Russia Caucasus Ukraine

Brussels-Kiev-Moscow: ball, set and match

Putin, Barroso and Van Rompuy at the last EU-Russia summit (credit: EU Council / EBS)
Putin, Barroso and Van Rompuy at the last EU-Russia summit (credit: EU Council / EBS)

(BRUSSELS2) In the quartering of Ukraine between east and west, between Moscow and Brussels, the days pass and it must be recognized that Russia and the Ukrainian regime are scoring points. Because they develop a tactic which for being brutal is not less subtle...

Europe blinded to its own strength

The signing of the association agreement by the European Union with Ukraine was a "red rag" for Moscow. The Europeans have, in this respect, both relied too much on their own strength of attractiveness, lured by the successes of the 1990s which had seen the Baltic countries free themselves from the tutelage of Moscow quite easily after all. They largely underestimated the will of Moscow as of Kiev not to yield to the pressure of the street, blinded by the Russian weaknesses of these last years or the relative and recent successes in the Balkans. Everyone could reassure themselves by saying that the time of Budapest 1956 and Prague 1968 had passed... But that was to forget in passing the rapid but bloody conflicts of the early 1990s in Moldova (Transnistria) and Georgia (Abkhazia) and the Russian military intervention in Georgia in 2008. Intervention which, in my opinion, closed the parenthesis of a sort of absence of Russia from the world scene. Another example is the Kremlin's unwavering support for Assad's rule in Syria.

The global approach... Europe demands it, Russia applies it

Russia is taking a real "global approach" in this area, combining warning and taking action, political and economic support, police and military intervention, official, secret and provocative services of all kinds. A very realistic policy that does not bother with feelings or respect for public opinion. The Western desire to call public opinion to witness is no doubt generous. But she can't resist such a hold.

Distinct times: Act, React, Impact (*)

If we go back to the past sequence, we dissect several very distinct times.

First step: the alert. Political declarations, threats of gas cuts, retaliatory measures on Ukrainian products follow one another before the Vilnius summit on the Eastern Partnership. It is accompanied by a barely veiled sign. The exit of the missiles in Kaliningrad revealed in the German press is not pure chance...

Second time: the gift. In extremis, the Kremlin takes a surprise offer out of its pocket. An offer of mutual aid to kyiv, with the key, reduction of the price of gas and aid package of 15 billion $. A gift package that kyiv cannot refuse. The Europeans cannot follow and pass their turn. The demonstrations are gaining momentum: the Ukrainian government is procrastinating, alternately blowing hot and cold.

Third phase: the warning. The revelation of the telephone conversations of Victoria Nuland, the US Secretary of State for Europe (fuck the EU), and Helga Schmid, the political director of the EEAS, revealing dissension between Europeans and Americans is a double message sent to Westerners : 1° "everything you say is listened to, we are aware". 2° You are with us!... It does not really arouse a reaction... And for good reason.

Fourth phase: infiltration. Provocations follow one another on Maidan Square. The presence of far-right forces in the ranks of the opposition is highlighted, even of infiltrated "provocateurs", acting violently against the police, is a technique regularly used by the maintenance of order in Russia as elsewhere.

Fifth time: the takeover. The time has come for law enforcement to intervene. History will tell if Kiev did not, on February 18, seek to "overtake" Moscow, to be faster to avoid being ousted after the Sochi Games, or if it only did carry out orders. In any case, the result is there. The ambition is not to dialogue but to clean up. And too bad if a few days before the Ukrainian power promised the opposite to the Europeans. Promises bind only those who believe in them. The number of victims may increase. This is not what will be able to stop the power.

Sixth time: hot and cold. Alongside repression, the power could then give some pledges to the Europeans, by carrying out a reshuffle, releasing a few prisoners, engaging in a national dialogue, which would trap rather than facilitate the work of the opposition. Just to reassure the various European delegations visiting kyiv (ministers and MEPs). And after...

Seventh time: me or chaos. If the situation were to turn out badly, the forces in power could go further, organize attacks, attacks against not only opponents but public establishments. What divide the opposition and justify even more the maintenance of order. Russian-speaking regions like Crimea could also call for increasing empowerment. Etc.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(*) "Act, React, Impact" is the European Parliament's campaign for the next European elections. It seems that Russia and the Ukrainian regime have adopted this motto and applied it to the letter!

Read on B2:

Listen on RTBF - my intervention at TV news (around 7"20)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).