Ukraine again at the crossroads between the EU and Russia (2023)

Article by Henrique Horta. As always, each author is entitled to his opinion.

To commemorateThe Russian invasion of Crimea, after the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, Vladimir Putin decides to invade all of Ukraine after the Beijing Winter Olympics. War is nothing new in Ukraine, after Russia's invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014, the eastern part of Ukraine, Donbass, has experienced low-intensity conflict ever since, making life difficult for citizens Ukrainians on the border of the war.

The most recent invasion and subsequent war dates back to late 2013/early 2014, as kyiv was the epicenter of a geopolitical/ideological protest, Euromaidan, which ended with the overthrow of pro-Russian President Yanukovych.Euromaidan, which in Ukrainian can be translated as "euro square", was the protest in which dozens of Ukrainians gave their lives to align their country with the European Union/ Brussels instead of Russia.

For the average Ukrainian, the European Union and the values ​​it is supposed to uphold (democracy, anti-corruption, freedom of expression)It is highly regarded as the means to a better life.. While the people protested and Yanukovych was deposed, the fate of the country was sealed.

Ukraine, however, suffered the same fate as other former Soviet republics that did not fully incorporate into Western institutions: war and annexation or 'puppet' of part of its territory into republics recognized only for Russia, the same happens with Georgia, that has 1/4 of its lands occupied bypro-Russian separatist forces(Abkhazia and South Ossetia), or Transnistria, a strip of land in Moldova, near the border with Ukraine.

Russia claims that NATO is getting too close to its own borders and that it is seeking some kind of buffer zone/border area where it can maintain a "safe distance". This course of action, of course, creates anxiety in Russia's own neighbors, who seek to maintain independence and territorial integrity.

For those who like to argue about it, the discussion ends up being a chicken or egg dilemma. People who side with Russia say that Russia is being provoked by NATO, while people who side with Russia's neighbors say that it is Russia's own aggressions that are pushing these countries towards NATO. and the EU.

This latest invasion was the greatest gift Putin could have given NATO: purpose. Enough with the “propagation of democracy” or “nation building”, enough with being out of the area, out of business, the organization is returning to its origins.

At the start of a new Cold War, a new iron curtain is drawn, this time from the Baltic Sea in Estonia to the Black Sea in Romania, with NATO now having direct borders with Russia.

No change in the European scheme of things

As for the European Union, support for Ukraine is now stronger than ever.

The European Union's support for Ukraine is nothing new. Introduced in 2008 by Sweden and Poland in 2008 and launched in 2009, the Eastern Partnership, part of the EU's Neighborhood Policy, was the first step in bringing Ukraine closer to the bloc. In 2014, after a tumultuous start to the year, with Russia's annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass, Ukraine, along with Moldova and Georgia, signed association agreements with the European Union that same year.

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In my master's thesis that I submitted at the end of 2019, just over 2 years ago on Ukraine's prospects for joining the European Union, the conclusion I came to was that Ukraine's accession process was still years away. . The speeches of the leaders at the time about the expansion of the bloc pointed to the desire of the Union to start negotiations with the Western Balkans, and that the free trade agreements were only a kind of 'middle house', described as an example of integration of a member outside the EEA (European Economic Area) in the single market of the European Union.

All of that has started to change in the past few weeks since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Since the start of the latest Russian aggression against Ukraine, the EU has worked quickly to introduce new sanctions on the Russian economy and, for the first time in the organization's history, has decided to provide military aid to another country, Ukraine.

In addition to these measures, the European Commissioner Ursula Von Der Leyen on Monday 28ºFebruary, in an interview with Euronews he also announced the closure of European airspace to Russian planes and the banning of two Russian stations, Russia Today and Sputnik News, considering them the 'Kremlin's war propaganda machine'.

In the midst of an economic and propaganda war between the EU and Russia, we can understand why the Union decided to ban these two Russian state channels, however this latest ban also opens a Pandora's box for what the European Union claims to be its core. . values: freedom of expression and freedom of the press. No matter how unsympathetic one may be to the Russian media, one of the EU's core values ​​is being called into question with this decision.

Response from EU leaders

In the same interview with Euronews, Von der Leyen begins by stating the support that the EU has given Ukraine so far:

“We know that every war has a cost and solidarity with Ukraine is enormous. If we look at the refugees who are hosted in the European Union, the financial support, now the support for military equipment, all this shows that there is strong solidarity with Ukraine.

They share our values.

They defend our principles.

They are the ones who want a peaceful democracy.

And Russia is attacking this and therefore they deserve and have all our solidarity."

Note the normative stance of the commissioner in these words. Von der Leyen says that because Ukraine upholds the values ​​and principles of the EU, it has not only been attacked by Russia, but deserves and has the full solidarity of the bloc. Von der Leyen in this sentence is not only defending Ukrainian values, but also those of the European Union, projecting the rules of the bloc on Ukraine.

When asked if Ukraine should become a member, the commissioner replied:

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“We have a process with Ukraine that is, for example, to integrate the Ukrainian market into the single market that we have. We have very close cooperation on the power grid, for example. So many issues that we worked on very closely and, in fact, over time,

They belong to us, they are one of ours and we want them here”.

After outlining the various forms of cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union, Von der Leyen finally stated: Ukraine belongs to them, they are one of them and they want them to join. , accession and expansion, while he claims that Ukraine belonged to the bloc and 'want it', leaving evidence that seems to support Ukraine's candidacy for the EU.

When asked if the EU is doing anything about this new wave of Ukrainian refugees, von der Leyen replied:

“We have spent weeks preparing for different options and, of course, there is a great opening to receive these refugees. We have contingency plans with different member states and, of course, all member states that are not frontline states are also willing to host refugees.

When asked if Ursula would activate the EU refugee protection law, she replied:

“Well, this is a question that, if necessary, we can of course ask at any time. So we are very open to that and that will be discussed with all member states."

The cohesion of the European Union is also being reshaped by this latest crisis, which shows how far the European Union, especially its eastern member states, is willing to go to help Ukraine and Ukrainian citizens in the face of this conflict. Eastern member states that were previously against receiving refugees from the Middle East are very flexible and receptive to receiving Ukrainian asylum seekers.

The opinion of the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Kiril Petkov, that despite being a great taboo in Western Europe, it is not so in the East,it is quite revealing why they are flexible with ukrainians:

These are not the refugees we are used to; These people are European. These people are smart. they are educated people... This is not the wave of refugees we were used to, people whose identity we were not sure of, people with dark pasts, who might even be terrorists.

In other words, now there is not a single European country that is afraid of the current wave of refugees.

In short, the openness and receptiveness of Ukrainian refugees by Eastern European States, and indeed the entire European Union, is due to historical and cultural proximity and also trust in an already well-integrated community. and established throughout Europe. Couples recognize each other.

Ukraine again at the crossroads between the EU and Russia (1)

(Video) Why US wants to weaken Russia via Ukraine conflict & why China-Russia are together : Fyodor Lukyanov

Towards an enlargement of Europe in Ukraine?

The commissioner also stated that this conflict will be a watershed for Europe:
“First of all, there is unprecedented cooperation and unity from all the democracies we see. Our American friends, UK, Canada, Japan, South Korea, just to name a few. Australia is also part of the group, so it shows that we stand together to defend democracy.

It is important for the European Union that we defend our peace order, the rules-based order and that we are very clear as a power, as the European Union, that we do not tolerate our values ​​being trampled on European soil”.

Úrsula ends this short interview with Euronews by saying that peace is always preferable to war and that trust in Vladimir Putin is completely eroded, which shows to what extent this conflict has severed relations between the EU and Russia.

The last sentence quoted is quite revealing. The commissioner reiterates, above all, the need for peace. One of the pillars of the European Union is the understanding of the different parties through mutual dialogue and the need for peace, receiving the block the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012,in recognition of more than 60 years of peace, reconciliation and democracy. After the need for peace comes the rule of law and respect for its values, but most revealing of all is the recognition of the European Union as a power to be reckoned with and capable of establishing its own red lines, on values and principles it upholds.

We are very clear as a power, as the European Union, that we do not tolerate our values ​​being trampled on European soil”.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is turning out to be a turning point in the European Union. Eastern European member states are now more welcoming than ever to refugees [from other Europeans].Denmark will also vote on joining the EU defense policy this June., almost 30 years after the Danes opted out.Germany decides to freeze Nord Stream 2 certification, despite crushing energy prices, which shows how serious Russian sanctions are and defending the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Nothing unites better than a common enemy.

As for Ukraine. The war is still raging. President Zelenskyalready applied for membership, followed byGeorgia and Moldova, the other two countries that have signed free trade agreements with the EU. The vast majority of MEPsalso supported the idea of ​​a non-binding resolution, demanding that Ukraine be granted candidate status under EU treaties and a "merit-based" approach. This, however, is considering whether Ukraine exists at the moment. president putinon Saturday hinted that:

“If they continue to do what they are doing [resist], they are questioning the future of the Ukrainian state,” he said. "And if that happens, it will be entirely on their conscience."

No one knows for sure what the outcome of this war will be and what geopolitical consequences it will have globally, but the effects are already being felt around the world. Rising fuel and food prices, falling energy prices, headline inflation,1 million Ukrainian refugees have already crossed the EU bordersand these numbers are only for the first weeks of the conflict, according to the latest estimates. One thing is certain: this conflict will shape Europe and the future of the world for years to come.


Amt, Auswärtiges. "Anniversary of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for the EU: A prize for all in Europe". German Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Accessed March 6, 2022.

Crowcroft, Orlando. 'MEPs vote overwhelmingly to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine' Euronews, March 1, 2022.

US News and World Report. 'Denmark will increase defense spending and phase out Russian gas.' Accessed March 6, 2022.//

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Self-Determination. 'Georgia: Abkhazia and South Ossetia'. Accessed March 6, 2022.

(Video) Ukrainian Army Has Pulled The Plug On Russia: Kremlin And Putin Is On The Verge Of Disaster!

POLITICAL. 'Georgia and Moldova follow Ukraine in applying for EU membership', March 3, 2022.

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Marsh, Sarah, and Madeline Chambers. 'Germany freezes Nord Stream 2 gas project as crisis in Ukraine deepens.'Reuters, February 22, 2022, sec. Energy.

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POLITICAL. 'Putin Threatens Ukraine 'State', Says No-Fly Zone Would Be Construed As Act Of War', March 6, 2022.

Socolovsky, Jerome, and Jonathan Franklin. "A million people have fled Ukraine as Russia moves closer to taking control of the port city."NPR, March 3, 2022, sec. Europe.

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Europa Centraleuropean institutionsUkraineukrainian war

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Is Ukraine now part of the EU? ›

23 June 2022

The European Council granted Ukraine the status of a candidate for accession to the European Union.

Why is NATO not helping Ukraine? ›

Why isn't Nato sending troops to help Ukraine? Nato countries are not sending troops to Ukraine for fear of provoking a direct conflict with Russia. They also refused to operate a no-fly zone over Ukraine, for the same reason.

What is EU doing about Ukraine? ›

Through its European Peace Facility (EPF), the EU has committed €3.6 billion to date in military assistance financing for Ukraine, including for lethal equipment (€3.1 billion) and nonlethal supplies (€380 million). Member states may be reimbursed from the EPF for assistance provided since the start of 2022.

When did Ukraine split from the Soviet Union? ›

Ukraine officially declared itself an independent country on 24 August 1991, when the communist Supreme Soviet (parliament) of Ukraine proclaimed that Ukraine would no longer follow the laws of USSR and only the laws of the Ukrainian SSR, de facto declaring Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union.

Is Russia a part of the EU? ›

Until 24 February 2022, Russia was one of the main trade partners of the European Union. Since 1997, the EU's political and economic relations with Russia have been based on a bilateral Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).

Which country has left the EU? ›

Brexit (/ˈbrɛksɪt, ˈbrɛɡzɪt/; a portmanteau of "British exit") was the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) at 23:00 GMT on 31 January 2020 (00:00 1 February 2020 CET). The UK is the only sovereign country to have left the EU.

Can a country be kicked out of NATO? ›

As of 2023, no member state has rescinded their membership, although it has been considered by several countries. Notwithstanding, a number of former dependencies of NATO members have never applied for membership subsequent to their becoming independent states.

Is China a part of NATO? ›

NATO Member states as of March 2022 are: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United ...

Can Europe survive without Russian gas? ›

"In 2023, Europe will likely, for the first time, need to survive a full calendar year with only minimal volumes of Russian pipeline gas," S&P Global analysts Michael Stoppard and Alun Davies said in a recent report.

Why did Ukraine reject EU? ›

According to observers, this is due to such factors as the unwillingness of the EU to expand to the post-Soviet space, the poor performance of the Ukrainian economy, the lack of democracy (during the 1990s), and the internal instability (following the Orange Revolution).

Why is Ukraine so important to the United States? ›

The United States reaffirms its unwavering support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters. The U.S.-Ukraine relationship serves as a cornerstone for security, democracy, and human rights in Ukraine and the broader region.

When did Poland leave the Soviet Union? ›

The PZPR was disbanded on 30 January 1990, but Wałęsa could be elected as president only eleven months later. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved on 1 July 1991 and the Soviet Union ceased to exist in December 1991.

How much territory has Ukraine lost? ›

A new Guardian analysis of Institute for the Study of War data shows that, after once having seized as much as 51,000 sq miles (132,000 sq km) of Ukrainian land, Russia has since lost a fifth of this. It now controls 40,000 sq miles of Ukrainian land, entirely in the south and east.

How long has Ukraine been independent from Russia? ›

Ukraine gained independence in 1991 as the Soviet Union dissolved, and declared itself neutral. A new constitution was adopted in 1996. A series of mass demonstrations, known as the Euromaidan, led to the establishment of a new government in 2014 after a revolution.

Are EU members all in NATO? ›

The EU and NATO have respectively 27 and 30 member states, of which 21 states are members of both. The six EU member states which are not members of NATO (Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden) held positions of neutrality during the Cold War, which they have since maintained.

Who is Russia's biggest trading partner? ›

Major trade partners of Russia 2021, by value

In 2021, Russia's main trade partner was China, as the volume of export and import trade between the two countries reached nearly 141 billion U.S. dollars. China was the country's both leading import origin and export destination.

Is the EU a member of NATO? ›

The EU is a unique and essential partner for NATO. The two organisations share a majority of members, have common values and face similar threats and challenges.

Why is Switzerland not in the EU? ›

It signed the agreement on 2 May 1992, and submitted an application for accession to the EU on 20 May 1992. However, after a Swiss referendum held on 6 December 1992 rejected EEA membership by 50.3% to 49.7%, the Swiss government decided to suspend negotiations for EU membership until further notice.

When did Norway leave the EU? ›

Norway was an associate member of the Western European Union until the organisation terminated in 2011.

What is the purpose of the EU? ›

The aims of the European Union within its borders are: promote peace, its values and the well-being of its citizens. offer freedom, security and justice without internal borders, while also taking appropriate measures at its external borders to regulate asylum and immigration and prevent and combat crime.

When did France leave NATO? ›

Did you know that France hosted NATO for 15 years? And that although it withdrew from NATO's military structure in 1966, it remained an Ally? What was President de Gaulle's rationale?

Why is Ireland not in NATO? ›

It refused to join NATO due to its sovereignty claims over Northern Ireland, which was administered by the United Kingdom, a NATO member. Ireland offered to set up a separate alliance with the United States but this was refused. This offer was linked in part to the $133 million received from the Marshall Aid Plan.

Do all NATO countries have to fight? ›

It does not require any member to respond with military force, although it permits such responses as a matter of international law. A member may decide that instead of responding with force, it will send military equipment to NATO allies or impose sanctions on the aggressor.

Is Mexico a part of NATO? ›

Mexico is not part of NATO. The country has never been a member of the alliance and Mexico has never been a candidate to join NATO. NATO was founded in 1949. Its original objective was to ensure the security of Europe and act as a deterrence against the Soviet Union.

What countries Cannot be in NATO? ›

Six EU member states, all who have declared their non-alignment with military alliances, are not NATO members: Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta, and Sweden. Additionally, Switzerland, which is surrounded by the EU, has also maintained its neutrality by remaining a non-EU-member.

Is Japan a NATO? ›

NATO has a number of “partners across the globe” or “global partners”, which the Alliance cooperates with on an individual basis. NATO's global partners include Afghanistan¹, Australia, Colombia, Iraq, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand and Pakistan.

Can the US replace Russian gas in Europe? ›

U.S. LNG Cannot Replace The Russian Natural Gas That Europe Has Lost. Europe has relied on U.S. LNG imports to offset the loss of Russian gas, with nearly 70% of U.S. LNG exports heading to Europe in September.

Can the world live without Russian oil? ›

But much of that increased output would require further investment and much more time. As a result, a total loss of Russian oil exports would be very damaging for global GDP in the short/medium term. Much higher prices would drive demand destruction (less economic activity) to rebalance the market.

Who can replace Russian oil? ›

Saudi, with 2m bpd spare, and the United Arab Emirates with 1.1m bpd are the only two leading oil producers with immediate spare capacity to offset a Russian shortfall.

What is the EU doing about Ukrainian refugees? ›

The EU has taken concrete actions to help refugees, including: temporary protection mechanism for people fleeing the war. €523 million in humanitarian aid. civil protection support to Ukraine, Czechia, Poland, Slovakia, the Republic of Moldova and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

Does the EU military help Ukraine? ›

With today's decision, the EU is stepping up its support to Ukraine to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, and protect the civilian population against the ongoing Russian war of aggression.


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