Why has Russia changed its position on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union

Moscow has changed its position on Kiev’s accession to the European Union. Experts interviewed by RBC note that it is too early to talk about Ukraine’s real accession to the EU, but Moscow already refuses to see the nuances in Western policy

Why has Russia changed its position on Ukraine's accession to the European Union

What was said in Russia about Ukraine’s accession to the EU

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday questioned the harmlessness of Ukraine’s accession to the European Union. “This is the problem of Kiev’s relations with the European Union. But the innocuousness of such a desire of Kiev raises serious doubts,” he said on Friday in Dushanbe. He added that the EU has turned from a “constructive economic platform, as which it was created, into an aggressive, militant player, which already declares its ambitions far beyond the European continent.”

A day earlier, Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyansky said that Moscow’s position on Kiev’s accession to the European Union has changed and has become similar to the position on Ukraine’s accession to NATO. “I think at that time (during the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations in Istanbul. —RBC) we were not very worried about the European Union. But the situation changed after Mr. Borrel’s statement that “this war must be won on the battlefield”. And after the fact that the EU is a leader in arms supplies, Polyansky said in an interview with the British online publication UnHerd News. In March, the press secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov commented on Kiev’s stated desire to obtain EU membership more calmly and did not link this issue with the NATO issue. “The European Union is not a military-political bloc,” the Kremlin representative pointed out at the time.

Ukraine’s membership in the EU was discussed at the talks in Istanbul and in the provisions drawn up by the Ukrainian side, Moscow was asked not to object to Ukraine’s desire to join the EU. However, since then the negotiation process has practically stopped. On May 11, Peskov, commenting on the course of negotiations with the Ukrainian side, said that they were continuing “very sluggishly and ineffectively”.

What are the prospects for Ukraine’s accession to the EU

On February 28, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky signed an application for the country’s accession to the European Union, after which the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen handed him a questionnaire to start negotiations on this issue. On May 11, the European Commission confirmed that it had received answers to the questionnaire from Kiev. EC official representative Eric Mamer said during a briefing that the European Commission intends to submit its conclusion based on the responses of the Ukrainian side as soon as possible. According to him, this should happen in June.

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The next day, a representative of the French Foreign Ministry clarified that Ukraine’s application would be discussed by EU leaders in June. “Ukraine’s application to join the EU, which is currently being considered by the European Commission, will be discussed at the level of heads of state and government in the European Council in June,” he said during a briefing.

In turn, French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking in Strasbourg, said that the process of Ukraine’s accession to the EU could take years or even decades. “Even if we granted her the status of a candidate country tomorrow,”I hope that we will make rapid progress in granting it, “even if we doof course, we all know all too well that the accession process will take several years, in truth, it will probably take several decades. And it’s true if we don’t decide to lower the standards of accession and rethink the unity of our Europe, as well as partially the principles we adhere to,” he said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said that if Ukraine does not receive the status of a candidate country for EU membership, it will mean that it has been deceived. “We are not going to tolerate this,” Kuleba said in an interview with the Financial Times.

Why has Russia changed its position

So far, it is impossible to say for sure whether there have really been fundamental changes in the Russian position on Ukraine’s accession to the EU, since different points of view have been expressed regarding the interaction between Kiev and Brussels, the Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (INF) believes Andrey Kortunov. “AnywayThis question is a bit theological in nature, since at the moment we are not talking about Ukraine’s entry into the European Union in full format. We can only talk about including it among the candidate countries for entry. We must proceed from the fact that this issue cannot yet be raised in a practical plane,” he concluded.

Over the past two months, it has become clear that Russia and the EU are actually in a state of indirect war, since European countries are almost in full force providing active military assistance to Ukraine, editor-in-chief of the magazine “Russia in Global Politics” Fyodor Lukyanov told RBC. “European countries talk a lot about this. It was in Europe that the point of view was first voiced that Russia should be defeated on the battlefield. Accordingly, in Russia they decided not to do any morethe difference between NATO and the European Union, and the attitude towards Ukraine’s integration into any European and Euro-Atlantic structures is negative,” he said. According to Lukyanov, this has little effect on anything. “If the European Union decides to accept Ukraine in some distant future, then it will accept it. Russia clearly shows that it is no longer going to distinguish any nuances in Western politics,” he concluded.

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