How the EU’s icy relationship with Russia plunged to a brand new low — and why it issues


EU Excessive Consultant for Overseas Affairs and Safety Coverage, Josep Borrell (L) and Russian Overseas Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) maintain a joint press convention following their assembly in Moscow, Russia on February 5, 2021. (Photograph by Russian Overseas Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Company through Getty Photographs)

Russian Overseas Ministry | Anadolu Company | Anadolu Company | Getty Photographs

 LONDON — A latest press convention between the EU’s high diplomat and Russia’s veteran overseas minister demonstrated diplomatic ties have plunged to a brand new low, prompting some analysts to query whether or not the “humiliating” journey may result in additional political penalties.

EU overseas coverage chief Josep Borrell visited Moscow on Friday to voice the EU’s opposition to the arrest of Alexei Navalny, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Nonetheless, Borrell did not rebuff his Russian counterpart’s feedback when standing subsequent to him on the press convention. Russian Overseas Minister Sergei Lavrov had claimed the EU was an “unreliable associate.”

As well as, Borrell discovered through Twitter throughout his go to that Russia had expelled three EU diplomats for attending demonstrations in assist of Navalny.

“My assembly with minister Lavrov highlighted that Europe and Russia are drifting aside. Plainly Russia is progressively disconnecting itself from Europe,” Borrell stated in a weblog submit two days after the press convention. He described it as “a really difficult go to to Moscow.”

“The EU would not have a correct Russia technique.”

Jade McGlynn

analysis fellow, Henry Jackson Society

His controversial journey was so poorly acquired {that a} group of 73 European lawmakers stated European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen “ought to take motion, if Borrell doesn’t resign by his personal accord.” In a joint letter, they stated Borrell failed “to face for the pursuits and values of the European Union throughout his go to,” which brought on “extreme harm to the fame of the EU.”

The hyperlinks between the EU and Russia have been fractious for a while, however their ties are crucial given their shared financial, power and strategic pursuits.

Jade McGlynn, a analysis fellow on the Henry Jackson Society suppose tank, described the EU-Russia relationship as “coldly flamable” following Borrell’s journey to Moscow. “The EU would not have a correct Russia technique. There isn’t any level in having a reset with Russia when Russia doesn’t need it,” she stated.

‘Very disappointing’ for U.S.-EU ties

Either side had tried to enhance their hyperlinks on commerce, power, counterterrorism, amongst others, previous to 2014. On this context, the EU had supported Russia’s accession to the World Commerce Group, which concluded in 2012.

Nonetheless, the Russian annexation of Crimea in March 2014 was a turning level of their relationship. The EU opposed the transfer and imposed sanctions on Russian people and corporations consequently.

Their ties had been additional frayed by Russia’s intervention in Syria’s long-running warfare and in different Center Jap conflicts. Moreover, a number of constitutional reforms in Russia have additionally sparked concern amongst European officers, together with one that enables Putin to remain in energy past his present mandate.

“Their relationship has all the time been difficult,” Ian Lesser, vice chairman at The German Marshall Fund of the USA, informed CNBC, noting that now the ties are simply “deteriorating on a number of fronts.”

In consequence, Lesser expects “extra strain on the Nord Stream (undertaking), together with from Washington D.C.”

Nord Stream 2 is a pure fuel pipeline going from Russia to Germany and as soon as accomplished it could double the move of power sources between the 2, in response to Deutsche Welle.

The undertaking has been sharply criticized, together with by the USA, which has imposed sanctions on firms engaged on the pipeline — a stance that the brand new U.S. presidency has no intention of adjusting in a single day. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has stated Joe Biden’s administration is towards the undertaking.

Some European lawmakers are additionally of the opinion that Nord Stream 2 must be halted in response to Russia’s poisoning of Navalny. Earlier than returning to Russia final month, Navalny had been recovering in Germany after narrowly surviving what has since been independently confirmed as poisoning by a Novichok nerve agent on August. 20. The Kremlin denies poisoning Navalny.

“I can think about it is very disappointing” for the U.S. to look at Friday’s press convention in Moscow, McGlynn stated over the telephone. She added that the U.S. might be questioning “do we’ve a dependable associate who can stand as much as Russia?”