The head of the European Council, Donald Tusk, called Russia the “strategic problem” of the EU. He stated this, speaking from the stage of the College of Europe in Bruges.
“Almost every week I had to openly remind others that for us Russia is not a“ strategic partner ”, but a“ strategic problem ”. Because of my attention to this issue, I was even branded a “monomaniac,” Tusk said.
According to him, the Kremlin’s policy is “aggressive,” and Russian President Vladimir Putin allegedly intended to weaken the European Union.
At the same time, the head of the European Council said that throughout its term European countries “maintained unity, including on the issue of anti-Russian sanctions.” In addition, Tusk called on EU states to continue to pursue this policy.
“Our consistent tough stance on Russia was the first clear and unambiguous signal of our sovereignty. We should continue to adhere to it, ”the European official said.
At the same time, Tusk expressed the hope that the initiative to revise the "position on Russia", which was put forward by French President Emmanuel Macron, would not be carried out at the cost of a "common dream of sovereign Europe."
“That's why, hearing the words of Macron that“ we must reconsider our position on Russia, rethink our strategic partnership, ”I can only express hope that this will not cost our common dream of sovereign Europe,” the head said the highest political body of the EU.
- Council President Donald Tusk
- © Kacper Pempel
Tusk also stressed that the French leader will not be able to convince him about the ways of interacting with Moscow.
“President Macron said he shares the point of view of Viktor Orban and hopes that he will help persuade the Poles to change their attitude towards Russia. Maybe they will convince someone, but not me, Emmanuel, ”the politician said.
“Against common sense”
It is worth noting that this is not the first statement of the Tusk anti-Russian sense. In August, the head of the European Council, during a press conference before the G7 summit in Biarritz, opposed Russia's return to the G8 format, in return offering to invite Ukraine to the next meeting of the G7 leaders.
Last November, during his visit to Poland, Tusk drew a parallel between European politicians who admire the actions of the White House, advocate Brexit and “flirt” with Russia, and those who are trying to prove that the EU has no future.
“I want to emphasize that I don’t see a coincidence in the fact that practically all over Europe, openly or more discreetly, those who are enthusiastic about Brexit, who are more or less enthusiastic about Washington’s next steps towards isolationism, those with increasing intensity flirts with Vladimir Putin, “they all try to convince us that the European Union has no future,” the press service of the European Council quoted Tusk as saying.
Prior to this, in January, Tusk announced at the plenary session of the European Parliament that the EU would continue the policy of sanctions against Russia.
Experts believe that the anti-Russian rhetoric of a European official is largely due to his political activities in Poland.
“The current head of the European Council is a high-level repeater of the theses of opponents of the development of relations between Russia and Europe,” Vladimir Olenchenko, senior researcher at the Center for European Studies of IMEMO RAS, said in an interview with RT.
Commenting on Tusk’s accusations against the Russian president, Olenchenko emphasized that “Moscow would never undermine the authority of its trading partner.”
“That would be contrary to common sense. And the head of the European Council with such statements intentionally wants to disorient the countries of the European Union and the public, ”the analyst explained.
- © Yves Herman
A similar point of view is shared by the head of the sector of regional problems and conflicts IMEMO named after EM Primakova RAS Konstantin Voronov. According to him, the "disagreement within the EU" is caused not by the imaginary "Russian aggression", but by the conflict of interests of the member countries of the union.
“Moscow is only pursuing a policy aimed at developing bilateral mutually beneficial ties, which is contrary to the sanctions against it. Russian efforts to establish contacts with Europe are not just words, but concrete actions, including the construction of gas pipelines that strengthen the EU’s economic foundation and enhance its energy security, ”Voronov said in an interview with RT.
“Could not deal with problems”
According to analysts, Tusk made another anti-Russian statement against the backdrop of an ineffective policy of the European bureaucrats, which led to numerous problems within the EU, including brexitis and the migration crisis.
Recall that in September, the British government at the request of parliamentarians published the “worst” scenario for the kingdom to leave the EU without a deal.
The document notes that as a result of "rising prices for food and fuel", which is inevitable with a "hard" brexitis, "disproportionately more" will affect low-income groups.
In addition, Britain’s exit from the European Union will be fraught with serious interruptions in transport and trade. Brexit will be negatively reflected without a deal and at the level of law and order in the UK, and “growth of public unrest and tension in society” is forecasted.
Another equally serious problem of the European Union, analysts call the growth in the number of migrants and refugees.
In early October, German Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer, in an interview with the German publication Bild, warned of a possible recurrence of the 2015 migration crisis.
In addition, in September, Europol announced that law enforcement officials in Europe are still recording attempts by militants to use migration flows to enter the EU.
- Syrian refugees arrive at a camp in Germany
- © Kai Pfaffenbach
At the same time, as political scientists note, responsibility for problems within the European Union lies primarily with the leadership of this association and, in particular, the head of the European Council.
“Tusk was chairman of the EU for four years. If he could not cope with the problems within the association, this only speaks of his incompetence and inability to resolve disputed issues, ”Olenchenko believes.
The expert also recalled that Brussels, not Russia, initiated those steps that later led to negative consequences for the EU.
This point of view is shared by Konstantin Voronov. In his opinion, Tusk’s words that Russia is to blame for the problems of the European Union is simply a “political move”.
“The European official needs to somehow explain that Brussels is coping with internal difficulties,” said the expert.
"Sanctions policy is cracking at the seams"
At the same time, analysts recall that, unlike the official Brussels, which advocates the extension of sanctions against Moscow, a number of EU countries are striving to establish a mutually beneficial partnership with Russia.
Recall that last week Emmanuel Macron called the EU’s refusal to dialogue with the Russian Federation a “huge mistake”. He stated this in an interview with the British publication The Economist. According to him, it is necessary to abandon the view of Moscow as a "primary enemy" of NATO and to review strategic relations with the Russian side for the sake of the common interests and security of Europe.
- French President Emmanuel Macron
- © Hector Retamal
Alexandros Gennimatas, the official representative of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke in the same vein on November 7 following the visit of the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias to the Russian Federation. According to him, the "new chapter in good-natured bilateral relations" of Athens and Moscow has begun.
In addition, at the end of September, representatives of several factions of the German parliament spoke in favor of the gradual easing of anti-Russian sanctions by the European Union - Bernd Westphal, member of the Left Social Democratic Party of Germany, Klaus Ernst, representative of the Left Party, and Peter Ramsauer, chairman of the Bundestag Committee for Economic Cooperation and Development. They stated this during a conference organized by the Eastern Committee of German Economy.
According to Konstantin Voronov, “the EU sanctions policy is cracking at the seams”, since it does not bring any benefit to the countries of the union.
“This is also evidenced by the fact that large European companies circumvent restriction in every possible way and build relations with Russian partners. In addition, EU leaders understand that without Moscow it will be impossible to solve international and regional problems, ”Voronov said.
Vladimir Olenchenko also notes that it is beneficial for European countries to cooperate with Russia, including in the field of trade and investment. However, by prolonging anti-Russian sanctions, the EU acts primarily to the detriment of itself, the expert believes.
“These restrictions lead to a decrease in the trade turnover of the European Union, which is demonstrated by the latest figures. In October, the economic growth of the association amounted to only 0.2%, ”the analyst said.
At the same time, Olenchenko emphasizes that individual European states cannot reverse the anti-Russian course of official Brussels.
“The paradox is that at the level of bilateral contacts with Russia, almost all EU countries declare the need to remove sanctions, their futility and stupidity. However, when representatives of these states get together, it turns out that restrictions on Moscow should be extended, ”concluded Olenchenko.