For the European project to succeed, we need a coordinated response at the Ukrainian border

For the European project to succeed, we need a coordinated response at the Ukrainian border

Feb 2, 2022, 8:12:15 PM UTC
The European answer to the Russian threat building up at the Ukrainian border must be one of unity and strength.

The ongoing Russian military build-up close to the Ukrainian border is yet another threat to Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The actions of the Russian government put the safety and rights of Ukraine’s citizens at stake, and weaken the European Union due to military, digital, energy and disinformation warfare. The European answer to this must be one of unity and strength, pointing the way to greater autonomy and independence.

Ukrainian and EU flags

In light of the current developments, Volt is calling on the EU and its leaders to urgently respond to the situation at the Ukrainian border through a coherent EU-Russia policy that specifically includes the following steps: 

1. Peaceful political solution to the conflict. War is always an incredible tragedy, a failure of reasonable diplomacy and needs to be avoided with all our energy. We encourage all parties to continue their diplomatic efforts and stop all measures that further aggravate the conflict. We demand that the Russian Federation ceases its threat against the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Volt believes solutions should be offered to president Putin so as to withdraw his troops without losing face. This would also be in the best interest of Russian citizens and economy in order not to deepen their isolation further.

2. New package of sanctions. We believe that sanctions should increase the cost of action for the Russian government. The EU should adopt targeted sanctions against Russian officer corps and flag officers involved in the planning of a possible invasion, and oligarchs, their families and inner circles. The EU needs to also discuss and consider putting forward severe economic and financial sanctions, especially in case of an escalation, including against state owned banks. This should be done in close coordination with the US, NATO and other partners. Credible sanctions are always preferable to deter military action. For a rapid and timely action, we strongly suggest moving away from unanimous voting in the European Council in matters of foreign affairs.

3. Take urgent steps to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy imports. Showcase more solidarity with Ukraine - but also Eastern European EU members - by increasing links in the energy infrastructure. The EU should take ambitious steps towards a fast scale up of EU based zero emissions energy sources. The increase of European storage capacities, the diversification of energy sources can bring independence from Russian gas and cut Russian remedies. In case of an escalation at the Ukrainian border, the EU institutions and all countries should cancel and prevent the use of Nord Stream II. 

4. Continue to support the Ukrainian authorities in their efforts to reform the country in line with the provisions of the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, including measures to fight corruption. We strongly believe that the EU institutions should maintain a credible long-term perspective for Ukraine’s EU accession in line with Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, as for any European state. Such measures can help increase Ukrainian resilience and counter current and future Russian threats. 

5. Humanitarian support. Step up humanitarian support to Eastern Ukraine. Even before the prospect of a large-scale invasion OCHA estimated that 2.9 million people in Eastern Ukraine are projected to need humanitarian assistance in 2022.

In a medium to long-term, Volt urges the European Union and its leaders to:

  1. Create a unified European defence army with a European central command. We support efforts to increase Europe’s deterrence and defensive capabilities now and in the future. We therefore plead for the creation of a unified European defence army, in order to pave the way towards an autonomous Europe.
  2. Target disinformation. Strengthen the EU’s resilience and countermeasure capabilities against hybrid warfare, in particular disinformation. Guarantee media pluralism, further develop the policy on disinformation on all legal policy levels and improve the cooperation between the EU, its member states, media and internet intermediaries in countering the dissemination of disinformation.   
  3. Establish a supranational EU-Cyber Division to guarantee rapid cyber defence: the existing EU cyber rapid response team is not functioning as effectively and adequately as it should in case of imminent threat. Volt pleads for a new supranational EU cyber division mandated to proactively hack in case of imminent threat. Pooling digital capabilities by central EU command can increase Europe’s resilience towards cyber attacks and imminent military threats. This will strengthen the support of our allies, while avoiding violence. 
  4. Review and enhance missile defence systems: Europe’s security should be built on effective defence capabilities, that could potentially include Ukraine’s airspace if requested for by the Ukrainian government.
  5. Establish a naval monitoring mission: A European sea mission can help secure open trade routes via the Black Sea, which are crucial for Ukraine’s GDP.