Trump’s Russian affair spills over and upsets Europe

8 July 2017. Hamburg, Germany. German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit. (Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler).

The turmoil in the American political system, caused by President Donald Trump’s Russian affair is having spillovers in Europe. Of course, it’s not the first time that Trump and his out of control political ‘inspirations’ instigate trouble for the Old Continent and the rest of the world. This time however, the US Congress prepares new aggressive legislation against Russia, in a distinct step to counter Trump’s pro-Russian openings. In this way, the conflict between Trump and the Congress about the Russian connection, is now seriously threatening Europe’s political symmetry. Let’s try to read between the news headlines.

Unfortunately, this week, the new sanctions against Moscow which the American legislators in the Senate and the House of Representatives are preparing, are bound to seriously harm the economic relations between the EU and Russia and more precisely the Berlin – Moscow energy links. Brussels and Moscow relations are not currently at their best. Western Europeans have never accepted and will not swallow the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russians. To be reminded, on 18 March 2014, in the peak of the Ukrainian civil war, the Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to incorporate the Ukrainian province of Crimea in the Russian Federation.

Precarious equilibrium

Some months before this aggressive move, Moscow plotted the capture of this Ukrainian soil by a Russian army, which bore no insignia at all. Ostentatiously, they were Crimean ‘patriots’ who wanted their county to join ‘mother Russia’. At least this is what the Kremlin had said at the time. The historical truth is though that until 1954 Crimea was a Russian province. The then Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev though suddenly decided to make Crimea a ‘gift’, to the then ‘sister’ socialist republic of Ukraine. At that time, this transfer didn’t mean much, because Russia along with Ukraine and the other socialist republics belonged the USSR, under the iron grip of Moscow.

Still, what Putin did in 2014 was a unilateral redrafting of the European map, and as such couldn’t be accepted by the two major Western European powers, Germany and France. From that moment onwards, the EU, in close consultation with the US, both imposed similar trade and other kind of sanctions on Russia and on some Russian citizens, directly implicated in the annexation of Crimea.

However, those punitive measures never questioned the huge supplies of Russian natural gas to Germany and other EU member states. In many respects those supplies are indispensable for the smooth functioning of many EU economies and despite the efforts to diversify their energy supply sources they are still dependent on Russian natural gas, especially in winter.

Scratching old wounds

Conversely now, Republican and Democrat legislators together have prepared new rules to effectively oppose President Trump’s openings to Russia, by punishing Moscow with too harsh sanctions. They have agreed to pass the new law with such a majority, as to make it impossible for the President to veto it.

The new rules among other things will punish the German firms which are currently building a second gas pipeline, transferring Russian natural gas to Germany and then to central Europe. In general, whoever collaborates with Russia will be targeted by the US authorities. When the details of the new American legislation became known, Berlin reacted strongly, threatening with retaliatory countermeasures. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn’t hide her frustration about that.

Brussels and Berlin

Brussels’ reaction though was more moderate. For one thing, this North Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, jointly owned by German firms and the Russian giant Gazprom has attracted criticism even within the EU, including France. At least theoretically the European Union is supposed to do whatever it takes to diversify its natural gas supplies away from Russia, to other producers. Nevertheless, Berlin doesn’t seem to bother much about that. The issue has been haunting the Franco-German relations for a long time.

Under this light, a Commission Press release spoke of “unintended consequences” from the new Senate legislation. According to Reuters, the Commission also said that “We understand that the Russia/Iran sanctions bill is driven primarily by domestic considerations.” According to the same source “EU diplomats are concerned that a German-U.S. row over the North Stream 2 pipeline being built by Russia’s state-owned Gazprom could complicate efforts in Brussels to forge an EU consensus on negotiating with Russia over the project”.

To be noted, initially, the new trade and other punitive measures were intended against Iran. Then North Korea was added to the outcasts to be punished. The Republican and Democrat legislators, though, who oppose Trump’s Putin openings, found the opportunity this week to include Russia in the bill, despite strong opposition from the President.

Unintentional catastrophe

Evidently the American legislators are now threatening, very likely unintentionally, to deeply disturb Europe and give new dimensions to an old divisive issue. The Northern Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea is a flagrant case of Germany being caught paying no attention to basic EU policy priorities. Berlin, instead of diversifying its supplies of natural gas away from Russia, now builds a second pipeline together with Gazprom to transport more Russian gas to Western Europe.

In short, the spillovers of the multifaceted issue of the relations between Russia and Trump’s team – both back in the electoral period of 2016 as well as now in government – is seriously disturbing the rest of the world. If the Congress decides that the new and harsher sanctions meant for Iran are also to be applied to Russia, the whole world will feel the heat. No need to say that Moscow has already threatened with retaliatory measures against the US and has said that this leads the relations between the two countries to uncharted waters.

 

 

the sting Milestone

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

COVID-19: More new virus cases outside China than in, ‘no time for complacency’, says UN health agency

Sassoli: Positive measures from Commission. Europe united in face of common challenge of COVID-19

Erdogan’s electoral win on a ‘me or chaos’ dilemma means trouble for everybody

Unemployment and stagnation can tear Eurozone apart if austere policies persist

From memes to mourning, how Europe is dealing with its darkest hour since World War II

This Dutch company has devised an innovative way to deal with food waste

Juncker’s Investment Plan in desperate need for trust and funds from public and private investors

Scourge of slavery still claims 40 million victims worldwide, ‘must serve as a wakeup call’

South Sudan: UN condemns ‘brutal’ sexual assaults on roads to Bentiu

Taxation: Commission refers Germany to the Court for its failure to apply EU rules on VAT for farmers

EU Ombudsman investigates the European Commission

Monday’s Daily Brief: #ClimateAction for the Pacific, Gaza blockade, attack in Burkina Faso

OECD household income up 0.7% in first quarter of 2018, outpacing GDP growth

Adriatic Sea: MEPs adopt multiannual plan for fisheries

No patents on naturally obtained plants and seeds

London to say hello or goodbye to Brussels this week

Governments and non-state actors need to take urgent action to meet Paris Agreement goals

MEPs adopt revised rules for road haulage operations in another EU country

The Junior Enterprise concept, one of the best ways to develop practical skills

Tanzania’s Dual Burden

Juncker Plan reaches almost €410 billion in triggered investment across the EU

The latest emoji are more inclusive – but who approves them?

Asia-Pacific ‘regional parliament’ underway to advance equality, empowerment, for more than four billion citizens

Employment and Social Developments in Europe: 2019 review highlights that tackling climate change can be a driver for growth and jobs

Why developing new antibiotics is a matter of life and death

Mixed news about the Eurozone economy

Is Germany’s political landscape becoming a breeding ground for extremism?

EU imposes provisional anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese solar panels

Digital Single Market: Survey shows Europeans are well aware of rules against unjustified geo-blocking

COP21 Breaking News_05 December: Children Will Bear the Brunt of Climate Change: UNICEF

Mario Draghi quizzed for last time by Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee

Agreement reached on new EU Solidarity Corps

These five exercise trends will help society and your health

Time to act together: Von der Leyen at the European Parliament July plenary

How bad could British healthcare get for its citizens abroad post-Brexit?

Cutting money transfer fees could unlock $15bn for developing countries. Here’s how

Mental health in the pandemic: it’s no Rubik’s cube

With millions of girls ‘at risk’ today of genital mutilation, UN chief calls for zero tolerance

Children as old as 12 can benefit from an afternoon nap

President Michel’s MFF proposal not acceptable for Parliament

French full-body veil ban, violated women’s freedom of religion: UN Human Rights Committee

No tears for Cyprus in Brussels and Moscow

IMF cuts global growth outlook, but predicts pick up later in 2019

At UN, Yemen Foreign Minister demands end to ‘Iranian-Houthi coup d’etat’

New seat projections for the next European Parliament

The Chinese spirit

At epicentre of Indonesia disaster, Guterres praises resilience of Sulawesi people

High-tech or ‘high-touch’: UK survey gives clues to the jobs of the future

How India is solving its cooling challenge

EU adopts retaliative measures in response to US steel and aluminum tariffs

MEPs want to fund crucial areas to stimulate European growth

The success story of a Chinese investment in the Greek port of Piraeus

Accountability for atrocities in Myanmar ‘cannot be expected’ within its borders – UN investigator

Antitrust: Commission imposes interim measures on Broadcom in TV and modem chipset markets

South Sudan: ‘Outraged’ UN experts say ongoing widespread human rights violations may amount to war crimes

Pakistan: UN strongly condemns terrorist attack that leaves scores dead and wounded at election rally

Paradise islands of Pacific increasingly vulnerable to climate change, as UN boosts resilience

Shifting Tides: Policy Challenges and Opportunities for the G-20

Here’s how to make ‘value-based healthcare’ a reality

Millennials are transforming African farming

More Stings?

Advertising

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