The browser or device you are using is out of date. It has known security flaws and a limited feature set. You will not see all the features of some websites. Please update your browser. A list of the most popular browsers can be found below.
EU and NATO committees meet jointly to discuss UkraineThe European Union's Political and Security Committee (PSC) and NATO's North Atlantic Council (NAC) held a joint informal meeting today to discuss the situation in Ukraine, ahead of the meeting of EU heads of State or government tomorrow.The discussions underlined the seriousness of the crisis and showed the convergence of views in both organisations in upholding Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, the need for a dialogue between Ukraine and Russia as well as de-escalating steps in view of a peaceful solution to the crisis in full respect of international law as laid down in bi-and multilateral commitments. Ambassadors had an exchange of views on the various dimensions of the crisis in Ukraine and the options for the response of the International Community.BackgroundThe PSC and the NAC are the bodies respectively of the EU and NATO at ambassador level responsible for monitoring the international situation.PSC-NAC meetings are an integral part of the continuous political dialogue between the EU and NATO, including the so-called “Berlin Plus” arrangements and informal meetings. They formally meet on EUFOR Althea, the operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina making use of NATO common assets and capabilities.
We believe that the threats to Russia, which we have heard in public statements by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, with regard to the latest events in Ukraine and Crimea, are unacceptable. Without taking the trouble to understand the complicated processes in the Ukrainian community, and assess the situation, which keeps deteriorating after the forceful seizure of power in Kiev by radical extremists, in an objective way, the Secretary of State is operating with “cold war” methods proposing to “punish” the Russian Federation, instead of those who were the builders of this coup d’état.At the same time, they maintain silence on the fact that the United States and their allies turned a blind eye on the atrocities of the militants in Maidan, their mistreating of political opponents and plain civilians, the violent Russophobia and anti-Semitism, the besmearing of the memory of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War. Washington has also ignored that the newly-created Kiev regime trampled on the agreement of the 21 February, which was signed by the German, French and Polish foreign ministers, and formed a “government of champions”, having actually announced a war against the Russian language and everything associated with Russia. Allies of the west have now turned into being open neo-Nazis, who destroy orthodox temples and synagogues.
Russia’s position has always been and is, consistent and open. If Ukraine is just a territory for geopolitical games for individual western politicians, then for us it is a fraternal country, with which we have many ages of shared history.
Russia is interested in a stable and powerful Ukraine, where the legal rights and interests of the Ukrainians, our compatriots and all nationals are enforced. Our measures are adequate and absolutely legitimate in the extraordinary conditions, which were not created by us, when the life and security of the residents of Crimea and the south-eastern regions are in real danger because of the irresponsible and provocative actions of Banderovites and other ultranationalist elements. We are for a faster return of the situation in Ukraine to normality, on the basis of the agreement of the 21 February, including the formation of a legitimate national unity government considering the interests of all political forces and regions of the country.
You wouldn’t catch Putin destabilizing the “brotherly peoples” of Ukraine with meddling like that. He hasn’t, according to him, even sent in any troops. The heavily armed men riding around in armored personnel carriers are just “local self-defense forces” with no connection to Russia, he said. Forget the Kalashnikovs and bazookas. They’re not wearing Russian uniforms, are they? Just go to your local shop and see for yourself. “The post-Soviet space is full of such uniforms,” Putin told the journalists gathered to hear him speak.
Hearing this stream of consciousness from Putin for more than an hour — during which he bantered on the definition of revolution with a Reuters reporter, complained about how a Ukrainian oligarch had “swindled” a Russian oligarch out of billions, and openly mused about the death of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych (who made a point of insisting he was very much alive during his last public appearance) — makes you feel a little bit sorry for his Western interlocutors, who put up with long telephone rants from him over the weekend. Angela Merkel apparently now thinks he was “in another world,” according to theNew York Times. His insistence that he would only invade Ukraine “in line with international law” and with (very lengthy) views on Ukrainian constitutional procedure didn’t appear to impress Barack Obama.
“I know President Putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations,” the U.S. president said Tuesday, “but I don’t think that’s fooling anybody.” Secretary of State John Kerry, in Kiev Tuesday to pat the new government on the back and stick his tongue out at the Kremlin, scoffed at every word Putin said: “Not a single piece of creditable evidence supports any one of those claims,” Kerry said.
To an extent, Putin’s opponents in the West are right. Putin is living in a world of his own making. Right now, it doesn’t sound like a nice place to be. He is disingenuous about the legitimacy of Ukraine’s new government. He is paranoid that U.S. secret services are wreaking havoc on his turf. His pretext for invasion, which mostly centers around a Gulf of Tonkin-style “attack” on Crimea for which no evidence (bar an obviously fake video) even exists, is risible.
But even with tough economic penalties, some regional analysts say it may already be too late to reverse course in Crimea.
"The idea that there's a contest over Crimea is a little silly," said Matthew Rojansky, a Russia analyst at the Wilson Center, a think tank in Washington. "It's in Russian hands and it was always on the verge of being in Russian hands."
Rojansky said the most pressing concern for the U.S. is instead to keep Putin from pushing into Russian-friendly areas of eastern Ukraine, where U.S. officials are warily eyeing ethnic skirmishes. Putin on Tuesday said he saw no reason for Russia to intervene there at the moment but added that he reserved the right to take that step if Russian speakers in the region were in danger.
The Crimean peninsula is separated from the rest of Ukraine by geography, history and politics. It only became part of Ukraine when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave the peninsula to his native land in 1954, a transfer that hardly mattered until the Soviet Union broke up in 1991 and Crimea ended up in an independent Ukraine.
Crimea's port city of Sevastopol is also home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet and its thousands of naval personnel. Yanukovych, the ousted Ukrainian president, extended the fleet's lease until 2042, but Russia fears that Ukraine's temporary pro-Western government could evict it.
The U.S. is not calling for a full Russian withdrawal from Crimea, the Obama administration official said, but does want Moscow's forces to return to their normal operating position at their base, where they have an agreement with Ukraine to keep up to 11,000 troops. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the situation by name and would speak only on condition of anonymity.
The situation in Crimea has drawn comparisons to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two breakaway territories of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Russia has continued to maintain a military presence in both, violating a cease-fire that ended its 2008 military conflict with Georgia and ignoring repeated condemnations from the U.S. and Europe.
Barry Pavel, who worked on the White House National Security Council under both Obama and President George W. Bush, said reasserting control of Crimea may be even more important to Russia than the Georgian territories.
"Russian nationalists consider this to be practically Russian territory," said Pavel, who now serves as vice president of the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank. "The chances of Russian forces ever leaving where they are are very low."
Key elements of the package agreed today:
• €3 billion from the EU budget in the coming years, €1.6 billion in macro financial assistance loans (MFA) and an assistance package of grants of €1.4 billion;
• Up to €8 billion from the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development;
• Potential €3.5 billion leveraged through the Neighbourhood Investment Facility;
• Setting up of a donor coordination platform;
• Provisional application of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area when Association Agreement is signed and, if need be, by autonomous frontloading of trade measures;
• Organisation of a High Level Investment Forum/Task Force;
• Modernisation of the Ukraine Gas Transit System and work on reverse flows, notably via Slovakia;
• Acceleration of Visa Liberalisation Action Plan within the established framework; Offer of a Mobility Partnership;
• Technical assistance on a number of areas from constitutional to judicial reform and preparation of elections.