Policy “If Europe takes over Ukraine, it should include relations between Ukraine and Russia”

If everything goes on schedule, Ukraine will become a candidate country for EU membership this week. The collective sympathy for the suffering and warring Ukraine is great. Now or never for union membership, I’d lean towards now. “But this is not the case,” says Marc de Vos, fellow at the Itinera Institute in Brussels.

If everything continues on track, Ukraine will become a candidate country for EU membership this week. The collective sympathy for the suffering and warring Ukraine is great. Now or never for union membership, I’d lean towards now. But this is not it. This is a wrong decision at the wrong time.

Can we elevate Ukraine to the rank of candidate without war? The union is a geographical reflection of cultural and historical Europe. Therefore, the expansion into Eastern Europe after the fall of communism was self-evident: it was the European countries that happened to end up on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain. This expansion has significant advantages. But it is politically and morally burdensome. Democracy, the rule of law and a market economy are the DNA of the Federation. It proved difficult to transplant. Once countries become members, there is no external lever for change.

Ukraine is an Eastern European square. Cultural – Partly Slavic-historical, no democratic tradition, internally torn and a nest of corruption. Too big and relatively poor, even without war. The union, which is already constantly striving for internal cohesion and which the UK has lost, is not ready for Ukraine. Europe is discussed in layers so that the union can selectively expand and generally deepen. This would be a good combination with respect to, for example, Ukraine, Moldova, Albania and the Balkans. But now Ukraine will be served as a full member.

If Europe includes Ukraine, then it should include relations between Ukraine and Russia.

It will be many years before Ukraine achieves reforms and stability to join the union. So we are talking about a symbol. European step in the new cold war with Russia. We’ve done that before. In the first cold war, we concluded an association agreement with Turkey in 1963, again due to geostrategic considerations. But the European Union in 1963 was just an economic community. In 2022 it will be the union of values ​​and identity. Nobody believes that Turkey fully belongs there. The country is in the waiting room permanently, which frustrates everyone.

Nobody knows what the world and Europe will look like when Ukraine’s membership becomes conceivable. It is already unreasonable for the Union to accept external aggression or intimidation from a member state: look at the Union’s attitude towards Northern Cyprus and Turkey in their relations with Greece. It seems likely that the union will become more mature in the areas of security and defence. Anyway, that’s the intention. If we want to include Ukraine, we must also include the relationship between Ukraine and Russia. Do we want to sign it?

So the recognition of Ukraine or Moldova as candidate countries plays a geopolitical role in poker with the future. At present, the added value is uncertain. The Kremlin will be able to raise its propaganda about Western encirclement. Both countries have Russian-speaking minorities and are part of what Putin sees as Russian civilization. A cynical chess player can see in this a great opportunity to amplify the conflict. The additional territories of Russia could become the last means of exchanging Union membership.

What we do know is what Ukraine needs from Europe in the short term. Heavy weapons regardless of the reluctance to provoke Russia. Gas boycott torpedoed the Russian war economy. Tens of billions to keep the country afloat humanitarianly and economically and even more billions for reconstruction. Does all this come close to describing Ukraine as a candidate country? Or is Europe creating a political distraction, sweetening goodwill while Ukraine bleeds?

If everything continues on track, Ukraine will become a candidate country for EU membership this week. The collective sympathy for the suffering and warring Ukraine is great. Now or never for union membership, I’d lean towards now. But this is not it. This is the wrong decision at the wrong time. Can we elevate Ukraine to the rank of candidate without war? The union is a geographical reflection of cultural and historical Europe. Therefore, the expansion into Eastern Europe after the fall of communism was self-evident: it was the European countries that happened to end up on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain. This expansion has significant advantages. But it is politically and morally burdensome. Democracy, the rule of law and a market economy are the DNA of the Federation. It proved difficult to transplant. Once countries become members, there is no external lever to change, and Ukraine is Eastern Europe squared. Cultural – Partly Slavic-historical, no democratic tradition, internally torn and a nest of corruption. Too big and relatively poor, even without war. The union, which is already perpetually struggling for internal cohesion and which the UK has lost, is not ready for Ukraine. Europe is discussed in layers so that the union can selectively expand and generally deepen. This would be a good combination with respect to, for example, Ukraine, Moldova, Albania and the Balkans. But Ukraine will now have full membership, and it will be many years before Ukraine achieves reforms and stability to join the union. So we are talking about a symbol. European step in the new cold war with Russia. We’ve done that before. In the first cold war, we concluded an association agreement with Turkey in 1963, again due to geostrategic considerations. But the European Union in 1963 was just an economic community. In 2022 it will be the union of values ​​and identity. Nobody believes that Turkey fully belongs there. The country is in the waiting room permanently, which frustrates everyone. Nobody knows what the world and Europe will look like if Ukraine’s membership becomes possible. It is already unreasonable for the Union to accept external aggression or intimidation from a member state: look at the Union’s attitude towards Northern Cyprus and Turkey in their relations with Greece. It seems likely that the union will become more mature in the areas of security and defence. Anyway, that’s the intention. If we want to include Ukraine, we must also include the relationship between Ukraine and Russia. Do we want to sign it? So the recognition of Ukraine or Moldova as candidate countries plays a geopolitical role in poker with the future. At present, the added value is uncertain. The Kremlin will be able to raise its propaganda about Western encirclement. Both countries have Russian-speaking minorities and are part of what Putin sees as Russian civilization. A cynical chess player can see in this a great opportunity to amplify the conflict. Russia’s additional territory may become the ultimate means of exchanging union membership, and what we know is what Ukraine needs from Europe in the short term. Heavy weapons regardless of the reluctance to provoke Russia. Gas boycott torpedoed the Russian war economy. Tens of billions to keep the country afloat humanitarianly and economically and even more billions for reconstruction. Does all this come close to describing Ukraine as a candidate country? Or is Europe creating a political distraction, sweetening goodwill while Ukraine bleeds?

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