Is Ukraine Next?

With 8.3 million ethnic Russians and a potentially separatist region in Crimea, many Ukrainians now hear domestic echoes of the lead-up to Russia's invasion of Georgia. It is time for the EU to develop a multi-dimensional solidarity strategy aimed at sending a strong signal of support for Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity.

LONDON – The war in Georgia has clearly exposed the security vacuum in the surrounding region, as well as a lot of raw nerves. Russia’s hasty decision to recognize the “independence” of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was a shot across the bow for every former Soviet country, and has intensified speculation about who might be “next” – and how to prevent Russia from multiplying the supposed Kosovo “precedent” in other ex-Soviet countries.

Having established itself as the main broker in the conflict, the European Union has many urgent priorities in Georgia itself. But it should also be thinking ahead about how it can demonstrate a stronger commitment to security, democracy, and prosperity in the European “neighborhood.” The most effective way of dealing with a newly assertive Russia will be for Europe to issue a collective refusal to accept a bipolar Europe of distinct Russian and EU spheres of influence.

The place to start is Ukraine. Fortunately, the EU-Ukraine summit on September 9 in Evian, France, provides the perfect opportunity.

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