Ukraine is “a Test” of the Transatlantic Relationship.

European governments have called for a second Geneva conference to calm the dispute, a step Russia is refusing.

In the Council of Europe´s Committee of Ministers meeting in Vienna on 6th May Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt´s speech underlined gravity of Russia’s violation of core commitment by occupation and annexation of Crimea. Must never be accepted.

“To settle international as well as internal disputes by peaceful means, rejecting resolutely any forms of threats of force against its neighbours.” Clear language.

And: “To settle outstanding international border disputes according to the principles of international law, abiding by the existing international treaties.” No ambiguities there either.

When Russia occupied and annexed Crimea, it violated these clear commitments. It violated one of the very basic principles of the security and stability of our continent.

Mr Bildt also highlighted the CEO report on human rights in Ukraine and called for all COE states to support the holding of the presidential elections in Ukraine on May 25. “Democracy is the solution”, said Foreign Minster Carl Bildt.

When CNN’s National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto asked Senator McCain about the costs the United States and Europe should impose on Russia to make Putin change his calculus, he mentioned that “just the threat of energy independence” of Europe from Russia “can change the balance.” In Senator McCain’s view, “the European are not going to enact meaningful sanctions as long they are reliant on Russian energy.”

From the broader strategic point of view, Ukraine is the main transit country for Russian gas supplies to the European Union. As far as the gas supplies to Europe are concerned, that supply contracts are between European companies and Gazprom.

As supplies to the European Union and supplies to Ukraine are closely related, A letter was sent by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. The European Union remains ready to support facilitating dialogue between Ukraine and Russia.

The European Union has repeatedly stated that EU expect commercial operators on all sides to continue respecting their contractual obligations and commitments.

Disruptions in energy supply can have far-ranging consequences for consumers and businesses, and they are, as such, a very effective political tool. Long-term political and economic stability of Ukraine is therefore a key interest of the European Union.

The January 2009 gas supply cut was among the most severe energy security crises in recent European history. Bulgarian government reported an estimate of the cost of the cut to the Bulgarian economy of 250 million Euro for just 14-day period of the cut., see RIA Novosti (2009).

Thanks to a mild winter and larger gas storage than normal, today Europe is well equipped to withstand disruptions in Russia gas deliveries. Lengthy disruptions would create problems, however, leading to significant price increases for
European energy imports. Russia’s actions in recent years have speeded up efforts to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) spoke as part of the Atlantic Council’s Toward a Europe Whole and Free conference on the US role in European security. Both senators believe that events in Ukraine are vital to the transatlantic relationship, with Senator Murphy calling it “a test” an opportunity for the United States to show that the bond with Europe is not borne of “temporary, strategy interest.”

After the Soviet empire collapsed, the hope was to have a Europe whole and free and for Russia to be a part of it.

So what is required of the United States heretofore in Ukraine?

The “United States has to lead,” said Senator McCain. This conflict tests “the moral suasion of the United States of America.” What happens in Ukraine is being watched “very closely” by China as it decides how to act in Asia.

According to Senator Murphy, “the United States cannot wait” to act in Ukraine and take a leadership role in solving this crisis.

Albright, who led the State Department under former President Bill Clinton, said Congress and US news media share responsibility for Americans’ inattention to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

“I am very troubled” by today’s poll published by the Wall Street Journal, which confirms other surveys showing that “Americans want to worry about themselves … and basically don’t know what our role is” in helping Ukraine and Eastern Europe defend against Russia’s campaign to expand its borders and dominance in the region, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told an audience at the Atlantic Council.

And on television, “there is not enough of an explanation to the American people as to how important it is” to deal firmly with Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.

A Democratic former secretary of state and a Republican former national security advisor agreed today that President Obama, Congress and the US media should focus on explaining to Americans why Russia’s attacks on Ukraine are a critical problem for a United States whose voters are inclined to withdraw from international affairs.

The conference Toward a Europe Whole and Free marked a decade since the broadest expansions of NATO and the European Union in their histories, as Central and Eastern European states became members in the years after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. If Europe is of vital importance to the United States—due toboth strategic interests and a connection in values—then the Ukraine situation “is the time to prove it.”

Following their meeting in Washington, DC, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton stressed the need to bring stability to Ukraine and for all parties to live up to the accord reached in Geneva.


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