Russia Caucasus Ukraine

The Ukrainian army must remain in barracks. EU thinks so, NATO says so

AF Rasmussen at the press conference in Athens (credit: NATO / B2)
AF Rasmussen at the press conference in Athens (credit: NATO / B2)

(BRUSSELS2 to Athens) Ukraine! The subject was on everyone's mind during the informal meeting of Defense Ministers which took place on Wednesday and Thursday 20 and 21 February. On screens, on smartphones and tablets, in informal conversations exchanged during coffee breaks, or during visits to the Acropolis Museum, everyone followed live information from Kiev or Brussels (*)...

A triple message: compassion, concern, warning

Even if most of the discussion took place elsewhere, several Ministers of Defense made a point of mentioning in their speech held vis-a-vis their colleagues, the Ukrainian question. A message that was intended to be multiple: first of all compassion " for the victims », the horror in the face of the bloody repression (as the figures fell, the discourse hardened) and also a certain « worry in the face of possible instability in a country which remains, above all, a neighbour. Ukraine has a common border with several European countries (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania) and the longest in the East. Some ministers also insisted on sending messages to the Ukrainian government and army so that the soldiers remain in their barracks and are not involved in operations to maintain order and repression against the population.

The army must not attack the Ukrainian people, AF Rasmussen

A message which, unfortunately, was not passed on outside the room... except by Anders-Fogh Rasmussen, the Secretary General of NATO, who thus made himself the voluntary spokesperson for the European Union, after a meeting with the Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras. He first "condemned the bloodbath" that was taking place in kyiv. before warning. " The government has a specific responsibility to avoid the excessive use of force and to maintain the neutrality of the armed forces. And to warn. " The Ukrainian army must not attack the Ukrainian people. If this happens, it will have severe repercussions on our partnership with Ukraine. The only possible outcome is a dialogue. We welcome any effort to find a peaceful solution. » A message held in English but also translated into Russian (**) on the NATO site... A sign!

The Ukrainian army, only in protection of its installations

A message also passed directly during a telephone conversation between the American Minister of Defense, Chuck Hagel, and the Ukrainian Minister of Defense, Pavlo Lebedev. The Ukrainian minister "assured (his counterpart) that the Ukrainian armed forces remain the protectors of the Ukrainian people. Their deployment inside the country was focused on the protection of defense installations and equipment. His forces would not use their weapons against the Ukrainian people. says a statement from the US Secretary of State for Defense, received by B2. This decision "by the government to keep the army on the sidelines of the crisis until now" must be " hailed “commented Chuck Hagel who has” exhorted to constant moderation ».

The agreement reached in kyiv no longer requires the participation of the army: Lebedev

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense confirmed this conversation presiding over the field of intervention of the army: the protection against terrorist threats of arsenals, bases, depots and other military installations for the storage of firearms, ammunition, explosives and toxic substances ". He added that after the agreement reached with the opposition - more literally the " not important » accomplished by the « head of national defense, President Viktor Yanukovych (to) resolve the crisis, avoid conflicts, restore peace and tranquility in Ukraine” (sic) — “ the participation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the anti-terrorist operation has lost its relevance "...

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(*) In Kiev and Brussels, with the meeting of Ministers of Affairs in Brussels. Read about the Club, Sanctions and mediation. The two European tools in the face of the situation in Ukraine

(**) As in French moreover, where the declarations of the European Union have all been made in monolingual (English)

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).