EU shunned from US-Russia meeting on Ukraine


A high-ranking European Union diplomat regretted that no EU officials were invited to a London meeting today (14 March) between US State Secretary John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, described as a last-chance opportunity before Russia annexes the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

Pierre Vimont, a French diplomat who heads the bloc's foreign policy department, the EU External Action Service (EEAS), admitted failures in the Union’s handling of the current confrontation between the West and Russia over Crimea.

Speaking in Brussels yesterday (14 March), Vimont said “the EU should also be there" when John Kerry meets Lavrov.

“We need to call for this," Vimont told a conference organised by Carnegie Europe. "I don’t think we could be successful but I think that’s what we should do,” said the EU's highest-ranking diplomat after foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

“After all, the whole thing started because of the DCFTA and I think we should definitely be there”, Vimont said, referring to the deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), which is integral part of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (AA).

The EU is due to sign the political chapters of the AA very soon, most probably over the 20-21 March Spring summit of the EU heads of state and government. But in an apparent concession to Russia, the DCFTA will likely be signed later because EU leaders had promised Russian President Putin to overcome “different interpretations and misunderstandings” on this pact.

>> Read: EU blamed for mishandling Ukraine trade pact agreement

Vimont said Russia perceived the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative as a threat.

“As long as we are not able to answer the question of NATO, EU membership for Ukraine, we will not be able to stabilise our relations with Russia,” the diplomat said.

The AA stoops short of offering Ukraine an EU membership perspective, but the leaders of the centre-right European Peoples’ Party, which counts German Chancellor Angela Merkel among its members, recently backed offering EU membership perspective to Kyiv.

‘Start something different’

The French diplomat appeared to rebuff the European leaders' hostile stance towards Russia, saying confrontation has never been the aim of the EU’s neighbourhood policy.

“We are pushed into the wall by Cold War reflexes,” Vimont said, adding that Cold War was “outdated” in a globalised economy. He said both Russia and the West should stop behaving in the way they have been behaving, on both sides.

“We should stop looking at each other in the old way. We should start something different”, the diplomat said.

However, he conveyed the message that the Brussels bureaucracy was putting brakes to a more innovative approach of the EU neighbourhood policy which would involve Russia.

Stefan Lehne, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, indicated that the confrontation started when EU officials said the EU Association Agreement with Ukraine was incompatible with the Russia-led Customs Union and Eurasian Union.

But Vimont suggested that this choice was not as “inescapable” as initially thought.

“What strikes me is when we ask is this really incompatible as it’s really said, we discover, discussing with our experts, that maybe it’s not exactly that, and we can find a common ground," the diplomat said, adding that the idea of holding trilateral meetings at the highest level between the EU, Ukraine and Russia had been discussed after the failed Vilnius summit in November.

“What strike me is that we had our whole bureaucracy saying we should not do things that way,” he said.

The trilateral meetings were rejected by EU officials who believe Russia should not be offered a veto right on the Union's relations with an 'Eastern neighbourhood' country. But the French diplomat said fresh ideas were now needed, like development of a trans-European area from Lisbon from Vladivostok.

At the last EU-Russia summit on 28 January, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said that an important way to foster trust was to work on the “most important strategic and shared objectives,” namely to create a common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

This idea of a free trade area from Lisbon to Vladivostok was first described by Russian President Vladimir Putin back in 2010.

“It may seem a dream, but dreams can become reality”, Barroso said.

Another speaker at the event, Rosa Balfour, head of the Europe program at the European Policy Center in Brussels, called the 28 January EU-Russia summit a “missed opportunity” which largely contributed to the present tensions, reminiscent of the Cold War. 

  • 14 March: US State Secretary John Kerry meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in London;
  • 16 March: Crimea holds referendum to become part of Russia;
  • 17 March: EU ministers meet in Brussels to decide sanctions on Russia;
  • 20-21 March: EU leaders hold regular Spring Summit in Brussels, Ukraine may sign political chapters of EU Association Agreement. 
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Babeouf's picture

Of course Europe isn't there why would a US colony be present.

John's picture

For Europe's major partners like the US and Russia, they see the EC/EP as irrelevant, slow, and meddlesome. The US prefers to coordinate issues with European capitals -- like Paris.

The European's picture

John...i dont see Paris or London decison makers invited either...i dont think it is anything to do with EU instituions...

Lech's picture

US and Russia meeting in London shouldn't be surprise
to EU leaders, as they don't so far formulate, any policy towards Eastern Europe.One can assume, the
initiative should be in the hands of Brussel, but it is
not. For Lavrov it is easier to talk to Kerry on Crimea.
USA is far away and don't understand all European nuances. It looks, as the cards now are in the hands of Sergey Lavrov.

philipspain's picture

Well at least we all know what two super powers think of the EU.......irrevelent! Nuch the same as millions of people who are forced to live under its undemocratic rule. As for Ms Ashton she was over promoted the day she was put in charge of EU paper clips!

dpb's picture

oh, that will hurt the narcissists in Brussels. Maybe give pause for thought too though I won't hold my breath.

peter george xuereb's picture

I do not agree with Vimont. It seems to me that the External Actin Service has failed to promote the EU's potential. Egos are bruised, but the result for the EU in terms of its global role is far worse. Not because the EU is not at the meeting. It should NOT be there. But because the Russians are not about to bother with a separate meeting with the EU after this one. The EU should by now have been playing ITS role. As an academic and citizen who had high hopes of the new EU structures I am disappointed in the people staffing them.

Gerry's picture

I think the EU should get back at them and simply lose interest. The outcome here is already set, ready to go, but what has not been determined yet is how upset we are all going to pretend to be.

tony a's picture

If it wasn't for the meddling EU trying to get Ukraine away from Russia by making promises they couldn't keep the crisis would never have happened. The EU's finger prints are all over this mess & once they figured out they may have just started the next big war & are way over their heads they ran straight to the USA for help.

peter george xuereb's picture

Dear tony a

I know what you're saying. There is an element. Bears much thought.
But surely if the Ukrainian people want to work with the EU then they have the right to do so. Ukraine is a sovereign state, after all. At least up to the time of writing. My main concern is not that Europe cannot dictate things. We should not want to. But we have values do we not? My deep worry and sadness is that Europe is hardly a witness to those values even in Europe. Where is Europe's combined MORAL weight? Where is the outrage? the anger? I do not expect Europe to roar. But I do expect it to scream. Europe squeaks.

Joe Thorpe's picture

@PeterGeorge Xuereb

It is a nice thought to spread democracy but you do not negotiate with lions & grizzly bears without having the means to incapacitate them when things go wrong. The EU is simply in it above its head, it has expansionist ideas that are better left out on the long grass until such time as the Russian bear has lost its teeth. The EU can't cope with hard force when it comes to dealing with the CAR or Mali let alone getting tangled up with Russia. The EU cant get troops to Northern Africa without a lift from the Americans, Canadians etc & it cant refuel planes mid air without the same folk coming to its rescue. The French asked the UK to take their latest heavy lift plane because of budget constraints & they will take one scheduled for much later delivery yet they are the ones leading the charge in Africa. It is all disjointed, a train crash waiting to happen.

Don Latuske's picture

Don't worry, lads, the EU has kept the peace for the last 50 years in Europe...........sorry, I had to busrt out laughing just then. I bet 5 euros that Russia annexes the Crimea and the EU can do fuck all about it.
Keep on keeping the peace, boys. I need a laugh in these sorry days.

Anna's picture

Arayik Sargsyan:«Russian Spring" came to the Crimea: war or peace .
Arayik Sargsyan , Academician, President of the Academy of Geopolitics , Honorary Consul of Macedonia to Armenia.
May 22, 1949 James Forrestal, the first (by then former) U.S. Secretary of Defense, while in a psychiatric hospital, committed suicide by jumping from the window. During the illness, according to the common story, he raved, repeating the words: "The Russians are coming".
March 16, 2014 a referendum in the Crimea on the status of an autonomous republic whose citizens express their opinion on whether the subject of the Russian Federation Crimea or remain part of Ukraine with broad powers. This will be a referendum for the citizens of Ukraine litmus test of the new government, which has already been set in terms of chess zughzwang , where any statement in Kiev only worsen his situation . It is clear that the new government of the victorious revolution fear the collapse of the country to pieces, some of which will go immediately under the protectorate of the EU , Russia and others . But why Ukraine should break up into its constituent parts , their differing ideological code , why can not live in peace and harmony ? First of all , in its different mentality influenced by Western countries and Russia , as well as with respect to the property. The main mistake of the new authorities of Kiev was the fact that they did not even try to change the status quo, in which all Ukraine is divided into zones of influence of oligarchs. Removing from the political arena Yanukovych , who was the mouthpiece and the Executive power of the oligarchs , the victorious revolution did not even try to change the current situation in the economy when the country led to the collapse of not only Yanukovych and his thieving nukes’ , but also representatives of greedy capitalism. Leaving things as they are , the leaders betrayed Maidan " heavenly hundred" betrayed the Ukrainian people and trampled on the country's future . Therefore, separation of the Crimea from Ukraine and its joining to Russia is welcome.
That the state 's foreign policy is often openly cynical and has long been known to everyone. However, it would be good to our President Barack Obama recalled saying someone famous Italian philosopher and politician Niccolo Machiavelli , " one escaped trouble yourself in another , but in the fact wisdom to weighing all possible trouble , the lesser evil for the good of honor ."
In recent days, even in the leading Western media there are more articles and interviews where Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry transparent reminded that their angry tirades against Putin and the upcoming referendum in the Crimea is not just saturated with cynicism and those superlatives.
Even such pillars of the American press, as New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post,, and many others are beginning to speak not only of frequent violations of international law by the United States, but also numerous facts straight income Washington in the internal affairs of other countries, including in the process of forming a new government in Ukraine . Moreover, many media are seriously concerned about the participation of representatives of governments openly “neonatsist” circles.
Not to mention the famous telephone conversation deputy. Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine , and using profanity in which they discussed whom to appoint in Kiev on what position , press outraged by the behavior of the same Nuland , Senator McCain and other top American and European politicians openly flirt with extremists and neo-Nazis on the Maidan .
However, now the main topic discussed - is the issue of sanctions and here Obama, Merkel and other Western leaders should remember the above words of Machiavelli , and weigh the consequences of these sanctions. Will they be good or evil, they will create a problem only for Russia, but perhaps for the West, and they will not strike most in Ukraine ?
If Obama Ukrainians are not simply pawns in a geopolitical game, then he should think about it and Statecraft , befitting the president of a great power . He should stop making irresponsible statements and loud and spend time on pointless PR , like meeting with the "kamikaze" Yatsenyuk.
Instead, Obama should immediately convene a conference to invite Putin major European and Chinese leaders for constructive discussion almost forgotten ideas of George Bush Sr. about creating arcs security and economic cooperation from Vancouver to Vladivostok , which will now be promoted to Beijing. It is clear that there is currently no serious geopolitical configuration can not be sustained without the participation of China.
All this may sound rather naive , but while in Washington and Brussels, we did not hear any more constructive ideas , in addition to the threat of sanctions . Moreover, inflame themselves with such threats , you can reach a dangerous level , and even then it will be not only a return to the Cold War that has already occurred, but a repetition of the situation with the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 , and even , God forbid , to third World War.
Understand whether it is in Washington? I think yes, but , apparently , there is completely different agenda . By and large, Obama holds the same short-sighted policy in relation to Russia , and that George W. Bush . After the tragic events of September 11, Putin immediately called Bush and America offered virtually unlimited support of his country. This support would later play an important role in the defeat of the Taliban and thereby saved many lives of American military during the war in Afghanistan.
While almost all U.S. politicians to praise Putin and greeted him almost as a national hero. To consolidate the relations between the two countries , Putin proposed Bush to create a strategic alliance between Russia and the United States for further mutually beneficial military and economic cooperation , but this proposal was summarily rejected. Such an alliance would be an invaluable contribution not only in the fight against global jihad , but also for the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction , energy security and cooperation in many other areas , from agriculture to space exploration. Instead, Washington launched a crusade color revolutions on the former Soviet republics, and continued efforts to further NATO expansion, including Georgia and Ukraine . According to one of the most prominent American diplomat George Kennan , this policy was the greatest mistake that will lead to a new Cold War , which, unfortunately , happened.
It is no secret that the current crisis was triggered by the efforts of Brussels , I think not without the knowledge of Washington, then six post-Soviet countries have been invited to sign an association agreement with the EU. And no one really no secret that the main aim of this project was not so much a desire to help the economic development of these countries as an attempt to isolate them from Russia . Quite naturally, if it really was a question of helping them , it should be included in this list , and that Russia would benefit all parties and, above all , Ukraine , given its close family , economic, religious and cultural ties with Russia .
It is clear that the idea expressed here - is the voice of one crying in the wilderness, and it can implement only with the arrival of man in the White House with the strategic vision of Ronald Reagan , surrounded by a group of wise counselors who understand that in America's interest to try to make Russia as an ally . Unlikely this can be achieved under the present administration, so we have no choice but to wait for new elections in 2016. In the meantime, you need to do everything possible to avoid the worst-case scenario in the form of a direct confrontation between Russia and the United States .
Time is working against the government winning Maidens , who simply do not know what to do with this power . Or know ? Several questions arise : 1. Frequent consultations in Brussels Yatsenyuk evrovlastyami yielded nothing Ukraine to maintain its integrity and economic revival . Why Europe is not interested in a strong and democratic Ukraine , which is a full member of the EU ? Apparently, no 2 . Injection of nationalist rhetoric is rejection at residents of the eastern regions and the Crimea , but welcomed the western region of Ukraine , where there is no "successful" multibillion oligarchs recklessly appointed governors Kiev eastern provinces. For what it is , who initially creates a divided society with a different approach to the property ? Brussels hosts that do not need Ukraine as a whole successful state with its place in the general division of labor 3 . Deliberate incitement still cold war with Russia , Ukrainians and Russian opposition , the game Russophobian sentiments central and western parts of Ukraine , with the actual boost eastern regions to secede from " Nenko " and the opposition in Moscow and Kiev . Authority of the victorious revolution divide Ukraine hurry, drawing her into chaos ? Yes, these actions are peaceful plan for Europe "independence» of Ukraine, because someone - he must pay for the mistakes of the EU. The next will be the payer Russia.
Arayik Sargsyan, Academician, President of the Academy of Geopolitics , Honorary Consul of Macedonia to Armenia.

an european's picture

@ Anna
Chernoby Prypjat self nuked by russian "logic"!

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