By 2016 the eastern neighbourhood of the European Union (EU) has turned into a region of intercultural conflicts, interstate wars and authoritarian experiments betraying the bright hopes for continental cooperation, freedom and peace of the early 1990s.
The annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and the launch of a hybrid war against Ukraine was Russia’s answer to the revolution triggered by Euromaidan. The conflict continues to pose fundamental challenges for the European Union, and raises the question of whether the EU will maintain its commitment to the political and economic consolidation of those of its Eastern neighbours which aim to make sovereign choices based on the rule of law and democracy.
At the beginning of March, international experts discussed at the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung in Berlin Europe’s response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. They all agreed on Europe lacking a long-term strategy.
With Minsk II threatened by its collapse only days after the agreement was reached, stern warnings have been voiced on both sides of the Atlantic in case the U.S. would decide to arm the Ukrainian government. But where do the German and U.S. public stand on this issue?
Are the Western sanctions against Russia working, how long should they remain in force and are there any other means to influence Russia’s politics? What else is it the EU can do to strengthen Ukraine? Is a long-term EU membership for Ukraine feasible and how would Russia react to that? What exactly is the driving force behind Putin’s policy towards Ukraine and how can EU-Russian relations evolve under such hostile circumstances?