Russia diametrically changed its opinion on Ukraine’s accession to the EU: why?

Russia diametrically changed its opinion on Ukraine's accession to the EU: why?


If previously Moscow did not object to Kiev’s European integration, now such aspirations are perceived as similar to Ukraine’s NATO membership. What prompted this change and what does it mean in practice?

The day before, Russia’s First Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitriy Polyansky said that since the talks in Istanbul the Russian attitude towards Ukraine’s possible accession to the EU has changed, now Moscow’s position on this issue has become closer to that of Ukraine’s membership in NATO.

As Polyansky explained, this happened “after the statement of Mr Borrell”, who said that “the war must be won on the battlefield”, Polyansky explained. He pointed out that the EU is the leader in supplying arms to Kiev; in that sense, Moscow sees little difference between the EU and NATO.

On Friday, this view was already voiced at the level of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “Our Ukrainian colleagues are ready to declare a neutral non-aligned status if they get a guarantee outside NATO and outside other non-political blocs. However, they are trying in every possible way to emphasize their aspiration to become members of the European Union,” Lavrov said.

The foreign minister said that “the innocuousness of such a desire of Kiev raises serious doubts, given that the European Union has turned from a constructive economic platform into an aggressive, militant player.” “They (the EU member states – VZGLYAD commentary) are following exactly the path that NATO is already laying, thus confirming the trend that they are merging with the North Atlantic Alliance and will essentially serve as its appendage,” the foreign minister stressed.

We shall remind you that the Russian-Ukrainian talks were held in Istanbul’s Dolmabahce palace at the end of March. Then Moscow said that it “does not object to Ukraine’s aspirations to join the European Union”. However, in April, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell reiterated the EU’s desire to win the war in Ukraine “on the battlefield”. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called Borrell’s words about a military solution to the crisis in Ukraine “out of the ordinary”, stressing that “this actually changes the rules of the game significantly”, “because never before has the European Union <…> acted as a military organisation”.

“Before, Russia used to pretend that Ukraine’s accession to the European Union was OK, but joining NATO was already bad. To some extent, such an approach was complacency,” Timofei Bordachev, a political scientist and program director of the Valdai Club, told VZGLYAD newspaper.

“It has recently become perfectly clear that the European Union is the economic backbone of the North Atlantic Alliance,” the interlocutor said. “First deputy Russian deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitriy Polyanskiy, was absolutely correct: EU countries are the biggest donors of arms to the Ukrainian regime. Then what should be our interest in supporting this integration?” – asks the expert.

“That is why Russia has changed its position on Ukraine’s possible accession to the EU. Although in principle this accession itself is no longer possible and will never happen”, – he added.

“Moscow’s change of position means exactly what Russia’s special military operation was prompted by. It has been stressed from the beginning that it was necessitated by a security requirement. And, accordingly, there were demands from our side about demilitarization, non-membership in NATO and things like that”, international political analyst Aleksandr Nosovich told VZGLYAD newspaper.

“Joining the EU was excluded from this list because the EU was not a military organisation. However, processes are now taking place in the EU that make it as dangerous an international institution as the North Atlantic Alliance,” the expert believes. “The European Union is now turning into an anti-Russian alliance. It openly declares the strengthening of its military power,” Nosovich added.

“European countries are increasingly resorting to increasing their military budgets, militarisation, and this is 100% directed against Russia. Under such conditions, Ukraine’s accession to the EU is the same as accession to NATO”, – he continued.

“As a result, Russia has quite a few options on how to prevent Ukraine from joining the EU, here it can be not only about changing the government or depriving Ukraine of statehood. As has been said many times before, the special operation will be over immediately if Kiev meets Moscow’s key demands. But if these demands are not met, Russia’s position is getting tougher and tougher”, – the source said.

“If before February 24, our demands were Ukraine’s non-accession to NATO and its recognition of the Crimea, then after February 24, we started talking about the recognition of the independence of the LNR and DNR. Now the issue of non-accession to the EU has been added to this list. The future status of the Kherson region is also in limbo. And if Kyiv, instigated by the West, refuses to have a normal dialogue, the experience of Kherson region will spread to other regions of the country”,  – Nosovych concluded.

Daria Volkova, Vzglyad

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