The EU and NATO must take pro-active steps to send Putin a message

Sep 16, 2014


Speaking ahead of today’s European Parliament vote, which is expected to ratify the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, Dr Charles Tannock MEP, European Conservatives and Reformists Group Foreign Affairs spokesman, said his recent visit to Kiev has affirmed the need for the EU and NATO to take further pro-active steps in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

MEPs will vote on the agreement, which aims to partner the EU with Ukraine in opening markets, encouraging critical reforms in governance, and increasing cooperation on security and foreign affairs.

Dr Tannock has been a long supporter of Ukraine’s aspirations to move closer to the West.

Speaking in the chamber today, he said:

“Having returned yesterday from Kiev, the need for supporting Ukraine against the aggression it is facing from Russia is clearer in my mind than ever. It is clear for all to see that in response to Ukraine’s ambitions to move in a westward, democratic, Euro-Atlantic direction, Russia is revisiting its imperial past, refusing to accept that its large neighbour, in the 21st century, is an independent sovereign nation that has the right to take charge of its own destiny.

“The refusal of Russia to accept this and work within this internationally accepted legal paradigm should concern us all as democrats. This is not a case of an isolated conflict in a far off land but rather part of a wider struggle in which democratic nations on our doorstep are fighting off the revanchist and irredentist ideals of a Putin-led authoritarian and revisionist regime that boasts of a nuclear arsenal. The west has already stood by as countries such as Georgia, Armenia and Moldova have suffered at the hands of these ideals. We must not allow Ukraine to become another precedent. It is for this reason that Member States within the EU and NATO should begin to take pro-active, rather than reactive, steps in this conflict, sending a message to President Putin that there is hard-power substance behind our rhetoric.

“Commentators from across the world have noted the necessity for Russia in militarily acquiring a land corridor between Russia and the Crimea and in this regard we should note the 50,000 Russian troops at his ready at the borders. It has been suggested that one NATO member is already arming the Ukrainian army in anticipation of this further act of aggression. I call on other NATO members to do the same. We are making the right move today, when I am confident that we as a Parliament will simultaneously ratify the Association Agreement and DCFTA with Ukraine’s Verhovna Rada.

“Europe has for far too long relied on the dominance of Russian energy and finance, including my own country. we must now look to diversify away from those dependencies by the means of an EU-coordinated plan in external energy security, just as we have successfully done in uniting the entire union in the support of tough economic sanctions against Russia for its acts of aggression.”