The same European Union that passed sanctions against Russia in 2014 and now has threatened the US with sanctions over the US drafted sanctions against Russia….has now slapped Russia with more sanctions. If it sounds confusing, it is because the EU is deeply confused about its position on Russian sanctions.
The EU’s position on Russia is best summarised as a combination of an extremely self-serving attitude that is in constant ricochet with a fanatical Russophobic ideology that itself is owed to the contrasting forces of 19th century European pride which sees the central European powers as an economic counterweight to Russia, combined with the ultra-nationalism of countries like Poland and the revived fascism in the Baltic states. All of this is of course happening as Europeanist Germany is rowing with ultra-nationalist Poland over internal European affairs as the wider world sits back and laughs at the ignominious nature of the Berlin-Warsaw disputes which centre around Polish legal reforms and the refusal of Poland to house illegal, mainly African migrants.
Europe showed that its ideological Russophobic zeal has limits when US sanctions threatened to undermine the commercial endeavours of big European firms who work with Russian firms on joint energy projects, most prominently Nord Stream II.
However, at the same time, Europe has been embroiled in a non-scandal of their own making involving the sale of energy turbines made by the giant German consortium Siemens which were recently purchased by Russia.
The turbines were purchased by Russia and installed in Russia, something that in a saner Europe would be as uncontroversial as a Russian man buying a German made Mercedes-Benz car, something which happens every hour of every day. But because the place in Russia where some of the turbines were installed was Crimea, the EU, pushed by the avidly pro-Kiev governments of Eastern Europe, moved to impose new sanctions on Russia.
These sanctions were slammed as illegal according to international law by Russia. According to the Russian Ministry of Energy,
“Political ambitions must not be an obstacle for the governments to fulfill commitments to the citizens”.
By allowing the small and often times backward economies of Eastern Europe to define an increasingly self-defeating policy which fails to accept that Crimea is as it has been for most of modern history, part of Russia, the EU is setting itself up for a situation that will hurt only its own economy.
If the US enforces its sanctions which would prohibit European companies form going through with existing commercial endeavours with Russian firms, it would behove Europe to end its own sanctions against Russia in order to gain leverage in a trade war with the United States that some European officials believe is forthcoming.
If the EU continues to pick and choose sanctions, it will realise that when compared to Russia and the United States, it has little geo-political clout in spit of its economic strength which relies mostly on Germany in any case.
The EU can choose Russia or the United States and perhaps in the future, a bit of both. It simply cannot choose neither, but if the US and EU continue to be at loggerheads over Washington’s sanctions and Brussels continues to value the Eastern European love affair with Ukrainian fascism more than simple market economics, the European Union will end up isolating itself on all sides of its economy.
Who could be so foolish as to wish that upon one’s self?