Ukraine, a bridge that turns into a wall Flickr

“The world will never be the same” said the previous president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy after the Crimean annexing, the first act since the Second World War. 

It should be recognized that everything began last November, where the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovitch gave up with the European Union for Russia. Desiring to create a strong relationship with his former Soviet republics, the country wanted to attract them. Therefore, protests have sprung up in the capital Kiev, propagating in the western part of the country. Ukraine, a gloomy place of the European continent has in a matter of months become a global attraction. In February 88 or more people where killed in Kiev and president Yanukovich had to sign a cease-fire. However May seemed to be a time of hope with the election of a new president for Ukraine where Petro Poroshenko was elected with 55% of the vote. A month later, the new president announced 15 points for a peace plan, but the reality catches up quickly. A military helicopter was shot down and on July 17, a plane MH-17 from Malaysia Airlines. In August, the tension became very strong in the east by the arrival of the Russian humanitarian convoy which wanted to take control of the eastern part of the country.

There are several aspects to the problem. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that we can establish three interesting issues explaining the crisis in Ukraine by the expansion of NATO and the European Union and the promotion of democracy. All things considered carry out consequences. But what is the European Union stake? What role should the EU have and why? 

I) The causes and consequences on Europe

First of all, it should be remembered that Ukraine has strong economic ties with both the European Union and Russia. This is an important country for the import of gas and oil where about one third of the European gas comes from Russia, which third comes through Ukraine. But by annexing the Crimea and intervening in Ukraine, Russia has raised fundamental concerns in relation to the principles of the European order.

One must admit that Russia has always been against the principle that countries could choose their alliance quickly and perceives very badly the rapprochement to NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This organization brings together many Western countries whose primary purpose is to insure their common defence against external threats. After the Second World War, its key role was to prevent any attempt of the Soviet Union expansion and now of Russia.

Let us consider the example of the color revolutions that occurred in Georgia and Ukraine, two former Soviet states who have expressed their willingness to join the alliance. NATO played a strong role in South Ossetia in 2008 where some opposition is reflected in the strong Russian-speaking minorities. They condemn the encirclement and the control of the Russian power. On the contrary, it is worth mentioning that the probability where Russia would encircle the United States of America by an alliance including Canada and Mexico. What will happen? Similarly, it opposes estimate threatened by the missile shield developed by the United States. On second thoughts, the European Union extended into the Baltic area, Poland and Bulgaria. In a long-term, the EU wants to draw Ukraine in its territory. But this policy is perceived as a threat for Russia and its minority in those countries.

The former Foreign minister minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke "If the wrong decisions are taken now, they could threaten decades of working for peace and security in Europe." Gradually, European leaders recognizes the Ukrainian issue as global. Yet they seem to have failed in the overall understanding of the Ukrainian position. They react to events rather than global manner on the issue’s political and historical past, which led to have this split. But the issue is that on the economic level, more than 6,000 German companies have business with Russia and do not want to loose these gains. 

So if Europe evokes repeatedly that all Russian actions will have serious consequences on the ground, no impact is detected. There is a striking example of the Geneva council, where Moscow has never asked to pro-Russians to evacuate the buildings in eastern Ukraine. We understand very quickly the strategy.

In fact, Russia wants to return to a sphere of influence throughout the country and restore output and a protectorate over Ukraine. As Putin wants neither risk a war with the West, or even break any economic relationship with the US-EU, it does not brings chariots of Kiev, but he was satisfied with the Crimea annexation in order to destabilize the country by separatist interpose.

Both Westerners do not want to leave a Russian Empire recover by force, as they will either break with Russia that they need, or open the doors of the EU and NATO to Ukraine because it will have to rebuild and defend it. Therefore, if the marginal EU support prevents Putin to invade Ukraine, it does not prevent him from continuing to destabilize it.

II) The European answer to adopt 

As we previously have seen, the European Union acts without acting. What is quite certain is that Germany keeps the key of the conflict. Both the economic and political levels, the country dominates Europe and must arrange international conferences and negotiate a milestone for peace and security.  But the crisis is relentless, led by real events on the ground. It is German businessmen fighting for their interests. Attacks in Ukraine contribute to threat the freedom, the security and the prosperity even of Germany. It would be better to have a comprehensive view of the general interest of the country rather than its personal profits.

If until now, the European response was soft, it must be admitted the alignment of positions towards sanctions. Countries such as Poland and the Baltic States want a strong response for the European unity, but do not want to create tensions by agreeing on common positions.

However, the crisis has also shown that the unit is fragile and lack of leadership. We can highlight that some countries want an extensive policy in the east of the European Union such as Poland, Germany or Hungary and others prefer weak reactions. However, they remain divided on the long-term stake in the European Union policy and the matter since November is a sign of it. Many mistakes were made by the European Union to the European partners such as the communication with Russia or insufficient supply for Ukraine.

That's why the European Union must deal with multiple challenges. We must now use this crisis to grow, gain experience and learn. This is going through a political and social cohesion. We must speak to everyone with one voice and promote the general interest of the conflict. We must remember the Russian history and its desire. We can succeed only by compromise, leaving Ukraine like a buffer. This diverse country cannot belong to Russia or the European Union. Firstly, we have to take some responsibility and accept the variety of the country and conciliate the population before an international act. From there, both Russia and the European Union can play a role, but this role must be to coordinate the peace, the security and the image of Europe in the world.

Eventually, this crisis could also help Europe to diversify its energy import and think about new markets. The world is really changing and the European Union must lead for this change.