Who are the real friends and who is simply declaring their sympathy.
The gas conflict with Russia divided the European Union into supporters and enemies of Ukraine. While EU Commissioner in Energy Gunther Ettinger claims that the construction of the gas pipeline “South Stream” does not accord with EU norms, the EU commission is threatening to ban its construction, there are countries which are ready to encourage the construction of the Russian pipe.
The Russian-Austrian agreements regarding the construction of “South Stream” returned to the burning issue of real and temporary friends of Ukraine in the European Union.
“DS,” basing its analysis on the statements made, is offering to take a look at the EU from the perspective of which countries are sincerely supporting Ukraine in the conflict with Russia, which have taken a waiting position, though publicly they are our allies, and from whom Kyiv should expect a stab in the back.
Though, once again, the main political decisions are made in Brussels, therefore such gradation is arbitrary.
Greece. Ellada, as a country which is a leader in European skepticism in the EU, cannot be Ukraine’s friend on principle. First, because the Greeks are not interested in further widening of the alliance, which the representatives of the local governments have stated numerous times. As the broadening of the EU may lead to the decrease of subsidies which Greece is receiving today. Second, Athens has very good relations with Russia in the religious sphere and on the level of political elites. Also Greece is dependent on Russian gas and the situation will not change in the nearest future. Therefore Ukraine cannot count of Greek support in the process of making important decisions on the level of the EU.
Austria. On June 24th, in Vienna, during the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Republic of Austria, the head of “Gazprom” Alexey Miller and the CEO of Austrian company OMV Gerhard Roiss signed an agreement regarding the creation of a join project company South Stream Austria GmbH, implying the construction of the gas pipeline “South Stream” on the territory of Austria across the bottom of the Black Sea to surpass Ukraine. Besides, Austria has long become the country which Ukrainian corruption’s and escapee oligarchs have chosen as their hiding spot. In particular, at the moment Dmytro Firtash is located there, who awaits the decision of the local government regarding extradition to the US.
The Czech Republic. The representatives of the Czech government were among those who was not particularly ethical in their statements regarding our country in the context of Euromaidan and the beginning of military action in the east which happened afterwards. As such, the Czech President stated at the beginning of June that the trouble in Donbas and Luhansk was caused by the abolition of the law which allowed the “easterners” to speak Russian as the second official language. Zeman also supported the “decentralisation” of government in Ukraine and talked about how the west of Ukraine was governed by Banderites, whose ideological mentor Stepan Bandera “called to kill all Poles between 16 and 60 years of age.” So in general he is repeating the main messages of Russian propaganda. Also the Czech Republic refused the US in placing their anti-missile system in the country, which played in Russia’s favour.
Hungary. On one hand the Hungarian government agreed to increase the volume of gas reversals to Ukraine after Russia suspended fuel supplies to our country on conditions of post-payment. Meanwhile the statements that the Hungarian government has been making for the past few months should make the new President’s team more cautions. In particular, the proposal of the Prime Minister of this Country Viktor Orban to give autonomy and right to double citizenship for the citizens of part of Zakarpattya which are ethnic Hungarians. Later Orban claimed that he was misunderstood, nevertheless soon he repeated the same statement. Besides, having agreed to help Ukraine in replacing supplies of Russia gas, the Hungarian government recently bowed down to “Gazprom,” having asked them to fill their gas stocks which are currently 75% empty.
Bulgaria. The head of the Bulgarian government Plamen Oresharsky ordered to suspend all work on the “South Stream” project in the beginning of June. According to Oresharsky, this decision will have power until the end of the investigation in the EU Commission where they consider this project to be discordant with the EU’s anti-monopoly norms. On the other hand, according to WikiLeaks, some Bulgarian parties, for example the ultra right-wing “Ataka” have close ties to the Russian embassy. This is confirmed by the activities of the Bulgarian right wing. Particular, the members of the local Parliament from “Ataka” insisted that Bulgaria acknowledge the results of the pseudo-referendum regarding Russia’s accession of Crimea.
Germany. Taking into account their own nazi past, Germans understand very well what kind of threat Russia’s victory on the Ukrainian front poses for all of Europe. Therefore Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken the principal position and does not tire of demanding that Russia stop the aggression regarding Ukraine and regularly threatens the Kremlin with economical sanctions of the third level. However, Berlin is still trying not to make drastic moves against Moscow, as German businesses and economy are still quite dependant on the Russian market and energy resources. Besides, there are numerous friends of Vladimir Putin’s among the German political elite, which also slows down Germany’s more drastic moves to protect the EU’s interests in Ukraine.
France. During Maidan, which lasted several months, the French tried not to intervene in Ukrainian affairs. However, after the Russian annex of Crimea and the beginning of military action in Donbas, Paris was forced to intervene. President of the country Francois Hollande, together with his colleagues, leaders of other EU countries, condemned Moscow’s actions. However at the same time, it is France that remains the list irritable country of the union for Russia. Hollande recently took advantage of this, having offered a mediator mission between Ukraine and Russia in order to solve the conflict. However, nothing has yet come of this mission, and it is most likely to have been declared only to continue the cooperation between Moscow and Paris in the military sphere. As such, the contract to supply the Russian Federation with French carrier vessels Mistral is still relevant.
Italy, Spain. These two countries are too dependent on Russian gas to dare start an open battle against Russia. Besides, in the case of Italy, the Russian Federation maintains quite good political relationships here since the times of Silvio Berlusconi. Finally, the level of corruption that exists on the Apennine peninsula has always provided comfortable conditions for Russian interests here. As to Spain, in the political plane Madrid does not dare take a direct position regarding the events in Ukraine also because the problem of country separation is very relevant for them. The political elites of Catalonia are planning to hold a referendum regarding cessation from the rest of the country in fall of the current year. And any statement as to the situation in Ukraine, where the country is being taken apart artificially, may only anger the opponents of the government.
The Netherlands. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Holland Frans Timmermans stated on June 23rd that imposing third-level sanctions against Russia is not on the agenda as of now. He also supported the idea of Kyiv and Moscow sitting down at the talks table. However, Timmermas directly stated that Moscow has very complex policies, calling for dialogue and supporting the separatists at the same time. Besides, Holland has fully suspended military cooperation with Russia in light of the events in Donbas and the annex of Crimea.
Poland. Poland is Ukraine’s everlasting advocate in Europe, a country with which we have managed to establish strong and real peace regarding disputable historical episodes, and the main ally of the US in Eastern Europe. Essentially, all of these factors in sum are the reason why Ukraine can always rely on Warsaw’s best support on EU level. And it is unlikely that there will be any “taping” scandal in the way of our cooperation, like the one that recently arose between our neighbours.
Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia. Similar factors characterise Ukraine’s friendly relations with Baltic states as well. What is more, in the case of these three countries, the factor of fear plays a major part. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, like Ukraine, were part of one union with Russia not long ago, and are now also at gunpoint of the Kremlin’s war machine, despite the fact that they are NATO members. As even the leadership of the NATO admitted that in case Russia attacks the Baltic, it will be very difficult to defend this territory. So the Baltic peoples understand very well that they are in the same boat as Kyiv and will do everything possible to protect our interests on EU level.
Cyprus. Russia made Cyprus its enemy and a friend of Ukraine’s in 2013, when the banking system of the island crashed, and Moscow refused to give loan support to Nicosia. Even though Russian capital occupied a major niche in the vaults of Cyprus banks. Also Cyprus is interested in supporting Ukraine as an opponent of Russia’s in light of the similarity between our territorial problems. In the 70’s of the previous centuries Türkiye occupied a major part of Cyprus, just like Russia occupied Crimea in March this year.
Finland. This also partially touches on Finland, which also has a border with Russia and after the Crimean annex and the beginning of military action in Donbas, already stated that they are ready to re-examine their neutral status and join the NATO. In this case the US will get total control over the course of Finnish political elites and as such will be able to direct it in Ukraine’s favour.
The UK. The UK was one of the countries that guaranteed Ukraine’s security according to the Budapest memorandum and that London is now unable to influence on Russia’s position and provide adherence to this document is an undeniable blow to the foreign policy ambitions of the great kingdom. Moscow has challenged Great Britain with its action in Crimea and in Donbas, and now the British will do everything possible to take revenge. Besides, the country has always been on the team of the best friends of the US, which is now most interested in landing a victory blow to Moscow on the Ukrainian front.
Sweden. The Kingdom of Sweden in the recent months has been catching up with Poland with the amount of positive and friendly statements in support of Ukraine. Recently the government of Sweden approved a new strategy to support our country in 2014-2020. This document prescribes three priorities: the enforcement of economical integration with the EU and the development of market economy; enforcement of democracy, more attention to human rights protection and rule of law; environmental preservation.
Norway. Norway is stably demonstrating a good attitude towards Kyiv. The kingdom supported all sanctions, first against the former Ukrainian government officials in February, and later those against Russia. Also Norway increased aid for Ukraine this year fourfold – up to $25 million.
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina