The current conflict over Ukraine has quickly escalated into a matter of geopolitical importance. Cornered by the events and pushed into assuming a position, the EU has officially responded to the situation by imposing sanctions against Russia in three waves. While the EU has so far largely managed to speak with one voice, this does not mean that member states must by definition agree with one another â publicly or privately. The region of Central Europe, and particularly the Visegrad Four (V4) countries, is â along with the Baltic States â most exposed to the negative effects of the EUâs sanctions taken against Russia and those of Russia against the EU. Alluded to over the weekend during the Summit of European leaders in Brussels, the EU is eyeing another round of sanctions, whilst countries such as Hungary, Slovakia and, increasingly, the Czech Republic are now opposed to any further sanctions against Moscow. And while the issue over Ukraine is not the first one that the states disagree over, does it have a potential to undermine the good relations among V4 states? And what is it that is behind their different positions?
A week ago a major rebel offensive began. On September 3 on a sixteen-mile stretch of road from the village of Novokaterinivka to the town of Ilovaysk, I counted the remains of sixty-eight military vehicles, tanks, armored personnel carriers, pick-ups, buses, and trucks in which a large but as yet unknown number of Ukrainian soldiers died as they tried to flee the area between August 28 and September 1. They had been ambushed by rebel forces and, according to survivors, soldiers from the army of the Russian Federation.
The feeling at the time was that the Cold War had brought about stability. Forget the fact that Soviet tanks had crushed the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 or the Prague Spring of 1968. And forget the silencing of dissidents across Eastern and Central Europe. But the West’s acceptance of the Cold War status quo—often blindly supported by left-wing parties—was not going to stop those behind the Iron Curtain who wanted freedom and democracy.
Hailed by Belarusian state TV for bringing independence and sovereignty to Belarus, media outside Belarus have offered somewhat different opinions of Lukashenka on his 20th anniversary as Belarus' leader. Here are three of the main narratives used on this occasion. Narrative 1: Lukashenka Climbs the Greasy Pole Conditions in which Lukashenka came to power. In Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, a Polish daily, Michał Potocki argues that in a society still nostalgic for the USSR, Lukashenko’s chief opponents in 1994 – Zianon Pazniak (Belarusian Popular Front) and Stanislau Shuskevich, speaker of Parliament, stood little chance of winning.
In November 2013 Ukraine was peacefully preparing to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union at the Vilnius summit. Back then it would have probably been considered an absolute hallucinating nonsense to say that in just several months Ukraine would be swallowed by the murder of civilians, outright annexation, terrorism, military conflict, missile fire, and crashing planes.