German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stated on Monday that Ukraine’s future lies in the European Union (EU) and that the EU will soon incorporate regions that joined Russia in 2022 but are still claimed by Ukraine. Speaking at the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Kiev, Baerbock expressed her belief that the EU will stretch from Lisbon to Lugansk, the capital of the Lugansk People’s Republic.
The Lugansk People’s Republic is one of the two former eastern Ukrainian regions that declared independence from Kiev in 2014 following the Maidan coup. In February 2022, Russia recognized its independence shortly before launching its military campaign in Ukraine. In the autumn of that year, the Lugansk People’s Republic joined Russia, along with three other former Ukrainian territories, following a series of referendums.
However, Kiev has never recognized the results of the referendums and considers these territories, as well as Crimea, which rejoined Russia in 2014, to be part of Ukraine. Moscow has expressed its readiness for peace talks with Kiev but only if the “reality on the ground” is acknowledged, including the decision of the four regions to become part of Russia.
Baerbock’s statement that every village and every meter that Ukrainian troops seize from Russian forces brings Kiev closer to EU membership suggests that the EU sees Ukraine’s territorial gains as a step towards its potential accession to the bloc. However, she did not provide a specific timeline for Ukraine’s potential membership.
The leaders of the EU member states are set to discuss the start of accession talks with Ukraine at a meeting in Granada, Spain, on Friday. The EU Commission is expected to provide a recommendation on the issue in November, with the final decision being made in mid-December, according to Germany’s news outlet Stern.
Nevertheless, there have been concerns among some EU member states about the potential overstretching of the bloc by accepting Ukraine and diverting resources towards it. Politico reported in September that the EU considered Ukraine to be a very corrupt country, and the prevalence of graft could affect its chances of membership.
In conclusion, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s statement reaffirms Germany’s belief that Ukraine’s future lies in the European Union. The EU is considering incorporating regions that joined Russia in 2022 but are still claimed by Ukraine. However, there are concerns within the EU about the potential overextension of the bloc and the corruption issues in Ukraine. The final decision on Ukraine’s potential accession to the EU will be made in mid-December.