THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE CRISIS IN UKRAINE: THE FOREIGN POLICY OF A TODDLER
"EU foreign ministers agreed to impose targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for spiralling violence in Ukraine and enact an embargo on equipment that could be used against protesters. The EU did not immediately produce a list of individuals to be targeted but diplomats are set to do so in days. After weeks of hesitation, the bloc’s 28 member states on Thursday decided to act in response to escalating bloodshed in the Ukrainian capital, where at least 50 people have been killed in the past three days. A move towards tougher sanctions indicated the EU’s growing frustration with President Viktor Yanukovich’s inability to put an end to deadly clashes between anti-government protesters and riot police. “In light of the deteriorating situation, the EU has decided as a matter of urgency to introduce targeted sanctions including asset freeze and [a] visa ban against those responsible for human rights violations, violence and use of excessive force,” according to a statement on the conclusion of the minister’s meeting. “Member states agreed to suspend export licences on equipment which might be used for internal repression,” the document continued. Frans Timmermans, the Dutch foreign minister, said: “I think that those responsible for the violence in Kiev should know that the EU will punish them for doing this.” In private, though, some western diplomats have expressed doubts about whether sanctions will have much impact in Ukraine - particularly in the near term. Many of the EU’s member states had been reluctant in recent weeks to apply such measures for fear that it might alienate elements of the government with whom they were hoping to negotiate a solution to the crisis. British officials say they have lobbied for the number of people affected by the sanctions to be limited only to those directly implicated in the violence. With several wealthy Ukrainian oligarchs connected to the regime living in London, British ministers are keen not to antagonise anyone who might bring a court case against the UK government.."Andrew Byrne & James Fontanella-Khan, "EU imposes targeted sanctions on Ukraine." The Financial Times. 20 February 2014, in www.ft.com.
"‘I am deeply concerned by the scenes we are witnessing in Ukraine. The violence on all sides is completely unacceptable and President Yanukovych has a particular responsibility to pull back government forces and de-escalate the situation. ‘Violence is not the way to resolve the political differences across the country. The President needs to engage with the opposition and work with all sides in Ukraine to agree political reforms that reflect the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people. There must be a clear commitment to the rule of law, respect for fundamental human rights and civil freedoms. ‘This is a critical moment for the future of Ukraine. Working with our international partners, we will do all we can to help return Ukraine to the path to stability, democracy and prosperity and tomorrow the Foreign Secretary will join other European foreign ministers in Brussels to discuss the European response. ‘President Yanukovych should be under no doubt that the world is watching his actions and that those responsible for violence will be held accountable.’"British Prime Minister David Cameron quoted in Isabel Hardman, "David Cameron warns Ukraine’s president: the world is watching." The Spectator. 19 February 2014, in www.spectator.co.uk. Perhaps there are few things more depressing in the current crisis in Ukraine, albeit extremely predictable is the Eunuch-like behavior of the European Union. To-day's action by the European Union while a forward step, has aspects of the type of steps undertake by a toddler. With whatever saliency gained by said steps were lost and or undermined by precisely the sort of cynical quid pro quo extracted by the British Government. The fact is that insofar as the West (the EU and the United States) has any diplomatically easy leverage to employ in this affair, that leverage can be said to consist of the assets and investments that Ukraine's oligarchs, both inside and outside the Yanukovich circle have in the West. To tip-toe around the concept of imposing not only monetary sanctions, visa restrictions and the freezing of said assets on elements in the regime, is to put it very mildly beyond hypocrisy. Au fond, the crisis in Ukraine will of course be decided by the Ukrainian people in the streets of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. The West can only be a facilitator of a positive resolution to the ongoing events. It cannot for good reasons engage in the sort of sotto voce threats of the military and geo-political variety that Moskva has been engaging in 1. But, if the European Union had the makings of being a normal foreign policy actor, it would have endeavored for quite awhile now to assist the opposition as much as possible and indicate to all elements of the regime that violence would not be tolerated and that if the regime engaged in violence (as it has indeed done) that all such elements would feel the negative side-effects of the regime's behavior. Via revoking of visas for both individuals and families and the freezing as many assets as could possibly be identified. Of course as we have seen nothing of the sort has indeed occurred. Instead we have the baby steps of a toddler. 1. Kathrin Hille & Roman Olearchyk, "Russia rattles sabre over fate of Crimea." The Financial Times. 20 February 2014, in www.ft.com. See also: Timothy Snyder, "Fascism, Russia and Ukraine." The New York Review of Books. 20 March 2014, in www.nybooks.com.