All mechanisms available: NATO, G7, EU, and even a proposed new European community.
Written by Uriel Araujo, researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts.
In his speech to celebrate the Europa Day on May 9, during the Conference on the Future of Europe, recently re-elected French President Emmanuel Macron warned against “humiliating” Russia, reminding the European leaders that peace must be built – with Russia and Ukraine “around the table”. His conciliatory comments however can be contrasted with his proposal to further expand the European Community to include Ukraine and other Eastern European countries. It also contrasts with the G7 joint statement issued the day before, which reads almost like a declaration of war on Russia.
The European authorities at the ceremony on May 9 tried to keep a festive climate even while the specter of global war haunts the continent. The European Union itself is in crisis, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged so by stating that she backs reforming it by changing the unanimous voting requirement (on certain issues) because reaching an agreement with all 27 member states certainly slows down the decision making process – as was the case with the Ukrainian war itself, she remarked. Von der Leyen said she is in favor of reforming the EU treaties themselves “if need be”.
Macron, too, suggested the member states discuss reforming such treaties in the upcoming June Council summit. He stated the European organisms have proven themselves to be ineffective both during the pandemic crisis and during the current war. The impending addition of new members from Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, was also emphasized by Clement Beaune, secretary of state for European Affairs, on May 10.
However, Macron’s bold proposal is not just about “reforming” the current bloc; it is about creating a new and more inclusive organization. Macron also said, and this is perhaps the key to understanding of his proposal, that Ukraine, “because of its struggle and because of its courage, is already a member of our Europe, our family, our union”. He added, however, that the country’s accession into the EU could take several years or even decades unless, he says, “we decide to lower the standards for accession and rethink the unity for our Europe.”
In any case, at this point, “plan A” for Europe, in Macron and von der Leyen’s view, appears to be “lowering EU standards” for admitting new members, while Macron’s “plan B” is about creating a more inclusive parallel bloc. Actually, both initiatives could be pursued simultaneously, if there is enough political energy for that amid today’s crises. The European Union itself, in this scenario, would function as a kind of a more exclusive club – albeit with somewhat more relaxed rules for admission, after reforming the Treaty. The proposed new European community, in turn, could re-attract the United Kingdom into the European orbit, and, more importantly, more Eastern European states, including of course Ukraine.
Geopolitically, it is about bringing most of the continent into the Western sphere of influence, be it through EU membership or through a different political community – and this does not exclude further expanding the Western military alliance (NATO), also. This proposal, to sum it up, is basically the enhancement of the very process University of Chicago political scientist John Mearsheimer describes as the main cause for the Russian-Ukrainian crisis since 2014. In order to accomplish that, the European leadership seems to be willing to turn a blind eye to ultranationalism and even neo-Nazism.
This is not unprecedented: during the so-called Cold War, NATO and the CIA, in a complex cooperation with various European intelligence agencies, organized a series of clandestine “stay-behind” “secret armies” by funding and arming neo-Fascist and neo-Nazi paramilitary groups as part of the infamous Operation Gladio. Some of these groups were responsible for a series of terrorist attacks in Italy, Belgium, and other European countries, as part of their “strategy of tension”.
Finally, one should notice that on May 8, when the West celebrates Allied Victory agains Nazi Germany, the day before the aforementioned Europa Day ceremony took place, the G7 issued a joint statement which assures “full solidarity and support” for Kiev so that it can defend itself from “future acts of aggression”. It thereby makes it even clearer that the Ukrainian conflict is part of a US-led proxy war against Russia. Moreover, it commemorates the end of the Second World War and the defeat of fascism, while in the next paragraph, implicitly compares Russia with Hitler’s Germany, thus opening the path for its further demonization.
The fact that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski has been basically hostage to neo-Nazi armed groups funded by the West makes the statement sound somewhat ironic in a perverse way. An example of this is the fact that on May 27 2019, only one week after Zelensky’s inauguration, Ukrainian’s Obozrevatel news site published an interview with Dmytro Yarosh, co-founder of the Right Sector and then commander of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army. In this interview, he stated Zelenski would “lose his life” and would “hang on a tree on Khreshchatyk” if he “betrayed” Ukraine by pursuing an end to the civil war in Donbas as was his election campaign’s promise. Yarosh is a dangerous far-right paramilitary leader who was on Interpol international wanted list from 2015 to 2016. He is currently an adviser to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhny. It is thus hard to see how Kiev’s blatant neo-Nazi problem can be accommodated into the European values.
The G7 document also boasts of its “unprecedented package of coordinated sanctions” against the Russian people. According to the statement, the G7 will take measures to “prevent the provision of key services on which Russia depends”, thus reinforcing its “isolation across all sectors of its economy.” It ends by stating that “We remain united in our resolve that President Putin must not win his war against Ukraine.”
The West seems to have chosen the path of full-spectrum confrontation with Russia – employing for that matter all mechanisms available: NATO, G7, the European Union, and even a proposed new European community. This confrontation includes admittedly unprecedented sanctions, a campaign of Russophobia, informational, monetary, and financial warfare.
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