2024.02.23

Liudas Mažylis. (Ne)išmoktos Europos pamokos

Jau nuo pat 2022 m. vasario, kai prasidėjo rusų karinė invazija į Ukrainą, ES lyderiai labai aiškiai deklaravo, jog ukrainiečiai kaunasi ir žūsta gindami mus, Europos laisvę. Iš pirmo žvilgsnio, atrodo, kad toks herojiškas naratyvas suvienijo ir sutelkė Europą bendram tikslui – Ukrainos pergalei. Visgi, stringanti karinė parama Ukrainai, susijusi su lėtais Europos pramonės gamybos tempais, kelia rimtą nerimą ne tik dėl Ukrainos pergalės, bet dar ir dėl pačios bendrijos gebėjimo apsiginti. Strateginiame lygmenyje ES institucijos iš tiesų priėmė neregėtą kiekį naujų iniciatyvų ir instrumentų, skirtų tiek Ukrainos gynybai, tiek Europos saugumo situacijos sustiprinimui. Tačiau reikia pripažinti, kad po Antrojo pasaulinio karo Europos gynybos architektūra, kuri buvo paremta JAV saugumo garantijomis, nebėra savaime suprantama. O geopolitiniai aljansai, kurie praeityje atrodė labai aiškūs, šiandien tampa vis sunkiau nuspėjami.

Bandant įvertinti dabartinę saugumo situaciją objektyviai, reikia suvokti, kad Ukrainoje jau prasideda tretieji Rusijos plataus masto invazijos metai.  Šalis kasdien patiria raketų atakas prieš savo miestus, o rytuose okupantai ne tik sėkmingai laiko užimtas pozicijas, bet ir vėl bando kontratakuoti. Pavyzdžiui, prieš kelias dienas ukrainiečių kariai po ilgos apgulties turėjo pasitraukti iš Avdijivkos miesto, esančio Rytų Ukrainoje. O fronte vis labiau masiškai trūksta amunicijos bei Ukrainos karinėms pajėgoms tampa vis sunkiau išlaikyti turimas pozicijas. Todėl galima pastebėti, jog Vakaruose jau nebeliko ne tik perdėto optimizmo, koks buvo karo pradžioje, bet, galima sakyti, neliko ir politinės inercijos. Kitaip tariant, sprendimų priėmimo tempai sulėtėjo. O dar ir laikinai strigo finansinė ir karinė parama Ukrainai. Kita vertus, buvo tik laiko klausimas, kada ES narės ras kompromisą dėl 50 mlrd. eurų makrofinansinės paramos paketo Ukrainai. 2024 m. vasario 1 d. Vadovų Taryboje pavyko susitarti dėl ilgalaikės paramos, tačiau daug sunkiau ir vėliau nei tikėtasi. O pavienės ES narės, pavyzdžiui, Prancūzija, dar praeitą savaitę pasirašė saugumo paktą su Ukraina ir pažadėjo skirti iki 3 mlrd. eurų papildomos karinės pagalbos. Tačiau, reikia pripažinti, Europa bando skubiai didinti karinę paramą reaguodama į vis sunkiau nuspėjamą JAV politinę situaciją. Nuo 2023 m. rudens JAV įstrigo kritinės reikšmės 60 mlrd. dolerių paramos paketas, skirtas Ukrainai. Tokia situacija susiklostė dėl politinių nesutarimų, paliečiančių JAV nacionalinio saugumo finansavimą. Žinoma, JAV artėja prezidento rinkimai, todėl panašu, kad rinkiminis laikotarpis dar labiau apsunkins sprendimų priėmimą. Tačiau, šiek tiek ironizuojant, galima tik spėlioti, ar greitas ar partijų sutarimas dėl paramos Ukrainai, Izraeliui ir Taivanui bei sutarimas dėl sienos su Meksika apsaugos atitiktų amerikietišką demokratijos kultūrą, kad visi klausimai būtų išspręsti dar likus 6 mėnesiams iki rinkimų? Greičiausiai ne. Visgi ekspertai teigia, kad galutinis susitarimas jau arti, kadangi įstatymo projektas buvo patvirtintas Senate, o dabar likęs pritarimas Atstovų rūmuose. Nors ten taip pat yra nei kiek ne mažesnis susipriešinimas.

Europos gynybos pramonės pasirengimas karui su Ukraina dar tik įsivažiuoja. Nors žemyno gynybos pramonė padidino šaudmenų gamybos pajėgumus net 40 proc., ES tikslas iki 2024 m. kovo pagaminti ir perduoti Ukrainai 1 mln. artilerijos sviedinių nebus įvykdytas. Dabar karo ekspertai ir net šalių lyderiai dalijasi prognozėmis, kad Rusija savo karinius pajėgumus gali atkurti greičiau negu iki 2030 m., galimai tam, kad pradėtų karą prieš NATO šalis. Ar reikėtų rimtai reaguoti į vieno iš buvusių ir dabar vėl bandančio tapti JAV prezidentu D. Trumpo kalbas, kad Vašingtonas negintų tų šalių, kurios nemoka pakankamai už savo saugumą? Galbūt. Bet Europai ruoštis reikia. 2024 m. vasario 16–18 d. Miuncheno saugumo konferencijoje ES bei sąjungininkės patikino, kad Ukraina ir toliau ilguoju laiku bus remiama šaudmenimis ir artilerija, tačiau tam, kad Ukraina galėtų karo lauke padaryti reikšmingą kontrataką, būtina teikti daug daugiau artilerijos. Europos Sąjungos užsienio reikalų įgaliotinis Josepas Borrellis vasario 19 d. konferencijoje paragino valstybes nares įsigyti šaudmenų Ukrainai už bloko ribų. Visgi svarbu, kad šaudmenų pirkimas iš trečiųjų šalių netaptų ilgalaike strategija. Reikia, kad Europos gynybos pramonė galėtų augti bei sulaukti investicijų iš bendrijos narių.

Dar 2023 m. liepos 13 d. Europos Parlamente balsavome už teisėkūros rezoliuciją dėl reglamento, kuriame nustatomas Šaudmenų gamybos rėmimo aktas. Šiuo aktu siekėme paspartinti šaudmenų ir raketų tiekimą Ukrainai ir padėti valstybėms narėms papildyti savo arsenalus. Buvo numatytas 500 mln. eurų finansavimas, siekiant padidinti ES gamybos pajėgumus, kad būtų išspręstas dabartinis gynybos produktų, ypač artilerijos šaudmenų, raketų ir jų komponentų trūkumas. Bendrai, tiek Europos Komisija, Vadovų Taryba, Europos Parlamentas bei kitos institucijos veikia Europos gynybos stiprinimo bei atsparumo srityje. Dėl to pastaruoju metu ir kyla daugiau klausimų, ar ES institucijoms nereiktų daugiau centralizacijos ir bendrai daugiau koordinuoto veikimo, siekiant sustiprinti bendrijos gynybinius pajėgumus. Pavyzdžiui, Europos Komisijos vadovė Ursula von der Leyen Miuncheno saugumo konferencijos metu užsiminė, kad po 2024 m. liepą vyksiančių naujų ES rinkimų galimai būtų sukurta nauja ES gynybos komisaro pozicija. Toks sprendimas galbūt iš tiesų leistų labiau konsoliduoti bendrijos gynybos strategijos klausimus bei padėtų institucijomis veikti efektyviau. ES institucijos yra pasidalinusios gynybos ir saugumo kompetencijomis. Tarkim, už Bendrą saugumo ir gynybos politiką (BSGP) yra atsakingas Europos Sąjungos užsienio reikalų įgaliotinis Josepas Borrellis. BSGP apima karinių ar civilinių misijų dislokavimą siekiant išsaugoti taiką, užkirsti kelią konfliktams ir stiprinti tarptautinį saugumą. Europos Komisija turi Gynybos pramonės ir kosmoso generalinį direktoratą (DEFIS), kuris atsakingas už Europos gynybos fondo įgyvendinimą, gynybos rinkos konkurencingumą, karinį mobilumą bei bendrai gynybos pramonės ir kosmoso sektorių. Europos Parlamentas irgi aktyviai prisideda prie ES saugumo ir gynybos politikos formavimo.

Tačiau esminis klausimas vis dar išlieka: ar Europa, matydama, kas vyksta Ukrainoje, ruošiasi pakankamai? Ar Rusijos agresija Ukrainoje išmokė ko nors Europą? Naujai priimtų sankcijų tempai Rusijai juk irgi sulėtėjo. Nors, kita vertus, akivaizdu, kad ne paketų skaičius, o sankcijų efektyvumo klausimas, kurį dabar ir mes Europos Parlamente nuolatos eskaluojame, yra svarbiausias. Naujasis 13-asis sankcijų paketas, kuris artimiausiu metu turėtų būti patvirtintas Taryboje, irgi nepanašu, kad suduos kokių nors esminių smūgių Kremliaus karo mašinai. Bus  taikoma daugiau individualių sankcijų bei uždrausta ES juridiniams objektams prekiauti su keliomis Kinijos, Turkijos, Indijos ir Serbijos įmonėmis. Tačiau jokių naujų sektorinių sankcijų ar su jų apeidinėjimu siejamų instrumentų nebus pritaikyta. Apie naftą ir dujas net nėra ką ir kalbėti, nes apie tai jau dvejus metus kalbama. Reikia pripažinti, kad judama, bet per lėtai. O juk Rusiją ir jos gebėjimą kariauti galima susilpninti ir kitose srityse. Pavyzdžiui, mokslinis bendradarbiavimas tarp Europos ir Rusijos mokslininkų taip pat vis dar nėra sankcionuotas.

2024.02.21

A. Kubilius. On Alexey Navalny

I want to start from the words of Ilya Jashin, another political prisoner of Putin. In his public statement yesterday from the prison he said:

“The confrontation between Navalny and Putin showed the scale of the personalities of both. Alexey will remain in history as a man of exceptional courage, who went forward for what he believed in. He walked, despising fear and death. He walked with a smile and his head held high. And he died a hero.

Putin will remain a small man who accidentally received enormous power. A character who hides in a bunker, kills on the sly and makes millions of people hostage to his complexes. But I don’t wish him to die. I dream that he will answer for his crimes not only before God’s court, but also before the earthly court.“

Putin killed Navalny. He killed Navalny, because Navalny had a dream. 

Navalny fought for his dream of a “wonderful Russia of the future” (“прекрасная Россия будущего”): a normal, European, democratic Russia. 

This is the prospect of Russia that many Russians still believe in. And that is why Putin killed Navalny. 

Putin killed a man, but it is impossible to kill a dream. It has a life of its own and it will one day become a reality.

When that happens, depends not only on ordinary Russians, not only on the opposition to Putin or on Russian civil society. 

“The wonderful Russia of the future”: a normal, European, democratic Russia is not only Navalny’s dream, which will live on. 

It is also our dream, because the existence of the whole of Europe depends on its realisation – whether we will ever be able to live in a stable peace without the threat of a post-imperial, authoritarian, aggressive Russia. To protect ourselves against such a threat, we need to invest not only in NATO’s “deterrence and defence” strategies, not only in our own military capabilities in our countries, but also in the realisation of Navalny’s dream.

We have in our hands the most important instrument to help Navalny’s dream become a reality. These are the Ukrainian victories, which depend only on the Western support: they will open the window for transformations in Russia.

Putin will lose. He will be crushed first in Ukraine and then in Russia.

Putin’s defeat is our task and our job. This requires a long-term and an ambitious   Western strategy. 

We say goodbye to Alexei Navalny. But our struggle will continue. Dreams never die. We shall continue the fight of A. Navalny, and the entire democratic world will continue his fight. It would be very important for European Parliament to continue to be in the leadership of that fight.

2024.02.20

EPP Group position paper on the EU Plan for the victory of Ukraine

The European People’s Party  has always been and will continue to be the leading European political force standing together with the Ukrainian people. We continue to lead EU initiatives aimed at supporting Ukraine with military, humanitarian, and financial assistance, aiding  the reconstruction efforts and helping Ukraine prepare for integration to EU and NATO.

At this moment the biggest concern and challenge for the EU and the Western world is ensuring long-term military support sufficient for Ukraine to achieve victory and to defeat Russia. Despite the West’s economic strength being 25 times than that of Russia’s, the Western military support provided during the last years prevented Ukraine from  defeat, but was not enough to win the war.

There is an urgent need to overhaul the Western system of military support to Ukraine, which until now was based on individual countries making voluntary decisions regarding military assistance. Our system needs to be transformed into one  based on collective decisions and obligations to deliver the necessary support for Ukraine to prevail and win the war. It should also include a collective decision regarding the ramping up of the EU military industry to produce what is needed for defence and victory of Ukraine in the nearest future.

To address these issues, the EPP Group proposes that the  EU institutions  urgently develop “The EU Plan for the Victory of Ukraine.” This Plan would provide the framework for collective EU decisions and the implementation of urgent steps for military assistance to Ukraine necessary for its victory. This position paper presents the basic information and arguments for the preparation of such a Plan.

Read the paper in pdf.

2024.02.19

Andrius Kubilius. The West, Lithuania and Europe’s Eastern Area: the Strategic Importance of the “Transformation Triangle” for Europe’s Destiny

I started writing the text on the “Transformation Triangle” some two weeks ago. The term “Transformation Triangle” itself came to mind even earlier, during a visit to Washington in November 2023, when I was looking for an answer on how the West can realistically help Russia to get rid of the Putin regime and to gradually return to the path of democracy.

The idea that we must explain to the West that Ukraine’s military and geopolitical (integrationist) victories are the only way how the West can help Russia’s transformation has long been with me. And Ukraine’s victories are the sole responsibility of the West. For only with sufficient Western support for Ukraine can such victories be achieved, and with it the opportunity to bring about transformation across the wider Eastern area of the European continent. So far, Ukraine has not received such a sufficient support.

I started telling and writing this even before the war.

I started writing this text, which I planned as a summary of my thoughts, a couple of weeks ago. I finished it on the day that the shocking news reached us all – Putin had killed Navalny.

Navalny fought for his dream of a “wonderful Russia of the future” (“прекрасная Россия будущего”): a normal, European, democratic Russia. This is the prospect of Russia that many Russians still believe in. This was demonstrated by the huge queues of Russians willing to sign up to Nadezhdin’s candidacy in the so-called presidential “elections”.

Putin killed Navalny. He  killed Navalny,  because Navalny had a dream. Putin killed a man, but it is impossible to kill a dream. It has a life of its own and it will one day become a reality.

When that happens, depends not only on ordinary Russians, on the opposition to Putin or on Russian civil society. It is up to us and it is up to the West as a whole. We have in our hands the most important instrument to help Navalny’s dream become a reality. These are the Ukrainian victories, which depend only on the Western support.

Putin will lose. He will be crushed first in Ukraine and then in Russia.

Putin’s defeat is our task and our job. This requires a long-term and holistic Western strategy. I have tried to set out some of the elements of such a strategy in this text.

“The wonderful Russia of the future”: a normal, European, democratic Russia is not only Navalny’s dream, which will live on. It is also our dream, because the existence of the whole of Europe depends on its realisation – whether we will ever be able to live in a stable peace without the threat of a post-imperial, authoritarian, aggressive Russia. To protect ourselves against such a threat, we need to invest not only in NATO’s “deterrence and defence” strategies, not only in our own  military capabilities in Lithuania, but also in the realisation of Navalny’s dream, in the implementation of the long-term strategy of the “Transformation Triangle”. Because only the “Transformation Triangle” will destroy the very source of the threat.

We say goodbye to Alexei Navalny. But our struggle will continue. Dreams never die.

***

Ukraine’s war against Russia is not yet going the way the Ukrainians and all of us would like. Since the beginning of the war, Western support for Ukraine has been just enough to enable Ukraine not to lose, but the support of only that level has prevented Ukraine from achieving victory. It is enough to remember just one figure: in 2023, Russia has spent more than EUR 100 billion on financing the war, while the Ukrainian side, with the full weight of the West’s support for Ukraine’s defence, has managed to mobilise resources worth only EUR 80 billion, of which as much as EUR 40 billion were Ukraine’s own resources.

Total Western military support to Ukraine in 2023 was less than 0.1% of Western GDP. After all, the economic potential of the West is 25 times that of Russia.

So, the West is rich enough that, with its vast resources to support the heroism of the Ukrainian soldiers, it could easily have ensured that Russia had already lost the war.

But this didn’t happen. Russia has not yet lost the war. And in truth, it still remains to be seen how Ukraine will be able to achieve victory in this war in the coming years. Because it is not likely that Western support will increase dramatically in the short term.

Here we have the first strange paradox in the behaviour of the West: a number of Western leaders, politicians and military men, seeing that Ukraine is still not winning the war, do not shy away from loudly lamenting this, and do not shy away from publicly predicting that a Russia that has not been crushed in Ukraine will be ready to attack some NATO country in 5 or 6 years. However, this overwhelming feeling on the part of Western leaders does not in any way translate into a decision to provide greater military support to Ukraine, which would enable Ukraine to win the war, to crush Russia and, at the same time, to remove the threat of its aggression against the West.

Why is that?

The answer is clear: because Western support has so far lacked the strategic ambition to achieve such a victory.

Why does the West still not dare to be ambitious for victory?

Because they are contemplating the goal of victory over Russia with a mood of negativity and fear rather than with a positive ambition that such a victory of Ukraine and the West would be good not only for Ukraine, but also for Russia itself and its prospects, would be good for the whole of the eastern area of the European continent, and would be good for the West itself, because it would create the conditions for a stable peace in the European continent.

It is clear that the ambition to achieve a Ukrainian victory for the West has so far was absent, because a large part of the West is simply afraid of such a Ukrainian victory.

First, the West fears that its ambition to see Russia defeated could provoke Putin to escalate the war, perhaps even to the point of using nuclear weapons. The West is therefore opting for the tactic of a slow “froggy boil”, only gradually increasing Ukraine’s military potential, in the hope that this will avoid the risk of escalation, and that Russia will eventually be exhausted and will decide to pull out of the war itself. However, this “slow-boil” tactic has the potential to “exhaust” the West’s own support for Ukraine in the first place. We are already seeing signs of this in the deliberations of the US Congress.

Secondly, the West fears what consequences such a Ukrainian victory might have for Russia itself. It is feared that a Ukrainian victory will result in the collapse of the Putin regime and that it will be replaced by even more aggressive “nationalists” rather than by some Russian democrats (because the West does not believe in Russia’s democratic prospects). There is also the fear of a post-Putin Russia breaking up into separate, conflicting entities, leaving it unclear who controls Russia’s nuclear weapons. More recently, the famous Elon Musk has been voicing such fears to members of the US Senate.

Sometimes it seems that the goal of a Ukrainian victory alone is not geopolitically and psychologically sufficient for the West to overcome such fears. That is why the West remains so “lukewarm”. They are also lukewarm in their military support for Ukraine.

All these fears, together with the usual short-sightedness and lack of leadership, prevent the West from seeing the completely new European horizons and perspectives that a Ukrainian victory could open up, as well as from seeing positive horizons that require a positive and strong Western strategic ambition.

Therefore, we, those of us who are striving for a Ukrainian victory, must also help the West to see the much broader horizons that only a Ukrainian victory can open up. Only in this way can we awaken the West’s ambition to achieve such a victory in Ukraine, only in this way can we help the West to free itself from fears about what will happen with Putin, with the Kremlin, or with all of Russia after a Ukrainian victory.

We need to preach to the West a very clear strategic doctrine, which is understandable to the West, and which is important to the West as a whole, and not just to us (or to our region), and which will help the West to understand the significance of the new horizons that will be opened up by the Ukrainian victory, and the meaning and strategic benefits of this, including for the West.

As French President Macron is fond of saying, today the West (including the European Union) lacks a new “grand narrative”, which makes the West look increasingly weak geopolitically.

Ukraine’s war against Russian aggression allows the West to discover a new “grand narrative”, and this must be the West’s ambition to achieve not only the victory of Ukraine, but also the transformation of the entire eastern area of the European continent.

These new European horizons can be called the horizons of the “Transformation Triangle”. At the top corner of the Transformation Triangle is Ukraine, and in the other two corners of the triangle are Russia and Belarus. The corners of this triangle are historically and geopolitically closely interlinked. Therefore changes at the “corner of Ukraine” will inevitably lead to major transformations in the other corners of the triangle: Russia and Belarus.  It is also called a triangle because if one looks at the point on the map where the borders of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus meet, one can clearly see the geographical triangle formed by the border roads (see photo).

“The Transformation Triangle” is the new “grand narrative” in Europe, because it is the key to the lasting peace in Europe: the neighbourhood of the current European Union, not led by the dictators in Russia and Belarus, but rather with the resurgent and evolving democracies in these countries, is the only chance for Europe to fulfil the formula of G.H.W.Bush: “Europe – whole, free and at peace”. This is the only formula that can guarantee lasting peace in Europe. This requires “freedom” in Russia and Belarus. Only when Russia and Belarus are transformed into territories of democracy and freedom can the old Europe no longer feel threatened by an authoritarian and neo-imperial Russia. Democracies do not fight each other – this is the axiom of a lasting peace on the European continent.

The question Western leaders must answer is simple: do they want chaos, blood and more suffering on the European continent, or do they want a stable peace. Indifference, a “not my business” attitude, an unwillingness to invest in a lasting peace, will only lead to ever-increasing chaos and the threat of war; a stable peace requires political and material investment in the “Transformation Triangle”. “Grand Narratives” only become true “grand narratives” when “grand” political and material resources are also invested in them, and one not merely limits oneself to empty but regularly repeated statements.

The West can bring about a major positive change at the “Ukrainian corner” of the Transformation Triangle, starting with Ukraine’s military victory and ending with the victory of the “Ukrainian success”, which will require both the reconstruction of Ukraine and Ukraine’s EU and NATO membership. The military victory of Ukraine is needed to crush the ideology of the current Kremlin regime’s Russism in Russia and to crush the Kremlin regime itself, thus opening a window of opportunity for political transformation in Russia, while the creation of a “Ukrainian success” through its Euro-Atlantic integration is needed so that the example of such a success can inspire ordinary Russians and Belarusians to strive for the same kind of European-oriented transformation in their countries.

Some in the West fear that such Western efforts to bring about change in the Russian-Belarusian corners of the Transformation Triangle are an implementation of the Western policy of “regime change”, which is supposedly unacceptable for some historical reason. However, this is a completely false fear: yes, we want a political change in Russia and Belarus, we want the fall of both the Putin and Lukashenko regimes, but this will have to be achieved by the Russians and the Belarusians themselves, and we will help the change in Russia and Belarus with our resolute policy of support for Ukraine and with our consistent solidarity with the Russian opposition and civil society.

The Transformation Triangle means that positive transformation in Russia and Belarus can also take place, thanks to the European-designed and supported change at the “corner of Ukraine”. Transformations in Russia and Belarus will be implemented by Russians and Belarusians themselves, but the context and motivation for such transformation will be created by the changes in Ukraine. And the changes in Ukraine, including its victories, can and must be created and influenced by the West. But to do so, the West needs to discover a new “grand narrative” and to realise its ambition for it.

Both Ukraine’s military victory and the integration victory of the “Ukrainian success story” now depend solely on the West’s determination to achieve this. The Ukrainians have long since demonstrated that they have more than enough of determination, while the West has still not shown that it has the Western resolve and determination  to support such Ukrainian victories. And without the West’s resolute support, such Ukrainian victories will not be possible.

What the European Union’s Transformation Triangle strategy must look like? It must consist of five essential parts:

Ukraine’s military victory and Russia’s defeat. The Putin regime and the aggressive ideology of Russism must suffer a severe crushing. The nostalgia of ordinary Russians for imperial grandeur must also suffer a painful defeat. The defeat must be accompanied by an international tribunal and reparations so that the Russians understand the extent of the crimes committed. This may open a window of opportunity for the beginning of a transformation in Russia. A military victory for Ukraine can only be achieved with much greater Western military support.

Reconstruction and European integration of Ukraine (building Ukraine’s economic success). The reconstruction of Ukraine and Ukraine’s integration into the EU Single Market is the only way how the long-term success of Ukraine’s European economy can be built. Reconstruction and European integration will be closely interlinked processes. The economic “miracle” of Central Europe and the Baltic States has been created by the region’s accession to the EU and the EU Single Market: Lithuania’s GDP/capita (PPP) was only 36% of the EU average in 1999, when it started negotiations for EU membership, and now it is 90%. For Ukraine, the same figure now is only 36%. But it has the same potential to reach 90% of the EU average in the next 20 years if the EU is able to implement an ambitious enlargement policy. It should be remembered that no post-Soviet country (in Central and Eastern Europe or in the Balkans) has so far been able to build its success without the EU integration. The EU can create such a success for Ukraine. The contagious example of Ukraine’s success will be the strongest factor that will eventually inspire the Russian and Belarusian people to seek fundamental change at home. The EU would be making a huge geopolitical mistake if it did not pursue an ambitious and rapid enlargement strategy that includes Ukraine. For such a European integration of Ukraine would fundamentally change the whole Transformation Triangle.

Ukraine’s NATO membership. Ukraine’s membership, or at least the invitation to join NATO in the near future, is not only important because it would address Ukraine’s security issue. It is also important because it would help Russia to transform itself. Because such an invitation to Ukraine would mean that Ukraine is no longer left in the “grey” security zone and a clear signal is sent to Russia that Ukraine is no longer within their sphere of its influence. And this, as the famous Zbygniew Brzezinski once very rightly said, would be the greatest support for Russia’s transformation into a democracy: according to Brzezinski, a Russia that retains the ability to rule and influence Ukraine will always remain an empire, and a Russia that loses this ability will be able to become a democracy. The West has all the means to implement Brzezinski’s formula in the near future – all it needs to do is to invite Ukraine to become a NATO member at the next NATO Summit. This will bring about a huge change in the whole Transformation Triangle and it depends only on the determination of the West to help or not to help Russia transform itself.

Support for the Russian and Belarusian opposition and civil society. This is the least the West can and must do in terms of concern for change in the Transformation Triangle. It is also a test of the West’s geopolitical wisdom: the West can only genuinely help the opposition and civil society if it also genuinely believes that democratic change can happen in both Russia and Belarus. If they do not believe this, then all the Western slogans about support for the opposition or civil society are a sham. Moreover, if you don’t believe in the prospects for democracy in Russia or Belarus (and the majority of people in Lithuania and the wider West do not yet believe in such prospects), then you are helping Musk to explain to US congressmen that there is no need to support and work for the victory of Ukraine and Russia’s defeat and the fall of Putin’s regime, because there can’t be a positive transition in Russia after Putin; because the situation will get only worse; because there simply cannot be a positive democratic transition in Russia. So, if you do not believe in the prospects of democracy in Russia, you are helping those who do not want to give Ukraine more weapons, because they are subconsciously afraid of a Ukrainian victory. Therefore, the European Union must put more much efforts in helping the Russian opposition; the EU must believe in Russia’s democratic prospects, and must begin to implement the grand narrative of the Triangle of Transformation, because only then will it no longer be afraid of Ukraine’s victory, and no longer be afraid of giving more weapons to Ukraine.

A “Marshall Plan” for democratic Belarus and Russia. The European Union must say loudly today to ordinary Russians and Belarusians that, after Putin and Lukashenko, they will be able to live a much better life than they are living now. Because the European Union will not allow them to be disillusioned by democratic change in their own countries. It must be announced now that the European Union is ready to help the future young democracies of Russia and Belarus with European special “Marshall Plans” of the 21st century. These will not be bags of money shipped to a democratic Moscow or Minsk, but agreements on free trade, visa-free travel and modernisation partnerships with the EU, which will help the people of those countries to realise the benefits and opportunities of democracy. For a democratic Russia, this will be a realisation of the dream of the murdered Navalny: to build the “wonderful Russia of the future”. And for the democratic Belarus, these are also prospects for the EU integration.  The European Union should already be announcing such plans now, and should be coordinating them with the democratic forces in those countries: it would not cost the EU anything for the time being, but it would already have a tremendous impact on the thinking of the people of the Transformation Triangle.

Can Putin be angry about this Transformation Triangle agenda and the “grand narrative” of transformation being implemented by the West?

Definitely yes.

But ordinary Russians and Belarusians will surely support such a Western agenda.

The question remains: who is the West with – Putin or ordinary Russians and Belarusians waiting for the implementation of the Transformation Triangle strategy?

Europe as a whole needs such a strategy. Because the Transformation Triangle is the key to a stable peace on the European continent.

And the European Union is able to implement such a Transformation Triangle strategy. Through the implementation of an ambitious and victorious strategy in support of Ukraine.

But this requires one condition: that the West stops being afraid of Putin. And that they finally decide that Putin must be crushed in Ukraine – with much greater Western military support for Ukraine.

“Transformation Triangle” on the map:

2024.02.06

Andrius Kubilius. How To Stop The Veto Rampage And “Orbanization” Of The European Union?

Over the last few years, Viktor Orban has made Hungary the biggest headache for the entire European Union.  Despite the fact that during the recent EU Council meetings he gradually retracted from his tactics to veto all the EU decisions related with Ukraine, during recent years V.Orban nevertheless created the permanent threat to the European Union of being “orbanized”. “Orbanization” of the EU means weakening of the EU decision making capacity with the abuse of veto power by a Member State, which attempts to blackmail all the EU.

The European Union is struggling to find the best way to stop the spread of such a new “culture of blackmail”, but still does not have a systemic approach to such a challenge.

It is time for the EU to look for a proper answer to the challenge of “Orbanization”.

In order to move forward, first of all we need to look into the past, in order to understand how and when the phenomenon of “Orbanization” started to appear.

In the begining, the European Union was forced to find new ways to stop Orban’s legislative activities back home, in Hungary, that violate basic values, especially the rule of law, as enshrined in the EU Treaties, and violation of which risks disrupting the functioning of essential EU mechanisms, including the EU Single Market, which operates on the basis of the uniform application of the rule of law throughout the EU.

To force Hungary to return to the rule of law, the EU had previously legally withheld (“frozen”) the disbursement of the EU  Recovery Fund (around EUR30 billion) to Hungary. In December last year, when Hungary was forced to correct some of its rule of law violations, the EU Commission made the decision to ‘unfreeze’ EUR10 billion in payments to Hungary.

But during last years Orban, who had already been “financially” punished by the EU Commission several years ago, decided that his first priority was not so much to fix Hungarian law as to resort to “veto blackmail” against the EU as a whole (and thus to force the EU to go for  the “unfreezing” of EU funds), since the Treaty on European Union stipulates that most decisions in the EU Council must be taken unanimously.

Under the Treaty definition of unanimity as decision making procedure in the European Council, Hungary appears to have a formal veto over important EU decisions. The established practice within the EU so far has been that an exercise of the veto right does not need to be based on any serious arguments by an individual country. Thanks to mainly Orban’s efforts, the veto right entrenched in the Treaty has become an important instrument of the new “blackmail culture”. This “blackmail culture” is spreading rapidly throughout the EU, especially in “new Europe”. This makes the EU dangerously ineffective, especially since Orban’s “veto” has been specifically aimed at undermining the EU’s efforts to support Ukraine over the last two years, after the onset of the war.

Therefore, it warrants significantly more attention to identify effective EU legal mechanisms to put an end to Orban’s blackmailing “rampage”.

Firstly, it must be clarified that Orban’s infractions pertain to two distinct aspects of EU operations: he infringes upon the principles established in the Treaty on European Union regarding the “internal” activities within EU Member States, as well as the principles for “external” actions of EU countries in their interactions with other Member States and with the EU Community at large.

It is evident that Viktor Orban and his administration are making “domestic” decisions which infringe upon European values of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights within Hungary, as stipulated in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). However, Mr. Orban is also engaging in “external” misconduct beyond Hungary’s borders in Hungary’s interactions with other Member States and with the EU Community at large, as well as within the EU’s international domain, by exploiting the “veto” power granted by the EU Treaties in order to blackmail the entire EU.

To counteract Orban’s treaty-breaching conduct (both “internally” and “externally”), we must utilize targeted and distinct EU legal instruments to safeguard the EU Treaties in those respectively different spheres of “internal” and “external” activities of Member States.

While there is much to be said about Orban’s domestic actions in Hungary and the necessity for him to adhere to the values outlined in Article 2 of the Treaty, it is clear that what currently preoccupies the European Union is his employment of “veto blackmail” as an “external” maneuver. Nevertheless, in our defense against this “external” blackmail, we continue to discuss and develop arguments, based solely on Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union. This article is designed to uphold EU values against the improper domestic conduct of national governments within the EU, specifically when there is a breach of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law as defined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union.

Our efforts to demonstrate that the “veto blackmail” (applied “externally”) also contravenes the values of Article 2 of the Treaty (which are originating “internally”) have not been legally effective and will likely face significant challenges in curtailing “veto blackmail”. Thus, it becomes important to explore alternative legal avenues to halt the proliferation of this “veto blackmail culture” within the EU.

In the quest to effectively halt Orban’s “veto blackmail”, we should also consider Article 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union, which defines the EU’s basic principles of sincere cooperation and loyalty. The Article 4 (3) states, “The Member States shall facilitate the achievement of the Union’s tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union’s objectives.”

As it is stated in the commentary to the Treaty on European Union, “The principle of sincere cooperation is another key concept of Union law. /…/ The principle can be regarded as foundation stone of the Union’s legal order. /…/ The principle of sincere cooperation requires both cooperation and respect. /…/ As a general obligation flowing from the loyalty principle the CJEU inferred the principle of good faith, which prohibits the MS from any abuse of rights”.[1]

Mathias Herdegen, while analyzing Article 4(3) of the TEU, explains: “From the Union’s point of view, compliance with the Treaty obliges the Member States to loyally fulfill their contractual obligations. /…/ In any case, it is obvious to see a violation of the principle of “loyalty to the Union” in an “empty chair policy” or a refusal to participate in the Council of European Union in order to achieve certain objectives”.[2] Despite the fact, that  M.Herdegen does not comment anything on the “abuse of veto power”, but “empty chair policy” had the same goal as policy of “abuse of veto” of today: it was and is used “to achieve certain objectives in violation of “loyalty to the Union” principle.

The language of the Article 4(3) suggests that the EU Member States’ veto right, as established in the Treaty on European Union, is not absolute. Abusing the veto power in a manner that jeopardizes the Union’s objectives is a manifest violation of the Treaty. This means that the right to veto should be reserved for exceptional instances where a Member State’s paramount national interest is at risk. For such instances, an objective mechanism to evaluate the legitimacy of the veto justification should be established.

It is now abundantly clear that Orban’s use of “veto blackmail” instrument is obstructing and jeopardizing achievement of the Union’s objectives, particularly regarding the EU’s support for Ukraine—an EU stance that has been repeatedly affirmed at the highest levels of EU institutions since the onset of the conflict. Yet, Mr. Orban continues to employ his blackmail tactics, relentlessly aiming to undermine the EU’s efforts to support Ukraine without any substantive arguments. This behavior constitutes a stark breach of the Treaty, threatening not just Ukraine, but the integrity of the EU itself.

European Parliament in its January 18, 2024 Resolution “On the situation in Hungary and frozen EU funds” made a clear statement, that in December, 2023 EU Council meeting, when Hungary vetoed the decision on the essential MFF revision, including the Ukraine aid package, it demonstrated “full disrespect and violation of the EU’s strategic interests”. And even more – European Parliament clearly declared that in such a way Hungary violated its Treaty obligations “/European Parliament/ believes that such actions /of Hungary/ are in violation of the principle of sincere cooperation, as enshrined in the Treaties.”

So, it can be stated in a unambiguous way: “orbanization” of the Union is a clear violation of the basic principles of “sincere cooperation” and “loyalty to the Union”, which are “the foundation stone of the Union’s legal order.”

One should also remember that the Union is based on the principle of rule of law, and violation of the principles of the Union and of the Treaty, is violation of the basic law of the Union. Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union, mandates that the Commission “shall ensure the application of the Treaties […] and it shall oversee the application of Union law”.

Consequently, the European Commission must act to uphold Article 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union and shield it from Mr. Orban’s egregious misuse of the veto. According to the Treaty, the Commission, as the custodian of the EU Treaties and laws, must perform its protective duties in accordance with the rulings of the European Court of Justice. It is time for the Commission to take the lead and fulfill its responsibilities. Article 258 of the TFEU states very clearly,

“If the Commission considers that a Member State has failed to fulfill an obligation under the Treaties, it shall deliver a reasoned opinion on the matter after giving the State concerned the opportunity to submit its observations.

If the concerned State does not comply with the opinion within the period laid down by the Commission, the latter may bring the matter before the Court of Justice of the European Union”.

Should the Commission hesitate to act for any reason, it is pertinent to remember that Article 259  of the TFEU states:

“A Member State which considers that another Member State has failed to fulfil an obligation under the Treaties may bring the matter before the Court of Justice”

Therefore, the Court of Justice can be addressed by a state , for example by Lithuania, concerning Hungary’s “veto blackmail” and the enforcement of Article 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union.

It is imperative to put a halt to the “culture of veto  blackmail” which is created by Viktor Orban and which has a danger to spread to other EU Member States. It is within our power to do so, using the obligations and the powers of the Treaties. We must not merely lament the perceived frailties of the European Union; we are the European Union. Let us be proactive in aiding ourselves.

The best way to get rid of the “culture of veto blackmail”, of course, is to abandon veto right in decision making totally and to move to QMV. That is what citizens of EU demanded in the outcomes of the Conference on the Future of the EU. But until this is achieved, we need to demonstrate that the EU is able to defend itself against any blackmail. Violation of the basic EU principles of sincere cooperation and loyalty to the Union should be punished with the same vigor as Union is punishing for the violation of basic EU values of democracy, human rights and rule of law.

[1] The Treaty on European Union (TEU), H.-J.Blanke and St. Mangiameli (Ed’s.),  Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2013, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-31706-4, p.232-234.

[2] Mathias Herdegen, “Europarecht” (Beck C.H., 2019)

2023.02.24

Commemorating one year of full scale Russian aggression to Ukraine. U4U Press Statement, 24.02.2023

Statement in pdf format.

Commemorating one year of full scale Russian aggression to Ukraine

United for Ukraine, Press Statement

23-24 February 2023

 

We, parliamentarians representing Foreign Affairs Committees, National Security and Defense Committees, and the United for Ukraine global parliamentary network, upon paying solidarity visit to Ukraine on 24 February 2023:

 

  • Condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable war of aggression against Ukraine, the illegal occupation of Ukrainian regions, aimed at annihilating Ukrainian statehood and Ukrainian people, and will never recognize Russia’s illegal attempts to annex parts of Ukrainian territory, made since 2014, fully supporting Ukraine’s goal to restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity within the internationally recognized borders.
  • Believe that decisive Ukraine’s victory is critical to European and global security and for the perspectives of sustainable peace on European continent. If not defeated this year on the battlefield in Ukraine, Russia’s military machine will remain a formidable military threat that could escalate into larger conflict with entire Europe and will consolidate efforts of autocratic states to challenge global rules-based international order. We are convinced that this must be prevented, including through the increased military and defense support to Ukraine and sanctions pressure on Russia and its global accomplices including Belarus and Iran.
  • Share Ukraine’s view that everything possible, including timely military and technical assistance, must be provided to bring its victory in the war closer. We welcome the recent decisions taken by our governments in this regard and call on all partners to grant Ukraine with all necessary military tools to win the war as soon as possible. We call to further follow this path and speed up the process, based on understanding that delivery of higher quality and larger quantity of modern weapons is the only way to achieve the victory of Ukraine faster, to decrease the number of victims and the damage to the infrastructure of Ukraine as well as to create the basis for peace and stability in Europe.
  • Strongly condemn Russia’s ongoing tactic of terrorizing Ukrainian civilians by attacking residential areas and critical civilian infrastructure by artillery, missiles and drones in revenge for the military losses on the ground. Therefore, we welcome decision already taken to acknowledge Russia as a terrorist state or a state sponsor of terrorism, including by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the European Parliament. We are firmly committed to holding all perpetrators and accomplices accountable. We need to ensure full accountability, including by establishing a special tribunal for the crime of aggression. We call to speed up the legal confiscation of Russia’s frozen foreign exchange reserves and assets abroad for compensating damage caused to Ukraine and Ukrainian citizens.
  • Express our support to the Peace Formula proposed by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy as an effective tool to bring the end to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and establish a comprehensive, just and lasting peace as well as security to the whole world. We urge our governments to commit to its implementation and to encourage international partners across the globe to join it.
  • See Ukraine as part of the European and Euro-Atlantic family, supporting its future EU membership. We, the representatives of the EU parliaments, call on EU Member States to back Ukraine and support its work as well as the work of the European Commission to take decision on starting accession negotiations with Ukraine as early as possible in 2023 in order to consolidate the momentum for further EU-supported reforms and recovery.
  • We also look forward to the NATO Vilnius Summit with great expectations and call on NATO member states to give clear and strong security guarantees for Ukraine. We are confident that Ukraine’s NATO membership would greatly contribute to the Alliance’s security and would help the Russian society to finally get rid of the imperial dreams, which Putin is using to consolidate his regime. This would send a strong message that Ukraine is not in the sphere of Russia’s interests and Russia has no further veto on NATO enlargement. Ukraine would significantly strengthen the Alliance and its European pillar as Ukrainians have the strongest and battle-tested military in Europe. By crushing Russia’s imperial dream, a guarantee of Ukraine’s future NATO membership would help ensure sustainable peace in Europe and could play an important role in bringing democratic transformation in Russia. That is why Ukrainian membership in NATO is supported by Russian democratic opposition.

 

  1. Andrius Kubilius, Member of the European Parliament, Leader of the United for Ukraine (U4U)
  2. Žygimantas Pavilionis, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Seimas
  3. Giedrius Surplys, Deputy Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Seimas
  4. Ekaterina Spasova Gecheva-Zaharieva, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the National Assembly
  5. Pavel Fisher, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security of the Senate
  6. Jussi Halla-aho, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Finlands riksdag
  7. Mireille Clapot, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the National Assembly
  8. Laurent Saunier, Head of the Secretariat of the Foreign Affairs Committee
  9. Thomas Erndl, Deputy Chair of the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee
  10. Bjarni Jónsson, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Iceland
  11. Lia Quartapelle, Vice-President of the Committee on Foreign and Community Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies
  12. Roberto Menia, Vice-President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence of the Italian Senate
  13. Giovanni Baiocchi, Clerk of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense of the Italian Senate
  14. Radosław Fogiel, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Sejm
  15. Bogdan Klich, Chairman of the Foreign and European Union Affairs Committee of the Senate
  16. António Prôa, Vice-Chair of the National Defence Committee of the Portugal Parliament
  17. Predrag Baković, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Policy of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia
  18. Pau Marí-Klose, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Congress of Deputies of the Kingdom of Spain
  19. Pablo Hispan, Vicepresident of PP Group, Deputy Chairman of the Congress of Deputies of the Kingdom of Spain
  20. Gustaf Göthberg, Member of Parliament, Member of the Defense Committee, alternate member of the committee on foreign affairs and member of the committee on legal affairs and human rights in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
  21. Alicia Kearns, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons
  22. Marek Ženišek, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies
  23. Kateryna Musiienko, Counsellor or Mr. Kubilius and Coordinator of the U4U

 

2023.02.22

On Ukraine’s membership in NATO. Draft EPP position paper

On Ukraine’s membership in NATO

Draft position paper

NATO Summit in Vilnius, which will take place on 11-12 July, 2023, will be where an answer to a strategic question of geopolitical significance will be given – will Ukraine get the invitation to join NATO or not.

Not inviting Ukraine to join NATO during the Vilnius Summit will have major negative repercussions on the long-term security architecture of the European continent. It will be a clear indication that Putin still has a veto power on NATO enlargement. It will also mean that the European continent will continue to be exposed to grave short-term and long-term security risks.

Non-invitation of Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO during the Bucharest Summit in 2008 led to Russia’s war of aggression against Georgia, to occupation of Crimea, and to the war against Ukraine, which was started in 2014 and was expanded to a full-scale war in 2022.

Repeating the same strategic mistakes during the Vilnius Summit will lead to the same tragic consequences, i.e. to further increased aggressiveness of Putin and his Kremlin regime.

The EPP, a major European political power, has taken up leadership on support of Ukraine since the beginning of this war. It now needs to formulate a clear position supporting Ukraine’s Membership in NATO before the Vilnius Summit and to spearhead a European debate on this issue.

There are three major arguments that sceptics use against offering Ukraine NATO membership at the Vilnius Summit:

  • Ukraine’s NATO membership will not strengthen NATO, in fact, a mere discussion about such a prospect could destroy the unity of the West;
  • Many NATO Members are afraid to support Ukraine’s NATO Membership. In their belief this will empower Putin’s argumentation that Russia is surrounded by enemies and help Putin to further mobilize Russian people’s support for the war;
  • Many NATO Members are afraid to provide NATO Membership invitation to Ukraine during the Vilnius Summit because that will mean that NATO Article 5 will be initiated immediately and thus NATO will become directly involved in the ongoing war.

How should EPP answer to these arguments?

  1. Ukraine’s NATO Membership is not only an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen NATO military capabilities, this decision would also unite the West for a broader agenda to guarantee a sustainable peace on the European continent:

NATO was created in 1949 to enable the West in a collective way to resist the imperial expansion of Stalinist Russia/Soviet Union into the Western Europe. Ukraine is now doing exactly that, while its military capabilities exceed all NATO Membership criteria. Today, Ukraine is fighting for the NATO goals alone – of course, with Western military assistance, but without any NATO-type Western security collective guaranties.

During the first year of war, Ukraine’s soldiers, their military/political leadership, and the whole society have proven that the Ukrainians have stronger motivation and military capabilities to defend their land than any other country in Europe. If Ukraine joined NATO (and the EU), they could form a battle-tested core of the “European army”.

Most importantly, Ukraine’s Membership in NATO would solve Europe’s biggest security challenge posed by the authoritarian Russia. It would positively affect post-Putin Russia’s transformation into democracy (see below), which would in turn have a major impact on restoring and maintaining peace on the European continent. Assisting Russia’s transformation is a major strategic task for both for NATO and the EU, as democracy in Russia is the only way to prevent further Russian aggression. Democracies do not fight each other. If such broader vision prevailed among NATO Members, there would be no argument against united support for Ukraine’s NATO Membership.

  1. Ukraine’s Membership in NATO will assist post-Putin Russia’s transformation into democracy. That is why the Russian opposition supports Ukraine’s NATO Membership, and why Putin is so fiercely opposed to it.

For the majority of Russians to be able to support the transformation of post-Putin Russia back to democracy, the Russian society needs to abandon its dream to restore the empire. This is the crucial first step. How can we assist the Russian people in abandoning the imperial dream? We can call this task the most important challenge in the process of “deputinizing Russia”. This can be achieved only through:

  • Total military defeat of Russia in Ukraine;
  • Bringing Putin and Lukashenko to justice at the International Tribunal for the crime of aggression;
  • Extending an invitation for Ukraine to become a Member of NATO.

Such an invitation would send the most powerful signal to the Russians that their dream to restore the empire is gone – Ukraine is in the Western camp now.

The long-term stability of restored democracy in the post-Putin Russia (which is crucial for sustainable peace on the European continent) requires that Putin’s imperial dream of Novorossiya is not only decisively crushed; it must be prevented from recovering, once an inevitable post-revolutionary wave of nostalgia for the past sweeps over the newly revitalised young Russian democracy. Even the most hard-core imperial hawks in Russia must finally realise that Ukraine is no longer within their reach. It is, therefore, in the West’s interest to grant NATO membership to Ukraine in the nearest future. Ukraine’s Membership in NATO is not so much about increasing and ensuring Ukraine’s security – Ukraine is doing just that without the NATO Membership already. It is primarily about helping Russians not to succumb to the imperial nostalgia again, which destroyed the “Yeltsin democracy” and brought Putin to power.

Putin understands very well that Ukraine’s membership in NATO will not bring any security threats to Russia, because NATO is a defence organization and it is not threatening Russia with any military aggression. That is why Putin did not oppose Sweden and Finland joining NATO, even though their Membership brings NATO directly to the Russian border. However, Putin is well aware that Ukraine’s Membership in NATO will make his Novorossiya ideology obsolete. Without this narrative, he will not be able to keep his power and maintain nostalgic loyalty of many Russians to his regime. Fear of losing control internally is the main reason behind Putin’s fierce opposition to Ukraine’s NATO Membership. This is also the reason why the Russian opposition want their society to get rid of any nostalgia to imperial past, and do not object Ukraine choosing its own path.

During the Vilnius Summit, NATO Members will need to decide to whom they are listening on the issue of Ukraine’s Membership in NATO: is it the authoritarian Putin and his cronies in the Kremlin, or is it the Russian opposition, which is fighting for democracy in Russia?

  1. Ukraine’s Membership in NATO does not mean direct NATO involvement in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, but it can speed up Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine and bring peace back to the European continent.

There may be different ways to ensure that inviting Ukraine to join NATO (while the war is ongoing) would not become an obligation for the Member States to enter the war. Ukraine is not expecting such an obligation. For example, NATO’s invitation for Ukraine could entail a provision that Article 5 will only become operational after Ukrainian victory in the war.

Even such “limited membership” would provide many significant benefits for Ukraine, as it would become party to routine NATO activities and exercises. Even more importantly, it would send a very clear signal that NATO will forever stand together with its Member Ukraine.

This would still send a very powerful message to the Russian people, and especially to the Russian military leadership, that Ukraine is already a part of the West and will never be a part of any Russian empire.

The Russian people will realise that their dream to restore empire is gone forever (see above).  The Russian militaries will realise there is no hope to achieve anything in Ukraine, in the face of the Ukrainian military motivation and the Western military technology combined.

Thus, even a temporarily limited Ukraine’s Membership in NATO will send a very clear signal that NATO will forever stand together with its Member Ukraine.

Such NATO decision can also encourage part of the Kremlin political and military elite to seek ways to end this disastrous for Russia war. Because the alternative – Russia’s continued confrontation with the united West on the future of Ukraine – will mean further isolation and ultimate catastrophe for Russia itself.

********

These are rational arguments in favour of the Vilnius Summit decision to invite Ukraine to join NATO, outlining how it will be beneficial not only to the security of Ukraine, but also to the perspectives of long-term sustainable peace in Europe and even for the perspective of democracy in Russia itself.

Not making this offer would be a repeated strategic mistake and missed opportunity to solve the biggest long-term security issue of the European continent.

That is why the EPP, a political power supporting democracy, security, and sustainable peace, needs to take clear leadership in this issue, crucial for the future of Europe.

Members of the European Parliament:

Rasa JUKNEVIČIENĖ, Lithuania

Andrzej HALICKI, Poland

Andrius KUBILIUS, Lithuania

Ivan ŠTEFANEC, Slovakia

Romana TOMC, Slovenia

Siegfried MUREȘAN, Romania

Vladimír BILČÍK, Slovakia

Andrey KOVATCHEV, Bulgaria

Riho TERRAS, Estonia

Sandra KALNIETE, Latvia

Tomas TOBÉ, Sweden

Aušra MALDEIKIENĖ, Lithuania

Romana TOMC, Slovenia

Elżbieta ŁUKACIJEWSKA, Poland

Franc BOGOVIČ, Slovenia

Jan OLBRYCHT, Poland

Janina OCHOJSKA, Poland

Michaela ŠOJDROVÁ, Czechia

Radan KANEV, Bulgaria

Inese VAIDERE, Latvia

Alexander Alexandrov YORDANOV, Bulgaria

Radosław SIKORSKI, Poland

Ewa KOPACZ, Poland

Jerzy BUZEK, Poland

2023.02.20

Andrius Kubilius. Opening Statement in the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly

Opening Statement in the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly in Chisinau,  20 February, 2023

Andrius Kubilius

Member of the European Parliament,

Co-President of Euronest PA

Congratulations to  all the members of Euronest Parliamentary Assembly and thanks to our hosts from Moldova. This is unique session, since it’s the  first session of Euronest,  held  during the war.

The war brings tectonic changes and geopolitical earthquakes in the whole EaP region and the whole European continent.

The first question, which we need to answer – why Putin started the war?

Somebody is calling that this is a traditional neoimperial or colonial war.

I would stress, that  this is the war of collapsing autocracy against inevitable spread of democracy to the eastern part of European continent. I would like to call it “Kremlin regime survival war”.

Kremlin waged the war not to allow democracy to spread into Russia. For Kremlin regime to survive in Russia the biggest threat is success of democratic Ukraine and other EaP countries, because that can inspire Russian people to demand the same development in Russia.

Ukraine success (and of  other EaP countries) can be built in the same way as success of Central Europe was created in 1990-ies through integration towards EU.  This is the only way how the success of countries in post Soviet area can be created. For Putin regime Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia  integration towards EU is the biggest danger for  survival of his regime.  That is the reason why he started the war against Ukraine success.

Russia will lose this war. With the Western assistance, they will be defeated in Ukraine.  It’s needed not only for Ukraine, it’s needed for the whole democratic world, and especially for democratic Europe. And such a defeat will bring collapse of autocracy in Russia, and it will open the doors for transformation back to democracy in Russia.

It’s a crucially important historical moment, which will change the whole geopolitical landscape of European continent. We, my generation, we have seen how Berlin Wall collapsed, now we are coming to the moment of the same historical significance when Kremlin wall of authoritarian, aggressive regime will collapse.

And that historical change depends exceptionally on Ukraine.

Because transformation of Russia will happen, first of all,  if Russian people will get rid of the dream to restore Empire. In order to achieve that, there are three most important things which we all together need to realize: 1) Russia military defeat in Ukraine; 2) international tribunal for Putin; and 3) NATO membership for Ukraine: Russians need to understand that Ukraine is gone from their sphere of influence.

From another side, for such transformation to happen Russian people need to believe that they can have normal life in Russia itself. And for that to happen, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia   integration towards EU will play most important strategic role, because that is how Ukraine  and  other EaP countries success will be created and how example and inspiration for Russian people will created.

Transformation of Russia is the only way for sustainable peace to be created on European continent. That is why European integration is the only way towards sustainable peace, and that is why integration of EaP countries towards EU is needed not only for the countries of EaP themselves, but strategically is very much needed also for EU itself. That is also what on  EU side  we still need to understand properly. And that is why Eastern Partnership policy is one of the most important geopolitical policies of EU, and   why Euronest PA is such an important event.

Also it is so crucially important that we have this Assembly here in Chisniau. Not just because  we have session in the neighborhood of Ukraine, but mostly because Moldova brings a clear and very important evidence that if the people in EaP region has a possibility to make a free choice, they are choosing European direction. Despite all the Kremlin efforts to resist such a choice with all Kremlin hybrid influence weapons. I would like to congratulate President Maja Sandu and all the leadership of Moldova for a great job bringing Moldova on European road.

Moldova brings clear evidence what would be the choice of Belarus people if they would have possibility to make a free choice, which Lukashenko have stolen from them. The same with Russian people and that is why Kremlin dreams how to destroy such a choice of Moldova people. But they will not succeed.

Autocracy in Russia will loose: both military in Ukraine and geopolitically against European integration of EaP countries.

For that to happen there is a need of consolidated political will on EU side and the whole Western world side. We need to deliver weapons to Ukraine and we need to deliver integration, with an ambitious integration agenda for Trio countries and with accession negotiations for Ukraine and Moldova to be started during this year.

With “military Ramstein” we, the West,  have shown the way how to consolidate our political will in order to deliver weapons. In order to deliver integration, we need to create “Integration Ramstein” .

We need to deliver integration in such a way, that EaP countries, first of all Moldova and Ukraine, and I hope Georgia, would become members of EU before 2029 and would participate in regular elections towards European Parliament.

This is the way to sustainable peace on all the European continent. Collapse of Kremlin walls will remove the most important destabilizing factor, factor of aggression and oppression  for all the EaP region, not only for Ukraine and Moldova, but also for Belarus, and  for the whole South Caucasus.

But all the changes in EaP region, all the geopolitical changes on European continent starts with Ukraine victory.

That is why Long live Moldova and Slava Ukrainy!

2022.02.11

A.KUBILIUS, K.MUSIENKO. ON EU RESPONSIBILITY TO PREVENT ENERGY CRISIS IN UKRAINE AND REGION

In the light of current gas supply difficulties in the EU amidst Gazprom’s manipulation as well as Russian military build-up near the Ukrainian border, the ongoing Nord Stream 2 debates and recent gas supply disruptions in Moldova, Andrius Kubilius and Kateryna Musienko laid out a non-paper on what the EU should do to ensure energy security of Ukraine, Moldova and CEE.

The paper discusses current situation with Russian gas supplies to Ukraine and Moldova, pointing out that if no strategic input from the European Union side is made, after 2024 the region will face enormous difficulties in securing its gas supplies when the existing gas transit contract between of Gazprom and Ukraine will expire.

To avoid further supply shocks the EU should be ready for a no-transit through Ukraine scenario if Nord Stream 2 will become operational or in the case of expiration of the gas transit contract in the 2024 case. Such non-transit scenario threatens not only Ukraine’s energy and geopolitical security, but also undermines Europe’s energy architecture.

The paper concludes that in the turbulent times of Russian weaponization of gas, energy security in the region must not be considered in purely commercial terms. Authors point-out that the EU can and must help both countries and the region to ensure greater independence from Russian gas by modernizing already existing infrastructure with additional interconnections in between Ukraine – Slovakia – Poland. Conversely, Europe can benefit from access to Ukrainian storage facilities – the largest in the region and locate near the EU-UA border.

The paper can be accessed here: PREVENTING ENERGY CRISIS IN UKRAINE AND REGION

Cover photo: ANDREY RUDAKOV/BLOOMBERG NEWS

2022.02.07

Andrius Kubilius. Statement on Belarus: Mr. Lukashenka and the President Putin are occupying Belarus

Andrius Kubilius
Statement on Belarus

Mr Lukashenka and the President Putin are occupying Belarus

Mr Lukashenka for many years since the very beginning of his authoritarian regime has been the Kremlin’s slave and a powerless servant of the President Putin. In 2020, he had a chance to stand by a side of the Belarusian people, but ultimately chose to stand against his nation and to continue his service to the Kremlin.

As the President Putin’s puppet, Mr Lukashenka is not able to change and even resist the Kremlin’s decision to deploy 30 000 troops in Belarus. All what Mr Lukashenka could to do is to follow the orders of the Kremlin. He was not asked for a permission, but got a directive to accept the biggest Russian deployment in Belarus since the Cold War.

No matter how this deployment is called, be it an exercise or a military alliance, Mr Lukashenka will be responsible for the consequences of his military collaboration against the will of Belarusian people.

If the President Putin will decide to invade Ukraine, he will commit an international crime and will be trialled for this by the international tribunal in Hague. If this invasion will take place from the Belarusian territory, Mr Lukashenko will become the accomplice in committing the war crime, and will be trialled together with Mr Putin.

This is why Mr Lukashenko should simply pray (since he has no other instruments to influence Putin’s decisions), that Russian troops now stationed on Belarusian soil will not be part to a military invasion into Ukraine.

If in the period when Belarus has no legitimate authority, the Russian troops will invade Ukraine from Belarus or will stay in Belarus for unlimited period, it will be the factual evidence that the Kremlin has occupied Belarus and Mr Lukashenka is a traitor of Belarusian statehood, and this betrayal will be his only legacy.

The West will be responding with harsh sanctions to the occupation of Belarus, as it did in the case of Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014. This response will involve personal sanctions on the Kremlin officials, sectoral sanctions on the economy of Russia, a comprehensive non-recognition policy of annexation of Belarus and an immediate launch of the international tribunal to trial Mr Lukashenka for his crimes against the people of Belarus and the Belarusian statehood.

If the Belarusian military will support the Russian invasion, its commanders will be sharing the same bench at the Hague Tribunal next to Mr Lukashenka and Mr Putin.

However, the administration of Belarusian institutions still has a change to distance itself from Lukashenka’s war crimes and to choose a different path of working not for the dictator, but for the future of the people of Belarus and for the future of democratic Belarus.

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