What does the increase in Russian troops on the Ukrainian border indicate? What will war look like if it happens? What is behind the Polish border crisis and how ready is the West to help Ukraine? Can the EU support Ukraine in the face of an escalating energy crisis? The “Brussels Ukraine Review” journal asked these very difficult questions MEPs, politicians of Ukraine and Belarus, as well as Western and Ukrainian experts.
Robert Biedroń, Polish Mep (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats), Head of the Eu-Belarus Delegation to the European Parliament
The gathering of Russian troops on the borders with Ukraine is not training. In the case of standard military exercises, certain rules and procedures apply, such as informing partners well in advance. It did not happen in this case. If Russia uses force against Ukraine, the EU and NATO would need to answer quickly and consequently. We cannot become a puppet in the hands of Putin, who is blackmailing Europe by interrupting gas supplies. We can also assume that Lukashenka’s last hybrid war on the border with Poland was just the beginning of something much bigger in Putin’s mind. We need to always stress that NATO’s support for Ukraine is not a threat to Russia.
Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel, German Mep (Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance), Vice-Chair of the Eu-Ukraine Delegation to the European Parliament
Russia is using the classic intimidation tactic here, which was also frequently used by the Soviet Union. This tactic is relatively “low-cost” and aims to test the West. We already had a similar situation in April 2021, when Russia mobilised as many as 120,000 soldiers near the Ukrainian border and at the same time significantly increased the number of weapons and other military equipment in the occupied part of Donbas. This time, however, the situation is even more complex, as the Belarusian dimension is added and Russian control there increases. One consideration, therefore, is that Russia could be betting that some kind of “wear and tear” will occur as a result of the frequent military deployments, thus decreasing attention in the West to such manoeuvres and theoretically allowing the Kremlin to continue occupying Ukraine with minimal international outcry and consequences.
At this stage, developments on Ukraine’s eastern border should be closely monitored and the potentially serious threat should not be ignored. Transatlantic coordination is of utmost importance. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, EU Council President Charles Michel and the heads of state and government must make personal representations to Putin and make it clear that such games are dangerous and extremely counterproductive. Cacophony within the EU institutions should be avoided at all costs. Meanwhile, the EU should use all diplomatic means, such as summoning the Russian ambassador or, if necessary, announcing tighter sanctions against Russia.
An integration of Ukraine into the transatlantic security structures is considered by Ukraine itself to be the only true solution, but here various questions remain open within NATO, so that this solution is certainly not practicable.