A “hot” geopolitical crisis in Eastern Europe

The Russia-Ukraine topic was mentioned in three important meetings of the European Union (EU), the Group of Seven industrialised nations (G7), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It is no coincidence that these three events took place on the same day and in the same place, showing that the geopolitical crisis in Eastern Europe is hotter than ever.

G7 leaders attend the Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24, 2022. (File photo: AFP/VNA)
G7 leaders attend the Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24, 2022. (File photo: AFP/VNA)

The ancient and beautiful capital Brussels of Belgium suddenly became bustling when two high-level meetings of the EU and G7 and the meeting of NATO foreign ministers took place on the same day.

Not surprisingly, the names of Russia and Ukraine were mentioned the most in all three meetings. Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba attracted the media’s attention when appearing at the NATO meeting instead of attending only online as before. Mr. Kuleba brought a brief message to the NATO military alliance: “It has only three items on it, and that is weapons, weapons and weapons.”

A month and a half since Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine, the EU, G7 and NATO show that they are preparing for a long-term conflict with deeper intervention and further sanctions on Moscow. The EU implemented the fifth round of sanctions against Russia, with the passage of a ban on coal imports, banning Russian ships from docking at EU ports. The G7 halted new investments in important sectors of the Russian economy, including the energy sector.

The United States, the leader in both the G7 and NATO, enacted a law ending normal trade relations with Russia, paving the way for Washington to raise import tariffs. Accordingly, the US tariffs on Russian products will increase from 3% to about 30%. Washington also banned imports of energy products from Moscow, including oil, liquefied natural gas, coal and energy products.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on the Allies to continue providing maximum weapons support to Ukraine, both light and heavy weapons. Stoltenberg’s statement represented a major shift in NATO’s position on the crisis in Ukraine. Just two weeks ago, also at the NATO Summit in Brussels, French President Emmanuel Macron repeatedly mentioned the “red line” that the military alliance should not cross, that is, NATO does not become a war party.

The military alliance at the time insisted that it would continue to deliver defensive weapons and never mentioned sending tanks and fighters to Kyiv. But the statement of the head of NATO shows that the military alliance may cross the “red line”, with the notion that Ukraine needs not only defensive weapons but also heavy offensive weapons.

The Czech Republic has reportedly sent tanks to Ukraine, becoming the first NATO member to fulfil Kyiv's request for the heavily armoured vehicles. Likely, some countries will soon follow The Czech Republic because some Eastern European countries still have many combat vehicles in stock from the time of the Warsaw Pact. Germany also opened the possibility of supplying 100 Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine, although it feared that this move could drag Berlin into a confrontation with Russia.

It is also for this reason that NATO countries, while ready to transfer tanks, are still hesitant to support fighters for Ukraine. NATO's increase in arms transfers to Kyiv may stem from information that Russia is withdrawing troops from many areas in northern Ukraine, making arms transfers easier. However, NATO Secretary-General still affirmed not to deploy troops to Ukraine, to avoid a confrontation with Russia and trigger a large-scale war that the public fears will become World War 3.

The overall picture above shows that Ukraine is like a magnet of gunpowder and weapons for war. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed that the West’s continued supply of weapons and military support to Ukraine could hinder peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.

Tensions, sanctions and mutual retaliation are causing NATO, EU and Russia to fall into a never-ending spiral. The international community wants the Russia-Ukraine conflict to be resolved by peaceful means so that security and stability can be maintained and people in the region and the world can return to normal life.

Translated by NDO