New EU-US Warning to Russia’s “Hand behind Instability” in Ukraine

Written by | Thursday, May 8th, 2014

The European Union and United States have warned Moscow on Tuesday (6 May) that a new round of sanctions will be imposed against Russia if it tries to disrupt the 25 May presidential elections in Ukraine. More specifically, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said that while the EU “put on hold measures that we were considering” on economic sanctions following the agreement on de-escalation in Geneva in mid-April, since this agreement has not so far been implemented from the Russian side, “we pressed the start button again.” Both Ashton and her US counterpart, John Kerry, characterized the coming Ukrainian elections as a key moment that would help stabilize the country.
While rejecting Russia’s argument that the pro-Russia separatist are a purely spontaneous movement, the EU and US leaders also stressed that Kiev has the right to defend its territorial integrity by seeking to eliminate these separatists in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. On the sidelines of their meeting in the US capital city, Kerry’s top official on Ukraine, Victoria Nuland, was even more blunt and explicit when, speaking during a Congress hearing, she asserted that “We continue to have high confidence that Russia’s hand is behind this instability. They are providing material support […] funding] and [weapons]. They are providing co-ordination, and there are Russians agents on the ground in Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, NATO has probably changed its assessment of the Ukraine crisis, when the its military commander, US general Philip Breedlove, suggested in Ottawa earlier this week that a full-scale Russian invasion is not likely to be the future “course of action … Now I think probably the most likely course of action is that [Vladimir Putin] will continue doing what he’s doing – discrediting the government, creating unrest, trying to set the stage for a separatist movement.” In Mr. Breedlove’s words, Moscow “may be able to accomplish his objectives in eastern Ukraine and never go across the border with his forces.” In a seemingly related development, Russia has announced that it has cancelled an agreement with Lithuania under which the former Soviet state could inspect military facilities in Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave. Elsewhere in the region, Moldova put its troops on alert amid concerns that pro-Russian separatists, likely with the support of Russia’s special forces, might try to stir up troubles in the breakaway Transniestria region.

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