EU says Russia is aiming to de facto integrate eastern Ukraine – media
The European Union says Russia is trying to gradually absorb parts of eastern Ukraine, Bloomberg said on Wednesday, citing a document the bloc shared this week with member states.
In the document, seen by Bloomberg, "the EU says steps by the Kremlin such as organizing illegitimate elections and issuing passports to locals are aimed at de facto integration of Ukraine's non-governmental-controlled areas into Russia."
According to the statement, the EU's foreign-affairs arm, the EEAS, will prepare a report on the matter.
The EU document presents options the bloc could take "to strengthen Ukraine's resilience to Russian aggression," including: "stepping up support tackling hybrid threats, including countering cyber threats and disinformation."
It is also about helping Ukraine's coronavirus-vaccination program, "especially of vulnerable groups in order to avoid further weakening of the country through a prolonged health and socio-economic crisis."
Assistance in bolstering energy security to lower dependence on Russia is proposed; improving efforts to deny recognition of Russian passports issued to residents of Crimea and parts of Donbas; consideration allowing Ukraine to participate in some EU security projects.
According to the document, further EU penalties against Russia will depend on "further grave deterioration of the situation with regard to Ukraine's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity."
Bloomberg refers to another EU internal note. It is connected with the Ukrainian request to Brussels to support Kyiv in its aspiration to join NATO. According to the agency, the post-envoys of the EU countries in the Political and Security Committee during the discussion of this document on Tuesday expressed different opinions. Some were generally supportive, while others pointed to Ukraine's lack of reform efforts, such as the fight against corruption, and that the proposed cooperation with Kyiv on EU security programs required deeper discussion.