The European Union (EU) just delivered a major blow to Vladimir Putin, on December 14, by agreeing to open accession talks with Ukraine. Even better, this comeuppance was a team effort and represents an existential rebuke to Putin and demonstration of European solidarity.
The challenge was to prevent Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban from vetoing any attempt to negotiate Ukraine’s entry. A counteroffensive to avoid this was launched by France’s Emmanuel Macron who invited Orban to a lavish dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris just before the Euro summit.
This led to a tacit agreement that Europe would advance up to 20 billion Euros that had been withheld from Hungary because of Orban’s corrupt practices as well as his attempt to tamper with the Hungarian judiciary.
It was essentially a political pay off.
Then others joined in. Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz bluntly told Orbán in front of the other leaders at the summit today that if he really wasn’t willing to agree, he could leave the room so the EU leaders could take an unanimous decision on enlargement in his absence.
He did and was “momentarily absent from the room in a pre-agreed and constructive manner”, said an official.
Then Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo warned Orban that if he didn’t veto a decision that “afterwards you just will have to keep your mouth shut”. He later claimed to regret the remark, but it certainly needed to be said.
The gang-up was justified and the significance of this decision is monumental: The European Union has united in its support for Ukraine and in its opposition to Putin.
This unanimity, and support to continue financing the war effort, is also welcome news for the United States. Ongoing financing of Ukraine’s war effort has been bogged down by politics, but now that the burden will be fully shared helps. All that remains is a deal, apparently in the works, to bolster America’s southern border.
The EU’s decision is historic and, with the support of NATO and America, means that Putin simply cannot win. His strategy has been to wear down Ukraine’s alliance of nations by dividing them in order to conquer. He failed. And he now faces a mightier, more motivated foe.
The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
Reprinted from [email protected] - Diane Francis on America and the World
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