Kremlin resumed war against Ukraine: How should EU respond to it?

Author : Marieluise Beck

Source : 112 Ukraine

German politician Marieluise Beck on Donbas issue, escalation of the situation in Ukraine's Avdiivka, and
13:58, 7 February 2017

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Weapons of the Donbas has never been silent, but now the war has erupted with a new force. Avdiivka has been subjected to deliberate heavy artillery and rocket launchers attacks, carried out from the residential areas of Donetsk.

Related: Bellingcat confirms shelling of residential blocks in Avdiivka

Almost 20 000 people are forced to live in constant fear for their lives. They have long stayed without electricity, they had troubles with heat and water. The same fate threatens 400,000 people in the region. This is a humanitarian disaster in the very heart of Europe.

Related: In the midst of hostilities: How Avdiivka lives under constant bombardment

So now is not the time to speculate on the content of the telephone conversation between Presidents Putin and Trump. Now is not the time to speculate about whether this conversation by chance coincided with actions of Russian-backed militants.

Related: Lithuanian foreign minister: Situation like Avdiivka could happen again

These days the EU must be more determined than ever. European policy must show that it has sufficient willpower to offset the unpredictability of the current US policy. Europe must insist on an immediate ceasefire. Anyone who now supports populists and talks about the lifting of sanctions, sends a signal to Putin: you can do the same in the future.

Therefore Brussels should help people who find themselves in trouble. It must give the Kremlin and the Russian-backed militants a clear political signal that any further action would inhumane consequences.

Related: Bid rigging: Trump, Merkel, and Putin want to close the issue of sanctions

It is not clear what foreign policy will eventually become crucial in Washington, but the political closeness between President Trump and President Putin does not bode well.

The common thinking of the ideologues of Dugin and Bennon is frightening. However, comments of the new US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in connection with military operations in Donetsk region may indicate that even President Donald Trump is not ready to accept aggression from Russia.

EU cohesion around its course towards Russia still would be seriously tested by the upcoming national elections. Just over a month ago, the EU reaffirmed its policy of sanctions against the Kremlin. Therefore, this position must be cohesively and confidently represented in Washington, speaking for the safety of US sanctions.

Related: Trump, Stoltenberg discuss ways to solve Donbas conflict

The destination diplomatic efforts should be not only the White House, but also Congress.

The absence of a decisive response and desire at all costs to avoid a conflict with Russia, the Kremlin sees as a sign of weakness, which should be used. Europeans must transfer this bitter experience to their partners across the Atlantic, drawn from the conflicts with Russia.

Any political compromises, including the Minsk agreement must consider the answer concerning what the Kremlin really wants. Is it interested in stabilization of the situation in Ukraine? Or maybe it needs Donbas as a permanent focus of tension?

The current system of peace and security on the continent was created in cooperation with Russia and the United States. The aggressive actions of Russia in Ukraine put it into doubt, but Germany and the European Union must emphatically defend this system.

Related: No mention of lifting sanctions during Trump and Putin call

For Ukraine, this means that the EU should do everything possible to stabilize the country economically and politically.

You cannot prevent an agreement between President Trump and President Putin at the expense of Ukraine. In addition, the prospect of Ukraine's membership in the EU should remain open, despite the fact that the EU currently observed fatigue accepting new members, and Kyiv is not ready for accession.

After Euromaidan Ukraine pledged to fulfill an ambitious and comprehensive reform program. There was a large-scale transformation since the country gained independence. Fulfilled the criteria for visa liberalization, Ukraine has demonstrated its willingness to reform, and now the EU has to fulfill his promise.

Related: What to expect from meeting in Minsk concerning situation in Avdiivka?

Naturally, the inertia of the old system is powerful, but young forces in civil society and politics, focused on the EU, are actively promoting reforms through international pressure.

Thus, not only the Kremlin but also the corrupt elite of Ukraine threaten the movement for reform.

But the EU’s closed door play into the hands of these forces.

Only EU enables economic and social transformation of Ukraine. In this case, the country would become a model for the whole region.

Using this chance is a vital interest for Europe itself.

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