Why Russia changed its position on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union

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Moscow has changed its position on Kyiv's accession to the European Union. Experts interviewed by RBC note that it is too early to talk about the real accession of Ukraine to the EU, but Moscow already refuses to see the nuances in Western policy

What was said in Russia about Ukraine's accession to the EU

Chapter Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov on Friday questioned the harmlessness of Ukraine's entry into the European Union. “This is the problem of Kyiv's relations with the European Union. But the harmlessness of such a desire of Kyiv raises serious doubts, & mdash; he said Friday in Dushanbe. He added that the EU has gone from “a constructive economic platform it was created to serve as an aggressive, militant player that is already declaring its ambitions far beyond the European continent.”

A day earlier, Russian Deputy Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyansky said that Moscow's position on the issue of Kyiv's entry into the European Union had changed and became similar to the position on Ukraine's entry into NATO. “I think at that time (during Russian-Ukrainian talks in Istanbul. — RBC) we were not very worried about the European Union. But the situation changed after M. Borrell's statement that “this war must be won on the battlefield.” And after the fact that the EU is the leader in the supply of arms,— Polyansky said in an interview with the British online publication UnHerd News. In March, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented on Kyiv's stated desire to gain EU membership more calmly and did not link the issue to the NATO issue. «European Union— not a military-political bloc,»— pointed out then the representative of the Kremlin.

Ukraine's membership in the EU was discussed at the talks in Istanbul, and in the provisions drawn up by the Ukrainian side, Moscow was asked not to object to Ukraine's aspirations to join the EU. Since then, however, the negotiation process has practically ceased. On May 11, Peskov, commenting on the course of negotiations with the Ukrainian side, said that they were continuing “very sluggishly and ineffectively.”

What are the prospects for Ukraine's entry into the EU

On February 28, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky signed an application for the country's accession to the European Union, after which the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, handed him a questionnaire to start negotiations on this issue. On May 11, the European Commission confirmed that it had received answers to the questionnaire from Kyiv. The official representative of the EC, Eric Mamer, during the briefing, said that the European Commission intends to present its opinion as soon as possible, based on the answers of the Ukrainian side. According to him, this should happen in June.

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In turn, French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking in Strasbourg, said that the process of Ukraine's accession to the EU could take years or even decades. “Even if we grant it the status of a candidate country tomorrow— I hope we move quickly to provide it, — even if we did, we all know only too well that the accession process will take several years, in truth, it will probably take several decades. And it's true, unless we decide to lower our accession standards and rethink the unity of our Europe, and in part the principles that we adhere to, — he said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said that if Ukraine does not receive the status of an EU candidate country, this will mean that it has been deceived. “We're not going to put up with this,” — Kuleba said in an interview with the Financial Times.

Why Russia has changed its position

So far, it is impossible to say for sure whether there have really been fundamental changes in the Russian position on Ukraine's accession to the EU, since different points of view have been expressed regarding the interaction between Kyiv and Brussels, Andrey Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), believes. “In any case, this question is a bit theological, since at the moment we are not talking about Ukraine's entry into the European Union in full. We can only talk about including it in the number of candidate countries for entry. We must proceed from the fact that this question cannot yet be put on a practical plane,»,— he concluded.

Over the past two months, it has become clear that Russia and the EU are actually in a state of indirect war, since almost all European countries provide active military assistance to Ukraine, the editor-in-chief of the Russia in Global Affairs magazine told RBC. Fedor Lukyanov. “European countries talk a lot about it. It was in Europe that the point of view was first voiced that Russia should be defeated on the battlefield. Accordingly, Russia decided to no longer make a difference between NATO and the European Union, and the attitude towards Ukraine's integration into any European and Euro-Atlantic structures is negative, — he said. According to Lukyanov, this has little effect on anything. “If the European Union decides to accept Ukraine in some distant future, then it will accept it. Russia clearly shows that it is no longer going to distinguish any nuances in Western politics, — he concluded.

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