I have no more liking for governments that kill their own voters than most who write about the Ukraine. Nor do I like corrupt governments, or Presidents who imprison their opponents. These ways of behaving are incompatible with a modern democracy.
Equally incompatible with democracy is taking to the streets with Molotov cocktails, pulling up the cobbles and paving stones to throw at the police, or taking over the main buildings of a government in paramilitary uniforms, with weapons in hand. The dreadful scenes from the Ukraine, and the tragic loss of life, shows that country has a long way to go to create a stable democracy.
In a democracy those who disagree with the government campaign noisily but peacefully for change, in the knowledge that a bad government will be thrown out at the next election anyway with a peaceful transition to something new. Opposition enjoys immunity for what it says, short of libel. In a democracy the government moves willingly towards its critics when they have good points to prevent its popularity plunging too far. Both sides accept the rule of law, and the police are neutral. The government does not shoot or imprison political opponents, and political opponents do not take to arms themselves.
So far I trust all are in agreement with me. We then have to ask what is the role of the EU in these fast changing events in the Ukraine? Does it make sense to be on one side and to encourage revolution, when the west if it has an interest should be helping a fractured country build a more stable democracy? Did the negotiations the EU undertook to force change on the government help, when the revolutionaries saw the compromise as a sign of weakness that they need not accept. The EU compromise did not last for a single day.
The events in the Ukraine revealed the weakness of EU intervention, given the fact that the EU was never going to intervene on the ground to reassert law and order and decide who governs. The main issue concerning the EU is how is its intervention perceived by others outside the Ukraine? What will it do to Russia, who has interests in the region? Does it make a split in the Ukraine between the Russian influenced East and the EU influenced west more likely? Isn’t the EU just playing dangerous big power politics over the heads of a troubled country, without the troops and the political will to intervene directly? I hasten to add that the last thing I want is an armed EU that does intervene.
The west generally has to understand that Russia has legitimate interests in the region, as well as being a force to reckon with. Whilst I am no lover of Russian policy here either, I do think the west needs to distinguish between Mr Putin’s legitimate needs and aims, and where he pushes too far in an anti democratic direction.
If the EU were serious about challenging Mr Putin they should first gain energy independence by going for cheap locally produced energy instead of relying on Russian gas. One of the main reasons I want my country to be able to run its own affairs again is I think pushing for energy self sufficiency for the UK is a realistic goal, if only we did not have to follow EU policies. A country or group of countries that is dependent on too much imported energy will always have to compromise in ways it may not like.