by Seamus Kelleher
Over the weekend, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko warned the West at an EU Summit in Brussels that if something didn’t change in the coming days to put an end to the ongoing fighting with Russian military and Kremlin-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, the result could be “full-scale war.”
It appears that some good news has come Ukraine’s way.
We are finally to receive military and technical aid from the EU to make our army more efficient in fighting. pic.twitter.com/ckcvn9OU4h— Петро Порошенко (@poroshenko)August 30, 2014
The President is clearly satisfied by the EU’s decision to “finally” lend substantive assistance to Ukraine’s long and tenuous battle to retain territorial integrity and squash the violence in the East.
The assistance is rumored to come by way of loans from the EU. European Commission President Jose Barroso says more than 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) could be released to Ukraine in the coming months. This is part of the 11 billion euro package announced earlier.
This expedited loan is not expected to fully push the Ukrainian military over the edge in its mission to quell Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine, but it will certainly help. It is also a welcomed gesture of support from Ukraine’s partners in the West.
The EU is also currently discussing further sanctions against the Russian Federation, sanctions which were initiated following the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 and tightened shortly afterwards when Russia continued its military involvement in eastern Ukraine.
Over the weekend, European Union leaders, meeting in Brussels, called on Russia to “immediately withdraw all its military assets and forces from Ukraine” or face a new round of sanctions within a week.
Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged on Monday that enacting further punitive measures against Russia could hit the German economy, but said that doing nothing in response to Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine was “not an option.”
“I have said that [sanctions] can have an impact, also for German companies,” Merkel told a news conference in Berlin. “But I have to say there is also an impact when you are allowed to move borders in Europe and attack other countries with your troops,” she added.
“Accepting Russia’s behavior is not an option,” said Merkel.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also warned that Europe can’t be complacent about Russian troops on Ukrainian soil.
"Countries in Europe shouldn’t have to think long before realizing just how unacceptable that is," he said. "We know that from our history. So consequences must follow if that situation continues."
Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a visit to Siberia, urged the EU on Monday to show “common sense” and not to resort to mutually destructive sanctions, in his first reaction to the threat of additional punitive measures over Ukraine.
A strong and unified response towards Russia’s aggressive incursion into eastern Ukraine is required or President Putin will continue to chip away at Ukraine’s borders without significant backlash. These are good signs from the EU, but it remains to be seen if the support will be enough for the Ukrainian military to emerge victorious in it’s effort to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity against increasing military advancements by the Russian Federation.