The Common Threat? Security of Ukraine and Georgia – Security of Europe

 

The military security of Ukraine and Georgia as well as the influence it may have on the overall security of Europe were among the main issues discused during this particular panel. Although both of these states are not members of neither NATO nor the EU, their internal security situation still has some impact on the political situation Europe-wide. During the discussion, the flowing experts were present: Johannes Kert who is a Member of the National Defence Committee and the Chairman of the Estonia-Ukraine Working Group in the Estonian Parliament; Vytautas Umbrasas who is the Vice-Minister of National Defence of Lithuania; Nino Utiashvilli who is the Head of the Administration Department of the Kakheti Region in Georgia as well as Danylo Lubkivskyi who is a Member of the Board in the ‘Open Europe’ Arseniy Yatseniuk Foundation in Ukraine. The panel was moderated by a Spanish journalist, Pablo Gonzalez.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the beginning of the panel, all participants quickly agreed that both of the discussed states have one important thing in common – an aggressive, expansionist neighbour in the form of the Russian Federation. Out of the two, it was Georgia that has fallen victim to Russian aggression first. Yet it was soon followed  by Ukraine where, just like in the case of Georgia President Vladimir Putin put the blame for the invasion on the attacked nation and its earlier supposed provocative actions. When commenting on the issue of military security of Ukraine and Georgia, Undersecretary Umbrasas highlighted the inadequate support that NATO has offered to Kiev, following the separatist rebellion in Lugansk and Donetsk Oblasts. This ununified and inadequately weak reaction by NATO was likely the cause of further escalation of the Ukrainian conflict since this was viewed by President Putin as the sign of Alliance’s weakness as well as how little Ukraine means to the whole Europe.

 

When speaking about the recent Sea of Azov crisis, Undersecretary Umbrasas pointed out that NATO learnt no lessons from the past, as yet again its reaction to the Russian aggression was inadequate and weak, with minimal NATO presence in the region and no new sanctions being imposed on President Putin.

Unless European states increase their economic and political support to Ukraine and its armed forces it is likely that Russia will be aiming at re-escalating the War in the East to further destabilise Poland’s eastern neighbour.

Ms. Nino Utaishvili – a Georgian from birth decided to address the panel in Ukrainian, showing the great amount of respect that she holds for her Ukrainian counterparts. She was quick to point to the audience that Russian aggression in both Georgia and Ukraine was caused by one, same factor which she referred to as threat of European integration. As Russia is recently attempting to rebuild its long gone military might it has also started again to care for its fragile and weak Eastern-European sphere of influence. As both Ukraine and Georgia is located within that sphere of interest it is clear that Russia will not allow for a too close relation with Europe.

Mr Danylo Lubkivskyi from the ‘Open Europe’ Foundation has spoken plenty of the incorrect assumptions made by the Russian foreign policy decision-makers.

This is important as it was these mistakes that somewhat forced the Russian Federation into attacking Ukraine and Georgia as the last resort option to avoid limiting its eastern sphere of interests. Possibly the most important of those incorrect assumptions made by President Putin was that Ukraine is never going to be willing or be able to integrate with Europe, choosing the EU over Russia. This is why the rapid creation of Ukrainian civil society paired with the overthrowing of pro-Russian President Yanukovych came out as a shock to Russia, forcing it to military intervene in an attempt to reverse the rapid European integration paired with a split from the Russian block.

During his speaking time, Johannes Kert pointed out, that when discussing the faith of states that Russia may want to influence in order to keep them in its sphere of influence, Belarus should not be left out.

Minsk may fall victim to Russian aggression as soon as President Putin feels that Belarus moves too close to NATO and the EU. Although this scenario feels distant it cannot be entirely excluded that in number of years the Belarusian society desires freedom just like Ukrainians and Georgians once did.

Summarising the panel and its findings, it has been jointly agreed that both NATO and the EU should do much more to aid the maintaining of military security in Ukraine and Georgia as well as their attempts to fully integrate with Europe. The lack of such support may quickly lead to the re-escalation of aggressive actions by Russia to re-establish its dominant position in those states.