Europe enters uncharted waters with Kiev-Moscow standoff

Yesterday the EU Council of Foreign Ministers held an extraordinary meeting to discuss the recent developments in Ukraine. The Council urged Russia to immediately withdraw its armed forces to their areas of permanent stationing. In the absence of de-escalating steps by Russia, the Council agreed that it will decide about consequences such as suspension of bilateral talks on visa matters. From left to right: José Manuel Garcia-Margallo Marfil, Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Laurent Fabius, French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs. (The Council of the European Union Audiovisual Services 3/3/2014).

Yesterday the EU Council of Foreign Ministers held an extraordinary meeting to discuss the recent developments in Ukraine. The Council urged Russia to immediately withdraw its armed forces to their areas of permanent stationing. In the absence of de-escalating steps by Russia, the Council agreed that it will decide about consequences such as suspension of bilateral talks on visa matters. From left to right: José Manuel Garcia-Margallo Marfil, Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Laurent Fabius, French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs. (The Council of the European Union Audiovisual Services 3/3/2014).

With a brief announcement of the G7, the West is practically recognising the occupation of Crimea by the Russian armed forces as a ‘fait accompli’ and by the same token the dismembering of Ukraine. The announcement signed yesterday by the G7 heads of states or governments, even accepts that Russia has “security or human rights concerns…with Ukraine”. As for the consequences and the next day after the occupation of Ukrainian territory by the Russian army, the G7 leaders plus the two Presidents of the European Council and the Commission, propose to…mediate between Ukraine and Russia to “address… the Russian security or human right concerns”. This is a ‘de facto’ acceptance of the occupation.

Of course Crimea is geographically far away from the West, and historically until 1954 it was Russian soil, offered from Russia to the then sister Soviet Republic of Ukraine as a gift by the USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev. In any case, the West today seems to accept that Russia can take back that gift and the strong words about safeguarding the territorial integrity of Ukraine are just utmost hypocrisy and cynicism. All the major European governments in London, Berlin, Paris and of course Washington, when they started arming and financing the fascist and the other militant groups in Kiev, they knew very well that the dismembering of Ukraine will be the end game.

G7 = G8 minus Russia

Not surprisingly the G7 Press release is crystal clear. It goes like that “We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission, join together today to condemn the Russian Federation’s clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in contravention of Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter and its 1997 agreement with Ukraine. We call on Russia to address any ongoing security or human rights concerns that it has with Ukraine through direct negotiations, and/or via international observation or mediation under the auspices of the UN or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We stand ready to assist with these efforts. We also call on all parties concerned to behave with the greatest extent of self-restraint and responsibility, and to decrease the tensions”.

This is the first paragraph of the relevant Press release containing the important parts, while the rest of the statement is just words. The G7 also tells Putin that they won’t attend the G8 Sochi Summit in June and they insist, quite hypocritically, that they support the territorial integrity of poor Ukraine. Seemingly the Western governments mean it in the same manner as they recently supported the territorial integrity of Libya and Syria and before them of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Russia can keep Crimea

However, the last sentence of the above quote is unbelievable. The leaders of almost all the developed countries of the world are behaving so cynically as to place on the same footing, the quite impotent and obscurely motivated Kiev government with the powerful autocratic regime of Moscow. What else can the following sentence mean? “We also call on all parties concerned to behave with the greatest extent of self-restraint and responsibility and to decrease the tensions”. In short, the West accepts to freeze the situation in its present phase which is tantamount with a ‘de facto’ incorporation of Crimea in Russia.

Of course, the Kiev government has nothing to complain about the West’s real stance and intentions. All those Tymoshenko’s men and one or two fascists in the Kiev government are now trapped by their foreign masters and will be obliged to play the game till the end. The end though may mean more losses for Ukraine but for Russia too. The intentions of the West and more so of the US and Britain in this Ukrainian crisis, are not so difficult to understand, because out of this country’s destruction the US and Britain have nothing to lose. As they say ‘if they lose I win’.

Who will pay the price?

For one thing, if Putin continues dismembering Ukraine, Russia will probably lose all the $80 billion it has lent to Kiev so far. This is the kind of loss that any country would do everything to avoid, but Russia may be pressed towards this direction by the Kiev government, under the instructions abroad. Not to say anything about the pipelines which transport a large part of the Russian natural gas to Western Europe, through the Ukrainian soil. If those sales will be at risk, Russia may lose some very good customers who pay billions in strong euros. In short Russia has a lot to lose if Ukraine disintegrates.

On top of that, North America, Western Europe and Japan have started to threaten Russia with tough financial and other measures, starting with a suspension of talks with the EU on visa matters. It is certain though that to a large degree the Russian problems from the Ukrainian crisis and the cost of supporting Kiev would surely have severe repercussions on the rest of continental Europe. But not to Britain and North America. In any case the possible incorporation of whatever will be left from Ukraine into the NATO structures is not at all certain that it will be for the good of Western Europe. Not to forget that the dear cost of the Cold War, which started in Greece in 1946 and ended in 1990 with the fall of the Berlin Wall, was borne by Europe. On the contrary it helped both the US and the USSR to confirm their spheres of influence in Europe and the rest of the world.

Undoubtedly the Ukrainian crisis is going to poison the European atmosphere for a long time.

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