Ask EP By / February 5, 2015

EU reaction to Russia-Ukraine conflict

Updated on 13 February 2015 More than 5,000 people have been killed since April last year in the fighting between…

© Babawong / Fotolia

Updated on 13 February 2015

More than 5,000 people have been killed since April last year in the fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukraine forces. The EU is applying a combined approach of dialogue, diplomacy and sanctions in order to find a sustainable resolution of the conflict.

4 language versions available in PDF format EN: EU reaction to Russia-Ukraine conflict FR: Réaction de l’Union européenne au conflit entre la Russie et l’Ukraine DE: Die Reaktion der EU auf den Konflikt zwischen Russland und der Ukraine NL: De reactie van de EU op het conflict tussen Rusland en Oekraïne
A shaddow of a plane on Ukraine and Russian flag
© Babawong / Fotolia

Citizens from all over Europe have turned to the European Parliament to comment on the situation in Ukraine from the very beginning of the crisis. Citizens have expressed their opinions among others about the Maidan protest movement which started end-2013, about the subsequent political changes and elections in Ukraine, about the annexation of Crimea by Russia, about the association agreement EU-Ukraine, and about the MH17 aircraft disaster in July 2014.

The more recent comments focused on the EU sanctions against Russia, while many citizens expressed their fear to see a resurgence of the Cold War or even a military confrontation with Russia. The Parliament’s position is that there can be only a political solution to this conflict, not a military one. Therefore the Parliament strongly supports any negotiating format which could produce a lasting peaceful solution.

Minsk peace agreement

On 12 February, after more than 16 hours of negotiations in Minsk, the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement to end fighting in eastern Ukraine. The pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine also signed the deal, which includes a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, to begin on 15 February, followed by the withdrawal of heavy weapons. In a joint declaration, Angela Merkel, François Hollande, Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko stated their commitment to respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. More information is available in the analysis “Minsk peace agreement“, published by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS). EP President Schulz explained on 12 February 2015 in a speech at the informal meeting of the Heads of State and Government the Parliament’s expectation that all sides should respect the cease fire and should refrain from any actions which could endanger the coming into force of the cease fire. President Schulz said: “In this situation, the European Union has a key role to play. It must maintain its unity at all costs and be ready to support Ukraine along the road. Ordinary Ukrainians took to the streets to demonstrate in favour of European-style democracy in their country. They are looking to their government to implement major changes. Our message to the government in Kyiv remains unchanged: the rule of law, zero tolerance for corruption and political and economic reforms are essential. A reformed, properly functioning Ukraine is the best response to aggression. We will continue to provide support in the form of assistance and expertise.”

EU sanctions against Russia

As stated in the European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2015 on the situation in Ukraine, the Parliament strongly condemned Russia’s ‘aggressive and expansionist policy’ and ‘the acts of terrorism and criminal behaviour committed by the separatists and other irregular forces in Eastern Ukraine’. The EU sanctions against Russia should stay in place until Russia changes its aggressive policy in Ukraine. In view of the then worsening situation, the EU’s Foreign Affairs ministers had agreed on 29 January to extend the restrictive measures targeting persons and entities for threatening or undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity until September 2015.

Updates on EU’s actions and initiatives

For further information, the website of the European External Action Service (EEAS) regularly provides updated information on declarations and decisions at the European level concerning Ukraine and Russia.

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  • Willem Prinselaar u are an idiot….
    1. Ukraine is an independent and sovereign state that has a right to decide its own policy, and if they choose to join NATO it’s they right, and they don’t have to ask the permission from Russia.
    2. The russian fleet in Crimea was according to an agreement with Ukraine government, Ukraine leased the land for russian Navy for a certain amount of time. That’s it.
    3. Ukraine wasn’t about to join NATO anyway.
    4. the Russian speaking population were never treated badly. They are equal citizens in Ukraine. In fact most ukranian speaks russian as a main language also.
    5. Russia annexed Crimea, and also invaded into east Ukraine. There is war going on in Ukraine, people are dying for no reason. Putin is the new Hitler of europe that must be stopped.
    6. Willem because many people in europe are idiots just like u, they can’t understand what’s going on.

  • The statement referred to fails to question why we are where we are. More than 20 years of mis management of our relationship to Russia is what we are now paying for. In addition the failure of a common foreign policy as well as a common defense policy is now haunting Europe. Why were European politicians so keen to go on the barricades against a democratically elected President. The fact that he was corrupt is not relevant since we have been supporting many corrupt situations quite happily. just look at Bulgaria how we failed to ensure good conduct before allowing them full membership of the EU.
    Back to Ukraine. How could we ever believe that Russia would accept the NATO overture to Ukraine whilst everyone is aware that the the Russian fleet is stationed in the Crimea. We really expected Russia to think this to be a good idea?? We followed NATO expansion without questioning and unfortunately our US friends are forcing these issues without due regard for the European position. How can James Baker state that, yes we agreed not to expand NATO to the East with Gorbachev but…. Nothing was put on paper!! great. On top of this Mr. Baker is a top advisor to the Carlyle fund which has dominating interests in the US military industrial complex. How can Ukraine wage war against Russia being basically broke. Who is financing all this? probably the EU to a large extent under pressure from our US friends.
    I strongly advise anyone and most certainly the EU Parliamentarians to read the publishings of Hélène Corrèse d’Encausse of the Académie Française a well known historian and specialist on Eastern Europe. Her point of view is that Europe pushed Putin to a point where he had to move and he did.
    Ukraine is a country with a large Russian population which has been rather badly treated. let’s stop wanting to expand the EU as well as NATO and help Russia and the other East European countries to get back on their feet and improve their living conditions. This can only benefit the EU.
    We made major mistakes and it would be helpful to recognize this and then move forward together with Russia.

    • Yep my friend, Neville Chamberlain had the same rhetoric while coming back from a “treaty that will bring peace to the whole Europe”. 6 months later Poland was invaded, 1 year later France.
      You know, people are divided into 3 categories: smart people that learn from other’s people mistakes, normal people that learn from their mistakes and stupid people that never learn.
      I can only say good luck with the Russians. You kind of deserve it.

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