EU Leaders Set to Pour Cold Water on Zelensky’s Dream of Joining Brussels Bloc
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen write their wishes on a Ukrainian flag during the EU-Ukraine summit in KyivInternationalIndiaAfricaJames TweedieFormer Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s turn away from closer ties with the European Union (EU) precipitated the 2014 Euromaidan coup — backed by Washington and Brussels — which in turn sparked the civil war that led ultimately to the current conflict.European Union leaders are set to dampen Ukraine’s hopes of fast-track membership of the bloc while its conflict with Russia continues.EU officials gathered for a summit in Kiev on Friday to lay out Ukraine’s future relationship with the Brussels-based bloc, which has become synonymous with US-dominated military alliance NATO.British media reported on Friday that Charles Michel, president of the European Council made up of leaders of the 27 member states, will discreetly inform Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that his repeated demand for an express ride to EU membership cannot be met. “I believe that Ukraine deserves to start negotiations on EU membership this year,” Zelensky told reporters on Thursday after talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “Only together a strong Ukraine and a strong European Union can protect the life we value.”Members of the EU contribute to its large funds, but can also apply for grants for local projects. The poorer nations tend to get more back than they pay in — although even Ireland has become a net contributor since the UK left the bloc.The EU has already funnelled billions to Kiev in loans and handouts, including arms supplies ironically paid for out of the European Peace Facility fund. Russia’s Special Operation in UkraineCouncil of EU Adopts New Military Aid Package for Ukraine Worth Almost $600MlnYesterday, 15:10 GMTBrussels requires new applicants to meet a set of conditions known as the ‘Copenhagen criteria’. They include a “stable democracy and the rule of law” with respect and protection for minorities, a “functioning market economy” and acceptance of all EU laws and regulations along with adopted the euro common currency. Members are also expected to keep their public deficit below three per cent and their debt-to-GDP ratio below 60 per cent.However, since the 2014 Euromaidan coup — backed by the US and EU — Ukraine has banned several opposition political parties, closed down media critical of the regime and attacked the rights of the large Russian-speaking minority. More recently, Kiev has begun forcibly closing Russian Orthodox churches which follow the Moscow patriarchate, and been accused of persecuting ethnic Hungarians in the south-western Transcarpathian region.Since the start of the Russian de-Nazification operation in February 2022, Zelensky’s government has also become dependent on western aid and loans to simply pay the salaries of state employees. The loss of control over the industrialised east of the country has left Ukraine increasingly dependent on the agricultural sector for export income.
Comforting the Patient
Russian National Security Council deputy president Dmitry Medvedev highlighted Ukraine’s economic woes in a Telegram post on Friday.He said the Ukrainian wheat and maize harvests in 2022 had yielded just over half the produce of the 2021 crop, and that the country’s GDP fell by a third last year.”Yesterday, a green patient from the terminal ward was visited by an aunt-gynaecologist,” Medvedev wrote in a play on Zelensky’s name, from the word for green, adding that von der Leyen played the role of “the chief European doctor.”The pair “discussed the rapid and fabulous recovery of the economy of Little Russia [a historical name for Ukraine] in the EU. Well, this is, of course, a lie.”