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EPP Group Position Paper on Ukraine
Russia’s war against Ukraine has lasted for more than half a year. Despite all the Kremlin’s efforts to win, Ukrainians, with assistance from the West, are showing not only unique bravery and amazing military skills, but are also shattering the global perception of the so-called “Russia’s military power”, which was created by Russian propaganda before the war.
Ukrainian success was achieved also because the West managed to mobilise its efforts in assistance to Ukraine. Humanitarian, military and financial aid was delivered to Ukraine; sanctions on Russia were introduced by synchronous decisions of the West at the very beginning of the war, oriented to the specific needs of that momentum.
For the time being, Russia is facing new military defeats in Ukraine, one after another. That makes Kremlin authorities respond desperately with new shameful initiatives: fake “referendums” in four regions of Ukraine and an absolutely non-legal declaration from the Kremlin annexing those regions; mass military mobilisation in Russia resulting in hundreds of thousands of men fleeing from Russia to avoid the risk of mobilisation; Russian missile attacks against Ukrainian civilian energy infrastructure; the Kremlin‘s open threats to use tactical nuclear strikes against Ukraine and a plea to negotiate for peace, but on Russian conditions.
Ukraine demonstrates that it is not afraid of any of those desperate initiatives of the Kremlin. Ukraine continues to strengthen its positions on the battlefield and in the international geopolitical arena: recently, it asked for NATO membership to be granted to Ukraine without any delays and without any intermediate stages.
Despite recent shining military victories of Ukrainians in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions, and the hopes that the war will end very soon, it is still possible that the war may continue for a longer time, well into 2023 and possibly beyond.
There is a common view both in Ukraine and in the West (including the EU) that the war will continue until Ukraine wins this war and the Russian military is defeated. Ukraine has the absolute right to decide when and how to declare victory and what will be the conditions for Russia’s capitulation and peace agreement. That is why it is clear that when the war will end depends only on the Western military (weapons deliveries) and financial support to Ukraine. However, for the EU to deliver what is needed, we, as members of the EU, need to understand that this is also “our” war - because only if we start to consider that this is also “our” war will we start to mobilise our resources up to the level that is required to achieve “our” victory in “our” war.
It is very clear that it is the proper time for the EU to move from ad-hoc decisions oriented to the specific needs of the moment, as we witnessed at the very beginning of the war. We need to move towards long-term systemic and strategic policies and decisions. They must be twofold. On the one hand, long-term policies have to take into account the needs of Ukraine in its defence and in its recovery. However, just as importantly, they have to be oriented towards defining future policies aimed at making the EU geopolitically stronger after this geopolitical crisis: what kind of reforms will we need to make in the EU Institutions - and in our policy towards the EU neighbourhood in the East, including Russia itself?
The EPP, as a party of fundamental European values, needs to take up a leadership role in EU policy debates at this crucial moment. Now, there is a possibility to bring deep, tectonic changes to future strategic developments of the whole European continent, including the EU itself and also its Eastern neighbourhood.
This Position Paper is prepared as a continuation of the EPP “La Hulpe” Policy Paper, which was approved at the initial stage of the war. It helped the EPP to have clear policy lines on the most important “war” issues at that moment, and it allowed us to take political leadership in adopting the needed EU decisions at that period of time.
This paper is an attempt to switch from momentous reactions and measures to a more systemic approach to policy and decisions. Such strategic decisions are needed both for “our” victory in the war as well as for necessary future transformations, both inside the EU and in the Eastern part of the European continent.
This paper concentrates on three major goals, which the EU needs to achieve both during this war and after the war:
1. END OF THE WAR AND WEAPONS DELIVERY
The end of the war and Ukraine’s victory will depend on three major factors:
The EU has a possibility to influence those factors to a different degree:
Factor a (political and moral will of the Ukrainians) depends mainly on Ukrainians themselves. They continue to keep high morale and political mobilisation of their society to win the war. The EU can help to keep the Ukrainian morale on a high level by demonstrating continued solidarity, not only in military issues, but also by providing humanitarian assistance, taking care of millions of IDP’s; helping Ukrainian local authorities to repair social and energy infrastructure in time for winter; etc.
Factor c (collapse of Russia) can become a reality if the West stops sending the wrong signals to Putin. We should stop giving reason to expect that somebody from the West will take care of Putin’s “face saving” in case Ukraine manages to continue defeating Russian military forces in such an effective way as they did in the Kharkiv region, near Izium city or in the Kherson region. In addition to that, we need to keep in mind that as time goes Western (including EU) sanctions will have an increasingly significant impact on the Russian economy and its capability to produce new weapons.
It is clear, that factor b (weapons delivery) is the most important and crucial to ending the war in the nearest future. Ukrainians have shown that they can defeat Putin’s army; that the Russian army has no capability to withstand Ukrainian national will and Western military technology. Everything about the end of the war depends only on Western political will to provide Ukraine with weapons of the quality and quantity that the Ukrainians need. This is the only variable among the three factors (Ukrainian political will, Western military support, Russia’s military weakness) that directly depends on Western political will. It is the scale of Western military support that has the decisive influence on when Ukraine will achieve the military victory and end the war. Our decisions on weapons deliveries will determine when the torture and killing of innocent Ukrainian people and children will be put to an end.
Currently, weapons delivery to Ukraine rests primarily on the US and Great Britain’s capabilities. The EU needs to recognise that its assistance in this area is considerably lower. The EU needs to move from just asking its Member States to deliver what they can find in their storehouses or military depots towards creating a new systemic approach. Three policy instruments need to be effectively interconnected: 1. EU finances (on the scale needed for larger production and increased delivery of weapons); 2. Increase of weapon production by EU military industries; and 3. Real Ukrainian needs modern weaponry to achieve victory.
For that reason, the EU needs to assess clearly how big the Ukrainian military needs for 2023 will be in financial terms. Moreover, we need to cover those needs on a par with the US (which in 2022 allocated €50 bln for Ukraine’s military needs (€25 bln only for weapons deliveries). Great Britain alone allocated €4 bln for weapons, while the EU only managed to scramble only €5.6 bln for weapons (€2.5 bln through the European Peace Facility and additional €3.1 bln through the deliveries of individual Member States).
Sanctions on Russia are playing an important role in weakening Russia’s military potential. That is particularly the case with sanctions prohibiting Russia from accessing Western modern high-tech products and those excluding Russia from global markets. The West needs to repeat constantly that these sanctions will remain until the last Russian soldier leaves the occupied territories of Ukraine and until Russia agrees to pay reparations to cover all the damages that Ukraine suffered. That will send a signal to the political and business elite around Putin that there is no possibility to come back to “business as usual” with the West as long as Putin’s policy continues to be implemented.
2. FINANCING THE WAR OF DEFENCE
It is obvious, that to win the war against the Russian aggressor, both Ukrainian and “our” efforts need proper financing. Nobody can win a war if the “war finances” are not settled in a systemic way.
The “war finances for Ukraine” cover three topics within the scope of this paper: a) systemic financing of weapons deliveries; b) systemic financing of the Ukrainian state during the war; c) systemic financing of Ukraine’s reconstruction, short-term and long term.
The financial needs of Ukraine that we need to take into account in 2023 and beyond include:
a) Finances for weapons delivery. Experts estimate that with each day of intensive battles, Ukraine loses or spends military equipment worth €400 mln. It means that just to recuperate its military strength in 2023, Ukraine will need new military equipment worth around €100-140 bln. If the EU were ready to take half of that responsibility, it would cost the EU around €50-70 bln over the course of 2023 (very similar to what the US did over the year 2022).
b) Supporting the functioning of the state of Ukraine. For a proper financing of its key state functions (schools, hospitals, etc., excluding military spending), in 2022 the Ukrainian state needed around €5-7 bln in external financial support each month (IMF evaluation). In 2023, it will need around €3 bln each month. It means that throughout 2023, Ukraine will need to get around €36 bln in external financial assistance just to keep the state running (the EU needs to provide half of that - €18 bln during 2023). During 2022, the EU agreed to provide external macro-financial assistance to Ukraine amounting to €9 bln. However, each tranche came as an ad-hoc EU Council decision, accompanied by long, painful, and not very fruitful EU internal discussions (and it looks like that €3 bln (out of the promised €9 bln)) will not be delivered at all during 2022). The perspectives of how Ukraine will get such financial assistance from the EU and G7 over the course of the next year need to be absolutely clear. On 9 November 2022, the Commission adopted a package for financial support to Ukraine in 2023. This package, adopted by the urgent procedure by the Parliament on 24 November 2022, contains the Macro-Financial Assistance+ to provide EUR 18 bln in financial relief to Ukraine in 2023. Hopefully, such a decision will be unanimously supported by the EU Council, and the rest of the needed finances will be provided by G7.
c) Ukraine’s reconstruction after the war. The so-called “Marshall Plan for Ukraine” is receiving growing international attention. Various international conferences are organised and will be organised on this issue. For the time being, many issues still need to be agreed upon: who will own the whole project, and who will lead it? How the whole project will be managed? How to synchronise the entire reconstruction project with Ukraine’s integration into the EU? How to start the reconstruction and repair of the most important infrastructure already before this winter? How to evaluate the real long term reconstruction needs in financial terms? Finally, the most important question: where will the money come from? Which kind of financial instruments will be used? Currently, various experts estimate that the cost of reconstruction will fall between €350 bln (EU experts) and €750 bln (Ukrainian experts).
It is very clear that Ukraine will not be able to win the war, finance the state during the war, and finance the reconstruction after the war without proper financial assistance from the West.
Therefore, there is an obligation of the EU and other partners in the democratic world (G7 etc.) to come up with a clear and systematic plan on how to meet those financial challenges. For a systematic approach, we need to start with a systematic assessment of the “war finances for Ukraine” in 2023 and beyond. As this overview has shown, it will require no less than €500-600 bln for 2023 and consecutive years, with an approximate forecast that the EU will need to take at least half of that financial challenge. Part of it can be covered by seizing the sanctioned assets of Russia’s Central Bank and Russian oligarchs, but it will take quite a long time to finalise all the needed legal procedures. The need for a large share of finances, however, is immediate.
Putin’s multi-front war has raised additional financial challenges for the EU. Not only has Putin waged military aggression against Ukraine, he has also started “the energy war” against the entire EU. Accordingly, in addition to the need to manage “the war finances for Ukraine”, we will need further financial resources to meet the challenges of this “energy war”.
The entire European continent is being hit by an unprecedented geopolitical crisis, with the Kremlin’s military war in Ukraine and Kremlin’s “energy war” against the EU. This war will cost the tragedy of lost human lives, much larger military spending, a destroyed social infrastructure in Ukraine, and a recession in European economies. In order to overcome those challenges, the EU will need to mobilise new and existing substantial financial resources, just as it did during the pandemic crisis. During the pandemic, the EU chose to mobilise various instruments and flexibilities of the EU budget and created new ones as well, such as SURE or “Next Generation EU”. This was very helpful in overcoming the crisis of the pandemic.
It is clear that given the limitations of the current MFF during this geopolitical crisis, the EU and its Member States will need to allocate new large-scale additional financial resources. In its Communication on Ukraine Relief And Reconstruction (2022.05.18) the European Commission speaks about the ‘RebuildUkraine’ Facility, as a potential new EU-funded instrument specifically dedicated to finance the reconstruction effort and the alignment of Ukraine’s economy to the EU and notes that “given the scale of the loans that are likely to be required, options include raising the funds for the loans on behalf of the EU or with Member States’ national guarantees.” Any future EU’s contribution to the reconstruction of Ukraine has to be complemented and combined with available flexibilities and resources in the EU budget and the mid-term revision of the current MFF.
In addition to that, the EU has to come up with necessary legal and budgetary instruments to use the frozen assets of the Russian Central Bank (in particular gold) to finance the relief and reconstruction efforts. If transferred to a Ukrainian recovery facility set jointly by the EU, international donors and Ukraine, those assets could have a significant impact for the Ukrainian recovery program.
3. EU (and NATO) MEMBERSHIP PERSPECTIVE
Russia’s war against Ukraine and the military victories of Ukraine’s Armed Forces are changing the geopolitical strategy of the EU. After the recent State of the Union address by Ursula von der Leyen (2022.09.14) and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s “Europe is our future” speech at Karl University in Prague (22.08.29), it has become clear that Ukraine (together with Moldova, Georgia and Western Balkan countries) could become EU members in the course of this decade.
In order to achieve this, there is a need for ambitious integration agenda from both sides, the EU and the candidate countries.
The EPP’s policy for enlargement towards Ukraine should concentrate on the following points:
NATO and Ukraine
Ukrainian soldiers and political leaders until now have shown exceptional bravery and military capabilities. They have put Ukraine into the position of military leadership among the democracies on the European continent. It is also clear that Ukrainian military potential and capabilities would strengthen NATO military power on the European continent if Ukraine would join NATO.
Until now, the Kremlin’s aggressive opposition was the main obstacle to NATO’s expansion toward Russia’s borders. Russia’s logic to oppose NATO enlargement is no longer valid since Sweden and Finland joined the block. Additionally, Ukraine’s victory in the war against Russian aggression will render the Kremlin’s arguments completely irrelevant. By achieving its military victory, Ukraine will win the right to choose its security arrangements freely. The West should respect Ukraine’s choices because earlier the West was not listening to Ukraine’s requests for Western guarantees of its security - and that was the reason why Ukraine faced the Russian aggression.
The West might not make any formal decisions regarding Ukraine’s security guarantees nor its NATO membership until the war ends, but the EPP should prepare itself to take political leadership in these very important geopolitical discussions and should be ready to stand together with Ukraine in defence of its - and European - vital interests to guarantee Ukraine’s security in the future.
The NATO Summit, which will take place in Vilnius next year, will be a good opportunity for all EU Member States to commend Ukraine’s Armed Forces as effectively the strongest army in Europe and to praise Ukraine’s readiness to continue defending European values after this war ends. It will also be a good opportunity to discuss new security guarantees for Ukraine (including the perspective of its NATO Membership).
4. LONG-TERM PEACE IN EUROPE - NO BUSINESS AS USUAL WITH PUTIN
(long-term EU strategy towards Russia and Belarus):
The recent NATO Summit in Madrid adopted a very clear declaration that the authoritarian Russia of today is the biggest threat to security and peace on the European continent. A simple conclusion can be drawn from that declaration: Europe would become much more secure and peaceful if Russia would transform itself back to more democratic and more European-type development.
There are many different factors as to whether Russia can become democratic in the near future, but the most important of them is Ukraine’s military victory against the Russian invasion. It will open a door of opportunities for Russia’s transformation. That is why we need to see Ukraine’s war against Russia’s invasion as having much broader meaning - this is the war that can bring also positive transformations in Russia, and can bring much more security to the European continent. This is also an additional reason why we need to consider this war as “our” war.
Another important factor for the prospects of a democratic Russia is a clear understanding in the Western capitals that Russia can become a democracy. Moreover, it is also crucial that the West has a strong political will to not return to the “business as usual” approach with Putin, even if he manages to stay in power for some time after Russia’s defeat in the war. The Western tradition of “business as usual” with Putin (regardless of his criminal track record) is what tempted Putin to become increasingly aggressive and in the end created conditions for the Kremlin regime to become a new fascist regime.
That is why a clear political will of the Western community to bring international justice for Russia’s war crimes is so important. The EU has to take leadership in bringing forward the fight against the impunity of Russian aggression and propose to establish a special International Tribunal to hold Russia accountable for the crime of aggression against Ukraine. Such a Special Tribunal on the Crime of Aggression will immediately bring to international legal accountability the highest authorities of Russia, including Putin himself. For this reason, the Special International Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression is different from the ICC tribunal, which started to investigate war crimes perpetrated by ordinary Russian soldiers in Bucha, Irpin and Izium.
The establishment of such a Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression will immediately send a very clear signal to both Russian society and the international community that Putin can be convicted for his war crimes. The establishment of such a tribunal would be a clear signal to the political and business elite in Russia that there is no way for Russia under Putin’s leadership to come back to “business as usual” with the West. It will also send a clear message to some of the Western leaders that going back to “business as usual” or continuing dialogue during the war with a potential war criminal, Putin, is no longer possible.
Dialogue with Putin, which for a long time before the war was a priority for some Western leaders, was a big geopolitical mistake. It would be an even bigger mistake to try to continue such a dialogue with Putin now when his regime continues criminal war and persecutes anybody in Russia who has a different opinion about the crime of this war aggression.
The same should be said about the dictator in Belarus, Lukashenka. It should be clear that it is not possible to come back to any kind of dialogue or “business as usual” with him either.
It is much more important for the EU to strengthen dialogue with the democratic opposition in Russia and Belarus. The EU needs to show that democracy protection and assistance for democratic transformation, including the “de-putinisation” of the societies in those countries, is a real priority for the EU. The EPP should be at the forefront of this EU policy. The EU should establish various platforms and democracy hubs in order to facilitate dialogue between Russian/Belarusian democratic forces and EU institutions.
Dialogue with democrats in those countries should be strengthened tremendously by the EU, while dialogue with Putin or Lukashenka should be stopped immediately.
On the institutional level, the EU should start drafting strategies for the EU’s future relationship with democratic Russia and democratic Belarus. Democratic Russia should be offered a perspective to have agreements with the EU on free trade, visa free arrangements, partnerships for modernisation, etc. Similarly to Ukraine, a democratic Belarus should be offered to join the EU in the future. Such strategies should be announced by the EU now, not waiting until the transformations come.
5. “PUTIN’S WINTER WAR” - THE WAR AGAINST EU
While Putin is clearly losing in Ukraine, he still has hopes to win “Putin’s winter war” against the EU by freezing out its will to support Ukraine and its will to get rid of its own dependency on Russian gas and oil.
Putin’s goal is to keep gas and energy prices in the EU at an unprecedentedly high level in order to unleash social and political unrest in the entire EU.
“Putin’s winter war” strategy is clear: he is taking the advantage of EU strategic mistakes made in the past. The biggest mistake of some EU Member States was to become very heavily dependent on Russian energy supplies. However, regardless of the past collective or individual mistakes, now the EU needs to have a clear strategy on how to win this “Putin’s winter war”.
Our strategy for victory in this war should be based on the following points (short and long term):
6. IMPACT OF GEOPOLITICAL CRISIS: HOW TO MAKE TH EU GEOPOLITICALLY STRONGER?
Everybody knows the famous statement of Jean Monnet: the European community will be created during the crisis. There is a lot of historical and recent evidence that Monnet was right when he predicted that the European community would become stronger after each crisis. It is high time for the EU to examine how to become stronger after this unique geopolitical crisis.
To do so, the EU needs to identify and then evaluate its past geopolitical mistakes that led to this geopolitical crisis.
Some of the mistakes are very clear. First, it was a mistake for the EU to wish to accommodate Putin at any cost, despite what kind of crimes he was perpetrating. Such an appeasement was based on the widely spread perception in the EU that democracy in Russia is not possible; therefore, the EU needs to adapt to a nuclear, aggressive and authoritarian Russia. Second, it was an EU mistake not to give real EU membership perspective to Ukraine, because the EU was afraid of the aggressive reaction from the Kremlin. This created an illusion in the Kremlin that the West will not defend Ukraine if Russia invades it.
As it was recently (2022.10.05) openly and bravely admitted by High Representative Josep Borrell in his remarks during the European Parliament debates on Russia’s war against Ukraine:
“This [radical cuts in EU imports of Russian gas] is something extraordinary that will lead us to free ourselves from the energy dependence on Russia, which was the major constraint of our foreign policy towards Russia and, consequently, of our foreign policy, which included Ukraine. In fact, we have not had a foreign policy towards Ukraine, because it was subsidiary to our policy towards Russia, and [policy towards] Russia was, in turn, subsidiary to our energy dependence - and was conditioned by it. Now we will have a clear policy towards Ukraine, which is dominated by the will and the desire for Ukraine to become a member of the European Union. A policy with clear objective, which will be possible because we will no longer suffer from this dependence on Russia”.
Those are the words of clear understanding of what kind of geopolitical mistakes in our attitude towards Ukraine and Russia we were making in the past and what kind of geopolitical strategies we need to start to implement now.
Drawing from those conclusions about lessons learned and from the experience of this war, it is clear what strategic steps the EU should follow:
CONCLUSIONS: 10 POINTS
(Short version of the EPP Group Position Paper)
Russia’s war against Ukraine has continued for more than eight months. Ukraine is showing incredible bravery by defending itself and the whole EU. The EU’s assistance for Ukraine played a very important role since the very beginning of the war. The war will likely drag on. Therefore, the EU needs to be prepared for such a longer time perspective by establishing proper systemic responses to the challenges the war poses to the European continent.
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