Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 10.01.2019
46 days have pass since the Russian Federation attacked the Ukrainian Navy in the Kerch Strait. The European Union has done nothing except express “deep concern” at Russian aggression. Some EU governments went so far as to condemn the Russian government for what it did. But the EU failed to impose new sanctions on the Putin regime or stop the Nord Stream 2 war finance scheme of the Putin regime. The Russian invaders of Europe in Ukraine will take this as tacit consent to expand their war.
EU politicians will be making a symbolic gesture of support for Ukraine, though. Foreign ministers of many EU countries and the new Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson-in-Office, Slovakian foreign minister Miroslav Lajčák will visit the Mariupol, Donetsk region, Ukraine next week. This was announced by Ukraine’s foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, at a press briefing on January 9 in Kyiv.
The outskirts of Mariupol are about 10 kilometres from the battlefront where the Russian Federation is invading Ukraine. The defensive positions of the Ukrainian army near the villages of Shyrokyne, Lebedyns’ke, Vodayne, Hnutove, Pavlopil’, and Chermalyk are all shelled regularly by the 1st Army Corps (so-called “DPR”) of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Minister Klimkin did not say where the EU foreign ministers would go for security reasons, although in March 2016 Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Linas Linkevičius, visited Shyrokyne and witnessed shelling by the Russian occupation troops.
Minister Linkevičius had a phone conversation with Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland on January 9. He said afterwards that Minister Freeland planned to travel to arrive in Mariupol at the same time as the EU foreign ministers, but she cancelled the trip. This is the second time in recent months Canada’s foreign minister has cancelled a planned trip to Ukraine. Last August, Minister Freeland went to Washington for trade talks instead of to Kyiv to participate in a meeting of heads of foreign diplomatic missions to Ukraine.
Mariupol was the destination port of the Ukrainian naval vessels Yany Kapu, Berdyansk, and Nikopol when they were attacked by Russian forces one and a half months ago, on November 25. By going there, EU foreign ministers will see two dangerous fronts of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Europe in Ukraine: the Sea of Azov and Donbas. If they take the lesson that appeasement encourages Russian aggression and only confronting it will bring peace to war-torn Europe, then the visit to Mariupol by EU foreign ministers next week will be worth it.
On photo: Linas Linkevičius and Pavlo Klimkin