Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on cooperation of the United Nations with regional and sub-regional organizations (European Union)
The Council yearly discusses issues relating to cooperation of the United Nations and the European Union. We have always welcomed that, being mindful of all efforts that the EU undertakes as a critical regional stakeholder. But with every passing year, we had more and more serious questions to Brussels’ global policy as we saw the European Union step back from the ideals envisaged by its founding fathers.
Unfortunately, these trends have persisted. As for the EU-Russia relations, we used to say that they were at their lowest point. But now we can state that they are tunneling below the rock bottom – thanks to Brussels’ efforts.
All this causes our deepest and genuine regret. This was not our choice, we just look at what you do and make obvious conclusions.
Initially, the European project rested upon rather noble and attractive ideas – peaceful conjugation of economic and humanitarian potentials of participating states, benefits of a common market, freedom of movement of goods, people, capital, and knowledge, shared European identity based on shared values. This created an image of an ideal European future.
Rather naturally, many would reach out for this picture. Russia was no exception. In 1994, we signed a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union. We embarked on implementing it with what you call a pure heart. We took the word partnership at its primary meaning – equal and mutually beneficial cooperation that should take on board interests of both sides. In 1999, President of the EU Commission Romano Prodi put his signature under a Charter for European Security that enshrined the principle of indivisible security and an obligation to not strengthen one’s own security at the expense of others. In 2005, four roadmaps were elaborated, each addressing one of the four “Common Spaces”. These documents stipulated that cooperation between Russia and the EU should contribute to building a bigger Europe without any dividing lines, promote international peace and stability, create favorable conditions for ensuring security and prosperity of Russia and the EU.
There were hopes that this would put an end to geopolitical competition at the European space for good and let us jointly build a free society with a thriving economy.
Unfortunately, it became clear soon that the ideas of EU founding fathers had receded into history, and that Brussels had articulated (not without some prompting from across the ocean) a new set of goals. The EU started considering cooperation with Russia rather lopsidedly, bringing it down to a limited number of areas of interest. At the same time, the EU adopted a course towards strategic “squeezing” of Russia from Europe. Despite our warnings, the EU went down NATO’s slippery slope and started to digest its adjacent areas with geopolitical tools. Thereby it undermined the balance of power, counterposed East and West, and adopted a course towards becoming a military-political rather than an economic alliance. The initial logic of EU membership, according to which it took economic and political “maturity” to accede the Union, was cast aside. Out of geopolitical considerations, the European Union took in some states “in advance”, though they clearly did not match the “Copenhagen criteria”. Those states brought with them anti-Russian agenda, which they actively promote now upon instructions from Washington, even though sometimes it interferes with collective interests of EU states. Let me give you one telling example. Recently, the leaders of Poland called to build a system for defense, security, and peace in Europe that should be directed against Russia. We know that there are sensible opinions in Europe that realize the importance and potential of relations with Russia, but they can hardly be heard today.
After its eastwards expansion in mid 2000s, the EU, despite its prior promises, confronted its new neighbors with a choice: “be our friends or our foes”. This logic laid the groundwork for the new EU policy of Eastern Partnership that replaced the Neighborhood Policy in 2009. It was a Europe-centric model designed to reform political systems of incoming members and make them fit the EU gauge rather than develop equal cooperation. Of course, Russia could not accept this format.
One of the products of this flawed policy was draft EU-Ukraine Association Agreement that acted as a bomb that blew up security and the balance of power on the European continent. Contrary to our four roadmaps, this Agreement in fact demanded Ukraine to sever its ties with Russia and become Europe’s raw exports colony. When Ukraine’s legitimate leadership took a closer look at the proposed conditions and asked for a time-out to figure out whether those proposals reconciled with their national interests, the EU and the US arranged an anti-constitutional coup d’état in Kiev that gave start to a deadly civil war that has lasted for almost 8 years. For all those years and despite its declared values, the EU has been turning a blind eye to crimes of the Kiev regime in Donbas and its violations of the Minsk Agreements, encouraged nationalism and outspoken Nazism in Ukraine. Had it not been so, there would have been no such deep crisis of European security today, the keys to which we are yet to find.
In the current situation around Ukraine, the militarized, aggressive, and Russophobic European Union has manifested itself in all its glory. A peaceful economic union that was first created to prevent another war in Europe has degenerated completely, which is best reflected by the fact that head of the EU diplomacy, our today’s briefer L.Borrell, put a cross on this very diplomacy by calling to “win the war on a battlefield”. Well, we take your advice. The more so as, inspired by its Western sponsors, Kiev refuses to negotiate.
Those were not just words. Brussels has already delivered 2 billion euro-worth of lethal weapons to Ukraine’s armed forces and nationalists via its “European Peace Fund”, which sounds profane per se. Add to this the bilateral arms deliveries by separate EU member states. And the EU continues flooding Ukraine with military-purpose products, ignoring its internal exports control rules that are stipulated in the Common Position of the EU Council “On common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment”.
It came to a point, where European weapons kill civilians in Ukraine today. A recent bombardment of Donetsk that claimed lives of 6 persons including a child, used cluster munitions bearing markers of EU states who previously reported to have destroyed those types of ammo. Since the beginning of an armed conflict in Donbas in 2014, thousands of civilians have died, including over 150 children. Thanks to the “assistance” of European and “civilized” states, as they call themselves, 15-20 lives add to this terrible statistics weekly.
The EU readily picked up Atlantic Russophobic banners and without a second thought again defied all its moral and political beliefs. Now it seeks to deprive non-members of their sovereign right to carry out independent foreign policies, demanding to join anti-Russian sanctions and using the European perspective as an instrument of blackmail.
On the global arena, the EU is just as aggressive and mean. It claims entire regions or even continents to be zones of its exclusive interests. It employs socio-economic blackmail to influence foreign policies of developing states. It sidesteps UN Security Council to impose illegitimate unilateral sanctions, and then makes states that are dependent on the EU market support those sanctions. Macroeconomic mistakes, ill-conceived energy and financial policy of Western states, including steep growth of anti-crisis financial bailouts that curbed inflation, a leap-over to “green energy” instead of a gradual energy transition, speculations at futures markets coupled with sanctions policy by the collective West have provoked current food and energy crisis. But the European Union tries to blame it all on Russia. We are confronted with unsubstantiated accusations about destruction of grain silos and blockage of grain exports. Thereby the EU hypocritically claims that there are no obstacles to exports, while not mentioning the restrictive measures with regard to insurance, financing, and transit that it imposed together with the United States, and while ignoring the fact that Kiev mined coastal waters of the Black Sea.
Following suit of its American big brother, the European Union arrogantly splits all states into democracies and non-democracies. Sometimes it would resort to colonial vocabulary, calling African states Europe’s backyard, and the Balkans – Europe’s inner yard. EU missions in the Balkans and in Africa also get reformed to oppose Russia and its partners. All of this is done for the sake of a “rules-based order” that the West under the lead of the United States is propagating these days.
It is regretful that the European project that previously was perceived as a next stage of evolution of inter-state and public associations and as a high ideal inflicted a devastating blow upon itself and forsake its historical idea. EU failed to develop a positive ideology of its own or to become a freestanding global pole and an alternative project of global governance. Today, it can only be characterized by its primitive Russophobic stance. This degradation was happening right before our eyes, and it has not stopped yet.
Europe that once put forward its own vision of global order and aspired to play a part in the concert of global powers, by now has turned into a docile appendix to the United States and NATO. Citizens of EU states are told that this makes Europe stronger. But this is not so. On the contrary, this policy is turning Europe into a potential arena for confrontation of two super-powers, as was the case at the time of the Cold War. What good does it bring to Europe and its people? Does it strengthen their security?
Over the recent years, Russia has grown accustomed to counting only on itself. Being both a European and an Asian state, we will build relations with states and associations that have a self-reliant stance and do not fear to protect their interests. Unfortunately, EU does not rank among such any longer. Yet we are not indifferent to the future of the European Union. Today’s course of the EU leadership is shortsighted and dangerous, which fact was repeatedly recognized by renowned European politicians, including former Presidents of the European Commission. We see that present-day Europe is severing its ties with Russia for the sake of Atlantic solidarity. By doing so, it basically shoots itself in the leg. But we do hope that this process will not be either irreversible or uncontrolled. Mr.Borrell, as you rightly noted in one of your recent interviews, Russia and the EU will still remain neighbors on the European continent. We do not want our neighbors to have more problems. But if the EU sticks to its current path, where it is turning into a political tool of the United States, we are afraid those problems might expand to affect not only Europeans, but Russians as well. Of course, we would not want this to happen. So we hope that sooner or later the anti-Russian sentiment will abate and that it will happen before the European project collapses completely – for the benefit of American and British interests, no matter how hard they try to prove the opposite.
In light of EU’s explicit enmity to Russia, its lack of independence and its subordination to the US and NATO, we have no other choice but to reconsider our fundamental approaches to furthering relations with this entity. At least, we will have to be very cautious about all projects that should include the European Union, i.a. at the UN platform. Same with regard to EU plans for expansion. In these new circumstances, accession of new members, including Ukraine, to the EU which is unfriendly to Russia no longer meets Russia’s interests.
We cannot fail to note that over the past several years, the European Union in fact has degraded to become NATO’s geopolitical shadow. It has lost both its own vision of global processes and its ability to hold its ground and protect its economic, civilizational, and cultural interests. This is not what the founding fathers envisaged for it, and this is not the same Union that we once negotiated strategic partnership with.
Long time ago, when German leaders did not let anyone call them “offended liver sausage”, Konrad Adenauer said the following prophetic words: “Unless we act, events that we Europeans will be unable to influence, will overtake us. I believe we Europeans feel far too safe. Europe’s political and economic leadership in the world, which was still unchallenged at the beginning of the century, has long since ceased to exist. Will the dominant cultural influence of Europe be maintained? I think no, unless we defend it and adjust ourselves to new conditions; history has shown that civilizations are all too perishable”. It is a pity that subsequent generations of EU leaders did not heed his warning.