Ukraine says Russia’s ‘hybrid war’ may fracture EU sanctions

President Petro Poroshenko says he hears ‘Russian accents’ from some EU states

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko told parliament that “Russian-terrorist forces” controlling parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions now comprise some 38,500 people and 600 tanks. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko told parliament that “Russian-terrorist forces” controlling parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions now comprise some 38,500 people and 600 tanks. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

 

The Kremlin’s “hybrid war” against the EU is weakening the bloc’s stance on sanctions against Russia, Ukraine’s president has warned, while pledging to pursue membership of Nato despite the concerns of some alliance members.

Petro Poroshenko also said he was committed to ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine with Russian-backed separatists through talks, but restated pre-conditions for a deal that Moscow and the militants have already rejected.

Mr Poroshenko told Ukraine’s parliament that “Russian-terrorist forces” controlling parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions comprise 38,500 people, 600 tanks and hundreds of artillery and rocket systems – claims that could not be verified.

Sanctions

“It’s not hard to notice Russia’s use in EU states of the non-military methods of ‘hybrid war’. The Kremlin doesn’t hide the fact that it is using the European values of the West to destroy the West,” he told deputies in Kiev.

Russian president Vladimir Putin’s regime is accused of using means that include media propaganda, computer hacking and funding for non-mainstream parties to undermine western governments and political systems. “Europe still speaks with one voice,” Mr Poroshenko added, “but in some countries you can hear a Russian accent.”

Robert Fico, the prime minister of current EU presidency-holder Slovakia, was the latest European leader to bemoan the sanctions when he met Mr Putin last week and declared it their “common pursuit…to revive our mutual trade”.

With an eye to French presidential and German federal elections next year, Mr Poroshenko said “political forces could come to power…in several European countries that may not be extremist, but are inclined to compromise with the Kremlin”.

Mr Poroshenko said eventual Nato membership was Ukraine’s “strategic goal…an unwavering marker, like the Pole Star”.