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Eugene Czolij: EU now has substantial catch-up work to do in Ukraine

April 12, 2022 11:15 pmby Eugene Czolij
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BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 01: A demonstrator holds a banner with messages in support of the Ukrainian people during a demonstration in front of the European Parliament on March 01, 2022 in Brussels, Belgium. Hundreds of people gathered in front of the European Parliament to show their support for the Ukrainian people, including dozens of Ukrainians living in Belgium. The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, accompanied by MEPs gave a speech to those present in which she made clear the European Union's support for Ukraine and welcomed Ukraine's application for EU membership. On February 24, 2022 Russia began a large-scale attack on Ukraine, with explosions reported in multiple cities and far outside the restive eastern regions held by Russian-backed rebels. (Photo by Omar Havana/Getty Images)

On 6 April 2022, Euronews reported that the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell Fontelles told the European Parliament: 

We've given Ukraine nearly €1 billion. That might seem like a lot but €1 billion is what we're paying Putin every day for the energy he provides us with. Since the start of the war, we've given him €35 billion, compared to the €1 billion we've given Ukraine to arm itself.”

For the record, words of sympathy, indignation and condemnation by the EU leadership – while Ukrainians are being starved, raped, tortured and murdered – do not make up the €34 billion difference between these amounts.

The €35 billion injected into Russia’s economy by the EU to pay for energy has inevitably helped finance Russia’s war machine against Ukraine. 

Thе basis for this significant financing, namely Europe’s unwillingness to manage without Russian oil, gas and coal, must be reversed immediately with a total import ban on these commodities.

Indeed, now that this damning revelation has surfaced, anything less than a total ban on all imports of Russian oil, gas and coal would render the EU tacitly complicit in Russia’s genocidal war against Ukraine.

Notwithstanding some misinformed voices to the contrary, sanctions against Russia do work but they would certainly be much more effective if they were not offset by daily €1 billion energy payments to Russia.

Moreover, on 17 March 2022, Investigate Europe reported that, despite an EU arms embargo against Russia following its illegal occupation of Crimea and partial invasion of eastern Ukraine in 2014: “data from all EU-27 official arms exports registers shows that between 2015 and 2020, at least 10 EU member states have exported a total of €346 million worth of arms to Russia. France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Finland, Slovakia and Spain – to different extents – have sold “military equipment” to Russia. Our investigation shows that the term “military equipment” is broad and can include missiles, bombs, torpedoes, guns and rockets, land vehicles and ships.”

It is high time for the EU to atone for having provided Russia with arms – during an arms embargo – that Russia can now use in its unprovoked genocidal war against Ukraine. 

The EU compounded its grave error by refusing to supply Ukraine with the necessary defensive lethal weapons to impose a no fly-zone over its airspace. 

To begin a redress of these critical geopolitical mistakes, EU member states must now ensure that Ukraine obtains without delay all the necessary weapons, including fighter jets, drones, tanks, air and missile defense systems, antiship missile systems and antitank missile systems to enable it to liberate its cities and villages from brutal Russian occupation and push Russian forces out of Ukraine.

Ukraine has already demonstrated that it can win this war. By fully supporting Ukraine and totally isolating Russia, the EU and its member states can accelerate this mutually beneficial outcome and ensure peace, security and stability in Europe, including Ukraine.

Otherwise, they can lull themselves to sleep naively believing that they are somehow safe from Russia’s imperialist plans until they – too – are awakened by air raid sirens and the sounds of exploding bombs.

If the horrific daily images and news from Ukraine, including Bucha, Kramatorsk and Mariupol, are not a strong enough incentive for the leadership of the EU and its member states to act now, then nothing will move them until it is too late for their own citizens.

Eugene Czolij
Author:  Eugene Czolij

Eugene Czolij is president of the Ukraine-2050 nongovernmental organization and served as president of the Ukrainian World Congress from 2008-2018. Ukraine-2050 was established to help implement within one generation – by 2050 – strategies for the sustainable development of Ukraine as a fully independent, territorially integral, democratic, reformed and economically competitive European state.

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