Between fears and recording attitudes.. What are the implications of Borrell’s visit to Ukraine?
The interests of Ukraine and the European Ukrainian neighbors intersect with the interests of Washington and NATO by deterring Russia and limiting its growing influence, and despite the German and French positions, the European Union seeks to play a role in this conflict, to preserve its unity first, and then exit with the least losses from it.
Kiev – An important and remarkable visit by the European Union foreign and security policy chief Josep Borrell to Kiev and eastern Ukraine recently. It is the first visit of a European official of this level to the conflict areas with the pro-Russian separatists, and it comes in the midst of a major escalation and talk of a possible Russian “invasion” of Ukraine.
What was also remarkable was the shift in the tone of Borrell’s speech with Kiev, which remembers well how hard he was on her in September 2020 when he first visited her and criticized her repeated requests for support, saying that “the European Union is not a charitable organization or an ATM.”
Today, Borrell’s dialect was filled with messages of “unwavering support” for Kiev, and a threat to Moscow to pay a “heavy price” if it took any “provocation” or military action against Ukraine.
A seat at the negotiating table
Borrell’s visit comes days before marathon negotiations taking place in Geneva on January 10-12 between Russia on the one hand, and the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on the other.
Negotiations in which the European Union is clearly absent, although -politically, security and geographically – it may be the most prominent person concerned with the Ukraine crisis and the escalation around it.
Therefore, observers believe that Borrell’s visit aims – in the first place – to play a pivotal role in the crisis, and to reserve a seat at the negotiating tables, or at least influence it, and this is what he expressly expressed by saying, “Any discussion on European security must take place in coordination with the European Union.” With his participation.
Delayed by a sharp split
According to observers, the European Union has been late in movement and interaction, due to the “sharp division” between its countries regarding the developments in the Ukrainian crisis and the risks of it turning into a heated confrontation with Russia.
Borrell talks about that the coming days will witness the convening of “informal” councils for foreign affairs and defense ministers in the Union, and “they are unofficial because the countries in the Union want de-escalation, not escalation with Russia, and adhere to the position not to engage in discussions of providing any military support to Ukraine from the NATO gate.” According to political analyst Serhi Forsa.
Forsa explains to Al Jazeera Net that “Germany and France do not want escalation, and Berlin has repeatedly obstructed Ukraine’s efforts to obtain qualitative weapons from NATO.”
And he continues, “Berlin’s priority is calm in order to spare the German economy further losses resulting from sanctions and counter-sanctions with Moscow, and pave the way for the launch of the “Nord Stream 2″ project to transport gas, which has a Russian-German interest in the first place.”
Regarding the French position, Forsa says, “France also has great economic interests with Russia, and during its current presidency of the European Union and because it is on the cusp of upcoming presidential elections, it seems that Paris does not want to engage in any escalation with Moscow.”
The German government called for easing tension and calming the situation around Ukraine, and expressed its hope that the Russian-German-French talks in Moscow – which were held on Thursday – would achieve a de-escalation.
Countries in the union feel the danger
Despite this division, it remains certain that the neighboring countries of Ukraine in the European Union are more enthusiastic in supporting Kiev, and more hard-line in their positions with Russia.
Political analyst Forsa says, “The European Union is obliged to deal more firmly and seriously with the current escalation, and regardless of the position of the main countries in it (Germany and France), it is an escalation that raises the fears of the Baltic states, Poland and others, which fear that they will be a target of the Kremlin’s ambitions after Ukraine, and Nord Stream constitutes” Nord Stream 2 “A threat to its economy and the future of its transportation networks as well.”
He added that “the crisis threatens the cohesion of the European Union if it does not respond to the concerns of its countries, as questions are being raised in some of them about the “meaning of membership in a weak union”, such as Poland, and it is making inter-alliances with each other outside the framework of the Union, such as the “Lublin” alliance that brings together Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. about its interests.
The American newspaper “The Hill” published an article by Thomas Graham, the former director of the Russia program in the US National Security Council – during the term of President George W. Bush – in which he considered that Europe is witnessing a profound transformation in the security structure due to tension, and that “the Ukraine crisis will end.” Definitely a division of Europe.
Hidden fear of the American role
Others look at the European Union’s efforts to deal with the Ukrainian crisis from a different angle, considering that America’s growing influence and “enthusiasm” to confront Russia may harm the European Union, in light of a “crisis of confidence” between the two sides.
“There is an undeniable crisis of confidence between Europe and the United States that was manifested during the Trump era, and has not ended to this day,” said Oleksandr Bulavin, an expert at the Kiev Institute of Politics.
He added, “Europe played the largest political role in the Ukrainian crisis, within the framework of the “Normandy Quartet” negotiations, which included Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France, but this role declined over the years, affected by German-French tendencies toward calm and the normalization of relations with Russia.”
And he continues, “Kiev is well aware of this reality, and that is why it turned to the demand for Washington’s involvement in any negotiations with Russia, especially in the Minsk settlement negotiations in the Donbass region, and the US-European differences played a role – especially between Berlin and Washington – about the “Nord Stream 2″, which it opposes. The latter and Kiev strongly.”
Here the expert summarizes the scene by saying, “Today, the interests of Ukraine and the European Ukrainian neighbors intersect with the interests of Washington and NATO by deterring Russia and limiting the growth of its influence, and in light of these facts and despite the German and French positions, the European Union seeks to play a role in this conflict, to preserve its unity first, Then get out with the least losses from it,” he said.