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"Blend of hypocrisy and blackmail" — experts against exaggerating Borrell’s statements

There are no signs of unanimity inside the EU, board chairman of the Foundation of Support and Development of the Valdai discussion club Andrey Bystritsky pointed out
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell Kenzo Tribouillard, Pool Photo via AP
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell
© Kenzo Tribouillard, Pool Photo via AP

MOSCOW, April 11. /TASS/. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s harsher rhetoric over the situation in Ukraine increasingly looks like a "blend of hypocrisy and blackmail," but it might be not quite correct to interpret it as the European countries’ consolidated stance, polled experts told TASS. In their opinion the EU countries are far from unanimity.

The board chairman of the Foundation of Support and Development of the Valdai discussion club, Andrey Bystritsky, remarked that the position of the EU as such "has not always and not in all respects been identical to the positions of individual member states." The hardline approaches made by some EU functionaries do not serve as a clear indicator of European policies, because they "may be fraught with a further escalation of the conflict" with Russia, while a majority of Europeans would like to avoid this march of events.

"I would not overestimate Borrell’s statements, because he does not have an army of his own," Bystritsky said. "The European Union as such is unable to supply weapons. This can be done only by individual countries. Borrell’s rhetoric and wish may not coincide with the wish and rhetoric of the leading European countries."

In the meantime, Bystritsky said, there are no signs of unanimity inside the EU. He stressed that there has been no consolidated decision by the EU member-states to press for handling the conflict in Ukraine from the position of strength and to step up military support for that country. Borrell’s call "may be interpreted as reconnaissance expected to find out what Moscow’s reaction might be."

"It is a blend of threats and blackmail, and also attempts to exert political pressure on the domestic audience," Bystritsky said.

Hypocrisy without consensus

The director of the Russian International Affairs Council, Andrey Kortunov, adheres to a similar viewpoint.

He stressed that in the public space Borrell speaks on behalf of those EU officials who think that "the conflict should end with Russia’s punishment, and that punishment implies defeat on the battlefield." This sort of approach, Kortunov said, "smacks of certain hypocrisy," because it does not envisage the EU’s or NATO’s direct involvement in the conflict, but in fact implies a "fight to the last Ukrainian."

"Even the leadership of Ukraine, as represented by President Vladimir Zelensky, keeps saying that a diplomatic settlement is preferable than victory on the battlefield Borrell has mentioned. The way I see it, this stance is far from being a consensus. It cannot be said that the West and Ukraine want exclusively a resolute military victory over Russia."

Kortunov pointed to the lack of any trends towards unanimity regarding the conditions on which peace might be possible.

"What is the limit of concessions the sides might agree on to achieve a peace settlement? It is important to bear in mind the positions of Russia and Ukraine in the first place," he stressed. "This will determine in what way the conflict will develop and the possible agreements to a far greater extent than statements by third parties not involved in the conflict directly."

Earlier, Borrell confirmed the EU’s intention to press for a solution of the conflict in Ukraine from the position of strength and for expanding military assistance to that country. He expressed his attitude upon arrival in Luxembourg for a meeting of the EU foreign ministers on Monday. Borrell believes that tensions in Donbass will soar within days. At the same time, he said that the Ukrainian capital could be visited without problems.