How EU Turns Its Peace Budget Into War Chest to Provide Lethal Arms to Ukraine
19:24 GMT 27.02.2022 (Updated: 17:06 GMT 20.04.2023)
While urging Russia to halt its special operation aimed at the de-militarisation and de-nazification of Ukraine, EU officials are due to unveil a programme allowing all of its 27 members to provide lethal weapons to the Eastern European state. Berlin has already vowed to send 1,000 anti-tank arms and 500 Stingers to the Ukrainian military.
"On the one hand, talking about peace and condemning the aggression of Russia and on the other hand weaponising the conflict even more, is, to say the least, bad judgement. But sending medical supplies is one thing, prolonging the war is another, especially after provoking it," says Frank Creyelman, a Belgian honorary senator and honorary member of the Flemish Parliament.
Germany on 26 February reversed its policy of never sending weapons to conflict zones, claiming that Russia's special operation "imperiled the entire post-World War II order" in Europe, according to Politico. Earlier, Germany had resisted the pressure from its EU and NATO allies, refusing to send lethal military aid to Ukraine.
Berlin's change of heart "could mean a rapid increase in European military assistance for Ukraine," writes Politico. Large portions of Europe's weapons and ammunition are German-manufactured, which gives Berlin legal control over their transfer.
Meanwhile, EU officials are working on a programme to arm Ukraine, even though the bloc's treaties prohibit it from using its normal budget to fund military operations. However, Brussels decided to use an “off-budget” financing vehicle, called the "European Peace Facility," to provide weapons to Kiev.
"Obviously, sending humanitarian aid is something that is good and should be supported, but I do think sending military aid, especially at this point, is simply adding fuel to the fire. And I think it does abdicate the EU's role as at least a self-proclaimed peacemaker," says Dan Kovalik, author and adjunct professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh.
© AP Photo / Evgeniy MaloletkaFile photo of Ukrainian troops ride on tanks near Artemivsk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015
File photo of Ukrainian troops ride on tanks near Artemivsk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015
© AP Photo / Evgeniy Maloletka
No Longer a 'Peaceful' Alliance of Democracies
Germany's change of heart could be explained by growing pressure from Washington, according to the observers. Still, it is not the first time that Berlin has reversed its rules of not sending its weapons to conflict zones, according to Dr Srdja Trifkovic, a Serbian-American publicist, historian, and foreign affairs editor for Chronicles magazine.
"It was the government of Germany that was heavily arming both the Croatian separatists before the disintegration of Yugoslavia and actually supplying all kinds of arms from the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) stocks to the Croats, even while Yugoslavia still existed," Trifkovic says. "It was also the Germans who, together with the British and the Americans, supplied the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) with lethal weapons to be used against the Serbs. And finally, it was the Germans who participated with their fighter planes and bombers in the aggression against Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999, together with the other major nations."
In addition to Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia and Belgium have signaled their willingness to send arms to Kiev, according to Frank Creyelman.
While it requires unanimous consent from all EU member states to authorise the use of the European Peace Facility, EU officials have found a loophole to proceed with their plan. According to Politico, the bloc's rules allow the countries that want to maintain neutrality to opt for a "constructive abstention" that wouldn't prevent the union from moving ahead.
"The EU has ceased to be a community of sovereign nations which cooperate in order to facilitate the economy and… has become simply an accelerated tool of the United States’ project of global dominance," says Trifkovic. "It is a very sad and demeaning role for the 'old Europe,' but it is the one that the European nations themselves led by Germany and France have allowed to happen," the historian says.
© REUTERS / MAKSIM LEVINService members of the Ukrainian armed forces stand next to a tripod-mounted missile system outside Kharkov, Ukraine February 24, 2022.
Service members of the Ukrainian armed forces stand next to a tripod-mounted missile system outside Kharkov, Ukraine February 24, 2022.
© REUTERS / MAKSIM LEVIN
Proxy War Against Russia in Ukraine
Sending lethal aid to Ukraine by the EU amounts to declaring a proxy war on Russia, according to Trifkovic. However, he insists that it has been the intention all along.
"It is clear that they wanted Ukraine to induce and to provoke Russia. Just the way that they encouraged [then-Georgian President Mikhail] Saakashvili to provoke Russia in the summer of 2008 in South Ossetia," says the publicist.
What's worse, this proxy war against Russia comes at the expense of the Ukrainian people, says Dan Kovalik. "The United States and the UK clearly wound Ukraine up, clearly provoked Russia, clearly wanted this conflict and then once it started, they just backed off and watched it happen," he says.
"I would very clearly say that I don't think the United States supports Ukraine or the Ukrainian people. Obviously, if it did, it would have done much, much more to prevent the tragedy in the Donbass that's been going on for the last eight years," the academic notes.
Instead, the Biden administration slapped sanctions on the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, cutting them off from economic trade, after they had suffered a lot of damage from the Ukrainian government forces, according to Kovalik. "Why are they being punished?" the professor asks.
However, the US and European elites don't care about their own people either, according to Trifkovic: "[the West] doesn't give a hoot what will be the price that the people in German cities and the employers in German industries will pay for their natural gas, whether it will be more than twice what they're paying Gazprom."
© AP Photo / Mohamed SalamaIn this photo taken on April 4, 2015, a street is filled with debris and abandoned houses in the city of Benghazi, Libya
In this photo taken on April 4, 2015, a street is filled with debris and abandoned houses in the city of Benghazi, Libya
© AP Photo / Mohamed Salama
West's Media Machine is Faltering
The mainstream press is lashing out at Russia as "the biggest bogeyman" in the world, despite decades of US-NATO aggression in Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, according to the observers.
"When you see the Eiffel Tower and other iconic buildings being lit up as the Ukrainian flag, you do think, well, why not the Yemeni flag or the Palestinian flag or the Afghan flag or the Iraqi flag?" asks Dan Kovalik. "You can go down the line, I mean, all the countries that the West has invaded and destroyed. And there's very little hand-wringing about that."
However, it's not that nobody has questioned the Western countries' actions, notes Trifkovic. Furthermore, over the years, the US' "democracy expansion" project has repeatedly failed in different parts of the world, according to him. The publicist notes that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is still at the helm in Syria; Egyptian President Sisi had managed to remove the Muslim Brotherhood following the US-hailed Arab Spring; and US troops chaotically withdrew from Afghanistan.
"So yes, hypocrisy has always been there," says Trifkovic. "But more and more people on both sides of this global divide understand that what passes for the West in the discourse of the mainstream media is not the reality."