Germany fears that Americans and Russians want to partition Europe again

Foreign Affairs Council. EU Minister for Foreign Affairs meet in Brussels.From left to right: Jean Asselborn, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg, Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany. (European Council, Council of the European Union Newsroom, photographic library).

Foreign Affairs Council. EU Minister for Foreign Affairs meet in Brussels.From left to right: Jean Asselborn, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg, Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany. (European Council, Council of the European Union Newsroom, photographic library).

The Western threat to punish Russia by blocking its associations with the European Union and the Atlantic economic volume over the Ukrainian crisis has a major drawback; the Russian supplies of natural gas which move Europe. Moscow says it will cut off its gas supplies to Ukraine if an agreement on pricing is not reached today. It’s not clear if this will impede the flow of natural gas to the European Union, which covers almost half of its needs from Russia. There are EU countries, like Bulgaria, who dependent entirely on Gazprom deliveries. Negotiations between the Russian monopoly Gazprom and the Kiev authorities broke down last Saturday but were expected to be resumed yesterday, Sunday.

The problem is that, while the US and the EU seem wrapped together in confronting Russia over Ukraine, the two allies have quite different, if not conflicting interests in relation to Moscow. Even the three major EU countries, Germany, France and Britain have different, even opposing pursuits vis-à-vis Russia, with the first largely depending for its energy supplies, having invested heavily in Russia and eyeing more economic cooperation in the future. As for the US, the Americans see Russia probably as a future competitor in world energy markets and obviously hate the idea of a closer Russo-German relationship.

The Germans feel differently

Last week the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in St. Petersburg meeting his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. The German minister after the talks stated that “Russia’s tone had notably changed” and he added characteristically, “There is no interest to risk a new partition of Europe.” These comments are in direct contradiction with the bellicose attitude of Washington, London and Paris towards Moscow. Even Brussels have adopted a quite aggressive stance vis-à-vis the pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists and Moscow itself.

Such a strong Brussels attitude is a revelation. Not even an EU Press release was issued questioning the ruthless heavy artillery and air bombardments of inhabited areas in Donetsk and Mariupol, after the new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko assumed office. His last week’s claims of having ‘won back’ Mariupol and Donetsk were challenged by the downing of a military aircraft near Luhansk with 49 victims. Poroshenko’s plan to annihilate the resistance of the separatist forces before starting negotiations to accord some form of autonomy and recognition of the Russian language in the eastern provinces have not persuaded the pro-Russian rebels.

The Russian government demands that Kiev stops its all-out military action in the east and start an all-inclusive dialogue. Actually, two weeks ago, Frank-Walter Steinmeier had submitted his country’s proposal along the same lines for a solution to the problem. The German Minister had visited Kiev and the eastern provinces and had concluded that a viable solution cannot be reached without the participation in the negotiations of the Russian language fighters in Donetsk and Mariupol. Obviously, Berlin takes a much different position in this question than Washington, London and Paris. Surprisingly Brussels, as expressed by the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, is siding with the three and forgets what Germany has to say.

Georgieva speaks her mind

Understandably, the Berlin proposals passed quite unnoticed by Washington. Catherine Ashton meets more regularly with US Secretary of State John Kerry than with the German Minister of Foreign Affairs. It was the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis, Kristalina Georgieva, who demanded that “All parties must protect civilians” and added that “I am gravely concerned by recent developments in the eastern region of Ukraine, especially when innocent civilians, including women and children, are caught in crossfire and pay with their lives”.

This was the only Brussels’ initiative to recognize that the Kiev authorities under the new President have intensified heavy military action against residential areas in eastern Ukraine. Let’s be reminded that, Europe and the US decided to destroy the Gaddafi regime from the air and with it the entire Libyan state structures when government violence against citizens filled the streets with dead and wounded people. Libya doesn’t exist anymore. In the case of Ukraine, now, much more violence has been exercised by the Kiev authorities against the eastern provinces. Gaddafi didn’t use fighter planes against the country’s people as Poroshenko did. Obviously, the West uses double standards in the cases of Libya and Ukraine, according to its own interests.

Coming back to Brussels, only Georgieva among the EU Commissioners stated that the Kiev authorities are waging war in towns and cities where “women and children, are caught in crossfire and pay with their lives”. Probably for that the EU may take against Gerogieva legal action, as it did for her country in the case of the South Stream natural gas pipeline agreement that Bulgaria has signed with Russia.

It’s always the oligarchs

There is no doubt that the Ukrainian crisis started when Vladimir Putin convinced the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych to turn down an EU Association agreement and instead sign one with the Moscow led Eurasian Union. In view of that, the Kiev society rose to its feet and opposed this last minute U-turn as it had done during the Orange Revolution. In any case, the heart of the country’s problem was, and of course still is, the indifference of the Ukrainian corrupted political and economic elites for the common good.

Yanukovych and Timoshenko thought they could ‘sell’ their country’s affiliation in turns to Russia and then to the West, not caring about playing with fire, for as long as they could enrich themselves. Ukraine is still in the stage where Russia was many years ago when the first oligarchs established themselves in a devastated and dissolving country.

Now the Russians and the Americans can use the Ukrainian crisis to serve their own interests. Unfortunately, it seems that the European Union appears unable to play a decisive role and impose its own terms for a consensual solution in the civil war torn country. Possibly, some analysts are right that the Americans won’t stop until Europe is again partitioned, as Steinmeier fears.

 

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Comments

  1. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.

    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

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