the context I’ve described and with Russian war troops amassed at the Ukrainian border, the conflict is served. It only remains to be seen whether Russia decides to invade Ukraine or holds back, given the economic sanctions and the military and economical support to Ukrainian freedom of choice promissed by the European Union, the US and other NATO members.

While “the allies” call the installed in the ultimatum Russia to the path of dialogue, both parties, the Kremlin and the NATO members, with the US in the lead, show their teeth at each other by deploying or mobilizing troops by the thousands on the Ukrainian border and in the Baltic Sea.

EU prepared for a strong reaction against any Russian attack on Ukraine both physical or online, but dialogue, the prefferred path, says Eu Council and NATO members

Minsiters of Foreign Affairs of member states of the European Union concurred today that the EU should continue with diplomatic efforts to convince Russia to take the path of dialogue in the Ukraininan issue, and tasked the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, to keep coordinating the EU position with key partners like the US, NATO and OSCE. At the same time the EU will continue to push back on disinformation.

While the first choice is dialogue, the High Representative made clear that work in preparation of armed and economical responses to a potential Russian aggression was advanced, and run in coordination with key partners.

In the context of this discussion, EU member’s Foreign Affairs ministers had the opportunity to informally exchange views via video teleconference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

EU Council 24_01_2022_exchange of views with Anthony Blinken_US Secretary of State
Exhange of views with US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, on the situation in Ukraine at the EU Council held today. © European Union.

We’ll remember that Russia’s requirements to agree on de-escalation of the troops already massed on the Ukrainian border include that the NATO should never accept Ukraine among its members and that the European Union should never accept Ukraine as a member.

After the meeting held between Sergey Lavrov (Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation) and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken this weekend in Geneva, and while Blinken commited to send a written answer to the Russian requests this week, Russia, USA and Nato members have continued with their military deployments around Ukrainian borders and other neighbouring countries.

Moscow keeps on assuring that the Kremlin does not plan to invade Ukraine, but Russia’s illegal seizure of Crimea in 2014 tells against Moscow’s word.
That illegal seizure of Crimea was the biggest land grab in Europe since World War II, and it violated many commitments that the Kremlin had made to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

It is also the Russian Federation, who is supporting pro-Russian separatist rebels in the armed conflict and unrest situation currently alive at Ukraine’s Donbass region.

“The risk of conflict remains real. And we continue to call on Russia to de-escalate and choose the path of diplomacy.
NATO is a defensive Alliance, which does not threaten Russia, or any other country. But we will always do what is necessary to protect and defend all our Allies.
And I welcome that Allies are stepping up,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg,said today.

More than words: EU Commission approves 1.2 Bn finacial assistance for Ukraine to address the conflict with Russia

“… I am announcing a new financial assistance package to the country made of both emergency loans and grants. First, the Commission proposes a new emergency macro-financial assistance package (MFA) of EUR 1.2 Bn. This package will help Ukraine now to address its financing needs due to the conflict. We count on the Council and the European Parliament to adopt this emergency MFA as soon as possible. We will then proceed to the rapid disbursement of a first tranche of EUR 600 million” Ursula von der Leyen (President of the EU Commission) informed today.

Ursula von der Leyen_Ukrainian crisis_EU economic support
Ursula von der Leyen informs on the economic and political support that the European Union has agreed to provide Ukraine to protect this country’s freedom of choice. To wath her remarks click on the video link provided at the end of this post.

“Moreover”, von der Leyen continued “we will soon start work on a second, longer-term MFA programme to support the country’s modernisation efforts. Second, the Commission will almost double its bilateral assistance to Ukraine in grants this year: Another EUR 120 million will be allocated. This support will strengthen Ukraine’s state-building and resilience efforts.

“On top of this, we will continue to invest in the country’s future, thanks to our Investment Plan for the country. This plan aims to leverage over EUR 6 billion in investments. Let me be clear once more: Ukraine is a free and sovereign country. It makes its own choices. The EU will continue to stand by its side.”
It is clear that the European Union, at least the EU Commssion, is no way thinking of banning Ukraine to jointhe European Union.

“As ever,” the President of the EU Commission underscored, “the EU stands by Ukraine in these difficult circumstances. We are firm in our resolve. The EU has already provided significant assistance to Ukraine, both to support the country’s resilience and modernisation, and specifically to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2014, the EU and European financial institutions have allocated over €17Bn in grants and loans to the country.”

Notions of ‘spheres of influence’ have no place in the 21st century, EU Council underscores

The EU will step up its efforts to enhance Ukraine and other partners’ resilience through a financial assistance package made of emergency loans and grants, support against cyber and hybrid threats, and support for security and defence, including through the reform of the Ukrainian military education sector.

Josep Borrell on EU Council joint action against Russian crisis in Ukraine
Josep Borrell (EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs) at the press conference after the EU Council meeting held today. To watch what he said on the actions to be taken by the European Union should diplomacy fail to solve the conflict with Russia, clic on the video link provided at the end of this post.

Conclussions adopted by the EU Foreign Affairs Council held today also underline that Russia’s attempts to re-create dividing lines on the European continent undermine the core foundations and principles on which European security is built, and bring back dark memories of spheres of influence, which do not belong to the 21st century. The Council reaffirms its full and unquestionable support to Ukraine and clarifies that any further military aggression against Ukraine would have serious consequences and massive costs.

The Council condemns Russia’s continued aggressive actions and threats against Ukraine, and it calls on Russia to de-escalate, abide by international law and engage constructively in dialogue through the established international mechanisms. As stated by the EU heads of state and government at the European Council meeting in December 2021, any further military aggression by Russia against Ukraine will have massive consequences and severe costs.

Not just an Ukrainian matter: EU and NATO will support other Eastern neighbouring countries in case of Russian aggressions

The EU confirms its unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and other Eastern Neighbourhood partners within their internationally recognised borders, and it calls on Russia to re-engage constructively in existing international frameworks for the sustainable and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

The Foreign Affairs Council was updated on the latest developments in Russia’s military build-up around Ukraine and had a discussion on the European security situation, covering also the situation in Belarus and Kazakhstan.

NATO Secretary General meets the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Sweden
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Pekka Haavisto and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Ann Linde after their meeting on 24th January 2022. © NATO

“We are considering to further enhance our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance. This could include the deployment of additional NATO battlegroups.
These deployments are proportionate and in line with our international commitments.
And they reinforce European security for all of us.
At the same time, NATO remains ready to continue dialogue with Russia,” NATO’s Secretary General today.
With an eye on a possible alliance between Russia and Belarus on the Ukrainina issue, NATO’s Secretary General has held a meeting today with Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Pekka Haavisto and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Ann Linde.
Belarussian President Alexandr Lukashenko has showed more than once his pro-Russian leaning.

In fact the Kremlin has movilised the Russian navy force in the Baltic Sea for what Moscow has called ‘military maneuvers’.

Image over the headline.- Soldiers of 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division od the US Army train Ukrainian Soldiers on trigger squeeze, on July 27, 2016. photo, US Army.

Related external links:

Statement of the EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen on the economic support for Ukraine

Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, remarks on the joint position on the Russian-Ukrainian crisis after EU Council held on 24th January 2022

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