Europe

EU alliance with Ukraine is pillar of bloc’s foreign policy: Top EU official

European Council head warns of high political, economic price for Russia if it threatens Ukraine’s sovereignty again

Agnes Szucs   | 08.12.2021
EU alliance with Ukraine is pillar of bloc’s foreign policy: Top EU official

BRUSSELS

The European Council president on Wednesday reiterated EU support for Ukraine in face of the Russian threat, calling the EU alliance with Ukraine one of the main pillars of the bloc’s foreign policy.

Addressing the annual EU ambassadors conference via video link, Charles Michel said the EU managed to strengthen its geopolitical influence over the past year and contributed to resolving the conflicts in its neighborhood.

“(With) our alliance with Ukraine, we made a major axis for our foreign policy,” he said, explaining that the bloc supported Ukraine’s political reforms, as well as its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“I’ve been very clear that there will be a very high price to pay both politically and economically if the sovereignty of Ukraine is again threatened by Russian troops,” he said.

In 2014, Moscow began to support separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained for the past seven years.

For the second time this year, Moscow concentrated significant military troops in and around Ukraine last month.

The EU has been applying restrictive measures in response to the Ukrainian crisis since 2014.

Currently, 185 people and 48 entities are on the bloc’s blacklist for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Separate economic sanctions on the Russian finance, energy, and defense sectors are also in place because of Moscow’s reluctance to fully implement the 2014 Minsk Protocol meant to establish peace in eastern Ukraine.

Strategic importance of Caucasus region

Michel also stressed that the Caucasus was a strategically important region for the EU.

He explained that EU diplomats contributed to relaunching the dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition in Georgia following the 2020 elections that resulted in a political deadlock.

“Through my engagement with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, we were able to help broker a prisoner swap, and more recently with my team, we were able to help establish a direct line of communication between both ministers of defense,” he said, referring to the bloc’s diplomatic efforts in supporting reconciliation between the two countries after the last year’s armed conflict.

Relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

During a 44-day conflict that started in late September last year, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, 300 settlements and villages that were illegally occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.

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