Almost 40 years ago the nations of Europe agreed in the Helsinki Final Act to respect each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and choice of political system. By invading Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, President Putin has violated all these principles. This has profoundly destabilising implications for all the countries that lie between Russia and the European Union. The EU should help its neighbours to strengthen their independence and to emulate the political and economic successes of Central Europe. It should turn the Eastern Partnership into a path to membership for those that want it.
While Kyiv is busy preparing for the upcoming presidential election in May (that is, mostly squabbling over who is the lesser evil), Ukraine’s South-East has been embroiled in yet another wave of Russia-inspired provocations. On Sunday, groups of pro-Russian separatists took over administrative buildings in three Eastern Ukrainian regions in what seems like an attempt to repeat the “Crimean scenario”.
Even as Arsen Avakov, Ukraines interior minister, vows to restore order in the countrys east where thousands of protestors wave Russian flags and storm government buildings, a different kind of emergency is rising on Ukraines south-western border. Transnistria, Moldovas breakaway region, has decided not to attend a meeting of the “5+2″ group which has been seeking a diplomatic solution to the 24-year-old conflict along the Dniester. With reference to Crimea, Transnistrian authorities are pressing harder than ever to join the Russian Federation.