" We expected the EU would want to unite Europe, because that it it's reason for existence and that is the way EU supporters were talking...."
Not true. The EU is basically a trading bloc within Europe. Countries originally came together with a view to creating a free trading zone with each other.
The one and only referendum that British people had on whether to join, was sold to us as simply a free trade market. It was actually called (in Britain at least) 'The Common Market' for years, and only in relatively recent times has it been reborn as 'The European Union'.
Like Saab, I have always been against federalisation of the EU, and could see the absolute folly of the Euro currency well before it was launched.
One cannot have a viable currency out there on the world market when :
a) Strict economic criteria are not met by applicants to this currency, yet the rules are nevertheless bent to allow their entry anyway (think Greece, Italy, Portugal and even France)
and b) There is no central tax, welfare and pensions regime in operation. With some countries paying high rates of income tax, VAT and other excise, and others seemingly able to avoid paying a penny in tax, whilst running up massive debt, how could a single currency work?
The other, main objection I have is that with an overarching level of European Bureaucracy added on to the top of member state parliaments, proper democracy, in my view, has suffered greatly.
Consequently, many of the people in power in Brussels have not gone through the proper democratic process to get there.
Picking on one of my own officials just to illustrate the point, just look up the career of Baroness Ashton, the woman who is right at the coal face of the current Ukraine crisis.
Hailed as one of the world leaders, just try to find one occasion in her profile where she was actually elected by 'Joe Public'.
This lady may be pleasant company and possibly very good at what she does.....but never has she had to be subjected to a public vote.
Many, many top brass within Brussels are in position purely because other people who were already in a top brass position of their own, nominated the newcomer to be quietly given a position.
All very cosy, and all very incestuous, a good part of the time.
As a consequence of this overarching rule from Brussels (where the cosy club is located), member countries have less and less say over the day to day running of their own countries. Our fully elected Parliament in the UK can try to pass a law one day, and Brussels, technically, can turn around and say that we can't, as it goes against one of their Brussels diktats.
Basically, we are to all extents and purposes, subject to rule from Brussels.
It's a bit like the US Government having a team of powerful people nominated, to sit above them and tell them what they can do. Maybe a simplistic example, but not far from the truth.
How long would the American people stand for that?
As far as the EU being the place to welcome every other European country with open arms is concerned, Izzy is correct. I have nothing to add to that.
What Ukraine was being offered was a trade agreement, nothing more. When you listen to the pro Russian Crimeans being interviewed on TV, nearly every other word coming out of their mouths is either fascist or nazi, so you can get a reasonably good idea of modern day Russian mentality from that.
They are basically still stuck in cold war mode.
With that in mind, you can see how Putin and his buddies either thought the same way, and baulked at the idea of Ukraine turning towards the fascists, or, more likely, used this mentality to their advantage and fed into it to cause major internal unrest, with the full intention to get Crimea back, and possibly more.