EU’s strategic errors helped cause the Ukraine crisis — now EU picks a fight with Poland and Hungary

Graham Charles Lear
6 min readFeb 24, 2022
The body of a rocket stuck in a flat after recent shelling on the northern outskirts of Kharkiv on February 24, 2022.

After Russia invaded sovereign Ukraine territory, Europe needs focus and solidarity of purpose — but it seems the EU would rather be divisive

The EU’s aggressive expansionist approach is widely accepted as being a contributory factor to the Ukraine crisis of 2014 that resulted in Russia annexing Crimea. Now its response to Russian aggression is incoherent, with Germany and France disagreeing with other members.

It used to be claimed by both the EU and of course, the groupies that follow the EU like little lost puppies, better known as Remainers/Rejoiners that it was the EU that had secured European peace since WWII. It’s not a claim anyone is making now. Even the pro-EU Financial Times has had cause to criticise in an editorial on the EU’s failure in dealing with the Ukraine Crisis.

The EU is hardly ‘cooking on gas’ when it comes to the Ukraine crisis

Sanctions from the EU will not be decided until next Tuesday (1 March) and are set to be weak, due to the conflict of interest that Germany has in needing Russian gas, all Germany did was shelve Nord Stream 2 pipeline an empty gesture that looks good, until the penny drops that Nord Stream 2 is nowhere near finished so it's not being used and that at anytime the project can start again. NOW, if Germany had closed Nord Stream I that would be a full-on gesture that hits both Russia and Putin hard in the pocket. It would have hurt theGerman people and many EU citizens, but, hey why bother doing that when you can virtue signal.

As usual, it is down to it to the US and UK to make the most impact, the UK has already introduced a “barrage” of measures with more planned if Russia does not pull back. And those planned measures will come into effect tonight 24 2. 22

Ursula von der Leyen

“This decision violates the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is not respecting its international obligations and it is violating core principles of international law. Russia has manufactured this crisis and is responsible for the current escalation. We will now quickly finalise the sanctions package. And we will coordinate closely with our partners, as we have done so far.”

- EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, statement, Brussels, 22 Feb 2022

So what does the EU do? Instead, the EU still think this is a time to pick fights with its own members, including a country like Poland that at least has a serious military capability and has every reason to mistrust Russian ambitions. Here’s what has happened in the last week.

You just can't make this up if you tried, but this really happened

The EU takes a firmer line with Poland and Hungary than it does with Russia and I am not joking.

  1. Members of the European Parliament are demanding the EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, must freeze EU spending on Hungary and Poland following a judgement by the European Union Courts of Justice which cannot be appealed.

2. The MEPs have told the Commission President she has run out of excuses for not using the powers of the ‘conditionality mechanism’ that allows for billions to be cut from EU spending in countries the Commission deems to have infringed civil rights and exerted control over their respective judiciary and media. They want Hungary and Poland to be made an example of rejecting the superiority of the EU’s decisions.

3. The EU has already shown its cold-hearted ability to punish miscreants by withholding pandemic relief funds totalling nearly £6bn for Hungary and £30 billion for Poland. In retaliation for any further action, Poland and Hungary are both threatening to use their ability to veto EU decisions that require unanimity including on energy, climate change and foreign policy.

4. In an entirely separate action the EU is docking £10m of funds due by Poland to pay for a total of £45m of fines it has levied in a dispute regarding alleged environmental damage by a coal mine on the Polish-Czech border. Further offsetting is likely to occur to recover the balance.

5. The EU announced last June it was preparing legal action against Germany because the German Constitutional Court had ruled the European Courts of Justice had no precedence over its ability to prevent the German Federal Government from financing European Central Bank bonds. In the last days of Angela Merkel’s administration, Germany accepted the EU position and rebuffed its own Constitutional Court, without changing its constitution — creating a legal paradox that is yet to unravel.

6. Meanwhile the EU continues to hold out against agreeing to the mutual equivalence of standards with the UK so that the Northern Ireland Protocol can be withdrawn. This has effectively partitioned part of the UK for EU trade and taxation laws — just as Russia has partitioned two East Ukraine provinces to exert its influence over them. The result is that the difference of opinion between the EU and UK over the Protocol drifts on and is now going to be a central part of the coming Stormont elections, causing greater divisiveness and allowing more GB-NI trade to be substituted by trade from the Republic of Ireland.

Britain must recognise it is stronger outside the weak EU foreign policy response

The claim that the EU delivered peace in Europe is erroneous. It arrogantly and fatuously ignores the role of the US Marshall Plan, the strategic insurance provided by NATO and the military presence of the United States (especially) and the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) up until the end of the Cold War. The EEC did not begin to be formed until ten years after WWII came to an end — and even though it developed a foreign policy capability it neither prevented the Yugoslav Wars (1991–2001) nor provided the solution. NATO did that.

When top-level talks were held in January, the EU was not even invited to participate. What followed after a week’s direct discussions between the US and Russia was further talks between Russia and NATO, then further dialogue at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The EU played no role because it has no credibility and therefore no heft. Russia in particular sees it as part of the problem.

Yes, the EU also has ambitions for a military capability to give leverage and backing to its foreign policy positions. And yet all but a few member states spend anything like the 2.0% of GDP on defence that NATO requires. This is one of the reasons it is so keen to involve the UK in its Common Security & Defence Policy (CSDP) — but why should the UK put the lives of its servicemen and women at the disposal of such an outfit? Not forgetting it might be compromising our own national interest.

Now we can see once again that EU foreign policy has been a failure, that it lacks an agreed and unified approach, and that it lacks any resolution or ability to enforce its will. Worse still it is prone to turn on itself (Hungary and Poland) and its allies (the UK) when it should be ensuring solidarity. We must avoid any entanglement at all costs. Better to work bilaterally with our allies through NATO than be absorbed by them.

To conclude, it is no wonder the EU has little if any role in solving the Ukrainian crisis, as that is not its aim. This reality was revealed by its top diplomat, Josep Borrell, saying in a letter to EU foreign ministers that: “our main goal should be to ensure EU involvement in the process”. You really cannot get more self-absorbed than that.

I also have to say, and this is very important indeed, that if the EU did have a Standing Military as it wants, 27 countries today would be blundering into Ukraine like the rank amateurs they are, to be slaughtered like sacrificial lambs.

We British will be sucked into this mess of that I have no doubt. However, it will be with tried and tested allies not a bunch of idiots

[Sources: EU Commission | EU Council

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.