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Russia and Ukraine

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Published on Sep 20, 2014

Having just returned from Kiev, I feel that the need for supporting Ukraine against the aggression it is facing from Russia is clearer than ever. It is clear also to my group, the ECR, that in response to Ukraine’s ambitions to move in a westward, democratic, Euro-Atlantic direction, Russia is revisiting its imperial past – refusing to accept that its large neighbour in the 21st century is an independent sovereign nation that has the right to take charge of its own destiny.

The refusal of Russia to accept this and to work within this internationally accepted legal paradigm should concern us all as democrats. This is not a case of an isolated conflict in a faraway land, but rather it is part of a wider struggle in which democratic nations on our own doorstep are fighting off the revanchist and irredentist ideals of a Putin-led authoritarian and revisionist regime that boasts of a nuclear arsenal. The West has already stood by as countries such as Georgia, Armenia and Moldova have suffered as a result of these ideals. We must not allow Ukraine to become another precedent.

It is for this reason that Member States within the EU and NATO should begin to take proactive, rather than reactive, steps in this conflict, sending a message to President Putin that there is hard-power substance behind our rhetoric. Commentators from across the world have noted now the necessity for Russia of militarily acquiring a land corridor to the Crimea. In this regard we should also note the presence of 50 000 Russian troops at the ready on the borders. It has been suggested that one Member State of NATO is already arming the Ukrainian army in anticipation of this further act of aggression. So today I call on other Member States to do the same and allow Ukraine to acquire the means to defend itself.

We are making the right move today in this House by simultaneously voting to ratify the Association Agreement and the deep and comprehensive free trade agreement (DCFTA) with Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada. Europe, including, I have to say, my own country, has for too long relied on the dominance of Russian energy and finance. We must now look to diversify away from these dependencies and to have a coordinated EU plan for external energy security, just as we have successfully united the entire European Union in the support of tough economic sanctions against Russia for its blatant acts of aggression.

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