On 9 February, more than 30 members of the European Parliament took part in the #StandWithUkraine action in support of Ukraine, which was held at the Place du Luxembourg in the center of Brussels.
Representatives of various parties and parliamentary associations expressed their support for Ukraine. Among them were Petras Auštrevičius (Lithuania, MEP), Viola von Cramon (Germany, MEP), José Ramón Bauzá Díaz (Spain, MEP), Andrius Kubilius (Lithuania, MEP), Michael Gahler (Germany, MEP), Karin Karlsbro (Sweden, MEP), Ilhan Kyuchyuk (Bulgaria, MEP), María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos (Spain, MEP), Marek Belka (Poland, MEP), Martin Hojsík (Slovakia, MEP), Reinhard Bütikofer (Germany, MEP) , Nathalie Loiseau (France, MEP), David Casa (Malta, MEP), Dragoș Tudorache (Romania, MEP), Mark Demesmaeker (Senator, Belgium), and others.
The reason for the action was an open letter from the Ukrainian community in Belgium to the members of the European Parliament, initiated by the NGO Promote Ukraine (Brussels-Kyiv). The letter contains an appeal to the MEPs to protect Ukraine from new aggression by Russia and to prevent a new war in Europe. This initiative has found widespread support among the MEPs.
The letter reminded of the obvious – in the spring of 2014, Russian troops began to seize Crimea, parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which have been under occupation for eight years. These events served as a trigger for a number of further tragedies – the war, thousands of dead and millions of refugees, and the downing of flight MH17 by Russian criminals. They caused suffering and pain to many thousands of people in Ukraine and around the world.
The war that Russia has been waging against Ukraine for eight years in a row threatens to reach a continental scale. The build-up of more than 100,000 Russian troops equipped with heavy weapons on the borders of Ukraine, pulling up the rear infrastructure and field hospitals to them, leave very little room for diplomatic tools. The Kremlin is preparing for a new military adventure, which this time threatens not only Ukraine, but the whole of Europe and the modern world order.
The letter emphasises that if Russia is allowed to get away with or profit from its aggression against Ukraine, the Baltic States and Poland may be next.
In the letter, Promote Ukraine called on the MEPs to advocate for cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is weaponised by the Kremlin in its geopolitical goals; and the decrease of EU-Russia trade in goods and services on a permanent basis with reversal of trade flows to Eastern Partnership countries.
Promote Ukraine notes that Russia should be excluded from the SWIFT payment system, and personal sanctions should be imposed on Putin’s inner circle as well as other Russians involved in hostilities against Ukraine.
Russia violates all possible agreements signed after the Second World War (in particular, the Helsinki Accords of 1975 or the Paris Charter on the inviolability of borders). Russia is thus upsetting the balance that existed after the Second World War. This is already a global problem, not just a Ukrainian or European one.
The current statements by the MEPs indicate that the EU’s political establishment sees Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine as a threat to the entire security architecture on the continent and around the world.
Mark Demesmaeker, Senator, Member Parliament of Belgium (2019-2024), Member of European Parliament (2014-2019), Deputy Mayor of Halle (2006-2013) said that European politicians had gathered to demonstrate their solidarity, unity, and support for Ukraine.
“We need to raise awareness in Europe about what is happening in Ukraine. We must stand together with Ukraine, because standing together with Ukraine means supporting democratic values and respect for international law. In this way, we can all together show our determination to Mr. Putin,” Demesmaeker stressed.
“It’s not just about Ukraine, it’s about the aggressive policy of Putin. Putin is not just focused on Ukraine, he is focused on Belarus, the South Caucasus, and many countries around. So, if we are serious about global security, we must be very sensitive to the situation developing on Ukraine’s borders. Europe has finally heard the danger signal and is ready to respond to it with a united front,” MEP Petras Auštrevičius said in a comment to the Belgian bureau of Ukrinform.
According to José Ramón Bauzá Díaz, Member of the European Parliament (2019-2024) from Spain, President of the Balearic Islands (2011-2015), it is now critical for all European nations to demonstrate to Vladimir Putin’s regime their unity and support for Ukraine.
“Europe’s security is inseparable from Ukraine’s one. We share the same values and the same principles with Ukraine, and we have to be united,” he said.
“We need to make it very clear that Europe and the democratic world stand united against the Russian threat. We support all the essentials of Ukraine, its territorial integrity, its freedom, and democracy. We support all efforts to strengthen Ukraine politically, militarily, so that the community feels that they are not alone and that Europe is with Ukraine,” MEP Michael Gahler noted in a comment to Ukrinform.
Answering a clarifying question about ways out of the current security crisis, Gahler stressed that Russia, which provoked the growth of tension, should de-escalate.
“They (the Russians) have come with their troops; they have to withdraw them,” he added.
Viola von Cramon, the influential representative of the Greens in the European Parliament and MEP from Germany, stressed that MEPs from different parties are united in showing solidarity with Ukraine.
“We are ready to support Ukraine, no matter what is happening on its eastern borders. We have to be very firm on any kind of sanctions and respond quickly to Russia’s actions in the event of any invasion. It’s not just up to Brussels to implement sanctions, but we need the 27 Member States on this. In this context, the energy question is crucial,” said Ms. von Cramon, who has consistently criticised Russia’s Nord Stream 2 project.
Ukraine’s representative to the EU Vsevolod Chentsov noted that next week the European Parliament will hold a separate debate on the current escalation of the situation around Ukraine and Russian pressure with the participation of EU High Representative Josep Borrell. According to the diplomat, these measures will further draw the attention of the European community to the aggression of the Russian Federation and are likely to help avoid the development of the conflict.