After the mutiny of the Wagner group against Vladimir Putin’s regime, questions and political speculation are rife among the 27 EU member states.
What geopolitical consequences will this have for the war? What defense efforts should the Europeans put in as a result? We talk about it with the head of the European ambassadors, Stefano Sannino, Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS).
Asked about the news in Russia and the mutiny of the Wagner group, Stefano Sannino, secretary general of the European External Action Service, replied: “What Prigozhin is saying is that he had a problem with the military leadership in Russia (the Russians) wanted to disband it and integrate it into the military system, and he decided that was something he could not accept.”
“What is interesting is that there is a leadership in Moscow that is enormously weakened. President Putin himself is weakened in a way. So there is definitely a very strong influence on what is the Russian leadership at such a very delicate moment. the confrontation and conflict in Ukraine.”
EU countries decided on Wednesday 21 June to contribute a new grant of 3.5 billion euros to the European Peace Facility (EPF), which is used to finance their arms deliveries to Ukraine and military missions abroad. Stefano Sannino considers this a very important gesture. “The 27 member states have said that at this very moment we will have to redouble our efforts to support Ukraine.
This is a clear message. And the military part will of course be an important part. The ease of peace concerns a little bit all.Obviously Ukraine is currently absorbing a lot of these capabilities, but we have not forgotten the other regions of the world – Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East – where we continue to deploy our efforts ,” he recalls.
But dissonant voices are trying to block aid to Ukraine. In Poland and Hungary, the question of the legitimacy of the diplomatic veto arises. “These are measures which are based on the unanimity rule, they must therefore be voted on by the 27 member states”, explains Stefano Sannino. “It is clear that efforts must be made to convince everyone to vote in favor of these proposals.
But it is true that the question of the list on which the Ukrainian authorities have also placed a certain number of European companies arises. We working to find a solution and try to move forward with the eighth tranche of aid to the Ukrainian military.”
The military assistance mission that the EU launched in November 2022 is accompanied by another reflection. The one about the implication of the enlargement of the European Union, especially with Ukraine, with an oral report from the European Commission pointing the finger at serious problems with corruption.
Stefano Sannino recalls that this report focused on “the seven steps that Ukraine must take to approach the European Union”. Before adding: “We assess that it has already passed two. For all the other stages, there is a positive assessment of the efforts that have been made. It is clear that the element of the fight against corruption is very important.
It will also be very important to have a support mechanism for the reconstruction of Ukraine. And therefore the enlargement process can be very useful.” The Secretary General of the EU External Action Service announces that there will be “another report in October”. According to him, “Ukraine has made a huge effort in this direction. So you have to be patient, you have to wait until the end of the year to see what the assessment of the member states will be. I am not so negative about the appreciation they will give,” he says .
The Baltic countries, for their part, are worried about Wagner’s troops coming to Belarus. If this concern is legitimate for Stefano Sannino, he adds that we will have to wait to see what effect this can have. “Belarus is already under sanctions and I think in the coming days or weeks we will still impose others.”
Asked about Africa’s place in this news, the Secretary General of the European External Action Service confirms: “We have not reduced our aid and our attention to these countries.
It is true that we have greatly increased our aid to Ukraine. But this is done independently of what we had already planned for the countries in Africa. We will continue to do so. We have increased our commitment with this program called ‘Global Gateway’ which tries to mobilize resources, from the public sector and the private sector on large economic development projects for African countries.
There is therefore a very strong focus on all African countries because we do not want to lose not only our influence but also the partnerships that we have built with these countries over time. a partnership between equals. It is not just aid we give to poor countries”, he concludes.