Russia is not a member of the European Union, but it dominates its foreign policy as Russia borders Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Sweden. Russia is the key player in the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union which was set up in 2015 along with Belarus and Khazakstan. That union later expanded to include Armenia and the Kyrgyz Republic. The EU, ably assisted by Western media, seeks to deny the existence of this bloc.

One example of this came on 1 October 2017 when Vygaudas Usackas, the outgoing EU ambassador to Russia, wrote a typical European Commission piece for The Observer, the pro-EU British Sunday newspaper. Usackas spent the previous four years in Moscow as the EU's senior representative, but somehow missed the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union in January 2015. He did not, however, miss the chance to attack Russia for its involvement in the Ukrainian civil war, while simultaneously ignoring the EU complicity in generating that conflict. Indeed He goes on to call for the EU to commit to Ukrainian membership of the EU, despite that aspiration by Western Ukraine lying at the heart of the EU supported overthrow of two democratically elected Ukrainian governments.

The Orange Revolution of 2004-2005 and the Maidan Revolution of 2014-2015 were both successful attempts by pro-EU Western Ukrainians to overthrow governments headed by the pro-Russian President Yanukovych. After Yanukovych was deposed for a second time in 2015 an election held in Western Ukraine and a few places in Eastern Ukraine saw Petro Poroshenko assume power. Despite his dubious mandate the EU signed an association agreement with Ukraine, although that geopolitical interference came to nothing when the Netherlands rejected the agreement in a referendum.

For Usackas (and the accompanying Observer editorial) to call for in incorporation of Ukraine into the EU and to ignore the existence of the Eurasian Economic Union is to copper-fasten the views of an out of control European Commission that helped to drive the leave side to victory in the UK's 2016 EU membership referendum. The EU is often deeply unpopular among the citizens of its members states and the European Commission bureaucracy even more so. It readily supported anti-democratic revolutions twice in Ukraine, because the rebels were waving EU flags (although technically it is the flag of the Council of Europe, which the EU obtained permission to use). It is about time that the EU stopped using Russia in general and its president Vladimir Putin in particular as a bugbear to bait and admitted that the Eurasian Economic Union exists and that there is more than one option for Ukraine to look to. Until the EU does so it is unlikely to make a positive contribution to maintaining the territorial unity of Ukraine and will continue to cause (probably) unnecessary military concerns for its member states that border Russia.

Mercia McMahon is the author of Brexit in Context, which contains more details about the EU role in the Ukrainian crisis in its Security chapter.

© Mercia McMahon. All rights reserved