Europe should “pull itself together” against Russia, says Russian ambassador
The European Union should “pull together and define what it really expects from its relations with Russia,” said Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s long-time ambassador to the EU.
Russia is currently at the top of the bloc’s agenda. Last week EU High Representative Josep Borrell unveiled a new strategy for dealing with Russia based on three principles: ‘push back, compel, engage’.
Leaders are expected to discuss this approach and take stock of all EU-Russia relations at the two-day EU summit this week.
“I think the European Union should start with something else. It should start by defining its own interests regarding Russia,” Chizhov told Euronews ahead of the summit.
“I think the European Union itself should [get] he acts together and defines what he really expects from his relations with Russia, because these three words, they do not present a viable strategy. Push back what? Constrain what and how? “
For Chizhov, the principles “push back, constrain, engage” constitute an “expression of the dialectical approach”.
“In fact, I would suggest that the EU does not let itself be guided by certain slogans or certain terms set in stone because our relationship is evolving,” he notes, noting that the strategy was unveiled before the meeting in Geneva between US President Joe Biden and Russian President. Vladimir Poutine.
According to the European Commission, the three principles should help the bloc to become more robust and resilient in the face of Russian interference and enable member states to respond to threats in a more systematic and unified manner. All foreign policy decisions at EU level must be taken unanimously.
“Five years ago there was an attempt to [EU’s] High Representative Federica Mogherini will present five principles of relations with Russia. What we see in the current approach is an attempt to do [it] one more step, but it is not only a step in the wrong direction, it is a step in a certain impasse because it does not give a positive agenda for relations with my country “, notes the Ambassador.
“I think it’s bad. It’s bad for our bilateral relations. It’s bad for Europe as a whole. And I would say it’s bad for international politics because we continue to consider the European Union as an important element on the world political scene and the world economic scene.
America is back, but so is Russia
Ambassador Chizhov thinks that the new Brussels strategy does not highlight the positive elements in EU-Russia relations and on the contrary “consolidates the negative trend” of recent years.
Over the past decade, Russia has been accused of illegally annexing crime, waging disinformation campaigns, interfering in democratic elections, orchestrating chemical poisonings, carrying out cyber attacks on governments and provide military support in armed conflicts unfolding in close proximity to NATO, such as the war in the Nagorno-Karabakh confrontation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last month expressed his support for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko after Western countries accused him of hijacking a Ryanair flight over EU territory in an attempt to kidnap the journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega.
The EU’s review of its Russian strategy is not a fortuitous political decision: the bloc hopes that, thanks to the arrival of Joe Biden, a self-proclaimed Atlanticist, at the White House, the balance of power will shift again to favor of the Alliance.
Europeans have not forgotten how Biden’s predecessor Donald J. Trump made no secret of his admiration for Putin and often appeared to side with Moscow rather than Brussels.
“America is back, and it’s created a wave of excitement on this Atlantic coast. Well, maybe if America is back with a positive agenda, that might help,” said the ambassador.
“But I would recommend that people here in Western Europe remember that Russia is back and Russia has been back for a long time. And ignoring Russia or trying to isolate Russia has never helped anyone. through the ages. “
In order to bypass current geopolitical tensions, Chizhov believes that the EU and Russia should focus on non-controversial areas of potential cooperation, such as climate change, digitization, the energy sector and the fight against the pandemic. of coronavirus.
“We should all feel sorry that the international community has failed to jointly tackle this tiny, small, utterly apolitical [and] devoid of any enemy ideological ideology [issue]: the coronavirus. Instead, we are seeing, I would say, a very politicized campaign of vaccine competition, which I think is in no one’s best interest, “he said, stressing his certainty that the Sputnik V vaccine from Russian manufacture will eventually be approved for use in the European Union.
Earlier this month, Slovakia became the second EU country, after Hungary, to administer the Sputnik V vaccine. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is currently evaluating the treatment.