This step, born of a medical emergency, could be approved if Moscow acted out of altruistic beneficence. But far from it. Once again it is about, as is tradition in Russia’s foreign policy, dividing Europe. Lo and behold, it works again. Russia just knows what it wants: namely good, bilateral relations with the individual member states. Those with Germany are vital. Even those with Austria have priority over what Moscow sees as a powerless construct called the European Union. In fact, most of the time, at least when it comes to their course towards Russia, they don’t know what they want.
It is considered a success if all 27 EU foreign ministers pull together in Brussels today and initiate new sanctions because of the Navalny case. But they could not agree on more than truly paper-based punitive measures: The one European state that cannot take action against Russia severely enough, such as the Balts or Poland; and the others, including Germany and Austria, who do not want to see their economic relations (keyword Nord Stream 2) swim away.
The poisoning and conviction of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny; The suppression of protests, the servitude of the opposition – these human rights violations must not only shame Russia, but also Europe. The EU currently has nothing more to offer than verbal threatening gestures and inefficient sanctions. And Great Britain is beginning to be missed in the EU: after the poisoning of agent Sergej Skripal, London managed to expel around 160 Russian secret service employees and diplomats worldwide. By the way, Austria didn’t take part at the time.
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