The arms never rested in Donbas. But now the war escalated again. The city of Avdiivka is bombarded from heavy artillery and rockets located in the living areas of Donetsk. Up to 20.000 people had to flee for their lives. Under extremely cold conditions the people had to persist with emergency heating, without electricity and flowing water. Up to 400.000 people are fearing the same destiny.
This is a humanitarian catastrophe in the middle of Europe. We don’t have the time to discuss the content of the telephone conversation between President Trump and President Putin. Also we don’t have the time to speculate over the military actions of the Russian-sponsored warlords happening at the same time.
European politicians have to show that they have enough strength and determination to compensate for the recent unpredictability of the United States. Europe has to push for an immediate ceasefire. People singing in the choir of populists today and speculating over lifting sanctions are sending the signal „go on“ to Putin. Brussels has to help the suffering people with humanitarian measures. It has to send the political message to the Kremlin and it´s Warlords that every following inhumanity will have consequences for them.
Today it’s not clear which external political direction will prevail in Washington. The political closeness between President Trump and President Putin promises nothing good. The similarity in the ideologies of Bannon and Dugin is frightening. However, the comments of the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Hiley concerning the offensive in the Donbas could allude that even President Trump is not willing to accept the Russian aggression.
The cohesion of Europe towards Russia will be tested during the upcoming national elections. Right now, it still exists: more than a month ago the EU confirmed their sanctions against the Kremlin.
The lack of a resolute answer and the desire to avoid every conflict with Russia will be interpreted as weakness and the Kremlin knows how to exploit it. The Europeans have to convey this painful experience, gained from Russia’s conflicts with its neighbors, to their transatlantic partners.
Any political compromise, including the Minsk agreements, should be examined regarding the question of what the Kremlin really wants. Is the Kremlin really interested in stabilizing Ukraine? Or does it need the Donbas as an ongoing trouble spot?
The order of peace and security on our continent was developed by the US and Russia together. This order is now under question because of Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine. Germany and the EU have to vigorously defend this order.
For Ukraine, this means that the EU has to do everything to stabilize the country economically and politically.
Apart from that, the prospects of Ukraine’s EU membership have to be maintained, even if today the EU today is tired of new members and Ukraine is still a long way away from the possibility of entering the EU. By fulfilling the conditions needed for visa liberalization, Ukraine proved its willingness to reform. Now the EU has to keep its promise.
Of course the persistence of the old system remains strong. But there are new young people from the civil society, oriented towards Europe, urging the reforms in their country with the help of the international pressure on Ukraine. The reform movement is threatened not only by the Kremlin but also by the corrupt elites of its own country, who will profit from the EU’s refusal of Ukraine.
Only with the help of the EU can Ukraine succeed in transforming its economy and society. Ukraine would become a positive example for the whole region. It’s in the vital interest of the EU to use this opportunity.
Chairwoman of the parliamentary faction of „Bündnis 90/Die Grünen“ in the External Commitee Speaker for Eastern European policy of the faction „Bündnis 90/Die Grünen“