The European Commission has recently announced their intent to give €500m worth of weaponry and other aid to the Ukrainian military in response to Russian invasion. This marks the first time the European Union has used their budget for a military operation.
While normally, EU treaties prevent it from using any portion of its budget to finance military or defence spending, an off-budget “European Peace Facility” will be used as the source of the aide, perhaps an ironic action considering its name.
This represents only 10 per cent of the €5 billion allocated to the off-budget, leaving room for increased spending should the situation call for it.
This means that starting now, the EU have chosen a side in the conflict, no longer shying away from Russia’s dominating presence and beginning to push back against its influence. But the question that matters now is what does this mean for the armed conflict in Ukraine and how will Russia react to it?
What follows is my own personal opinion and analysis concerning the events unfolding in the EU and Ukraine.
I struggle to understand the half-measures implemented by the EU. Ukraine has been in an ongoing process to become a European member-state for the better part of this century, yet time after time there have been complications and difficulties that have taken the wind out of this movement. Following the Russian invasion, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reiterated Ukraine’s desire to form part of the EU, officially applying for membership candidacy last month on 28 February.
When I first heard about this, I was positive that the EU would not risk putting themselves between the Russian bear and Ukraine, although I did consider that it might just be enough of a deterrent for Putin to back off lest he risk a war with Europe.
But what boggled my mind was this recent approval of military aide. If we have already supplied weapons to Ukraine, then we have already positioned ourselves on one side of this war, no longer watching from a distance. So, we might as well accept Ukraine’s candidacy and make it official. In the eyes of the Kremlin, we already have.
We might as well send troops along with the guns because this war is now set to make its debut on the EU political stage.
Thousands of refugees are already fleeing to different member states, including Ireland, bringing this conflict closer than it has ever been. It seems to me that this war is increasingly becoming about Russian presence in eastern Europe, poising the two in direct opposition.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has already expressed her support for an accelerated accession process along with eight EU member states, which if granted, would mean that Russia would be occupying a European country and thus mean war.
I’m not here to tell any of you what your opinion should be, but I think you’ll agree that if we are already involving ourselves militarily, and if Russia already sees the EU as a rival to their ambitions, then the most damaging and potentially exploitative punch of Ukraine’s candidacy has already been dealt.