Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 13.03.2018
Federica Mogherini is the Vice-President of the European Commission and the European Union’s foreign policy chief. She is belatedly paying attention to Ukraine, but she is still not paying attention to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Mogherini visited Kyiv on March 14, met with President Petro Poroshenko, and spoke at Taras Shevchenko National University. Ukraine has not been used to being in the EU spotlight lately, and such high-level attention was a welcome change.
Some good things came out of the visit. Speaking to the world press, Federica Mogherini said that the European Union would never recognize the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol to the Russian Federation. Resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly require member states not to recognize a change in status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol to anything other than being integral territory of Ukraine. For as long as Russia occupies any part of the territory of Ukraine it will be in violation of international law and will stand outside the family of civilized nations.
Federica Mogherini announced that on a future visit to Ukraine she will go to the ‘contact line’ in eastern Ukraine. This would be an important symbolic gesture, to draw attention to Russia’s invasion and partial occupation of Ukraine. But she should go to the ‘contact line’ in southern Ukraine, too, to the boundary between Kherson region, which today lies in free Ukraine, and Crimea, which today falls under illegitimate Russian administration.
President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, and Federica Mogherini talked about UN peacekeeping – but only with reference to Donbas and not Crimea. They talked about the Ukrainian proposal – which is backed by all UN Security Council members except Russia – of UN peacekeepers operating in all of eastern Ukraine, including right up to the Ukraine-Russia international border. The problem with these discussions is that they may be taking place in an echo chamber. Russia is stalling endlessly about UN peacekeeping, as it has stalled endlessly about implementing the Minsk Agreements. Kurt Volker, the US Special Representative to Ukraine, reports that the Russians didn’t even bother to read American proposals for UN peacekeeping. This exposes the real danger: that Russia will commence its own fake peacekeeping operation, as it did 24 years ago with its invasion/occupation troops in Moldova. There are very worrying reports that the Russian armed forces have prepared armoured vehicles disguised in UN peacekeeping colours, and they are massing in the Western Military District of the Russian Federation, just across the border from Ukraine. Russia will use the veto it illegitimately holds in the UN Security Council (gained by usurping the seat that belonged to the Soviet Union) to stop real UN peacekeeping. Russia will never give up conquered territory until it is made to do so by force. Poroshenko and Mogherini should be talking about the liberation of Crimea and Donbas, and then carrying out a plan to eject the Russian invader-occupiers.
Sadly, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is a leading proponent of appeasement of Russian aggression. In an article she wrote called “Twelve things to bring with us in 2018,” published on federicamogherini.net on 1 January 2018, Federica Mogherini did not mention the Russian invasion of Europe in Crimea and Donbas at all. The names “Russia” and “Putin” do not appear. Putin’s War has been raging for four years, which is the most significant thing to happen to Europe since Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland in September of 1939. The security policy chief for Europe doesn’t think it’s worth mentioning.
Mogherini makes mistakes in her language and policy about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. First of all, she never says “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” – she instead adopts the Kremlin language of “annexation of Crimea” and “conflict in eastern Ukraine” as if these two battlefronts of Russia’s invasion were different. Kremlin propaganda has it that Crimea “returned” to Russia and Donbas has “pro-Russian separatists.” In fact, there was no armed conflict in Ukraine whatsoever before Russia invaded and began occupying on 20 February 2014. There isn’t a bit of difference between Crimea and Donbas: they are both integral territory of Ukraine, invaded and occupied by a foreign army from Moscow. A clear-thinking Western politician would only talk about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and never waste time with the Putin-friendly euphemism “conflict in Ukraine.”
Another article on her blog, “For a more secure, more autonomous and stronger Europe,” published on 11 March 2018, also fails to mention “Russia” or “Putin” at all. The invasion of Europe in Ukraine by Russia is not a security concern to the EU’s security policy chief. Federica Mogherini wrote on federicamogherini.net that Ukraine was “in a delicate moment for the country – for the search for a solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.” She didn’t mention why this “delicate moment” exists: Russia. If she had, then the “search for a solution” would be over, because it is obviously Russia leaving Crimea and Donbas, and Ukraine being restored to full sovereignty and complete territorial integrity.
In a jarring note, federicamogherini.net and the Twitter account European External Action Service @eu_eeas refer to Kyiv as “Kiev.” Proper English is to transliterate the Ukrainian name for Ukraine’s capital city and write “Kyiv.” The name in English that transliterates the Russian name – “Kiev” – is an offensive relic from the past, from the time of the Russian occupation of Ukraine before 1991. All of the diplomatic community except Federica Mogherini uses the proper English name and writes “Kyiv.”
Federica Mogherini wrote about Ukrainians: “Over these four years, after the Maidan, the European Union has always been on their side and it will be continue to be with them.” Those four years have also been after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Crimea and Donbas. Ukrainians are on the side of the defenders of the freedom and independence of Ukraine and of the values and ideals of the European Union. The other side is Russia, which is waging war to destroy the freedom and independence of Ukraine and the values and ideals of the European Union. If Mogherini says the EU is and always will be on the side of the Ukrainians who are defending Europe, she must say that the EU is against the side of the Russians who are invading Europe and occupying parts of Ukraine.
The European Union owes a huge debt to Ukraine. Against all the odds, and without the outside help which it is due, Ukraine is stopping Russia’s invasion of Europe. When the EU was tepid in its defence of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement, the Ukrainian people fought and won the Revolution of Dignity against the corrupt Yanukovych regime and its backer, the corrupt Putin regime in Moscow. While all the EU has done is introduce tepid sanctions against Russian war criminals, the Ukrainian people have fought for four years to keep the front line of Putin’s invasion of Europe at the Siverskyi Donets River. Without Ukraine, the Russian invaders of Europe would be at the Oder River.
Wise security policy for the European Union is the defeat of Russia’s invasion of Europe in Ukraine and the liberation of Crimea and Donbas from Russian occupation. Federica Mogherini should know that, she should say that, and she should act on that. The collective membership of the European Union is vastly more powerful than Russia, and the EU should stop Putin.