Presenting her group’s priorities in the field of foreign affairs and security to her colleagues in Crete on Wednesday, European People’s Party (EPP) group vice-chairwoman Rasa Juknevičienė reviewed the situation on the European continent and in world politics and highlighted the most important aspects, according to a press release.
“The West has already made one mistake in diagnosing Putin’s policies. I agree with that. This mistake has contributed heavily to the bloody war that is taking place on the European continent today and to the fact that Europeans are facing a difficult Putin winter”, the MEP said.
In her speech, she pointed out that since 24 February, there has been an incredible change in our own mindset.
“I remember a week before the war, when Ukraine was already asking us for a resolution with an article on EU candidate status. Back then, for many, such a request seemed almost like something from outer space. Today it has been decided and the leadership of the European People’s Party has been important here”, Juknevičienė stressed.
She wondered what our priorities would have been if Putin had taken Ukraine in three days, as he had planned, and what would Europe and the world have been like?
“Yes, today we know the horrors that we did not know in February, and new attacks are coming. But once the abscess is open, there is a prospect of recovery. It needs to be cleaned, it needs strong medicines for the damaged tissues. But it would be much worse if the abscess were to spread and the foamy infection were to infect a large part of the European continent,” said Ms Juknevičienė.
Russia’s war against Ukraine is our war too
According to the MEP, the most important thing to agree on is that Russia’s war against Ukraine is also our war, and that Russia is not a power that we need to fear.
“Ukraine is one of the cornerstones of the entire European continent, and we must hEPP it to become a flagship of freedom and democracy in the whole region, including Belarus and Russia”, the EPP Vice-Chairwoman noted.
She believes that the second stage of the disintegration of the former USSR empire is now underway.
“It is inevitable and the EU must be ready to take up the challenge of European unification”, said Ms Juknevičienė.
In addition, the MEP said, we need to agree on the kind of Russia we want to see after Ukraine wins this war. She proposed to take up the courageous challenge to do everything possible to make Russia a non-aggressive, normal country that can claim democratic development. This is a prerequisite for the security of the whole of Europe.
R. Juknevičienė also said that we must seek justice, which requires the creation of a special tribunal for crimes of aggression. Otherwise, our words “Never again” will be empty.
On the priorities for Ukraine, she noted that the country needs to be hEPPed to win the war against Russia as soon as possible, and that all possible military assistance must be provided. In addition, Ukraine needs reconstruction and recovery assistance and membership in the EU and NATO as soon as possible.
Focus on China and Africa
In her speech, Ms Juknevičienė also focused on EU development and enlargement.
“The Western Balkans and the other Eastern Partnership countries are both regions that are equally important to us”, said the EPP Vice-Chair.
She said that in the future, the European Union must reform itself so that the institutions are ready for enlargement. In addition, the decision-making mechanism in the Council needs to change. The EU is a bastion of human rights, freedom and democracy.
In her review of relations with China, Ms Juknevičienė stressed that two points were important: first, the EU and the US must coordinate their approaches and actions. Secondly, Taiwan is the Ukraine of Asia.
“The importance of a democratic Taiwan for Asia is as important as the fate of Ukraine for the security and democracy of the European continent”, she noted.
She also singled out Africa in her speech as one of the European People’s Party’s traditional priorities.
“Russia’s war has shown that disinformation and lies work. Russia has succeeded in spreading its lies about the Nazis in Ukraine in many African countries, in Latin America, in Asia. And now the Kremlin is trying to mobilise an anti-Western coalition on those continents”, said Ms Juknevičienė.
Therefore, she said, “we need to be stronger and more attractive”.
Defeating Putin in Ukraine will change the situation in these parts of the world, but it does not mean that we do not have to do our homework.
The EU needs to take its defence capabilities much more seriously
On the security and defence dimension of the policy, the MEP stressed that Russia’s war against Ukraine has shown that the EU is not capable of dealing with serious conventional threats.
“The US and Great Britain have played a key role on the European continent. Finland and Sweden are joining NATO. This shows how citizens feel about the security situation in Europe”, said Ms Juknevičienė.
She said that there used to be a lot of talk about a European army, but today Europe has an army – the Ukrainian army.
“Inevitably, this will change the substance of the pre-war debate. There is no doubt that the EU needs to take a much more serious look at its defence capabilities”, the EPP Vice-Chairwoman noted.
She also argued that the European People’s Party must become the safety net and the cleanest political community in the EU.
She wondered how Serbia’s current ruling party became an associate member of the EPP. A party whose Foreign Minister has just signed an agreement with Lavrov on foreign policy coordination?
The Vice-President of the EPP group said that she was sure that, after the current annexation of part of Ukraine, none of the leaders of the EPP would visit the annexed territories again, as some politicians had done when they visited the Crimea in 2015 and declared that everything was democratic.
Ukraine: the number of voters in the pseudo-referendum does not correspond to the population
Serhiy Haidai, head of the administration of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, said that the number of local voters who took part in a Moscow-organised pseudo-referendum on joining Russia, quoted by pro-Russian officials, does not correspond to the number of people left in the region after seven months of war.
“In October 2012, when the entire Luhansk region voted, 1.829 million people were registered as voters. ” They have ‘brought to the polls’ 1.662 million, ” said Mr Haidai.
He said that since the outbreak of the war, between half and two-thirds of the population of the cities of Luhansk oblast have left the region.
“Almost no one is surprised by the results [of the Kremlin’s pseudo-referendums]. Thousands are outraged, but few are surprised”, Haidai added.
Moscow is now expected to quickly annex the four Ukrainian regions where the pseudo-referendums were held. However, Haidai said that the results of the “referendums” would not affect the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the east of the country, where, he said, Kiev’s forces were moving towards the occupied towns of the Luhansk region.
Political analyst explains why Putin decided to raise the stakes in the war with Ukraine
After the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to raise the stakes in the war with Ukraine and fight for at least some kind of victory.
Putin was surprised by the fact that he was greeted with almost open contempt by all the SCO leaders, Russian political analyst and columnist Andrei Piontkovsky said on Ukrainian television.
The expert noted that Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lectured the President of the Russian Federation on how heads of state should behave now.
“Putin was very surprised by the almost, frankly, contemptuous attitude he received from all the leaders of the SCO, especially Modi and Xi, who lectured him like a student repeating a course on how a head of state should behave in the 21st century. And he came back completely depressed and in desperation decided to raise the stakes, to fight for some kind of victory anyway”, the political scientist shared his insights.
Piontkovsky added that before Putin left for the SCO summit in Uzbekistan, in his bunker, it was realised that the war in Ukraine was lost and that a decision had to be made on how to keep power and stolen wealth in the Russian Federation.
Mr Danilov tells how Ukraine will respond to a new attack from Belarus
In the event of a new attack from Belarus, the invaders will receive a response from Ukraine that they do not expect.
This was announced in an interview with Present Time by Alexey Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council.
“We understand that Putin is putting pressure on Lukashenko every day to launch armed aggression from Belarus. We know everything. Even the recent meeting in Sochi was on this subject”, Danilov said.
The Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council does not believe that Aliaksandr Lukashenko will take such a decision.
“But if the troops arrive from Belarus, as they did on 24 February, they will get a response they did not expect”, he added.
Military expert on Russia’s plans to seize Odesa and Kharkiv: the outlook is bleak
Military expert Oleg Zhdanov assessed the risk of the Russian army’s attempt to take Odesa and Kharkiv after mobilisation, Ukrainian media reported.
He expressed his opinion on this issue on his YouTube channel.
“The chances (for Russia – UNIAN) are minimal, the prospects are also very minimal and rather pathetic. In order to go to Odessa, a practically new army of the Russian Federation has to be formed. You cannot bring back combat capability. This requires 200-300 thousand well-trained and well-armed soldiers with heavy weapons”, he said.
“I would not talk about them going to Kharkiv or Odesa tomorrow. If we hypothetically assume that they will assemble, equip, and train such an army, let’s say it would only be for the summer campaign of 2023. But today, the mobilised are immediately thrown into battle, as they are losing up to a battalion of personnel a day on the front line”, Zhdanov added.
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