The European Parliament will pass tomorrow (15 January) a resolution on Ukraine which strongly condemns Russia’s “aggressive and expansionist policy” and calls for the continuation or even strengthening of the current sanctions regime as long as Moscow does not deliver on the Minsk agreement.
The political groups agreed yesterday on a consolidated text of the Resolution, based on a draft by the centre-right European Peoples’ party (EPP). Even the Socialists and Democrats, who usually seek to soften the language on Russia, have largely backed the EPP draft.
Reportedly, the political group who left the biggest impact of the draft are the Greens, who insisted on language that makes clear that the EU doesn’t support Ukraine’s admission to NATO in the near future.
According to the agreed upon text, the European Parliament “strongly condemns Russia’s aggressive and expansionist policy”, which it says constitutes “a threat to the unity and independence of Ukraine and poses a potential threat to the European Union itself”. It condemns the “illegal annexation of Crimea and waging an undeclared hybrid war against Ukraine, including information war, blending elements of cyber warfare, use of regular and irregular forces, propaganda, economic pressure energy blackmail, diplomacy and political destabilisation”. The text also emphasises that “these actions are in breach of international law and constitute a serious challenge to the European security situation”.
Consequently, MEPs call “for the continuation of the current EU sanction regime in particular at the upcoming Council meeting in March 2015, as long as Russia does not fully respect and deliver in particular on its Minsk obligations”.
They urge the Commission “to find ways to enhance the solidarity among the member states in case the crisis with Russia goes on” and also stress the need “to adopt a clear set of benchmarks which, when achieved, could prevent imposing new restrictive measures against Russia or lead to lifting of the previous ones, including implementation of the ceasefire, unconditional withdrawal from Ukraine of all Russian troops and Russian-backed illegal armed groups and mercenaries, exchange of all prisoners including Nadia Savchenko [a former lieutenant of the Ukrainian army, captured by pro-Russian insurgents and charged with the murder of two Russian journalists] and restoration of Ukraine’s control over its whole territory, including Crimea”.
In the event of any further Russian actions destabilising Ukraine, MEPs invite the European Council “to take up further restrictive measures and broaden their scope, by covering the nuclear sector and by limiting the ability of Russian entities to conduct international financial transactions”.
MEPs also state that there are no legal restrictions for member states to provide defensive arms to Ukraine, and welcome the decision of the French government to halt the delivery of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia.
The European Parliament also calls on European Neighbourhood Commissioner Johannes Hahn “to prepare and present to the European Parliament within two months a communication strategy to counter the Russian propaganda campaign directed towards the EU, its Eastern neighbours and Russia itself, as well as to develop instruments that would allow the EU and its Member States to address the propaganda campaign at European and national level”.
MEPs also “welcome the stop of the South Stream project”, a Gazprom-favoured pipeline aimed at bringing Russian gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine.
Messages to Ukraine
Some of the messages in the resolution are addressed to Ukraine. In particular, MEPs state “that the government and the parliament of Ukraine need to ensure the protection of rights and needs of those citizens who have no representation in the decision-making of the state”.
MEPs also call on Ukraine to put in place “an ambitious anti-corruption programme, including a zero tolerance for corruption”. They call upon the Ukrainian leadership “to eradicate systematic corruption by immediate and effective implementation of the National Strategy against Corruption and stresses that the fight against this practice must become one of the top priorities of the new government”.
The European Parliament also takes the position that it is “of crucial importance to impartially and effectively investigate all major moments of violence, including those of Maidan, Odesa, Mariupol, Slovansk, Ilovaysk and Rymarska”. In all those cases, responsibility for the violence and deaths has not been determined.
MEPs call for the ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement by all member states before the May Eastern Partnership summit in Riga. So far, only 11 member countries have ratified the agreement, signed last June.
The European Parliament also reiterates its view, in this respect, that this agreement “does not constitute the final goal in EU-Ukraine relations”, and that pursuant to Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), Ukraine, like any other European state, has a European perspective and may apply to become a member of the European Union provided it adheres to the Copenhagen criteria and the principles of democracy, respects fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights, and ensures the rule of law.
The vote in plenary will take place tomorrow afternoon.