UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly suggested that Ukraine join a new alliance, which London is supposedly seeking to establish as a structure parallel to the EU.
Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper reported Thursday that there was a growing rift between Kiev and the EU over the bloc’s response to Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine.
The outlet’s assessment of Kiev-Brussels relations apparently stems from frequent criticisms leveled by senior Ukrainian officials at some EU member states over the amount and extent of military support they are willing to provide to Kiev, as well as the bloc’s inability to impose an embargo on Russian energy imports so far.
According to Corriere della Sera, citing people familiar with the talks, London has been actively working to set up a ‘European Commonwealth’ for more than a month now. Johnson has reportedly been trying to launch an alternative to the EU that would include the UK, Ukraine, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and possibly Turkey. The new alliance would reportedly welcome nations which value their sovereignty, are proponents of economic liberalism, and are determined to repel the “military threat from Moscow.”
The group would presumably encompass political, economic, and military dimensions.
Sources told the outlet that Johnson first presented this concept to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his surprise visit to Kiev on April 9. Since then, the UK has reportedly been courting Ukraine relentlessly.
The Ukrainian government has so far neither declined nor accepted the offer, the report says.
The paper suggests that Zelensky is waiting for the outcome of the EU summit on June 23, in which the member states are expected to decide whether to grant Ukraine candidate status, which would pave the way for accession talks.
It is also possible, the outlet claims, that rumors of London’s plans to woo Kiev away from the EU are meant to put additional pressure on the leaders of member states ahead of their meeting next month.
While unanimously condemning Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, individual member states have offered Kiev varying levels of military support. Despite being far from the wealthiest members of the bloc, Poland and the Baltic states are firmly in the lead when it comes to contributing to Ukraine’s defense, while powerhouses such as France and Germany have kept their donations relatively modest to date.
Commenting on this latest report in the Italian media, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that Russian officials were not aware whether Johnson indeed has these intentions, though if it turns out to be the case, Moscow would view this as an attempt by London to ignite a feud to undermine the EU’s position.