Nothing calm on the Eastern Front – EURACTIV.com


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In this week’s edition: Belarus-Ukraine fears, Dushanbe talks and blocking of EU membership.

Russia seems to be living up to its old tricks, and events in and around Belarus have become closely linked to the security situation in Ukraine.

Suddenly the strange article, published by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Kremlin government’s website in early July this year, makes sense (as it already did then to many suspicious Eastern Europeans of Moscow’s intentions).

“Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians are the heirs of old Russia, which was the largest state in Europe,” Putin wrote, stressing “the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians”.

NATO members and the Kiev government accused Moscow of fueling tensions in those same countries, now independent states, by deploying large numbers of troops to the border.

In March, Russia rounded up thousands of soldiers, armored equipment, warships and air force devices near the Ukrainian border and near the annexed Crimean peninsula in a massive effort military.

The situation has escalated in recent weeks, causing many in the West and the East to fear the worst.

Moscow seems to believe that the EU, US and NATO would not step in to protect Ukraine. As a non-member of the EU and NATO, the options are indeed limited but not non-existent.

Just ahead of the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Riga, likely to focus prominently on Russia-Ukraine-Belarus, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia that there would have “costs and consequences”, marking an intensification of the tone of the alliance.

“There is no certainty about Russia’s intentions, but what we do know is that they have already used military force against Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told EURACTIV, when asked about concerns that the Kremlin could use the Belarusian border crisis as a smokescreen to prepare for military action against the country.

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“Russia will operate as a common thread throughout the meeting, and let’s be honest, all other things must be left on the sidelines in light of the situation we are facing,” a NATO diplomat told EURACTIV .

The meeting will include sessions including discussions on US-Russian arms control and strategic stability, joint discussions with Ukraine and Georgia, and a session on the Western Balkans, with Finland, Sweden and the diplomat in head of the EU, non-NATO, Josep Borrell.

“We can expect that, especially in the talks between Georgia and Ukraine and the Western Balkans, Russia will occupy an important place, you cannot separate that, and we should not have the illusion that we can, ”said another NATO diplomat.

The problem with trying to defuse the tensions right now is that no official channel is available. Since Russia closed its NATO mission and ignored NATO’s call to come to the negotiating table in the NATO-Russia Council, it was referred to contacts outside the structured dialogue.

At the same time, it is interesting to note that there is greater EU-NATO coordination on the issue.

In a joint visit, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will visit Lithuania and Latvia on Sunday.

EU member states are currently divided between those who want a firm stand and potentially more sanctions and those, especially Hungary, who want a softer approach and cooperation with Russia.

But according to EU diplomats, a response with potential additional sanctions against Russia seems unlikely to come soon.


DIGEST EURASIA

SPEECH FROM DOUHANBE | EU Chief Diplomat Josep Borrell and Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen called on Afghanistan’s neighbors to prevent human trafficking to Belarus, an initiative they say has been “successful. ” In the region.

In Dushanbe, the high-level EU delegation attended an EU-Central Asia meeting with its counterparts, where the situation in and around Afghanistan was high on the agenda, security and migration dominating the concerns of the bloc vis-à-vis the region.

EU-KAZAKHSTAN | Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev paid a rare official visit to Belgium on Thursday and Friday in order to present his country as a reliable partner of the EU and open the door to new opportunities.

THE EU IN THE WORLD

ETHIOPIA COLLAPSES? | As European governments urge their citizens to leave Ethiopia and critical diplomatic staff are expelled, the EU is increasingly concerned that the escalation of civil conflict in that country threatens to undo the country entirely .

DEFENSE CORNER

NUCLEAR SHARING | Germany will remain a party to the NATO nuclear sharing deal under its new government, according to a coalition agreement reached this week, a move that will prevent a breakdown in the Western military alliance at a time of growing tensions with the United States. Russia.

SEA BOTTOM AMMUNITION | Tons of dangerous chemical and conventional munitions were dumped in European seas after the end of the world wars of the last century, and today they pose a risk to marine life and sailors.

The intensification of economic activities on the high seas increases the risk of damage from munitions and chemical weapons dumped in European seas during the first and second world wars, said EU environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius.

LAST ENLARGEMENT

ACT WITH CARE? | Partly attributing his party’s crushing defeat in the recent municipal elections to the stalling of EU membership negotiations, North Macedonian Justice Minister Bojan Marichikj told EURACTIV that the Skopje government would be more cautious in l ‘to come up.

BOSNIA CHILDREN | Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi visited Bosnia and Herzegovina this week with the aim of defusing the current political crisis in the country which is again cracks along ethnic lines after a bloody war of 1992-95.

ASYLUM SEEKERS | More than 1,400 Albanians applied for asylum in EU member states in August 2021, an increase of 46% from July and more than double that of June, returning to a pre-pandemic trend, according to the reports. EU data. This is because reducing unfounded asylum cases is one of the conditions for EU membership that the Commission claims Albania has fulfilled.


WHAT ELSE WE READ

ON OUR RADAR FOR THE NEXT DAYS…

We will keep you up to date with all relevant EU foreign affairs news, as Europe prepares for a busy end of the year. Here’s what’s coming next week:

  • Visit of NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg and European Commission President von der Leyen
    | Sunday 28 November 2021 | Latvia, Lithuania
  • Iran nuclear negotiations set to resume
    | Monday, November 29, 2021 | Vienna, Austria
  • US-Taliban talks set to resume
    | Monday, November 29, 2021 | Doha, qatar
  • Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Union for the Mediterranean
    | Monday, November 29, 2021 | Barcelona, ​​Spain
  • The European Parliament’s SEDE Committee meets to discuss the Strategic Compass with Commissioner Breton
    | Monday, November 29, 2021 | Brussels, Belgium
  • Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons holds annual meeting of member states
    | Monday, November 29, 2021 | The Hague, Netherlands
  • Court holds hearing on closing Memorial Human Rights Center
    | Monday, November 29, 2021 | Moscow, Russia
  • NATO foreign ministers meet on Russia, Belarus and strategic concept
    | Tue-Wed, 30-1 December 2021 | Riga, Latvia
  • The European Commission presents the EU’s Global Gateway initiative / Revision of the Schengen Borders Code
    | Wednesday, December 1, 2021 | Brussels, Belgium
  • European Parliament AFET Committee meets on Ethiopia, Azerbaijan and Armenia
    | Wed-Thu, December 1-2, 2021 | Brussels, Belgium
  • EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Forum on Justice and Home Affairs
    | Wed-Fri, 1-3 December 2021 | Brdo, Slovenia
  • Russia and ASEAN hold first-ever joint naval exercises
    | Wednesday, December 1, 2021 | Medan, Indonesia
  • OSCE Ministerial Council
    | Thursday, December 2, 2021 | Stockholm, Sweden

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