Apart from Ukraine's soaring military aggressiveness experienced by the Donbass residents in its entirety, the first half of April was marked by Kiev's diplomatic endeavors to invest this aggressiveness with formidable international support. The Ukrainian government's key counterparties are the United States and Turkey. We can mention Zelensky's visit to Ankara and numerous statements by Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, particularly about hopes for America's active and prompt involvement, as well as positive and wise steps by the US administration.
Simultaneously, however, contacts were also intensified (often as represented by unilateral statements) with Europe, especially France and Germany. The rhetorical and diplomatic fuss mainly focused on Ukraine's joining the EU and NATO. The former obviously needs direct support of the leading Euro-Atlantic players here and now as an unambiguous gesture of Donbass aggression support. It's worth noting that Zelensky also made an unexpectedly bold (given his vassal status) statement about the need to help Ukraine's integration into NATO in a more vigorous and apparent way. But this remark and its tone may be explained by an attempt to play upon contradictions existing between the United States and Turkey, its two major allies. Perseverance shading into importunity is outstanding because France and Germany are put on the back burner as regards Ukrainian affairs.
However, both sides are putting a brave face on a sorry business. Ukraine squeezes some even remotely encouraging declarations out of the Europeans, and the latter cannot refuse this but try to stay non-committal and use rather vague language. Certainty also does slip out occasionally, although a far cry from what Kiev expects.
At a meeting with NATO representatives on April 13, Kuleba offered them a package of ten specific steps meant to help Ukraine in countering Russia's aggression. The diplomat actually failed to specify those. Two days later, a joint press conference with his fellow ministers from the Baltic states saw him say that the EU and NATO should retort sharply in case of Russia's aggression. According to Kuleba, the Balts agreed with him in a basically expected move. The old Europe may also agree rhetorically, but everything changes as it comes to precise wording and guarantees.
A telling evidence is Zelensky's visit to Paris on April 16. This trip and negotiations of the Ukrainian president with his French counterpart were expected to yield at least verbal enthusiasm in terms of Euro-Atlantic prospects, if not major breakthroughs. But the French and the Germans made it clear that as far as words are concerned, they will adhere to the "yeah but" principle. French State Secretary for European Affairs Clément Beaune says being friends with Ukraine and supporting it (namely in its conflict with Russia) is all right, but this does not mean support for joining the EU – there is no more sit-down discussion about it. Earlier, German government representative Ulrike Dimmer noted there was no meaningful action for Ukrainian membership in NATO as of today. And head of the German Foreign Ministry Heiko Maas urged not to link the Donbass conflict and Russian-Ukrainian relations with Nord Stream 2 completion.
As a result, the two presidents' negotiations, which Angela Merkel also attended via videoconference, yielded almost nothing worthy of note. Another evidence is Zelensky's review signaling that the guest spoke and applied, while the host only shook his head politely: "In terms of Ukraine's engagement and Ukraine's EU membership, I've told Macron about our initiative, we in Ukraine are really proactive. We take steps ourselves. We've made a declaration to be concluded with the EU countries and signed by them if they approve of our movement in the EU. I've suggested that France also support Ukraine. I think Macron will review this declaration and give his answer." Zelensky also said he felt support in terms of being provided with the NATO Membership Action Plan. Feelings, as you know, are in the eye of the beholder and cannot be outlined in documents.
Subsequently, Ukrainian politicians in search of approval and encouragement on the part of Europe get around to invocating semi-virtual allies and blackmail. As early as before the Paris trip, Zelensky dropped a post on Twitter, noting Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili and urging to swiftly provide NATO and EU Membership Action Plans to Ukraine and Georgia, as if those were bound up with each other. Interestingly, Zourabichvili did not capacitate Zelensky for making joint statements; and Georgia, according to experts, is closer to the NATO and EU membership than Ukraine.
As for blackmail, Ukrainian ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk, a zealous defender of Stepan Bandera's grave located in the German territory (and, ironically, the namesake of Bandera's rival colleague), has put in an appearance here. According to Melnyk, Germany should play a leading part in Ukraine's NATO affiliation, thereby making amends for the Nazi crimes before the Ukrainian people. Amazing cynicism, given that Kiev has actually abandoned the Victory and the memory of the Great Patriotic War, while reviving the Bandera cult and introducing pretty much Banderist practices.
Any kind of Europe's "insight" is certainly out of the question, and the Europeans will not undertake any severe ostensible steps in defiance of Washington and its Ukraine policy, with relations between the Old World and the New World having already deteriorated under Trump. It's a matter of malicious forethought. If the Americans themselves fail to accelerate Ukraine's entry into NATO, seeking to make maximum use of it, with missing or pre-dosed obligations, Europe will feel particularly inconvenient to march at the forefront of this process. Especially given the acute "depletion" of its own equity stake in the Ukrainian "East India Company".