“See how elastic our prejudices grow when once love comes to bend them.” — Moby Dick
Members of European Parliament (MEPs) convened on 23 Nov. to enact yet another non-legislative motion to combat “Russian propaganda”.
The EU resolution, created by European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) member Anna Fotgya (Poland), rallied parliamentarians in a torch and pitchfork session to scapegoat Russian media for exposing the hard truths about incompetent Western leadership.
Citing the typical Crimean ‘annexation’,“[…] the European Parliament condemned Russia’s state media as ‘disinformation and propaganda’ designed to ‘increase Russia’s influence and weaken the EU’, [which] passed by 304 votes to 179, with 208 abstentions”, the Moscow Times reported.
The resolution also called for “investing more in awareness raising, education, online and local media, investigative journalism and information literacy”.
Russian Spokesperson Maria Zakharova promptly responded to the accusations:
“[It] is beyond my understanding what our Western colleagues are so afraid of. I cannot call this anything but fear […] [the resolution] is stupidity and fear through and through.”
Europe’s “investments” in the Russian economy, including backing regime change in Ukraine and Syria, enacting unilateral sanctions, and bailing out Ukraine’s criminal government, have yet to yield any return on investment.
In fact, evidence shows that the EU has placed stock by ignoring its trade deficit with Russia and forging deeper ties to the indebted United States economy.
In 2014, Germany was Russia’s second-largest EU trading partner (6.6%) after the Netherlands (8.7%). Conversely, Russia was the EU’s fourth largest trading partner in 2015. Germany’s successes in the single market made it an easy target for American imperialism.
To increase its market share, US officials targeted Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands—Russia’s top three trading partners—with sanctions to procure future negotiations and trade deals.
A 2014 CNN article explained this in perfect detail:
[…] the European Union exports about 100 billion euros worth of goods and services to Russia and takes in roughly 200 billion euros of the latter’s imports […] For Germany, curtailed trade with Russia could really bite. And considering as the former is Europe’s biggest economy the implications would be felt well beyond its borders.
German financial analyst Ernest Wolff extrapolates from this observation in a Sputnik article:
“Over 6,000 German companies are trading with Russia, and many of them are now experiencing difficulties, and this is exactly what the sanctions were aimed at,” he stated.
“[It] clearly plays into the hands of the US geopolitical interests and American capital. If the US employment and labor law is introduced in European companies, this will bring the US one step closer towards US global dominance,” he mentioned.
Several conditions within EU-Russian trade became evident in 2014, which are intrinsically linked to the desperate US-EU EuroMaidan colour revolution.
Firstly, it was an attempt to circumvent Europe’s chasmic trade deficit. From 2005-2015, the EU traded disproportionately with Russia, incurring a deficit of over $90b in 2011.
The same year, EU and US officials began secret consultations of a future agreement “based on the recommendations of the EU-US High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth that steered the deliberations on the future EU-US relations,” the EU Commission reported. The ‘agreement’ would later become the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
According to a 2013 London Centre for Economic Policy Research study, [it] “could bring the EU economic gains of €119 billion a year [and] translate on average to an extra €545 in disposable income each year for a family of four in the EU.”
In reality, this was to counteract Russia’s positive trade balance of $196b (2011), with $506b in exports and $310b in imports; the highest on record.
Conversely, the US incurred a trade deficit of over $72b (2011), with imports at $2.06t and exports at 1.34t. America’s massive trade and fiscal deficits, exacerbated by the 2008 financial crisis and endless war in the Middle East, increased America’s appetite for surplus value in new markets to make up for the deficit, using conflict to divide the EU from Russia and finalise plans for the TTIP.
Furthermore, Russia’s growing Economic Complexity Index (ECI), which attracts trading partners to bundled export packages, also prompted the shift in policy. Russia’s ECI ranking almost doubled from its lowest point in 2009 (50) to 2014 (27), 5 points away from its record high in 1992 (22), diversifying its markets to weather the US-inspired 2008 global financial crisis.
The Council of the European Union then worked to entice as many countries away from Russia’s geopolitical orbit amidst the chaos, on behalf of Washington:
Major progress was achieved in the field of visa liberalisation with the Republic of Moldova with entry into force of the visa free regime in April. The visa facilitation agreement and readmission agreement entered into force on 1 January 2014 between EU and Armenia and on 1 September 2014 between EU and Azerbaijan […] The EU began negotiations on Visa Facilitation Agreement with Belarus.
Nevertheless, the subterfuge backfired. Armenia, instead of pivoting westward, joined the Eurasian Economic Union, blocking progress on the South Stream pipeline and fuelling tensions with EU vassal state Azerbaijan.
Additionally, Moldova’s leadership recently became ‘pro-Russian’, thanks to Party of Socialists’ Chairman Igor Dodon winning the country’s 2016 elections, infuriating Brussels even further.
The main problem for Brussels lies not in Moscow, but in the streets of Europe, as anti-TTIP protesters denounce the theft of worker’s rights, increased imports of genetically-modified foods, repressive copyright laws, as well as impending corporate rule over individual sovereign states.
So, how has ‘big, bad Vlad’ undermined the ‘weakened’ the ‘free and democratic’ European Union?
Amidst Western sanctions, President Vladimir Putin has made it even easier to do business in Russia by creating Special Investment Contracts (SICs), which “support potential investors in transferring business into Russia” as well as create “new facilities and receiving the status of Russian domestic [manufacturers]”, quotes the Moscow Times.
This has attracted multinational businesses to Russia and facilitated joint ventures between Moscow and other economic powerhouses. EuroChem, one of Europe’s largest mineral fertiliser producers based in Zug, Switzerland, recently signed a massive SIC at the 2016 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Sochi, Russia.
“EuroChem’s investment in three projects [Kingisepp, EuroChem-VolgaKaliy and EuroChem-Usolskiy] totals approximately RUB 287 billion while their implementation will create 3,750 new jobs in the aforementioned regions and will ensure annual tax revenues of RUB 22 billion,” the company highlighted.
Success stories such as these have increased Russia’s standing in the World Bank Doing Business ranking for startups, moving it from 37 to 26 (↑11%), mitigating sanctions in 2016.
Due to Europe’s counterproductive actions, Russia has also purged much of the EU’s market share and passed it to China—its largest trading partner. A Bruegel working paper elaborates:
[…] the EU’s relative comparative advantage is being chipped away as it continues to lose market share, and the question really is how much this might be related to China’s increasing export capacity. […] China has moved from supplying only 3.9 percent of Russia’s imports in 1998 to more than 21 percent in 2014. In the meantime the EU’s share has gradually decreased from nearly 70 percent to 55 percent.
Additionally, the largest indicator of Russia’s intentions with the European Union stems from the MIR Initiative, a large-scale freighting infrastructure project headed by Dr. Ernest Sultanov.
According to the organisation’s two charters, signed in Turin, Italy and Sochi, Russia, Moscow will play an indispensable role as an international conduit between Asia and Europe. The initiative makes a ‘Silk Road Metro‘ of the entire Asian and European continent, placing Moscow at a sensitive, critical junction to transport both freighters and passengers via high-speed rail.
Chinese President Xi spearheaded the ambitious New Silk Road project in 2013, which is a modernised version of intercontinental trade during the Han dynasty, in order to lift billions of people out of poverty across Asia, the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, and Europe.
Dr. Sultanov theorises the following about his perspective on the MIR Initiative:
[The] creation of common infrastructure is certainly a key factor in promoting a sustainable model of development in the world today. Social mobility, security and economic upliftment find their base on [transportation] mobility and presence of infrastructure and communications permitting the fast passage of people, goods and ideas.
Socio-economic and transport/communication mobility are inversely proportional to the risk of [unacceptable] and conflict behavior: i.e. the higher system mobility a region features, the less likely it is to see a crisis or conflict break out. A common transport system in constant development unhindered by any walls or barriers is the most important factor that allowed Europe to decrease the chance of internal clashes.
The MIR Initiative is arguably the paragon of future Russo-European relations, and only ‘weakens’ the Western narrative about ‘Russian aggression’. On the contrary; it is imperative that Russia maintains stability to ensure the Silk Road’s success. Even the initiative’s Turin charter, signed by 13 high-ranking international officials, states the following:
A large infrastructure project requires a prolonged mobilization of important interests, seamless cooperation among institutions, international political action at the highest levels, and enormous resources. However, the most essential precondition is the creation of a deep consensus among countries that are located far from one another and often in conflict (as it is now occurring in the METR region). These countries could be motivated to understand one another and to cooperate because of efforts of Eurasian corridor cities.
The very definition of propaganda is “the organized dissemination of information, allegations, etc, to assist or damage the cause of a government, movement, etc”, which is precisely what the European Union is using to slander the Russian government. By shifting towards US foreign policy, Europe risks alienating herself from a rising Asia and Eurasia.
As Europe’s business class pivots eastward, they disprove Mrs. Fotgya’s baseless claims, and Zakharova is correct to say that if “the European Union has any internal issues, the cause of those problems must be found within, rather than blaming them on a third party.”
Whether or not European MEPs kowtow a Eurosceptic organisation that wishes to “decentralise power back to national capitals” and support “transatlantic alliances” will not deter Vladimir Putin from doing everything possible to make peace with the European continent and building a New World Order with Asia and Eurasia fully united in purpose. If this scares Europe, then so be it.
Better yet, EU parliamentarians should step off of the USS Pequod and chart their own destiny.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.