1 of 3 | Photo: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs / AP / TT
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has made several tough moves against the EU leadership in Brussels in recent weeks. The result can now be increased sanctions against Moscow. Stock Photo.
The relationship between Russia and the EU is cooler than in decades. It is the fault of the EU leadership, Moscow claims, and then tries to split between the member states.
But the effect seems to be the opposite.
Sanctions are once again on the agenda when EU foreign ministers meet on Monday morning to discuss relations with Russia.
There does not seem to be any major doubt about striking with more. From last week’s preparatory diplomatic meetings in Brussels, there is talk of broad consensus and no calls for waiting or slowing down. EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell is expected to be tasked with preparing lists of additional people who should be banned from entering the EU and frozen assets.
And Russia can mainly thank its own foreign minister for that.
“Not to be trusted”
In a few weeks, Sergei Lavrov has effectively pushed relations into a slump.
– The EU can not be trusted, Lavrov said at a press conference with Borrell in Moscow after complaining about how the EU criticizes the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, but does not act on police violence against French protesters and the imprisonment of Catalans in Spain.
A few minutes later – in the middle of a sitting meeting – Borrell is informed that three EU diplomats, including a Swede, will be expelled from Russia for having observed the demonstrations of the Navalny supporters.
12th of February:
New approach in an interview: if there are more EU sanctions against Russian citizens and companies, Russia will completely break with the EU, Lavrov promises.
It is the EU organization that is at fault – not the individual EU countries, the Foreign Minister regrets after a meeting with his Finnish colleague.
Not least the latter has aroused attention and suspicions that Russia is now more actively than before trying to break wedges between Brussels and the member states.
The rulers of Moscow have long maintained good relations with EU-critical and EU-skeptical parties, such as the French National Assembly and the Italian Lega. When Lavrov now talks about Russia having good relations with the countries themselves, but that it is the EU that is causing problems, they hope to be able to use the criticism that has always existed against Brussels even among more established parties. And who has also recently grown towards heavy EU leaders such as Borrell and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The only problem is that it does not work very well. Admittedly, Borrell’s efforts in Moscow have been seen as far too weak. However, the Russian behavior and the broad sides against him have caused the EU countries to unite.
Moscow is now experiencing how outside criticism makes the EU unite – in the same way that London astonishedly discovered that the hope that the EU countries’ different wills could be played off against each other never worked in the Brexit negotiations.
Russia’s actions can instead have completely opposite consequences as demands increase on the part of the EU.
Collaborate more closely with the United States, strengthen the EU and NATO in the Western Balkans and expand security cooperation with countries such as Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, for example, is the advice from the think tank ECFR, the European Center for International Relations.
“Paradoxically, a more confrontational attitude towards Russia in some areas, combined with the offer of talks, could lead to better results than usual words of ‘restart’. A tougher attitude is more likely to lead to engagement than diplomatic appeals and geopolitical flattery,” he said. states ECFR’s Nico Popescu in an analysis.
Silent about Nordstream
The EU’s Heads of State and Government will hold a proper discussion on relations with Russia at their summit in Brussels at the end of March. No later than that situation, new sanctions are also expected to be in place.
The only question is who will be affected. Alexei Navalny and his supporters have called on the EU to put more of the money-rich oligarchs who live well in the shadow of President Vladimir Putin. Within the EU, however, it is warned that there must be legally sustainable links. Nobody wants to risk the imposition of sanctions, but then be ruled unjustified by the European Court of Justice.
Interrupting work on the controversial German-Russian gas pipeline Nordstream 2 has also been mentioned – but mainly only externally. At diplomatic level within the EU, no member state has yet taken up Nordstream, which is instead happy to leave it as a matter solely for Germany.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde (S) has, however, been commissioned by the Riksdag’s EU Committee to raise the issue during Monday’s meeting.
#Russian #anger #unites