Why the international community can not ignore Russia
The imprisonment of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny on his return from poisoning treatment from Novichok in Berlin brought to the fore the rift between Russia and the West as well as previous policies with a harsh response to pro-Navalny demonstrators. The EU and Germany were quick to condemn the actions and the US followed suit.
Both the US and the EU uphold the sanctions imposed on Russia following its annexation of Crimea and its incursion into Ukrainian territory in 2014. The conflict prompted the then-G8 group of countries to expel Russia, ending Moscow’s 14-year membership. of club exclusivity
The EU sees itself not only as a union of nations, but also as a union of values, which stands for democracy and human rights. This has traditionally been the US stance. Former US President Donald Trump was different, as he clearly admired Russian President Vladimir Putin and his retention in power. Trump focused less on safeguarding multilateral agreements and more on curbing China’s seeming growing economic and political influence.
New US President Joe Biden is different: He has taken a dim view of Russia’s efforts to interfere in the US election and its cyber attacks. The US and EU once again speak the same language towards Russia in Navalny. So far so good, but when it comes to geopolitics, things have never been so easy. Despite their grievances, Russia is important to Western nations on many levels and issues.
The Biden administration agreed to extend the New Start (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which limits the United States and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 nuclear warheads, in due course, as it would expire on February 5th. This was important because the smaller the global nuclear arsenal, the safer the world.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov even said that Moscow could consider returning to the Open Skies Treaty, which allows signatory countries to monitor and verify each other’s military forces and air weapons (Trump unilaterally withdrew from the treaty in 2019).
While maintaining sanctions and perhaps tightening them is on the Washington charter, US foreign policy has yet to deal with Russian influence in the Middle East (Syria, Libya, Iran, Turkey, etc.), where it has grown exponentially. continuous, as well as in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and elsewhere.
EU High Representative Josep Borrell’s strong rhetoric during a visit to Moscow last week angered Lavrov, leading him to warn that Russia was ready to sever its ties with the EU if the bloc envisioned further sanctions. A few days later, while talking to Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, Lavrov seemed more reassuring, explaining the EU as a bloc was not the same as the individual countries with which he was happy to maintain cordial relations.
Like the US, the EU also has to deal with its close neighbor Russia at various levels. There are clearly controversial points of electoral mixing and cyber attacks. There are also commercial interests, such as the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is divisive in Europe and faces opposition from some EU member states, especially those in Central Europe, who fear for their geopolitical influence after the two projects of Nord Stream bypass them. The Baltic states also fear that the projects will undermine their security strategies.
Nord Stream has former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on board and has strong support on the right and left of the political spectrum in Germany, but not from the Greens. Its supporters argue that energy security is a matter of national security, which replaces the views of even strong allies. Given that the 1,222 km long pipeline is only 150 km from completion, we can expect a compromise between the Western allies.
The EU is also eager to revive the nuclear deal between the P5 + 1 nations and Iran, its hitherto successful foreign policy objective. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia is a very important part of that union of figures. Its strength in Syria and Libya also matters when it comes to dealing with the ongoing flow of refugees to Europe.
Russia has played its geopolitical cards in recent years, gaining influence in the Middle East and also working with OPEC member countries, forming the OPEC + alliance, which was essential in restoring normalcy to oil markets after the collapse of historical demand last April, when the coronavirus outbreak became global.
Russia is also on an attractive offensive with the help of its highly effective Sputnik V vaccine, which it uses as a foreign policy tool aimed at building goodwill. While the EU is still arguing over the distribution of vaccines, its close neighbors in the Balkans have been deceived by Russia and China with their respective vaccines. Globally, Moscow and Beijing seem to have high hopes for middle-income countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia to get vaccines, as rich nations have seized every vial they can get their hands on from Pfizers and Modernas. of this world.
Like the US, the EU has to deal with its close neighbor at different levels.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has warned that Russia’s antagonism would greatly push it into a larger alliance with China. Developments in the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as vaccine diplomacy, seem to confirm his position. It should not be forgotten that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which aims to promote cooperation in the fields of economics, defense, research, technology and culture, counts Russia and China among its founding members. Iran, Belarus and Afghanistan are observer states, while Pakistan and India are full members. The SCO has real geopolitical influence in Eurasia, which will only increase in the future.
In other words, while it is harsh on Russia when it comes to its interference in the affairs of other countries and especially how Moscow handles its opposition can be justified, the departure of the world’s largest nation from the earth could turns into an opposite effect.
- Cornelia Meyer is a Ph.D. with 30 years of experience in investment banking and industry. She is the chair and CEO of Meyer Resources business consulting. Twitter: @MeyerResources
Responsibility: The views expressed by the writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News.
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