Rus­sia warns EU against Ukraine’s hard­lin­ers

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The Rus­sian am­bas­sador to the EU warned on Tues­day that an Ukrainian ad­mis­sion to the North At­lantic Treaty Or­gan­i­sa­tion (NATO) would cre­ate the big­gest se­cu­rity risk in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and warned against hard­lin­ers in Kyiv who may seek to de­rail a frag­ile peace process in east­ern Ukraine.

Vladimir Chizhov, who met with a group of Brussels-based jour­nal­ists, con­veyed the mes­sage that his coun­try saw Ukraine’s bid to join NATO as a red line not to be crossed.

Ukrainian Prime Min­is­ter Arseny Yat­senyuk had said on 29 Au­gust that his gov­ern­ment will in­tro­duce a pro­posal in Par­lia­ment to change the non-aligned sta­tus of the coun­try, and to re­quest mem­ber­ship of NATO.

The NATO sum­mit in Wales last week did not re­spond to Ukraine’s pro­posal. How­ever, its fi­nal doc­u­ment says that NATO’s door will re­main open to all Euro­pean democ­ra­cies which share the val­ues of this al­liance, which are will­ing and able to as­sume the obli­ga­tions of mem­ber­ship, and whose in­clu­sion will con­trib­ute to the se­cu­rity of the North At­lantic area.

Rus­sia ap­pears to be hint­ing pre­cisely that the in­clu­sion of Ukraine will un­der­mine the se­cu­rity of the con­ti­nent.

“Ukraine in NATO would be an un­prece­dented chal­lenge to Euro­pean se­cu­rity, the big­gest since the col­lapse of the Berlin Wall,” Chizhov said.

Another mes­sage he con­veyed is that Moscow made a dis­tinc­tion be­tween the Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko and what he called “the Party of War in Ukraine”. Chizhov hinted that Poroshenko had in­ter­est for the agreed cease-fire to hold, while “the Party of War” had other plans.

The cease­fire, which took ef­fect on Fri­day evening, is part of a peace plan in­tended to end a five-month-old con­flict the United Na­tions’ hu­man rights en­voy said had killed more than 3,000 peo­ple.

The truce was largely hold­ing on Mon­day and the EU de­layed the en­force­ment of newly agreed sanc­tions.

Chizhov hinted that Ukrainian hard­lin­ers could de­rail the peace process, and that he had been con­vey­ing this mes­sage to his var­i­ous EU in­ter­locu­tors.

“Our mes­sage to the EU is: Don’t un­der­mine the Ukraine peace process by sup­port­ing the Party of War in Ukraine,” the Rus­sian diplo­mat said. In the mean­time, the Ukrainian am­bas­sador to the EU Kos­tiantyn Yelisieiev urged the EU to im­ple­ment the newly adopted sanc­tions with­out de­lay. It is not the first time that Chizhov has hinted about di­vi­sions be­tween the Ukrainian elite. In an in­ter­view with EurAc­tiv last June, he sug­gested that “other po­lit­i­cal fig­ures that have al­ready felt the sweet taste of power”, since what he calls “the Fe­bru­ary coup” can have dif­fer­ent agen­das with re­spect to Poroshenko.

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