Gavin Hewitt, Europe editor

Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

This is where you will find my view of the big arguments over Europe, its politics and its personalities

Europe moves softly softly on Ukraine

15 April 2014
An armed pro-Russian activist stands in front of seized the Ukrainian regional administration building in the eastern Ukrainian town of Sloviansk, Ukraine, on Monday 14 April 2014, with the Russian national sign in the background
An armed pro-Russian activist in front of a seized building in Sloviansk

Since the last European summit - when Europe's leaders warned Russia of further sanctions if there was no de-escalation of the crisis - events have moved fast on the ground.

Pro-Russian militias, most of them armed, have seized buildings in nine eastern and southern Ukrainian towns.

Four town halls have been occupied, as have two police headquarters, two buildings belonging to the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and the regional administrative headquarters in Donetsk.

The territorial integrity of Ukraine has already been weakened.

The United States, Nato and most European leaders believe these actions are being supported by Russia with the intention of destabilising Ukraine.

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Ukraine crisis: Big test for Europe

14 April 2014
Pro-Russian flag in Donetsk
There are major differences within the EU on how to tackle Russian actions in Ukraine

For Europe these spring days may prove to be a defining moment. Its protests over Russian action in Ukraine have gone unheeded. Its pleas have been disregarded. In recent weeks its hand in the crisis has only weakened.

Europe's foreign ministers meet on Monday in Luxembourg. They are in danger of losing the ability to influence events.

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The Greek experiment

7 April 2014
Demonstrators in Athens (27 March 2014)
A nationwide strike is due to take place in Greece this week

Greece remains Europe's laboratory; an economic experiment.

In the past week the country's minister for European Affairs, Dimitris Kourkoulas, was quoted as saying: "We have lost 25% of our GDP since 2008... we have been in seven consecutive years of recession. This has never happened in modern history. Even in the Great Depression of 1929, the American economy was in recession for just three years."

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Obama spells out Russia strategy

27 March 2014
President Obama delivers speech in the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. 26 March 2014
President Obama did not disguise US frustration with defence cuts in Europe

In a keynote speech to 2,000 people in a Brussels concert hall, President Obama set out his strategy for dealing with Russia over Ukraine.

He characterised the crisis as a contrast in ideas and beliefs between the West and Russia. He said that the annexation of Crimea had violated the beliefs that international law matters, that borders cannot be redrawn.

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Ukraine crisis: The weakness of Europe

24 March 2014
Francois Hollande, David Cameron and Angela Merkel 6 March
EU leaders have met several times to co-ordinate their response to the Ukraine crisis

In both Washington and Moscow I suspect officials are asking the same question of Europe: "How strong is its resolve when it comes to Ukraine?"

This week brought a reminder that Europe's economies are still struggling to emerge from recession, that unemployment remains stubbornly high and that there is growing discontent with the political establishment in many countries.

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Gavin added analysis to:

Crimea crisis: Merkel warns Russia faces escalating sanctions

20 March 2014

Over dinner Europe's leaders will discuss their next moves. A few more Russian names may be added to the sanctions hat. That is the easy part. The names are already drawn up.

The question is whether, this time, they will go after people closer to President Putin. That is less certain.

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Can EU reach consensus on Russia?

19 March 2014
Pro-Kremlin activists wave a flag depicting President Vladimir Putin at rally at the Red Square in Moscow, on 18 March 2014, to celebrate the incorporation of Crimea
Pro-Kremlin activists celebrated in Moscow's Red Square after President Putin's treaty with Crimea

European Union leaders will arrive for their spring summit on Thursday facing a crisis that only recently they could scarcely have imagined.

For more than 20 years they welcomed Russia into the international community.

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Early rounds fired in sanctions war

18 March 2014
Russian armoured vehicles drive on the road between Simferopol and Sevastopol
If Russia formally annexes Ukraine on the basis of the weekend referendum further sanctions will be imposed

All sanctions are intended to persuade, to change minds and to raise the cost of courses of action.

President Putin and his close circle will on Monday have been watching Brussels and Washington, trying to decipher their determination to hurt Russia over its actions in Crimea.

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Early rounds fired in sanctions war against Russia

17 March 2014
Russian armoured vehicles drive on the road between Simferopol and Sevastopol
If Russia formally annexes Ukraine on the basis of the weekend referendum further sanctions will be imposed

All sanctions are intended to persuade, to change minds and to raise the cost of courses of action.

President Putin and his close circle will on Monday have been watching Brussels and Washington, trying to decipher their determination to hurt Russia over its actions in Crimea.

Read full article

Gavin added analysis to:

Crimean parliament formally applies to join Russia

17 March 2014

The EU going forward will have to review whether it is too dependent on Russia for energy. Whether EU officials realised it or not they have got drawn into a much bigger and more dangerous game than pressing for enlargement.

So, this week the challenge for the EU must be to show resolve and unity. Any divisions will be exploited by Russia. Resolve will be to deliver on consequences warned about.

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About Gavin

Gavin was special correspondent for BBC News before becoming Europe editor in 2009.

He covered the Obama campaign in 2008 and was embedded with US forces for the invasion of Iraq.

He has written two books including A Soul On Ice.

He has won an RTS, a BAFTA and a Broadcast award.

He has covered conflicts in Georgia, Lebanon and Zimbabwe and reported from New York after 9/11. He was in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and was in Berlin the night the wall fell.

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