July 24th, 2014
09:28 PM ET

The EU is the world’s great no-show

By Fareed Zakaria

If Europe was trying to move Ukraine into its camp, it should have been more generous to Kiev and negotiated seriously with Moscow to assuage its concerns. Instead, Europe seemed to act almost unaware of the strategic consequences of its actions. Then when Russia began a campaign to destabilize Ukraine — which persists to this day — Europe remained a step behind, internally conflicted and unwilling to assert itself clearly and quickly. Those same qualities have been on display following the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

The European Union still has a chance to send a much clearer signal to Ukraine, Russia and the world. It could demand that Russia pressure the separatists to cooperate fully with the investigation of Flight 17 and allow the Ukrainian government — which Moscow recognizes — to take control of its own territory in eastern Ukraine. It could put forward a list of specific sanctions that would be implemented were those conditions not met within, say, two weeks.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Ferhat Balkan

    As long as Putin is in power, that's never going to happen Fareed. Russia is aiding and arming the separatists. Putin is behind all this. No pressure from EU or any other country will change Putin's mind. His only ambition is to create a "Novorossiya".

    July 24, 2014 at 9:44 pm |
    • George patton

      Is that right, Ferhat? You seem to forget the the people of eastern Ukraine have spoken.

      July 24, 2014 at 10:05 pm |
    • Regula

      These are complete misconceptions: Ukraine fired around 50 mortars into Russia, as confirmed by OSCE. In the small town of Donetsk (in Russia, different from the Ukraine city) one person was killed and one wounded. In other villages, people had to be evacuated to evade the artillery shells fired into Russian territory by Ukraine. Meanwhile Russia isn't doing any of what the US gov accuses it. This is a very designed smear campaign of Russia to coerce the EU into more severe sanctions which serve only the US but damage the EU. For Ukraine it is a deterrent from the fact that the ruling coalition in the Rada collapsed, that parliament didn't agree with Yatsenyuk's bill for a severe cut in social payments and a decrease in salaries combined with an increase in taxes. As a result, Yatsenyuk resigned – likely to keep himself out of the mess engulfing Ukraine in deeper and deeper problems: Ukraine doesn't have the money to pay its soldiers; it can't buy rifles for its army. To date it lost some 12 plus planes which were shot down by the rebels with shoulder fired air defense. The US has to date not delivered a shred of proof for its accusations. The only proof of what went on with MH17 comes from Russia. Their surveillance and radar images show that the Ukraine army moved a Buk battery close to the territory of the rebels which it removed again on the next day. The Russians have all these surveillance images. They also checked on the video purporting to show the rebels moving a Buk battery into Russia – except that it turned out that the video was shot in a city held by Kiev, the proof for it right on a billboard in the video! Other images show a Buk missile batty clearly owned by Kiev, not the rebels. Which lead to the conclusion that the Ukraine army downed the civil plane – on behalf of the US, to horrify the EU into more biting sanctions. A way worse atrocity than the rebels mistaking a civil plane for a cargo plane. Time to go read better info.

      July 26, 2014 at 5:04 am |
      • Russian Trolls Eliminator

        You are a Russian Troll which talks like a well oiled Soviet propaganda machine .... "not a shred of proof that Russia is involved" ....

        Same as "green man" in Crimea armed to their teeth without any military insignia which turned out later to be Russian troops...

        You Russian sobakas have no honour and your great achievement is shooting down a civilian plane .....

        Putin is a serial killer, that's all.

        Russia is no longer an empire, so wake up and face the truth!

        July 26, 2014 at 6:27 am |
  2. George patton

    Fareed Zakaria has it wrong as usual. He just proved just how much he opposes self-determination. On May 11, last, the people in eastern Ukraine had a plebiscite and the majority chose to break away.

    July 24, 2014 at 9:46 pm |
  3. ✠RZ✠

    There is no chance for a satisfactory solution. One can only hope and pray for an end to the violence and blood shed.

    July 24, 2014 at 10:03 pm |
  4. chri§§y

    Agreed @ Ferhat and yea so what @ George Patton...you seem to have forgotten the people of Eastern Ukraine are really Russians that Putin implanted in Ukraine AND they are NOT the only people in Ukraine!!!!

    July 24, 2014 at 10:23 pm |
    • Regula

      Putin didn't implant any Russians in eastern Ukraine. The Russian and ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine all have Ukrainian passports. They moved there during the Soviet Union, when Ukraine was part of the Soviet federation. Eastern Ukraine has the only industry in Ukraine, which depends for its existence on trade with Russia. EU association forces Russia to reintroduce tariffs to protect their own economy from being flooded with tariff free EU goods, while Russian companies have to pay tariff on those goods, which they import from the EU. Nor do the Russian speaking regions of Ukraine want to enter NATO, a defense pact created to fight the Soviet Union, now a proxy force for the US wars against Russia and in time China, the Middle East and Africa. For all of these reasons, the eastern Ukraine was against the coup installed Kiev government and Poroshenko, who ran on EU association, which he meanwhile signed. That was the cause for the referendum in which some 90% of the people voted for autonomy – i.e a federalized Ukraine or if not available, an independent state. For them, their livelihood is at stake. Surely, if you were to lose your livelihood because the US signs a FTA, you might also go fight for independence. Now Kiev is collapsing. The Rada (parliament) refused to accept Yatsenyuk's proposed social cuts, cuts in salaries and increase in taxes. With the result that the ruling coalition is now collapsing and Yatsenyuk resigned. Ukraine doesn't have the money to pay for the war, pay the soldiers, pay pensions or anything anymore. It is on the verge of default. No wonder that they accuse the Russians of being the cause of their evil – the Russians didn't give them the bailout money and they can't make it with IMF loans alone, because those are only for economic purposes, not to fight war. The US doesn't have a shred of proof of its false allegations. It is all pure propaganda to deter attention from the fact that Kiev can't make it under the US "reforms".

      July 26, 2014 at 5:16 am |
  5. chri§§y

    And the "majority" were coerced dont you mean @ George? It wasnt that long ago, im sure most people remember how that vote took place. Many people werent allowed to vote because the seperatists blocked many voting stations, or have you forgotten?

    July 24, 2014 at 10:30 pm |
  6. svpyadav

    Respected Fareed Zakaria Garu, E U depend on Dictator { U S} Ukraine Govt. will support to E U or not i do not know but Russia having support 100% from Ukraine Public. So now U S making self defence in front of World Community with E U. This is the waste of time to spend againest Russia.


    July 25, 2014 at 1:55 am |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    Is is that the EU is not showing up, or that it is not following the USA without asking questions?
    When European countries look for protection and leadership, they need economic power to trust, not just military power.
    Training a good Doberman is a fine educational opportunity in leadership.

    July 25, 2014 at 8:36 am |
  8. palintwit

    This looks like another job for "SUPER PALIN" ! Is there no limit to her talents?

    July 25, 2014 at 8:43 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      Yes, @ palintwit, Former Governor Palin can do many jobs, as long as she wears those glasses and does not attempt to play the Poulenc flute sonata.

      July 25, 2014 at 9:11 am |
  9. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    In the photograph of the previous thread, Putin displays his understanding of the statement of a suit, shirt, and tie.

    July 25, 2014 at 8:57 am |
  10. chri§§y

    Lol @ Joey! Remember now, she can "see Russia from her house"! Maybe she could shed some light on who shot down that plane eh? Lol

    July 25, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
  11. chri§§y

    Well it appears today, that Europe is no longer a no~show. They are imposing sanctions of their own on Russians and Russian businesses!

    July 25, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
  12. Allan Kinsman©

    I 've been looking around at the opinions of the Ukraine crisis. As sad as aggression in a modern world from whomever is the aggressor what is truly chilling is a dominate opinion for violence to "solve" a crisis. When in the history of the world large and small examples have proven the opposite. Violence in our country is called battery and worse. Countries seem to think politics is a good reason to advance their ideologies through it. Perhaps somtime hopefully in a not to distant future these examples will act as a guide to a better future by a different means by a considerable more rational society in search of balance and a commitment to a real future.

    July 25, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
  13. j. von hettlingen

    "The EU is the world’s great no-show" – really? But what can European leaders do? They can condemn the Kremlin's actions. Yet Russia is an extremely important trading partner and supplies a third of their gas consumption. It's not fair to see it "as European cowardice and appeasement". Back in 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia, the Bush administration did nothing to stop it, because the Global Financial Crisis emerged and the US was preoccupied with Lehman Brothers, the housing bubble etc.
    Europeans know they will have to "gain greater energy independence from Russian oil and gas". Yet it takes time to replace those supplies and they have to look at other alternatives. If less gas from Russia were bought, it would surely inflict harm on its economy, which deeply relies on natural resources. On the other hand Europeans would feel the pain, should Moscow might retaliate against sanctions by restricting their energy supplies.
    European sanctions so far have been measured, largely targeting individuals with asset freezes and visa bans, that affect powerful individuals in Putin's entourage. They have proven ineffective, as the Russian rubel and stock market remain unchanged. Apart from massive capital flight, it sees slower growth, but that has been predicted. Some believe economic sanctions would be difficult to implement because of Russia's long borders, which are too porous to block imports.
    Amid anger many German lawmakers have urged that FIFA, football's world governing body should strip Russia of hosting the 2018 World Cup. They argued it would not be "appropriate" for Moscow to host the tournament if it could not guarantee air safety, after the downing of the passenger plane MH 17 over Eastern Ukraine. They also said World Cup in Russia would be "unimaginable" if Putin did not fully cooperate with the international community and allow forensic experts and disaster service workers access to the site, to conduct an investigation and establish the cause of the crash. Critics have been putting the blame on the Russian government for not doing enough to pressure separatists who control the area. But the German government has rejected calls from the lawmakers to appeal to FIFA.
    Half-heartedly European leaders have agreed to tougher sanctions against Russia, saying it would give more details by the end of July. It plans to ask its investment bank, the EIB not to fund Russian projects. The new round of US sanctions announced by the US treasury significantly expands previous penalties by Washington, which were limited to individuals in Russia and Ukraine and a number of companies. It remains to be seen, whether they will be more effective. Putin was quoted as saying sanctions would take US-Russia relations to a "dead end".

    July 25, 2014 at 4:38 pm |
  14. chri§§y

    AMEN @ Allan Kinsman! Aggression causes way more problems and usually solves nothing!

    July 25, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      It seems that someone forgot to tell that to the right-wing politicians in Washington, chrissy,

      July 25, 2014 at 7:00 pm |
      • Gitfiddle_pikker

        Right wing politicians in Washington? Are you kidding. There is nothing to the right of Walden II in Washington. There isn't a conservative left on either coast. The right wing only exists in dscussions. Now it is simply lef wing faction versus left wing faction.

        July 26, 2014 at 9:33 am |
  15. chri§§y

    Lol @ Joseph, im sure they've been told...they just have tunnel vision! Meaning they can only see their bank accounts!!!

    July 25, 2014 at 7:57 pm |
  16. D Bigeat

    What a lot of rubbish. This war is about gas and money

    July 26, 2014 at 1:59 am |
  17. Jon Allan Homan

    Fareed is right in his assessment of the EU/Ukraine affair and the responses so far. The EU is a dysfunctional set up engineered by French/German ideals and interests and administered by petty bureaucrats . It will never succeed as as an United States of Europe because the cultures of the 28 current members are too historic and diverse.
    Britain`s greatest mistake of the 20th Century was to fall under the illusion of a so called "single market" place and surrender its sovereign power to its oldest enemies....... The English want out out out out.

    July 26, 2014 at 2:53 am |
    • Gitfiddle_pikker

      Well it is true that the EU is not a union. England gave more than it got from it (and ought to want out). France just wants to take (and dominate). E. Europe is not aligned to W. Europe in any way. Why should any EU country risk ANYTHING for a Crimean outback. What army is going to fight Russia in it's back yard? None. Obama is all talk .. no action and EU knows that. Portugal and Spain have no stake in Crimea nor Italy and Greece is flat broke (PIIGS) Europe cannot agree on the price of eggs. Putin knows this SO he knows nobody is going to give him any trouble (and that is why he is doing it).

      July 26, 2014 at 9:41 am |
  18. chri§§y

    Lol @ D Bigeat...ALL wars are about money!

    July 26, 2014 at 2:53 am |
  19. chri§§y

    Ty @ Eliminator and i agree...serial killer is exactly right!

    July 26, 2014 at 8:01 am |
  20. Les

    What a crock

    Absolute rubbish.

    The Europeans are a lot smarter than this guy and all his war mongering mates

    July 26, 2014 at 8:27 am |
  21. Gitfiddle_pikker

    The EU is not a union. They do not think that way in Europe. They could not muster much an effort in Yugoslavia-Bosnia-Slovenia and they would never oppose Russia in the eastern Europe. 90% of the EU is broke (a chronic condition ..they rely on U.S. money to survive) They are socialist to the core. They cannot defend themselves, they cannot decide anything, they speak for nobody AND everybody knows it. Europeans do not really care what happens ten feet from wherever they are standing. They will not DO anything that requires time or money. They do not feel the OWE anything to anyone., They are not Americans and they do not like Americans. They actively seek ONLY to live without being molested, sick or hungry.

    July 26, 2014 at 9:25 am |
  22. chri§§y

    @ Gtfiddle...are you always a negative nancy?

    July 26, 2014 at 11:08 am |
  23. chri§§y

    @ Gtfiddle...you are so wrong about Obama being "all talk and no action". If that were true the Republicans wouldnt be trying to sue him!

    July 26, 2014 at 11:43 pm |

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