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Ukraine is making diplomatic efforts to persuade skeptics to join the EU. And surprised by the resistance of Portugal – Columnist



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The first step should have a positive result – but the path that can lead Ukraine to membership in the European Union is far from being so simple. Aware of the difficulties, Volodymyr Zelensky’s country in recent offensives has gambled on “Operation Charm” to convince Europe’s most skeptical leaders to give the green light to his candidacy – and is surprised by the resistance shown by Portugal. .

At a time when the first opinion, still preliminary, of the European Commission will be within a few days – it will be made public on June 17 – and this precedes the summit where European leaders will comment on this issue, on June 23 and 24, Ukraine is focused on seducing heads of state and governments that are still not convinced.

How European Portal Euroactivthis first step should bring good news to Ukraine: according to several European sources with knowledge of the matter, the European Commission document should be worded “cautiously” but positively.

The positive recommendation for Ukraine states bloombergHowever, it should include some conditions, in particular, to strengthen the rule of law in Ukraine and anti-corruption legislation.


The problem is that even if the European Commission ends up in favor, this is only the beginning of the process. Soon after, Ukraine will have to face skepticism from some member states for several reasons: on the one hand, the country is still at war; there are other countries that have applied many years ago – the process can take many years, maybe a decade – and are still waiting for a response; and, in addition to the current military situation, there may be fundamental doubts about the harmonization of legislation and adherence to the rule of law in Ukraine, which, in the opinion of some countries, cannot be ignored in order to accelerate the accession of the country.

Portugal is among the countries whose fluctuations are of concern at the highest level in Ukraine. Last month, Olga Stefanyshina, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine in charge of the European Integration Portfolio, did some calculations and concluded that skeptical “six-seven countries” on expedited entry to Ukraine – naming examples Germany, Portugal, Spain, Austria and Sweden.

But if, meanwhile, Ukraine is convinced that many of these doubts dissipated — Stefanyshina told Euroactiv about the “positive results” in Austria, where Germany has also taken a more flexible stance, and other countries such as Finland and Denmark are waiting to see the position of the European Commission — Portugal’s resistance surprised: “We also have a country that is quite unexpectedly skeptical, Portugal, the country with the largest Ukrainian community, whose opposition is surprising.”

In April, António Costa said in an interview organized by the Club of Journalists, after Zelenskiy said that Portugal “almost” defended Ukraine’s accession to the EU, that the urgency of the military situation “is never solved by enlargement, only by solutions compatible with urgency.” For Costa, “deepening the Association Agreement with the European Union” would be “ideal space”.

Two guarantees, a promise and a brake on Zelensky. Interview with Antonio Costa

And he explained why: “Putting all the chips in a process that is uncertain, necessarily lengthy and prone to numerous vicissitudes is a risk that I consider very large. There is another dimension: whether the European Union itself is ready for further enlargement steps. So far, the European Union has not been able to accept countries like Albania and Montenegro, which have a completely different dimension than Ukraine.” But he ensured that Portugal would not say a resounding no.

Then, in May, the Portuguese prime minister repeated that he was “recognized and satisfied with a clear European version of Ukraine”, which he recognized as “part of the European family”, but again recalled the “complexity” of the process and left warnings: “We all know well what EU rules. We must find a solution that meets what is a priority for Ukraine at the moment: military, economic, humanitarian support and an undeniable commitment to a huge recovery effort.”

During his visit to Kyiv, he assured that he would accept the Ukraine option with “open arms”, promising “technical support” and “exchange of experience” on the very process of Portugal’s accession. Zelensky intervened: “I understand that there are countries that have been waiting for many years, but I don’t think it’s right to compare Ukraine with countries that have peacefully gone through the path of accession. We are fighting and fighting for freedom and European values.

Precisely to overcome resistance or hesitation, senior Ukrainian officials have been visiting European capitals in recent weeks to make one last major diplomatic effort at this critical time to secure membership since the candidacy was presented in March.

“It is very important that the EU does not play the game of promises,” Ruslan Stefanchuk, a spokesman for the Ukrainian parliament, told reporters in Brussels this week. And this at a time when – as António Costa has already done – several European leaders are talking about alternative solutions for a simple and fast-tracked accession of Ukraine.

“At least there is no consensus on saying no to Ukraine because no leader will be able to say that publicly. Instead, it is about modalities,” Olga Stefanishyna added this week, quoted by Euroactiv, referring to the strongest supporters of accession, such as Italy, Ireland or Greece. According to Bloomberg, most countries will even be in favor of joining.

Another obstacle at this stage for Ukraine may be that it belongs to the same group of countries that are now trying to start the same process in the context of the war: Moldova and Georgia. The Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister acknowledged in the same conversation that Ukraine would be “very concerned” to be considered part of this group of countries “because they have very different realities”, especially in terms of legislation and rule of law. which go beyond concern for Russia.

“Putting three countries in one bag increases uncertainty and helps skeptics say no, because for Ukraine the solution may be clear, but not for Georgia and not for Moldova,” he warned. On June 17, it will be seen whether the first step has been successfully taken so that Ukraine can formally obtain the status of a candidate country and thus begin the formal nomination of its candidacy.

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Vladimir Putin has delayed the invasion of Ukraine at least three times.



Putin has repeatedly consulted with Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the invasion, Europa Press told Ukraine’s chief intelligence director Vadim Skibitsky.

According to Skibitsky, it was the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which is responsible for counterintelligence and espionage work, that put pressure on Gerasimov and other military agencies to agree to launch an offensive. .

However, according to the Ukrainian intelligence services, the FSB considered that by the end of February sufficient preparations had already been made to guarantee the success of the Russian Armed Forces in a lightning invasion.

However, according to Kyiv, the Russian General Staff provided the Russian troops with supplies and ammunition for only three days, hoping that the offensive would be swift and immediately successful.

The head of Ukrainian intelligence also emphasized the cooperation of local residents, who always provided the Ukrainian authorities with up-to-date information about the Russian army, such as the number of soldiers or the exact location of troops.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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Life sentence for former Swedish official for spying for Russia



A Stockholm court on Monday sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life in prison for spying for Russia, and his brother to at least 12 years in prison. In what is considered one of the most serious cases in Swedish counterintelligence history, much of the trial took place behind closed doors in the name of national security.

According to the prosecution, it was Russian military intelligence, the GRU, who took advantage of the information provided by the two brothers between 2011 and their arrest at the end of 2021.

Peyman Kia, 42, has held many senior positions in the Swedish security apparatus, including the army and his country’s intelligence services (Säpo). His younger brother, Payam, 35, is accused of “participating in the planning” of the plot and of “managing contacts with Russia and the GRU, including passing on information and receiving financial rewards.”

Both men deny the charges, and their lawyers have demanded an acquittal on charges of “aggravated espionage,” according to the Swedish news agency TT.

The trial coincides with another case of alleged Russian espionage, with the arrest of the Russian-born couple in late November in a suburb of Stockholm by a police team arriving at dawn in a Blackhawk helicopter.

Research website Bellingcat identified them as Sergei Skvortsov and Elena Kulkova. The couple allegedly acted as sleeper agents for Moscow, having moved to Sweden in the late 1990s.

According to Swedish press reports, the couple ran companies specializing in the import and export of electronic components and industrial technology.

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The man was again detained at the end of November for “illegal intelligence activities.” His partner, suspected of being an accomplice, has been released but remains under investigation.

According to Swedish authorities, the arrests are not related to the trial of the Kia brothers.

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Ukraine admitted that Russia may announce a general mobilization



“They can strengthen their positions. We understand that this can happen. At the same time, we do not rule out that they will announce a general mobilization,” Danilov said in an interview with the Ukrainska Pravda online publication.

Danilov believed that this mobilization would also be convened “to exterminate as many as possible” of Russian citizens, so that “they would no longer have any problems on their territory.”

In this sense, Danilov also reminded that Russia has not given up on securing control over Kyiv or the idea of ​​the complete “destruction” of Ukraine. “We have to be ready for anything,” he said.

“I want everyone to understand that [os russos] they have not given up on the idea of ​​destroying our nation. If they don’t have Kyiv in their hands, they won’t have anything in their hands, we must understand this,” continued Danilov, who also did not rule out that a new Russian offensive would come from “Belarus and other territories.” .

As such, Danilov praised the decision of many of its residents who chose to stay in the Ukrainian capital when the war broke out in order to defend the city.

“They expected that there would be panic, that people would run, that there would be nothing to protect Kyiv,” he added, referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

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At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The Russian invasion, justified by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing political and economic sanctions on Russia.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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