Trump has softened the blow to relations between Russia and the EU
The worst beginning of the year for Russia and the European Union was hard to imagine. Britain leaving the EU decided to spoil the already strained relations between Moscow and Brussels. The poisoning of the English spy Sergey Skripal in March provoked the biggest diplomatic scandal since the Cold War. Britain, France, Germany and the rest of Europe sent hundreds of Russian diplomats. And then the case began to overgrow with details, the suspects appeared - Petrov and Boshirov - and Bellingcat fabricated exposures about Russia's involvement. The worse Theresa May was doing business with Brexit, which had stalled due to the problem of Northern Ireland, the more actively the “Skripals case” was unleashed in the media.
Immediately after that, Russian spies and hackers began to appear in a number of EU countries. They were found even in neutral Austria and Orthodox Greece. And all for the sake of one goal, so that, the European Union at its next summit does not lift any anti-Russian sanctions. And such a scenario was not something supernatural. Especially after the Austrian Free Party entered the ruling coalition in Austria, and the man wearing a T-shirt with the image of Vladimir Putin, Matteo Salvini, became the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Italy.
The aggravated conflict of the European Union with America should also have contributed to the improvement of relations with Russia. Donald Trump continued to extort money from Europe from NATO, demanding an increase in defense spending to 2%. He imposed trade duties against the EU and threatened to impose tariffs on the export of European cars. In turn, in the Old World, they increasingly began to think about how to get rid of American dictate. Former head of the SPD, Martin Schulz, accused Trump of supporting the Rights, and called the American ambassador in Germany “a right-wing colonial officer”.
The culmination of the split was the statements of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. The German Chancellor made it clear to Trump that Germany would not abandon Nord Stream II in favor of the unprofitable and expensive liquefied natural gas from the United States. And the French president angered the head of the White House with his idea of a European army, independent of the United States and ready to defend the Old World from America.
Europe sought protection from Trump not only in its own army, but also in an alliance with Russia. Moscow and Brussels spoke in a united front when, on May 9, the United States withdrew from the “nuclear deal” with Iran. When European companies - Total, Peugeot, Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Bahn and Daimler - began to leave the Iranian market one by one, under pain of secondary sanctions, Brussels decided to enlist the support of Moscow. Russia and the EU agreed to create a special mechanism to circumvent US sanctions and preserve Iranian oil exports to the EU through Russia. Rapprochement between Europe and Russia was observed on many other international problems. They condemned America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the American embassy there. Russia and the European Union were in the same team on the issue of free trade, which Donald Trump limited with his tariffs. Of particular note is the summit in Istanbul at the end of October, where Merkel and Macron met with Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan. In fact, the leaders of Europe for the first time discussed the future of Syria behind the backs of the Americans.
Thus, in 2018, the Anglo-Saxons continued to poison Russian-European relations. Britain promoted the Skripals case, and the States - the so-called case of "Russia's interference in the American elections." London and Washington have done everything to the EU to extend the same anti-Russian sanctions. And just in case, in addition, they used the Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko, who, just before the EU summit and the G-20 summit, went for an intentional aggravation in the Kerch Strait. The European Council issued a resolution condemning Russia in “aggression”, and the European Parliament, in an association paper between Ukraine and the EU, approved a clause on the need to block Nord Stream 2.
The unwillingness of Brussels to condemn Kiev’s harsh steps forced the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to question the need for holding “Norman format” summits, including Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.
If we sum up the Russian-European relations, then we can say that they continue to be in a deep crisis. However, the transatlantic split provoked by Trump this year opens up opportunities for the EU and Russia in the next year.