Why is the EU not helping the Ukrainians?

Why NATO and the EU will not help Ukraine

Military alliance criticizes Russian troop concentration at border, EU supports Crimean initiative. Nobody wants to position themselves too aggressively

After a meeting with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitri Kuleba in Brussels today, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed concern about the reinforcement of Russian troops on the border with eastern Ukraine. The concentration of military equipment and soldiers is "unjustified, questionable and deeply worrying," said Stoltenberg.

The topic is also on the agenda of a video conference of the foreign and defense ministers of the 30 NATO member states on Wednesday. In eastern Ukraine, the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have been under the control of pro-Russian separatists for seven years.

The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, Ruslan Khomchak, had recently announced a military offensive to recapture the two areas. Shortly before, President Volodymyr Zelenskyi had presented a new military strategy outlining the defense against military threats. Like this document, the current 2015 military doctrine names Russia as the immediate aggressor and main threat.

Against this background, too, active intervention by the North Atlantic Pact in the conflict is ruled out. Ukraine is a partner country of the Western military alliance, but not a member. The news agency dpa quotes an EU diplomat as saying that nobody could have an interest in provoking a third world war because of a regional conflict.

Therefore, Ukraine's accession to NATO is currently ruled out. In this case, the other states would have to assist the country in the event of a military threat, which could possibly mean war with Russia, whose military doctrine in turn allows interventions to protect Russian citizens abroad. In eastern Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of people have a Russian passport as well as a Ukrainian passport - a trend that Moscow has recently actively promoted.

While NATO has so far limited itself to comments critical of Russia, the EU wants to support Ukraine more actively. According to information from Telepolis A good dozen EU member states have agreed to strengthen an international initiative by Zelensky to reunite the Crimean peninsula with Ukraine. But even here, Brussels does not want to mess with Moscow too obviously.

Political support and critical distance from Kiev

According to the information, the so-called International Crimean Platform will receive greater support. The initiative was launched by Zelenskyi on September 23 last year to mobilize international support for the reintegration of Crimea. The peninsula was declared part of its own national territory by Russia in 2014. Moscow invokes a vote on citizenship, Ukraine and the West speak of an annexation that is contrary to international law.

Now around half of the EU member states have spoken out in favor of supporting the Crimean platform. According to the EU diplomat, it is a matter of keeping the subject on the political agenda. Most recently, support for UN resolutions against the annexation of Crimea to Russia had decreased.

Nevertheless, those involved exercise caution. It is considered unlikely that the EU will appoint its own special envoy for the Crimean dispute. It is also said from Brussels that they want to keep any financial aid in their own hands. In recent years, the EU has repeatedly criticized the corruption and misuse of public funds in Ukraine.

Even after the NATO meeting in Brussels - to which US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled in person - the options of the West seem limited. Nobody at NATO wanted to comment specifically on Kuleba's demands for new sanctions against Russia and more military aid.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned against this. Further arms aid from the West for Kiev would turn Ukraine "into a powder keg," he said. Ryabkov accused the United States of provocation because of the relocation of warships to the region. (Harald Neuber)

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