Europeans surprised by the content of talks between Trump and Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, surrounded by European Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, on July 8 in Kiev.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, surrounded by European Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, on July 8 in Kiev. SERGEI SUPINSKY / AFP

The explosive exchanges between Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky have sparked both unassuming and dismayed comments in Europe. Thursday, September 26, the day after the publication of details of their conversations, European diplomacy was sticking to the cautious line adopted for months against Donald Trump: "No reactions to phone calls and transcripts", commented a spokesman for the Commission and the European External Action Service. But he recalls, however, in indirect response to Mr. Zelensky's remarks, that his country benefits from the financial effort "The most important in history" European Union, with support for its defense apparatus to ensure the integrity of its territory. Or 15 billion euros, amount with conditions, including the continuation, "Followed very closely", reforms and the fight against corruption.

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Suffice to say that the words of Mr. Zelensky and critics of France and Germany, active parties to the Minsk agreements, signed in vain in 2015 to end the war in the east of the Ukraine, have struck. The head of the Ukrainian state complains, among other things, that the two countries "Do not apply sanctions" decided on Moscow because of the conflict in the east of the country. However, there will be no "No comments or requests for clarification, assured the Commission by the voice of Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela. The numbers speak for themselves, and indicate our long-term support for Ukraine. "

"The weakness of Zelensky"

"We knew Trump, who uses every opportunity to try to break a corner in the Union, we feared the weakness of Zelensky; it is just a little earlier than expected ", quips a diplomat under cover of anonymity. It is therefore through discreet channels that the Union will express its dissatisfaction.

The Association Agreement between the EU and Kiev came into force in September 2017. It refers to deepening economic and political ties and respect for common values. A free trade agreement aims to modernize and amplify trade relations between the two sets.

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In July, during one of their last official trips as presidents of the Council and the Commission, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, even a bit dubious, even suspicious about the profile of their host, had celebrated in Kiev during a summit, "The pro-European spirit in Ukraine, and the pro-Ukrainian spirit in Europe". Tusk, back on the front line in the east, reaffirmed support "Unfailing" Twenty-eight "Russian aggression".

Sense of "betrayal"

European sanctions against Russia were also extended by six months and the prospect of integration into the Union was still " supported " while five financial agreements were initialed, notably to support the reconstruction of the east of the country, civil society and the fight against corruption. Real progress in the latter area was required for the release of an additional half a billion euros.

The establishment by the new authority of new anti-corruption investigative bodies, which have been awaited for years, is considered "Positive" by the diplomats of the Union, who recall, however, that since the popular uprising of Maidan, no senior official has ever been condemned. "It will be necessary to judge Zelensky on his acts", indicates a senior manager.

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The various promises of Brussels, however, have not entirely satisfied a Ukrainian power "Betrayed" by the decision approved by the Europeans of a reintegration of Russia into the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Strasbourg institution which ensures respect for human rights, democracy and democracy. Rule of law. The Russian delegation, excluded since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, acquired the right to sit again in June.

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Beyond that, Kiev has expressed to European diplomacy its reservations about what it considers to be a dangerous rapprochement between the European Union and Moscow. It is particularly the attitude of President Macron that worries, especially after having received Vladmir Putin at Fort Brégançon (Var) this summer, the President hopes the next meeting in "Normandy format" (with Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany) for "Concrete results" in the solution of the Ukrainian conflict. "Macron has talked about real advances, particularly on prisoners and the front line. Zekensky, who also said he wants to appease his relations with Putin, fears a surrender of Europeans however », comments a Brussels source.

Transit of Russian gas

"President Volodymyr Zelensky's stance towards Russia over the war does not mean that he will accept to make concessions. The first signs show that Western governments are too naive about Vladimir Putin's proposals for "peace"Judge Joanna Hosa and Andrew Wilson, authors of a recent study by the European Council on International Relations, a think tank. They invite Europeans to turn Ukraine into a "key partner" of European security.

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Another subject of tension persists between Kiev and Brussels, namely the question of the transit of Russian gas. A subject on which no agreement has yet been found, after endless discussions between Ukraine and Russia, under the aegis of the Brussels Commission. The current transit agreement comes to an end at the end of 2019, when two gas pipelines, the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 and Turkish-Russian Turkish Stream, are expected to enter service, bypassing Ukrainian territory. Kiev fears the loss of important benefits from this transit and the loss of a strategic weapon against Moscow. The question of the supply of the country is also at stake. Like that of a part of the Union, which is said, however, capable of mobilizing sufficient reserves.

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