As a result of the EU Brussels summit held on March 19-20, the anti-Russia sanctions will be neither extended, nor cancelled. Instead the decision on sanctions against Russia will depend on how the European leaders evaluate its compliance with the recent Minsk II agreement. Most of the European Union's economic sanctions against Moscow are set to expire in late July, and extending or expanding them will require a unanimous vote. The summit’s final document says the decision is delayed till later this year. You’re free to construe it anyway you want.
To my mind, it means only one thing. The anti-Russian consensus in Europe formed after the Malaysian Boeing tragedy, when the plane was hit by someone who was pursuing a very definite goal, is waning and the European Union uses murky wording to cover it up. No matter all the declarations made by officials about European and transatlantic unity, media openly discusses the split on the issue of anti-Russia sanctions. According to Bloomberg there are seven EU members ready to oppose the US-imposed policy of confrontation with Russia, including Italy, Austria, Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary and Slovakia. Every fourth European Union member thinks the sanctions policy goes against common sense. They are on the verge of formally opposing the sanctions.
European farmers dump out their vegetables and fruits in front of administrative buildings in protest. They realize the absurdity of the anti-Russia sanctions policy. This view is shared by respectable media outlets which harbor no sympathy for Russia. For instance, on March 20 Bloomberg published the article called Russia Rebounds, Despite Sanctions which says the Russian economy is far from being ruined and it has good prospects for future. According to Mathew Winkler, the article’s author, Russian business is on the rebound. A number of Russian companies are outperforming their global peers. Winkler believes that under these circumstances only an inveterate optimist may believe that Russia will give up and leave the Donbass to be plundered by Ukrainian Pravy Sector, a far-right Ukrainian nationalist political party.
Naturally, the idea of extending sanctions put forward by Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, was doomed. The more realistic task was to keep in force the sanctions already imposed. So, a compromise was found. The decisions are put off in hope that somehow it will all turn for the better. Hardly so, and time is running. The June summit will become the place for difficult conversation. Of course, US lobby in Europe could not do without imposing at least some anti-Russia decisions, like the one to oppose the «Russian propaganda» which evokes exasperation by its interpretations of the events in Ukraine and, actually, is nothing else but «an instrument of hybrid war» waged by Russia. By June the EU plans to work out an action plan on strategic communications. It also plans to create a body to counter «Russian propaganda» which «disseminates myths». Naturally, the implementation of these plans requires funds. Little time has passed since Donald Tusk took office but it was enough to make him get accustomed to squander money like if he were Donald Trump. The difference is that it’s not his money he spends but rather the income the EU gets from European hard working tax payers.
It’s too early to say there a change in EU policy looming. But, definitely, there is a need to alter the course. It’s not just the economic interests of business dealing with Russia. It’s the fate of the European project itself. The history of European integration has seen great successes. The countries that had been often at war with each other before got united and agreed to delegate some authority to united Europe for common prosperity and security. Overcoming differences and creating a European identity was an extremely difficult goal to achieve. Millions of Europeans will be greatly frustrated in case this identity is sacrificed in favor of serving vague transatlantic interests or, to put it simply, the US geopolitical strategy.
No matter what Washington says, the United States pursues its own goals; it cares about itself, not Europe. To maintain the position of global leader the United States has adopted the strategy of exporting tensions throughout the whole world. Disseminating chaos and making investment climate deteriorate in other regions, the United States makes capitals seek safe harbors. America applies great efforts to make itself look like the one. Geography is a factor that makes it feel safe at the distance from whatever happens in the old continent. It allows the United States to exist, no matter the colossal national debt and deficit of trade balance.
That’s why, unlike Europe, the United States is not interested in peaceful settlement of Ukrainian crisis. That’s why Victoria Nuland, the US Assistant State Secretary, told to f… EU using obscene language in a telephone conversation with the US ambassador to Ukraine. America wants to make Europe shoulder the burden of Ukrainian crisis. There is a hope Europeans will be wise enough to understand it. The question is – will they have enough will power to understand it and withstand the pressure from the United States and the American lobby within the ranks of the European Union?
The events inside the European Union show some signs of hope, but the tendency is still very shaky. Any aircraft brought down, or a house destroyed by blast, or a grave unexpectedly discovered may change the state of things. It’s possible something like this may be staged again before the next summit of the European Union. But step by step Europeans begin to understand that any such act is not targeted against Russia only, but against Europe as well.