ISSN 2330-717X

Russia Has Failed Challenging EU-US Relations – OpEd

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Contrary to Russia’s expectations, the Ukraine war and entailing crises not only did not damage EU-US relations but also improved them to the extent that France proposed “strategic autonomy” for Europe is now consigned to oblivion. 

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As in the Cold War, Russia sought to exploit the rift in transatlantic relations under Trump and weaken the political and economic Europe-US alliance. However, except for some limited success in Serbia and Hungary, Moscow has failed to achieve its goals. 

Also, the countries that were part of the Soviet Union, and until recently regulated their foreign policy in line with Moscow, are changing course in the new situation and showing a greater desire to maintain their independence. All of this, along with the expansion of NATO to Finland and Sweden, reflects the fact that Russia’s aggressive foreign policy is, in practice, moving toward an uncertain future.

Although in recent years Germany and some other European countries have had close ties with Russia and depended on its energy, the Ukraine crisis has shown Russians that energy and geopolitical issues are inseparable. In other words, given Russia’s atrocious record, Europe’s reliance on its gas and oil is an egregious mistake.  

The overestimation of the significance of its energy sources for European countries has misled Russia into a grave geopolitical miscalculation. Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO shows that not only has Russia not been successful in fending off threats by making an example of Ukraine and intimidating its neighbors, but it has actually created a front against Moscow that extends as far as the eastern and northernmost borders of Europe.

Over the last two decades, the United States fabricated a new enemy in the East and attempted to separate China from Russia through ping pong diplomacy. In the wake of the Ukraine crisis, the United States has redoubled its efforts to break up the Sino-Russian alliance in order to weaken Russia and focus on China as its most serious global competitor.

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In the early days of the war, Washington was prepared to give away Ukraine to reach a compromise with Moscow. But things changed when the Ukrainian people stood up for their country and the Baltic states and Poland provided support. In a turn of strategy, the United States increased its military aid to Ukraine and focused on defeating Russia instead. 

Nonetheless, the United States is not Russia’s only problem. Post-Soviet and central Asian countries’ public opinion is completely against Russia and they do everything to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people.  Actually, the people of these countries are taking the opportunity to express their opposition to the approach of the Moscow-affiliated rulers. This approach also has a historical cause and dates back to a time when the Soviet political order ruled in these countries.

The people of Central Asia and other countries that became independent from the Soviet Union still remember the discrimination, repression, and killings of that time, and many of them lost loved ones. Some leaders, as in Kazakhstan, have even rejected Russia’s request to send troops to Ukraine, and have gone so far as to say they do not want to be behind the Iron Curtain.

As a consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States has been forced to intervene in Europe and reconsider its “Pivot to Asia” policy, prompting NATO to increase its threats against Moscow by expanding its eastern and northern borders. Of course, unlike the United States, Europe is the first victim of this growing reciprocal tension.

Timothy Hopper

Timothy Hopper is an international relations graduate of American University.

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