EU not sure where Ukrainian ‘Frankenstein monster’ will lead it
A leaked document ahead of the Eastern Partnership summit in Latvia reveals the EU isn’t ready to roll out the red carpet for Ukraine just yet. Indeed, former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko believes the West has grown weary of Kiev and “Ukraine is being swatted away like an annoying fly.”
RT:The former Ukrainian president Yushchenko says the world is tired of Ukraine. Would you agree?
Neil Clark: I think that is the case at the moment. It is interesting that in the last couple of weeks we definitely had a softening of the tone from the US towards Russia on this issue. We’ve had John Kerry’s visit to Sochi where he met Sergey Lavrov; we’ve had Victoria Nuland going to Moscow; we’ve even had the Secretary General of NATO going there as well, Mr. [Jens] Stoltenberg...
The Ukrainian government is rightly worried by this. That is why the rhetoric coming from Kiev has become more bellicose. We had the interview just two days ago by President Poroshenko with the BBC when he was very alarmist, worrying about fresh Russian aggression, and he talked about a Russian assault in the summer. I think what this is about is that Kiev is worried that there has been a shifting of the tone at least by Washington on this. And a fear that they are being sort of left out.
RT:The Eastern Partnership summit is underway in Riga, and according the leaked draft statement we've heard about, it could be quite disappointing for Ukraine - no visa-free regime, no mentioning of EU membership. Why is Brussels reluctant for closer ties with Kiev?
NC: There is a rollback happening here. As we know for the last two years the EU and the US have played quite an aggressive game in Ukraine- they’ve sponsored the illegal regime change, a coup against a democratically elected government in 2014. They have created all kinds of trouble in Ukraine. But now there is a kind of rollback, an awareness that this has gone as far as it can go, and the more realistic people in Europe quite clearly want an end of these sanctions on Russia because they are hurting the main European economies, such as Germany and France.
RT:Chancellor Merkel spoke about the Eastern Partnership forum and its goals earlier this morning... The German leader is warning against making promises the EU can't keep. She stopped short from explaining which promises she meant. What was Merkel referring to, in your opinion?
NC: There are two or three issues here. First of all, there would be the whole expense of getting Ukraine into NATO and into the EU. Ukraine is a basket case economy. They have been dependent on Russian good will and Russian loans- they are heavily indebted to Russia, and paying back these loans.
As I’ve said, what we’ve seen in the last few months is a kind of rollback from the hard-line positions that the Western leaders took on this issue, and a more practical position now is developing. It would be disastrous for Europe to take Ukraine in at this time and to make promises about joining NATO too- there is really no enthusiasm for that. The last thing that the leading powers in Europe want would be a major war happening in Europe, and that would be more likely if Ukraine became a member of NATO. Especially with the current government in Ukraine and it’s very bellicose rhetoric. Even last week they were offering an advisory position to John McCain, the most war-like American Senator of them all. So there is some real concern in Europe. They’ve created this kind of Frankenstein’s monster and they are worried about where it would lead now... I think Merkel’s comments reflected that.
RT:The Ukrainian parliament has passed a resolution, which allows it not to observe the Human Rights Convention in defiant regions in east Ukraine. What kind of reaction should we expect from the EU, which has been promoting democracy in Ukraine?
NC: I think the EU will be split on this. It’s a great hypocrisy, isn’t it that the EU goes around proclaiming to be the great supporter of human rights? But we’ve seen widespread breaches of human rights in Ukraine; we’ve seen the anti-communist law; we’ve seen bans on political parties, political prisoners.
There is a kind of embarrassment with what’s going on in Ukraine now which the Western elites find very hard to defend. Of course it could be a greater game going on at the moment. We don’t know really why there has been this softening of tone towards Russia in the last few weeks. It could be that Americans are trying to get Russia to change its position on Syria. We don’t know. What is quite clear is that there has been a shift, and my guess is that the biggest fact certainly effecting the position of people like Merkel is the fact that their economies in Germany, in France, etc. have been hit badly by these Russian sanctions, and they were now looking for a way out of this mess that they’ve created themselves... And now the wiser heads in the West are looking for a way out of this and need Russia’s cooperation.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.