Dr., habil. (History),
Professor, Institute of History of Ukraine, NASU
Abstract. The problems of forming a common foreign policy of the European Union are caused by the difficulties of reconciling national interests and the dynamics of adapting the common policy to the chaos of international relations. In the early 1990s, the common foreign policy of the European Union suffered a fiasco in the Balkans during the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. Russia expected that the example of the EU’s excessively sluggish reaction to the annexation of Crimea and the start of a «hybrid war» against Ukraine would provide an opportunity to annex the entire territory of Ukraine. The purpose of the article is to study the cause-and-effect relationships that influenced the actual formation of the European Union’s common policy aimed at protecting democracy in Ukraine against Russian aggression. The European Union was critical of the annexation of Crimea and the start of Russia’s «hybrid war» against Ukraine. But at that time, the conviction of the European elites prevailed that it was possible to appease the Russian Federation, even at the cost of concessions to Ukraine and at the expense of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. The so-called “Minsk Agreements” worked for this. Even Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and the information campaign for the British referendum on leaving the EU in 2016 could not convince European elites of the opposite. The Russian Federation consistently crossed «red lines» until it made the mistake of deciding that the EU was «ripe» for a Russian attempt to change the government in Ukraine and deprive it of its sovereignty. The Kremlin was counting on its «fifth column» in the countries of the European Union. Only Hungary fulfilled these expectations. But in the matter of assistance for the defence of Ukraine, the European Union refused the principle of veto. This does not prevent Hungary from blocking the allocation of EU macro-financial assistance to Ukraine at the time of writing this article. The most radical supporters of Ukraine in the EU remain the Baltic countries, the countries of the «Visegrad bloc» with the exception of Hungary. Russian aggression helped Sweden and Finland to reconsider their traditional neutral policy and to get as close as possible to joining NATO. In October 2022, again without the participation of Hungary, the European Union launched a military training mission for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Russian aggression against Ukraine, instead of splitting the European Union, contributed to the consolidation of the common foreign and security policies of the European Union. But this does not mean that the Russian Federation will stop putting pressure on the «weak links» in the European Union system.
Keywords: European Union, common foreign policy, neutrality, Russian aggression, NATO, Ukraine.
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