How Russia is destabilising Europe – by MEP Ryszard Czarnecki, for EP Today

The resignation, at the last moment, by Ukraine, and previously Armenia from initialling the Association Agreements with the EU, illustrates the amount of pressure coming from Moscow. Russia has never been able to come to terms with its loss of influence in former Soviet satellite states. Russia first used threats when states from the post-Soviet bloc and for mer republics of the USSR were joining NATO. Now, since Obama’s presidential election victor y, Moscow and Washington have begun a closer cooperation.
Seemingly given a free hand by America when it comes to what we broadly understand as Eastern Europe, Russis is rying to rebuild its role in its traditional sphere of influence.
This is of course contrary to the interests of many states and nations, those already inside the European Union and those dreaming of a possible future accession. The remlin aims to be the play-maker in Eurasia and in a large part of Europe.
Of course, this must arouse resistance in our region too. Events in Ukraine over the last two months, and the protests which have continued despite the cold weather, are proof of this. After several deaths in Kiev and several hundred injuries, Moscow now calls on the Ukrainian authorities to “stabilise the situation”.
This in practice encourages President Yanukovych and his team to suppress the protests by force, ultimately pushing Ukrainian authorities even closer into the arms of the Russian bear.
By the end of this year, two Euronest countries: Georgia and Moldova are to initial at the summit in Vilnius at the end of November 2013 an Association Agreement with the EU. However, both countries are under Russian pressure. Part of the Moldavian territory (Transnistria) is actually controlled by Moscow. The Russian army is in full control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are formally territories still part of Georgia,  lthough in practice policy decisions are made in Moscow, not in Tbilisi. Under the pretense of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russians, since May 2014, are persistently moving the Abkhazian boarders deeper into Georgia. Russia’s behavior threatens to destabilise the balance in Europe.
All the more so since Russia is not a democratic country and unwilling to adhere to European standards of human rights and freedom of speech. Hence the strong reaction of the European Parliament: a resolution of February 2013 condemning Moscow. President Putin at the EU-Russia summit on January 28, 2014, stated outright that he could not imagine Russian aid and assistance for Kiev if Ukraine were to sign the Association Agreement with the EU. That quite evidently is blackmail.
The EU – Russian summit, instead of the traditional two days, lasted half an hour. It is hardly a surprising reaction on the part of Brussels. Russia seems confused about which century we are in. The era of empires has passed.

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