Brussels must now reassess its internal priorities rather than attempting to spread its tentacles to new lands and the US might be wise to take note on the perils of intervention too – argues our secret columnist in Brussels Schadenfreude
The European Union, which had hoped to strengthen its links with Poland’s neighbour, looks on impotently while Russia stretches its muscles and looks like dominating the Ukraine as well as re-annexing the Crimea – where its Black Sea Fleet is based. Doubtless EU member states and America will propose denunciation in the United Nations Security Council and doubtless also Russia will veto it. Russia does what it pleases, as we saw in 2008 when it invaded Georgia and annexed allegedly ethnic Russian provinces. The West looked on.
In EU forward thinking, the Ukraine and its northern neighbour – Belarus – were often linked on the basis that each could be regarded as sufficiently European to be eligible for membership. The Ukraine has gone and Belarus was never a starter.
Belarus and Russia are in a form of federation. Because of the Belarusian human rights record, it lost its entitlement to participation in the EU’s ‘generalised system of preferences’ and faces full-tariff rates on its exports to the EU – its second biggest trading partner. Untidily, it is still included in the EU’s European Neighbourhood Policy – which in all honesty should be regarded as ineffective; Egypt, Libya and Syria are also members.
So Belarus will not be another Ukraine and perhaps the EU will learn the lesson that Russia does not like intrusion into its ‘near abroad’. The EU can do nothing about it. It has a lot to do at home. Brussels must now reassess its internal priorities rather than attempting to spread its tentacles to new lands.