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UK Lords say Britain, EU misread Ukrainian crisis

February 20, 2015, 10:21 UTC+3 LONDON
When the European politicians launched talks with Kiev on signing the key association deal with Brussels, they actually failed to assess the depth of Russia’s opposition to the plans
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© ITAR-TASS/Maxim Nikitin

LONDON, February 20. /TASS/. In the run-up to the Ukrainian crisis, the United Kingdom and the European Union "catastrophically misread" the situation in the region, the House of Lords EU committee said in its report published on Friday.

The report says when the European politicians launched talks with Kiev on signing the key association deal with Brussels, they actually failed to assess the depth of Russia’s opposition to the plans.

"It (the committee) believes that the EU, and by implication the UK, was guilty of sleep-walking into this crisis," Lord Tugendhat of the Conservative Party, who chairs the committee, said in the report.

"The lack of robust analytical capacity, in both the UK and the EU, effectively led to a catastrophic misreading of the mood in the run-up to the crisis," Tugendhat said.

As a result, Britain's role "has not been as active or as visible as it could have been" in seeking to resolve the conflict.

The political crisis in Ukraine erupted after the country’s President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the association pact with the EU in November 2013, which was an obstacle for Ukraine’s participation in the economic and integration processes that involve Russia.

The authors of the report believe that the misunderstanding of the situation on the post-Soviet space results from the "decline in expertise" on Russia in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and other EU foreign ministries.

Therefore, the UK and other EU countries have failed to formulate an "authoritative response," the report says, recommending that the FCO "should review how its diplomats and other officials can regain this expertise."

"While there has been an increase in staff at the FCO to deal with Ukraine and Russia, we have not seen evidence that this uplift is part of a long-term rebuilding of deep knowledge of the political and local context in Russia and the region," it said.

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