Strasbourg round-up: MEPs critical of 'hybrid war' being waged in Ukraine

Written by Ioan Mircea Paşcu, Petras Austrevicius, Helmut Scholz and Indrek Tarand on 19 September 2014 in Opinion
Opinion

MEPs have co-authored a parliament resolution calling for Europe to stand up to Russia, following the ratification of the EU-Ukraine association agreement.

Ioan Mircea Paşcu (S&D) is a co-author of parliament's Ukraine resolution

There was a marked asymmetry between the unlawful actions of Vladimir Putin's Russia in Ukraine and the EU's response. Both militarily (see the 'hybrid war' waged in Ukraine) and politically, Putin's Russia imposed on us a 'game', where he is trying to achieve a strategic objective - keeping control over Ukraine - through a series of well calculated tactical moves, in an attempt to prevent a strategic response on our part.

"Russia has engaged herself too deeply in achieving its strategic objective of keeping Ukraine under control and trying to secure strategic territories by incorporating them within its borders to back down now" - Ioan Mircea Paşcu

We accommodated that 'game' because, willingly or not, we lost sight of the big picture, in an attempt to salvage a very lucrative relationship with a key commercial partner, ignoring the fact that Putin's Russia had long since ceased to see us in those terms. The EU, therefore, should salute tactical moves such as the ceasefire agreed in Minsk on 5 September, while remaining aware of Putin's strategic design and its implications for our eastern members, who were reassured by Nato at the latest summit, a fact which should be saluted.

To my mind, Russia has engaged herself too deeply in achieving its strategic objective of keeping Ukraine under control and trying to secure strategic territories by incorporating them within its borders to back down now. Moreover, it already paid a high cost for it, to throw the plan out the window. That is why, both Nato and the EU, in collaboration, should keep implementing their decisions to allow the will of the people in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia to be fulfilled and to strengthen their eastern members to both deter and defend against Russia's aggressive moves.


Petras Austrevicius (ALDE) is a co-author of parliament's Ukraine resolution

The ratification of the EU-Ukraine association agreement by two parliaments on Tuesday was a historic move and a challenge for the future for both parties. The agreement we signed has exactly the same text that the previous government of Ukraine refused to do so a year ago, at the summit in Vilnius. To the deep regret of us all, Ukraine had to suffer over the last few months - at Euro-Maidan and in eastern Ukraine.

Now we have the will of Ukrainian people written in blood. Notwithstanding the continuing brutal military aggression from Russia, I truly hope that the Ukrainian government will be able to immediately start the necessary reforms in order to implement this agreement. In essence, these reforms are needed not for the agreement, they are vital for the future of Ukraine and its people.

"We are witnessing an unconventional type of war in Ukraine - a 'hybrid war', with no beginning and no end" - Petras Austrevicius

I also believe that the European Union will be in a position to assess the situation in Ukraine adequately. We are witnessing an unconventional type of war in Ukraine - a 'hybrid war', with no beginning and no end. We are seeing not only open military assault, but also propaganda and lies that are coming from 'big brother' through different kind of media channels. I am hopeful the EU will be able to resist to it and find all the necessary means to truly support the European choice of Ukraine and its people.


Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL) is a co-author of parliament's Ukraine resolution

The EU-Ukraine association agreement was rushed through parliament in an unprecedented fast-track procedure. Given that the agreement and its free trade chapter have contributed to a deep internal social and economic conflict that has led to thousands of victims, the parliament's role should have been taken much more seriously.

"The ratification [of the EU-Ukraine agreement] seems to be using 'banana republic' procedures to deal with such a key dossier and that is a mistake" - Helmut Scholz

The ratification seems to be using 'banana republic' procedures to deal with such a key dossier and that is a mistake. Parliament has not checked the precise impact of the agreement's contents, in particular on the implementation of the free trade agreement, on the mid and long-term development prospects for citizens in both the EU and Ukraine, on the urgently needed modernisation of the Ukrainian economy (and it becoming a competent partner for both the EU and the Eurasian union).

No consideration was taken of the need to create decent jobs and redistribute wealth. Under president Petro Poroshenko and prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's new government, the oligarchic structures should be undone for the benefit of all Ukrainians in all the regions of this divided country. This had doubtless been one of the core-elements of the early Maidan protests and will be key for any future peaceful solution to military violence in Ukraine and in finding a solution to the Crimea issue.

The parallel session of an already dissolved Verkhovna Rada and its ratification of this agreement has also deprived Ukrainian citizens of their chance to influence ratification in their upcoming elections. The GUE/NGL group wants peace and a resolution to the social and national rift in Ukraine and therefore rejects this procedure and the agreement.


Indrek Tarand (Greens/EFA) is a co-author of parliament's Ukraine resolution

We must ask the right question - 'How do we stop Russia waging its war in eastern Ukraine?' Diplomacy has not worked and EU needs to apply all non-military means: tough sanctions that hurt the Russian economy, not just Putin's friends. If we continue with diplomacy, we will sleepwalk into another historic appeasement towards which we have already set our course.

"Diplomacy has not worked and EU needs to apply all non-military means: tough sanctions that hurt the Russian economy, not just Putin's friends" - Indrek Tarand

The Greens' resolution encouraged the cancelling of the Fifa 2018 world cup in Russia, welcomed a suspension of Moscow's G20 membership, criticised the deficient nature of current sanctions, made stricter demands of the UK to withdraw all arms export licences to Russia and for other member states to suspend their existing and future arms deals as well. I appreciate that the socialists and conservatives agreed with cancelling South Stream and welcomed Mistral sale cancellation, but deleted the demand to scrap it permanently.

Finally, sanctions come with a cost. Nobody wants to pay for them, except maybe those who really are in danger or still remember the dangers from the past. Sanctions are a method of causing pain, used after polite talks fail to work. Unfortunately president Putin has built a regime which cannot be easily talked into behaving. He understands only the application of painful moves.

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