EU should welcome Ukraine as a partner for Europe’s own good.
Ukraine is important to Europe as a source of economic growth and energy security, as well as a bridge to Russia. Western interests and values are best served by engaging Ukraine as a solid European partner.
Moreover, energy security is another advantage that Ukraine offers Western nations. Ukraine has the third-largest shale gas deposits in Europe – 42 million cubic feet of technically recoverable reserves that are currently being developed by Shell and Chevron. This is an environmentally friendly energy source not only for Europe but also for an entire planet whose population will continue to grow through the middle of this century.
As it leaves behind the legacy of Soviet-style communism, Ukraine can serve as a source of inspiration to its neighbors and nations throughout the world for how a country can move forward to free-market democracy and the rule of law. Ukrainians demand democracy, free speech, and a free press, in line with European traditions.
Bringing Ukrainian laws and norms in accordance with those of the EU will help to achieve symbolic and substantive progress for democracy regionally and worldwide. It is of economic, political, and geostrategic importance to Europe and the US that Ukraine comes under the European umbrella of shared values and free trade.
While Ukraine is not a member of NATO, it has proven a reliable partner. So bringing Ukraine closer to the EU is also positive in terms of Western security interests, especially since recent polling shows Ukrainians are caught between clashing loyalties to the West and the East and closely divided on whether to join the EU or the Russian-sponsored Customs Union.
Indeed, Ukraine is perfectly positioned to become a geopolitical and economic bridge between Europe and Russia. In many ways, Kiev was the original cradle of Russia, and Ukraine still has strong ties to Russia in terms of heritage, faith, culture, and language. In fact, alongside its Ukrainian population, Ukraine boasts a large, Russian-speaking population, with familial and cultural connections to Russia. But Ukraine wants to align itself with Europe and with European values, and Western nations should embrace this opportunity before we lose it.Make no mistake: Western interests and values are best served by engaging Ukraine as a solid European partner. This is a serious geopolitical opportunity for Europe and the US. We should make the most of it.