Mar 19, 2014

European Union to Ukraine: sorry, you’re on your own

Through a lack of military might and political will, the European Union is not going to intervene in the Ukraine-Russia dispute, writes international affairs expert Donnacha Ó Beacháin.

The European Union’s greatest achievement is also the one we take most for granted. After Europe was repeatedly torn asunder by aggressive expansionist regimes, the EU played a vital role in healing the wounds and insuring that common values and ever-increasing interdependency made war within its borders inconceivable.

Over the decades the EU has had a magnetic pull on its neighbours. Indeed, it was Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to discard a deal with the EU for a subvention from Moscow that ignited the current tragic events in Ukraine. The EU has grown rapidly from six to 28 members (13 in the last decade alone), the vast majority of which now use the same currency. But mastery of soft power has not been mirrored by a comparable rise in hard power. The EU’s common security and defence capabilities are still very much in the embryonic stages. It has few military muscles to flex other than those under the direct control of its member states and, consequently, is unable to take decisive military action beyond its borders.

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8 thoughts on “European Union to Ukraine: sorry, you’re on your own

  1. Andybob

    No one thinks defence is worth spending money on until it is needed. Then it is too late.

  2. Meemo Eldin

    Godwin’s Law.

  3. Iskandar

    Good lord Crikey! Did the ghost of Joe McCarthy drop this screed into your letterbox? Or now that The war in Afghanistan is winding down are the Anglo-Americans looking for their next enemy. The late Gore Vidal once predicted that sooner or later the National Security State will set Russia up as an enemy again, and that seems to be what they are trying.

    This piece is so full of opinionated misrepresentations of history that it would take an essay to debunk it point by point, and it frankly is not worth the effort. I’ll just call it narrow-minded right-wing cr*p and comment on only one point.

    The small post-Soviet states like Estonia seemed to have a naive belief that joining NATO and the EU was a benign act that would bring peace and prosperity. Instead it brought missile bases onto their soil and an obligation to contribute to military adventures like Afghanistan and Iraq. Both adventures have gone pear-shaped, and Russia, always conscious of security of its western borders, has been provoked. Then again, maybe that’s what was intended. The military-industrial complex is getting hungry.

  4. Malcolm Harrison

    the west happily watched the Soviet Russian empire fragment. now it is beginning to reassert its own self identity. crimea has been russian for about 250 years and not russian for about ten minutes (actually the last 25 years). this is not a re-run of hitler’s anschluss. why are we surprised and why is there so much hand wringing and knee jerk anti-russian responses. i listen to the ABC and there the language, the adjectives and verbs, have taken on a not so subtle disparagement of russian actions. norman hermant tonight based his entire story assuming that Putin intends to invade east ukraine. only media journalists and frightened people are making these assertions which at present have no foundation.
    russia has provided a perfectly plausible motive, nobody is dead (well almost nobody), and the crimean citizens voted in favour. yet we democrats in the west say this plebiscite has no validity, but nobody can explain why, except to point knowingly at Putin’s obvious land grab. using the word ‘dictatorship’ to describe the actions of a democratically elected government as the writer of this piece has done is certainly not an innocent choice of words. m.

  5. R. Ambrose Raven

    The usual mainstream media propaganda.

    Never mind Russia; “we” need to recognise just how weak “we” have become.

    A continuing Western economic and social crisis has been greatly worsened by criminal Imperial adventurism.

    In the waging of a war of aggression against Iraq, war criminals and mass murderers George Bush, Tony Blair, and John Howard did not merely commit crimes against peace. They also bankrupted the US economy, triggered Peak Oil, lengthened the occupation of Afghanistan, and triggered the global financial crisis.

    Those Imperial wars assisted a divide between richest and poorest in America that is worse than in nearly all Europe and Asia but about that of Rwanda and Serbia. Inequality is worse in the United States today than in any advanced industrial country for which there are data. Worse, the gap is widening.

    Maintaining the growth obsession means crisis then collapse as forced demand exponentially exceeds supply, meaning a classic capitalist crisis of overproduction. Third World economies will stay Third World, due not only to increasing resource pressures, but also to being asset- and income-stripped by globalisation. ‘Economic growth’ would not in any case alleviate the problem of global poverty; not having done so in the centuries prior to the Great Recession it certainly won’t now given peak oil, peak water, peak minerals, climate change, and peak food.

    That our system is hitting its limits is shown in each crisis being worse than the last. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote recently: “The evidence does, in fact, suggest that what we’re getting now is a first taste of the disruption, economic and political, that we’ll face in a warming world. And given our failure to act on greenhouse gases, there will be much more, and much worse, to come.”

    Media spin, denial, and trivialisation of important issues and exploitation of trivial ones therefore remains a serious problem, especially given the power of the Murdock media machine.

    Imperial power plays were once simply part of the First World’s waste. As those Imperial wars and human rights violations abroad have led to erosions in civil liberties and falling living standards at home, we are now also victims of our tolerance of ruling class violence.

  6. Ian

    Thank you Iskander, you put it very nicely.

    IMO Russia was painted into a corner and had to respond aggressively or run the severe risk of becoming yet another victim of the Western expansionist empire.

    The EU/US crossed the unadvertised but obvious “red line” and Russia has done the rest of the independent world, including China a service in responding as it has.

  7. Dion Giles

    It’s not a matter of strength or weakness but of whether the right of peoples to self-determination should be opposed at all. The central principle of a civilised world, one for which millions upon millions died not all that long ago, is LIBERTY, including the right of peoples to self-determination.

    When the butcher Nikita Khrushchov gifted Crimea to the Ukraine, nobody consulted the Crimean people. And
    now, for reasons armchair geostrategists uninterested in liberty speculate over, suddenly the long-denied right to self-determination falls into their lap.

    Anyone committed to liberty would be over the moon. But not the self-styled “international community” (actually the elites who rule the international community with the nervous applause of the useful idiots ). They bellow a howl of rage and claw for their gun. And they find they’re outgunned!

    Vlad Putrid, the butcher of captive Chechnya, is no friend of liberty. So why did he act to free the Crimeans to make their own decision? My guess is that the Russians are funny about having NATO and an unelected horde of slavering Nazi savages thrust slap bang against their border. When the Wall came down there were specific undertakings NOT to revitalise the Axis and advance NATO to the edge of Russia. The Russians are showing they’ve kept their powder dry.

  8. Ian

    Dion I think your analysis is correct but your referring to the two Russian leaders as butchers is a little disingenuous since there are no shortages of such butchers amongst NATO and its allies and no-one uses the word “butcher” to describe them each time their names are mentioned.

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