EU confronted with too many candidacies

By Nina Bachkatov

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Europeans have never left any doubts about their support for the victim of an aggression by a country already identified as the main threat to the continent’s security and to the Western values. Now, in a couple of weeks, this support has, and will be, tested. In an acceleration initiated from Brussels, EU found itself facing a decisive step in his development. It has to decide by the end of June to grant, or not, the status of candidates to EU membership to Ukraine, lately extended to Georgia and Moldova. This normally very slow process changed gear on 8 April. During her visit in Kiev, the EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen handed to “dear Volodymyr” the questionnaire his country had to complete it if wants to receive EU candidate status. It consists in 2 parts: one contains political and economic criteria and the second one includes an evaluation of the compliance of Ukrainian legislation with the legal acts of the European Union.

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Strange victory day in Moscow

Nina Bachkatov

The address of president Putin during the 9 May Victory Parade on Red square was shorter than usual. The number of men and equipment was reduced by 30%compared to previous years; seats on the side of Lenin’s Mausoleum, traditionally packed with foreign diplomats and officials, were sparsely occupied. The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, had anticipated unpleasant questions by announcing that no invitations had been sent to former allies in the anti-Hitler coalition, nor to Germany or Japan, because it was not an even date, just the 77 th anniversary; and that the event will be scaled down. The surprise was not so much about what Putin said, but what he didn’t.

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Ukraine, the diplomatic dilemnas

Nina Bachkatov

On 24 March, a month after Russian forces crossed Ukrainian borders, president Bidden was in Brussels for meetings of EU, NATO and G7. Members were due to reinforce the united front against president Putin by agreeing to deliver more military aide for Ukraine, to enlarge sanctions against Russia, and to adopt a strategic “compass” that will guide Western powers in their relations with Russia. A country now perceived as a threat to almost everything that matters in the West. Participants were moved by the video address of the Ukrainian president calling for more Western efforts, and new sanctions more radical than those they were prepared to launch. But the representatives of the 3 institutions that gathered for two days in Brussels have been rallying around the idea once popular among Cold warriors minded milieux – that Putin does not want to destroy Ukraine, but all the democratic world.

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President Zelensky’s communicator limits

Nina Bachkatov

Ukrainian president Zelensky is a master in communication, tuning his messages according to the receiver, national or international, while hammering the same existential message –  that the survival of Ukraine is threatened and that he needs foreign aid to allow his citizens to save it. He has multiplied live video addresses to different Western parliaments ahead of their sessions, whose agenda already included measures to back Ukraine and to deter president Putin. In each case, his speeches were skillfully carved to string national fibers, from salute to Churchill to that of the American president as leader of the world.

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As the Ukrainian crisis is unfolding

By Nina Bachkatov

It is impossible to compete with the flow of information, reports on the spot and inside analysis covering the multilayered dimension of Ukraine’s invasion by Russian armed forces. But some elements are worth to mention at this stage.

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Kiev, EU and Washington confronting Moscow

By Nina Bachkatov

President Macron’s initiative has not been without Franco-French electoral calculation, and a gallic sense of grandeur. Nobody expected much more than keeping the dialogue ongoing and agreeing on further steps towards a settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. But his visit to the Kremlin has managed to put key questions back to the top of the agenda: Does the West want to solve the Russo-Ukrainian crisis for the sake of Ukrainians? Does it want to do so for reasserting the Transatlantic link after the Kabul unilateral abandon? Does it want to restate the central role of American presence to guarantee the European continent security? And finally, the vital question about the best way to manage that security – with, without, or against Russia?

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Nord Stream 2 future settled in Washington

For years, Kiev had perceived the internationalisation of its energy issues as the ultimate means to keep Ukrainian economic and national projects safely away from Moscow influence. Lately, all its efforts have been centered on preventing the construction, then the exploitation, of Nord Stream 2, the 1.200 km gas pipeline which, in a few months, will export Russian gas directly to Germany, circumventing Poland and Ukraine. Ukraine has felt over-confident that the strong Western backing should suffice to sink Gazprom chances and the Kremlin ambitions. In fact, doing so, successive Ukrainian presidents have turned their country into a pawn between Moscow, Washington, Brussels, and different EU members ‘states. At their risks and perils.

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