Trump questions US – Europe kinship, approaches Russia

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office, November 10, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office, November 10, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

In a peculiar way, the five EU leaders who gathered last week in Berlin for a farewell meeting with Barack Obama, closely followed the outgoing American President in his hard line stance against Russia and Vladimir Putin. The Obama administration has been persistently pressing the Europeans to impose more sanctions on Russia on various reasons including the Syria and Ukraine issues. Despite that, during the many years of the Ukrainian crisis, Germany, France and Italy had been much more flexible towards Moscow’s interference in the Russian speaking eastern part of the devastated country than the belligerent Americans.

Berlin has been insisting for a political solution all along the Ukrainian civil war. Together with France, Germany had come to terms with Russia, in a deal that Washington did what it could to undermine, by supporting the most aggressive right-wing elements in Kiev. As for the Syrian civil war, only days ago the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said he couldn’t see the connection between more sanctions against Russia, with the facilitation of aid to the Syrian people. However, now that Donald Trump, the US President-elect has won the White House on a cooperative approach with regard to Russia, the Europeans make a full U-turn and adopt the aggressive attitude of the outgoing US administration. Why? Let’s try to dig a bit into that.

Europe changes its stance

Last week, Barack Obama – visiting Europe for the last time as President of the US – met in Berlin the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the British Prime Minister Theresa May, the French President Francois Hollande, the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The EU leaders unreservedly joined their American guest, when he advised Trump to continue being hostile against Russia.

This European policy change becomes even more significant, because the new President-elect had just criticized NATO and stated that he opts for warmer relations with Russia. Last Friday, Trump, with a characteristic delay, spoke over the telephone with Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO. Afterwards, it was announced that the two men agreed that the Organization is of “enduring importance”, an obvious understatement about this mighty politico-military Organization.

Trump criticizes NATO-Europe

Surprisingly enough, this is all Trump had to say about NATO and Europe. In contrast, after the Berlin meeting, the White House announced that the six leaders (Obama+ 5 Europeans) “affirmed the importance of continued co-operation through multilateral institutions, including NATO”. No need to underline the differentiation between Trump and Obama, regarding the way the ingoing and the outgoing Presidents sees the US relations with Europe. Trump, on many occasions during his electoral campaign, had stressed he expected the Europeans to stop counting on American defense spending and aggressively asked them to search deep into their pockets, to foot the NATO bills.

Obviously, the Europeans are not ready to pay and thus support the US political and military presence in Europe, through increased contributions to the NATO budget. The EU has already adopted other options. Incidentally, after the Brexit, France and Germany found the opportunity to plan the strengthening of EU’s autonomous security and defense abilities, outside NATO structures. This will be realized along the lines of the ‘EU Common Foreign and Security Policy’. According to the EU Foreign Affairs Council of 14 November this initiative “will enhance EU’s global strategic role and its capacity to act autonomously when and where necessary and with partners wherever possible”. Understandably, if there will be no partners, the EU can alone interfere militarily all over the globe on its own account.

Franco-German plan for own defenses

To be reminded, that, as long as Britain retained the ‘veto’ power in the EU decision making process, London had been blocking similar defense initiatives of Franco-German inspiration, on the basis that it would get in the way of the NATO structures. Of course, very possibly it will. This British standpoint was clearly inspired by Washington. Up to now, the Americans through NATO have had a tight watch over what is happening in Europe. Yet, after Trump’s criticism of NATO and amity with Russia, it seems that France and Germany have decided to spend more money for their defenses, but not through NATO.

Strategically then, if Trump chooses to make concessions to Russia in order to achieve a “constructive cooperation” as he agreed last week with Putin, the EU and more so Germany will be obliged to increase own defense and security capabilities. In this way an unbiased observer can explain both the new EU security and defense initiative and the willingness of the Europeans to distance themselves from the Trump – Putin rapprochement, and instead follow Obama’s caution vis-à-vis Russia. It is characteristic that after the telephone conversation between Trump and Putin the US President-elect staff issued a very telling statement.

Total reversal

According to Reuters “The statement said Trump told Putin he was looking forward to a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and its people. The two men will maintain contact by phone and seek to meet each other in person, the statement added”. The Kremlin went even further. In a Press release it said, “The importance of creating a solid basis for bilateral ties was underscored (by the two leaders), in particularly by developing the trade-economic component”. Presently, the US is implementing extensive economic, financial, trade and administrative sanctions on Russia and on a long list of physical persons, reaching the entourage of Putin.

If Trump really means what he says about a ‘strong and enduring relationship’ with Russia, then a lot of things will change in Europe and elsewhere in the world. This possibility became even more probable after Trump made retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn as his National Security Adviser. Flynn has a reputation of ‘Russia lover’ and last August he delivered a paid speech in Moscow and then had dinner with Putin. He is considered as an enemy of the Muslim world and sees Russia as an invaluable ally in the war against the ISIS jihadists. At the end of the day it seems that the Americans are so deeply divided, as to choose and fight different…enemies.

There is no doubt then, that Trump will, or at least try to, rewrite the book of the United States foreign affairs.

 

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Poor diets may to be blame for 20cm height gaps among children, study says

UN agency chiefs issue ‘call to action’ on behalf of refugee children

European Youth Forum @ European Business Summit 2015: Why interns should matter to business

UN rights chief says ‘bar must be set very high’ for investigation of murdered Saudi journalist

Antitrust: Commission imposes binding obligations on Gazprom to enable free flow of gas at competitive prices in Central and Eastern European gas markets

Statement following the European Medicines Agency review of the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca

How one change to shipping goods could change the way we live

Central Mali: Top UN genocide prevention official sounds alarm over recent ethnically-targeted killings

Parliament adopts its position on digital copyright rules

Efforts to save the planet must start with the Antarctic

Arlington, USA: kick-off of the fifth round of the EU-US boxing match

EU to spend €135.5 billion in 2014 or 6.5% less than this year

Job automation risks vary widely across different regions within countries

Stricter rules to stop terrorists from using homemade explosives

How COVID-19 vaccine efforts could help defeat other diseases

Who should pay for workers to be reskilled?

DR Congo President and UN chief meet at a ‘historic moment’ for democracy in the country

Strong support for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s integration into the European Union

3 ways AI will change the nature of cyber attacks

Women Leadership: Paths to a Humanized Medicine

Reforms in a few countries drive a decline in average OECD labour taxes

UN standing with Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique as Southern Africa death toll from deadly cyclone mounts

‘Everything is still to be agreed’: informal talks between Parliament and Council on Rule of law conditionality continue

The cuts on 2014 Budget will divide deeply the EU

Chile ups foreign bribery enforcement but flawed case resolutions are insufficient to ensure transparency and accountability

Mozambique’s Beira city ‘returning to life’, elsewhere UN teams assess damage, deliver assistance

Commuters in these cities spend more than 8 days a year stuck in traffic

Gender inequality in the medicine field: two commonly issues

Solitary Britain sides with US aggressing Russia and chooses hard Brexit

State aid: Commission approves prolongation and modification of German scheme to support electricity production from renewable energy sources

Nearly three million more displaced year-on-year, warns refugee agency chief, but solutions are within reach

EU to negotiate an FTA with Japan

Is academia losing its chance to capitalize on technology?

The fat from your next takeaway meal could help clean up global shipping

COP25: UN climate change conference, 5 things you need to know

This African company is producing cashew nuts sustainably. Here’s how

Can self-charging batteries keep us connected for ever? A young scientist explains

Mobile 360 Africa 11-13 July 2017

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: Third review welcomes progress while identifying steps for improvement

Foreign Investment Screening: new European framework to enter into force in April 2019

Mergers: Commission fines Canon €28 million for partially implementing its acquisition of Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation before notification and merger control approval

UN rights chief Bachelet appeals for dialogue in Sudan amid reports ‘70 killed’ in demonstrations

Cyclone Idai: UNICEF warns of ‘race against time’ to protect children, prevent spread of disease in flood-ravaged Mozambique

To build cities fit for the future, we need to think differently

Barcelona’s ‘superblocks’ could save lives and cut pollution, says report

The ‘ASEAN way’: what it is, how it must change for the future

How businesses can navigate a global economic slowdown

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: Disability inclusion, minimum wage, and LGBTI rights in Botswana

China Unlimited Special Report: at the heart of Beijing

Globally, youth are the largest poverty-stricken group, says new UN report

Hot air behind your cold fridge? Why the future of cooling must be sustainable

Main results of EU-Japan summit: Tokyo, 17/07/2018

3 reasons why most Africans aren’t on the internet – and how to connect them

Why cooperative and competitive federalism is the secret to India’s success

State aid: Commission approves €3 billion Portuguese guarantee schemes for SMEs and midcaps affected by Coronavirus outbreak

This AI can predict your personality just by looking at your eyes

This is what Belgium’s traffic-choked capital is doing about emissions

Why we need different generations in the workplace

‘Complacency’ a factor in stagnating global vaccination rates, warn UN health chiefs

UN rights experts ‘gravely’ concerned at spike in civilian casualties in north-west Myanmar following internet shutdown

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s