Let us be crystal clear, the violence in Ukraine that has so far left 26 people dead, is the direct result of EU meddling in the country. To compound the uselessness of the EU, their ‘solution’ will make matters worse for the population.
The EU has long been courting Ukraine to become a candidate country. On Ashton’s External Action website it is declared:
“The EU is seeking an increasingly close relationship with Ukraine that goes beyond mere bilateral cooperation, encompassing gradual progress towards political association and economic integration.”
Hardly an ambiguous statement.
The Ukraine represents a sizeable goal for the EU, it boasts a population of around 45 million people, and would increase the size of the Union by between 8 and 9 percent. But, the prize in Ukraine is not its people, it is its mineral resources.
Ukraine has the world’s richest iron ore deposits.
|Iron Ore Reserve per Countries|
|Rank||Country||Reserves (Billion tons)||Population (Millions)||Per-capita Reserves (tons)|
Source: US Geographic Survey
These rich iron ore reserves, located in the vicinity of Kryvyy Rih, Kremenchuk, Bilozerka, Mariupol, and Kerch, form the basis of Ukraine’s large iron and steel industry; it is the world’s eighth largest steel producer. Combining the EU and Ukraine’s steel capacity would take the bloc’s steel production to around 193 million tonnes per year, a 22% increase. Taking the Ukraine into the EU fold could also deny Russia access to its iron ore.
Ukraine is also the fourth largest coal producer in Europe (85.8Mt excavated in 2012) after Russia, Germany and Poland, and twelfth in the world overall. With proven coal reserves of some 33.9 Billion tonnes, the Ukrainian coal industry accounts for 4 % of the total global reserves. 390 years’ worth. However, much of the coal beds face technological challenges from the mine bed methane; some of which has been extracted already using the EU’s Joint Implementation.
Ukraine is Europe’s only source of manganese, and with a land mass of over 600,000 square kilometres offers extensive agricultural possibilities. Following the successful accession of the former Communist Countries in 2005 and 2007, the EU began its eastwards reach and looked to Ukraine as a new member.
A new Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), was negotiated in 2007-2011 and initialled in 2012. On 10 December 2012, the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted the Council Conclusions on Ukraine. These affirmed the EU’s commitment to signing the Agreement as soon as Ukraine takes determined action and makes tangible progress towards achieving the benchmarks set out in the Conclusions. On 21 November 2013, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine took a decision to suspend preparations to sign the Association Agreement.
Russia, fearing that its influence was being eroded, created the Russian Customs Union in 2010 with Belarus and Kazakhstan, and made significant overtures to Ukraine to join. This move was directly made to sweeten Ukraine away from the EU, and came with the promise of cheap gas, which had long been the subject of disagreement between the two countries.
5 of Russia’s 12 gas pipelines to Europe are routed through the Ukraine. The country enjoys transit fees from these, as well as discounted gas prices. However, these pipelines are constantly at the centre of the push and pull politics between the two, and periodically Russia will threaten Ukraine over unpaid bills, and in the winter of 2005-6 the situation got so bad that supplies were cut off. In this regard, the Ukraine is a client state of Russia, even though it is an essential route to market. By incorporating Ukraine into a Russian sphere of influence export income becomes easier to control, while the EU sees that absorbing it as a method of controlling supplies. Fearing greater Russian control of the gas that provides the EU with 40% of its supplies, the EU has been waving money under the nose of Ukraine’s government for years, money that is only available if Ukraine moves westwards, towards EU membership.
After continued pressure from Russia, the Ukrainian government caved in and walked away from the pre-accession agreement in November, setting in motion the rallies, counter rallies, occupations, and now deadly violence.
With its eyes on Ukraine’s natural resources and gas pipelines, the EU has deliberately been tweaking Russia’s patience. It created a game of piggy-in-the-middle that depended upon Russia NOT seeing the EU’s interference in its neighbour for what it really is: an asset grab.
To compound the mess, the EU is now considering sanctions against Ukraine for what it sees as violations of human rights perpetrated by the Ukrainian security forces. While there is some evidence of the police using excess force against the protesters (who let us remember were using petrol bombs, and perhaps small arms), let us be absolutely clear that the seeds of this violence were laid by the EU and its unelected Commission.
Catherine Ashton will leave Europe a worse place than she found it, of that there can be no doubt.