The UK and the EU have been accused of a “catastrophic misreading” of the mood in the Kremlin in the run-up to the crisis in Ukraine.
The House of Lords EU committee claimed Europe “sleepwalked” into the crisis, The EU had not realised the depth of Russian hostility to its plans for closer relations with Ukraine, it said, It comes as French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke about the crisis at a joint news conference in Paris, The committee’s report said Britain had not been “active or visible enough” in dealing with the situation in Ukraine, It blamed Foreign Office cuts, which it said led to fewer Russian experts working there, and less emphasis on analysis.
A similar decline in EU foreign ministries had left them ill-equipped to formulate an “authoritative response” to the crisis, it said.
The report claimed that for too long the EU’s relationship with Moscow had been based on the “optimistic premise” that Russia was on a trajectory to becoming a democratic country.
The result, it said, was a failure to appreciate the depth of Russian hostility when the EU opened talks aimed at establishing an “association agreement” with Ukraine in 2013.
It coincides with European Council president Donald Tusk calling Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss how the EU should respond to ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande said the Minsk agreements should be implemented and the ceasefire observed between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels.
Mr Hollande said: “With the [German] Chancellor we have never stopped speaking since the [September 2014] Minsk agreements and we are more convinced than ever that they must be applied – all the agreements, nothing but the agreements.”