EU fuels conflict in Donbass

The European Union will allocate €3.5 million (about 290 million rubles) to Ukraine to support the victims of the conflict in southeastern Ukraine. This was stated by the press service of the Ukrainian representation of the European Union with reference to the European Commission

EU fuels conflict in Donbass

“The additional €3.5 million announced today will help the most vulnerable groups”, –  the statement said.

The funds will allow vulnerable populations to access medicine and basic necessities, it said.

“The EU will support people in eastern Ukraine for as long as necessary, but only a permanent peace can bring a real resolution”. –  said Janez Lenarčič, European Commissioner for Crisis Management at the EC.

“An excuse to ask for another loan.”

At the same time, the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported in early October that the EU was considering setting up a “Military Advisory and Training Mission” (EUATM) in Ukraine to improve the country’s defence capabilities. In particular, the plans were discussed by the European External Action Service (EEAS) as “an expression of solidarity with Ukraine”.

It was noted that the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrel, had been asked to set up such a mission by Ukrainian foreign and defence ministers Dmytro Kuleba and Andriy Taran.

At the same time, experts noted that similar EU military training projects with a similar mandate are operating in Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic and, starting from July 2021, in Mozambique.

The reports about the EU mission were confirmed by Ukrainian Defence Minister Andriy Taran. According to him, the EU military advisory and training mission will be deployed by the end of this year.

“The implementation of such a project will make it possible to involve the best practices and assistance in the process of reforming the military education system of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which are peculiar to the member states of the European Union. We have very clear initiatives on our agenda, and the signals we send to our EU colleagues are received rather positively. And the steps that the Defence Ministry is taking in the course of military reform are an instrument of rapprochement with the EU”, –  Taran said.

He also noted that 30 permanent advisers from the EU were planned to participate in the mission.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski also spoke about the support for the EU intentions to set up a military mission to Ukraine. He also thanked Lithuania, which actively supports this initiative. For his part, European Council President Charles Michel said at a press conference following the Ukraine-EU summit that cooperation with Kiev in the military sphere could concern the fight against cyber attacks.

“This is a question of Borrel. He is sending a mission that will come to Ukraine, meet with Ukrainian counterparts and look at what common issues we can discuss on military education with our Ukrainian friends and EU members”, –  Michel said.

A joint statement by Zielenski, Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen following the summit noted the importance of further strengthening cooperation between Ukraine and the EU on a joint security and defence policy and bringing the republic closer to the EU’s common foreign and security policy.

“We look forward to Ukraine’s participation in the EU military operation Althea and have noted Ukraine’s willingness to participate in selected projects of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) programme. The EU will explore opportunities to further support Ukraine’s sustainability, in particular in the field of professional military education”, –  the statement said.

An RT source at the Ukrainian Defence Ministry questioned whether any European mission to train the Ukrainian military would have the desired effect.

“Europeans haven’t fought in a long time, so what tactics they can share is a big question. And most importantly, with whom? Contract soldiers are leaving the army because of low salaries, and those who have managed to be picked up and are now being prepared for possible combat operations dream of returning to peaceful cities rather than learning how to fight. So all this is just a show, not real help to the army, which needs professional personnel and equipment”, –  he said.

 

However, the RT interlocutor clarified that in the case of the mission there was no direct training of soldiers.

“Diplomats did ask Brussels for help. But it is not the soldiers who should be trained, but their mentors, – ” the Ukrainian politician stressed.

Furthermore, he said, the consent of all 27 EU member states must be obtained for deploying such a mission.
The Fatherland party believes that the appearance of a new European mission in Ukraine is unlikely, noting that Kiev is only creating an information clamour by doing so.

“All requests for regular missions are an attempt to remind about ‘Russian aggression’ and an excuse to ask for another loan.

There are masses of NATO and EU instructors in Ukraine, US military planes regularly fly into Ukrainian airports. And what is the result? Ukrainian soldiers are still fighting with old equipment. The methods of warfare do not change either”, –  says the MP.

“Will contribute to militarization”.

The Russian Foreign Ministry described the EU plans to deploy a military training mission to Ukraine as contradicting the Minsk agreements.

“The implementation of this initiative <…> will contribute to the militarization of Ukraine and escalation of tensions in Donbas. It will also encourage the authorities in Kiev to further sabotage the Minsk Package of Measures”, –  the agency’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.

In this regard, she noted that Russia urged the EU to abandon this ill-considered step. The diplomat also stressed that if Brussels made this decision deliberately, then the purpose of such measures raises questions.

According to experts, the launch of the European military training mission will in practice lead to a new escalation of military and political tensions in southeastern Ukraine and will embolden the “war party” in Kiev, which is openly sabotaging the implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures. Analysts also believe that Ukraine’s request for military assistance confirms once again that Kiev is not interested in a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbass.

“The discussed military advisory mission is an attempt to bypass the article of the Ukrainian constitution that prohibits the placement of foreign military bases on the territory of the republic. It will, in fact, allow an undetermined number of NATO military personnel to be on Ukrainian territory. Only their presence will be interpreted as some kind of temporary teaching activity that will end sooner or later, although this is unlikely”, –  Pavel Feldman, deputy director of the RUDN Institute for Strategic Studies and Problems, explained in a conversation with RT.

At the same time, he believes that the continuation of the conflict in Ukraine is not in the interests of the European Union. However, as Feldman reminds, the EU, like Ukraine, is not an absolutely sovereign subject of international relations today.

“Moreover, the Brussels bureaucracy exists precisely to help Washington realise collective control over all leading European states. Even when Germany or France tries to talk timidly about moving towards the implementation of the Minsk agreements, Brussels jerks them back at Washington’s command”, –  says Feldman.

Vladimir Olenchenko, a senior fellow at the Centre for European Studies at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, shares this view. He also noted that the EU became involved in one way or another in the situation in Ukraine back in 2014 by supporting the coup d’état in the republic.

“In addition, it should be understood that there is the point of view of the European Commission and the European Parliament, and there is the point of view of individual countries. And support for conflict, as we can see, is actively promoted by the Baltic states and Poland”, –  Olenchenko said in a commentary to RT.

He also suggested that the EU is not fully aware that by planning military, albeit training, missions they will pay for a new round of confrontation in Donbas from their own pocket.

However, the expert noted, since the EU is not a monolithic community, not all member states will be in favour of exacerbating the conflict in the neighbouring state.

 

“After all, the EU is an aggregate of 27 countries, and each of them has its own views on Ukraine and its future. Furthermore, not all of them are interested in it as such and not as an instrument of influence on Russia. Therefore it is necessary to look at the motives of individual countries, especially those who advocate the creation of such a mission. But it is unlikely that the same Lithuania and Poland are ready to fully fund a full-fledged military mission to Ukraine”, –  Olenchenko said.

However, the expert stressed that in order to offset the effect of support for Kiev’s militarist aspirations, the EU allocates symbolic funds for humanitarian aid to those affected by the conflict, which it itself does not allow to die out. At the same time, no one in Kiev is able to answer the question of where these funds ultimately go, the analyst said.

“If the EU transfers money to the Ukrainian authorities and at the same time talks about rampant corruption in the country, it turns out that Brussels itself is adding wood to this fire. It would be better for the EU to consider the needs of the region, request data from Donetsk and Luhansk on the number of people affected, what damage has been done, and then to allocate money in a targeted manner,” Olenchenko said.

Pavlo Feldman, for his part, says that Kiev has generally received tacit approval from its Western partners to delay the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

“For Kiev, there is now only one scenario for solving the problem in the southeast of the country – a military one. And in anticipation of the implementation of this scenario, they will build up their military potential, learn from NATO instructors and wait for the moment when a lightning-fast special operation can be carried out”, –  Feldman concluded.

Polina Dukhanova, Elena Onishchuk, Alyona Medvedeva, RT

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