US and EU — United Against Russia?

  • Upon Mr. Borrell's return from Moscow, he was criticized for not doing enough and not being stern enough during his visit.
  • It seems clear that Russia is breaking away from the European Union.
  • The EU believes in adopting a common strategy on how to deal with Russia.

This week, European Union High Representative Josep Borrell spoke at the conference organized by the US. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the conference was held in the online format. Recently, Mr. Borrell visited Russia and the topic of Alexey Navalny came up. It should be noted that Mr. Borrell did not meet with Mr. Navalny during his visit.

Josep Borrell is a Spanish politician, current High Representative of the European Union since 1 December 2019. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of the Government of Spain since 2018 until 2019.

Mr. Navalny has been sentenced to 2.7 years in prison, and there is a possibility of more charges being laid against him. Mr. Borrell did raise the topic of the Navlany imprisonment. Russia believes the issue with Mr. Navalny is an internal issue.

Upon Mr. Borrell’s return from Moscow, he was criticized for not doing enough and not being stern enough during his visit. The EU believes Mr. Navalny should be released immediately.

Furthermore, at the conference, Mr. Borrell stated that the visit to Russia was necessary to express concerns about the case against Mr. Navalny, and the crackdown on the demonstrators, as well as to explore the possibility of a positive agenda in relations with Russia.

Mr. Borrell believes that an aggressive reaction shows that they see democratic values as a threat to their existence. The Navalny case caused the Kremlin to react by blocking the Western approach.

This statement is flawed, especially given the fact of what has been happening in Spain recently, and the use of force during the protests in France.

Moreover, it seems clear that Russia is breaking away from the European Union. President Vladimir Putin’s regime uses any means necessary, including a large amount of disinformation, in order to ensure their survival and to fight with the opposition. This became quite clear during the trip.

Mr. Borrell thinks that his experience visiting Russia has shown that the Kremlin does not want to interact with the European Union. For Russia, what the EU represents– liberal values and democracy– is seen as an existential threat, as something that they cannot accept.

At the same time, the latter is true. Yet, after the sanctions, what interest would Russia have to interact with the EU?

Alexei Navalny is a Russian politician and anti-corruption activist. He came to international prominence by organizing demonstrations, and running for office, to advocate reforms against corruption in Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his government. In 2012, The Wall Street Journal described him as “the man Vladimir Putin fears most.”

Russia considers it inappropriate to respond to a request to fulfill its international obligations. If you come to them and ask them to fulfill their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, they block any attempts to interact, said Mr. Borrell,

At the same time, the new Russian constitutional amendments, passed last year, do not oblige Russia to cooperate. Lastly, Mr. Navalny chose himself to return to Russia.

The EU believes in adopting a common strategy on how to deal with Russia. We need unity and determination in the ranks of the members of the EU.

Mr. Borrell thinks that Russia has taken a confrontational course, and in the face of this confrontational course, we need to do three things:

  1. Fight back against Russia when it violates international or humanitarian law.
  2. Contain Russia when it increases pressure on us, including disinformation and cyber attacks.
  3. No matter what, cooperate in certain areas, where it is in our interests.

Hence, the US and EU agreed to expand the list of sanctions against the high ranking Russian officials under the unified umbrella of the global human rights sanctions regime.

Overall, it is clear that the West will continue to support the Russian opposition with hopes of changing Russia. Former President Ronald Reagan is credited with helping destroy the Soviet Union. Currently, there are no candidates that can achieve the same against Russia.

Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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