The European Union has moved to grant Ukraine and Moldova candidate status, a historic moment for Ukraine and Russia.
Ukraine’s candidacy as a European Union member state provides a clear path for a peaceful Ukraine as part of the EU. Should an independent Ukraine join the EU, it would definitively end Russia’s sphere of influence in the West, barring Belarus. Without using clandestine or military means, Russia would soon have no way of exerting pressure on Europe and is likely to shift its focus to the Caucasus or Central Asia.
The news comes as Ukraine fights a bloody battle in Luhansk, with Russian forces gradually taking control over Sievierodonetsk. British intelligence and U.S. analysts have begun giving signs that Russia’s war machine may be slowing down and that soon, Russia’s forces would likely cease advancing. With confirmed deliveries of rocket artillery, howitzers, and armored vehicles, Ukraine’s ever-reinforced and modernizing military may be capable of mounting an offensive as promised to liberate occupied territories.
To do so, Ukraine would need to overwhelm Russia’s forces on one particular front: doing so would no doubt be difficult but necessary in creating a larger collapse. But Ukraine’s EU candidacy and the implications of a European Ukraine will likely force Russia to commit to the war further, knowing well that defeat means the end of Russia’s Western ambitions. If Russia were to mobilize its forces from other areas, it would risk sparking new conflicts in the absence of its troops. Already, Israeli-Iranian tensions are flaring as Russia transfers its bases to Iran in Syria, and has been in talks with Azerbaijan, causing worry over the status of Russian peacekeepers in Armenia, meant to stay until 2025.
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