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Russia Drives Wedge Between EU and U.S.

Published: May 22, 2014 (Issue # 1811)



  • Putin met with China’s President Xi Jinping earlier this week, seeking support.
    Photo: Carlos Barria / AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — The crisis in Ukraine is giving Russia an opening to drive a wedge between the United States and Europe just as Western powers try to repair a struggling trade deal and decide how to bolster a cash-strapped NATO.

For years, the West has frustrated Moscow by offering former Soviet republics membership into economic and military alliances, undercutting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions to build a regional economic powerhouse to rival the European Union and expand his military reach throughout the old East Bloc.

But sharp divisions between the U.S. and EU over how severely to punish Russia for intervening in Ukraine has given Moscow the chance to upend Western unity on other key geopolitical and long-term strategic issues. At the same time, with the West rejecting his approach to world affairs, Putin was in Beijing this week getting support from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In an interview last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the EU is kept on “a short leash” by the United States.

“The real aim of the United States is not to let Europeans to go on their own,” Lavrov told Bloomberg Television in Moscow.

Officials in Washington and Brussels insist they generally agree on how to limit Russia’s alleged meddling in Ukraine. Late last week, the top U.S. and British diplomats announced a new threat to sanction Russian business, financial, energy and mining sectors if Moscow disrupts Sunday’s presidential election in Ukraine.

“It’s always a temptation to divide, to create this between the EU and U.S.,” said Joao Vale de Almeida, the EU’s ambassador to the United States. “Our job is to prevent that from happening and to stay united and stay focused on what we share. ...And I think as far as Ukraine is concerned we sing the same song. We want to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity, its sovereignty; we want to help Ukraine become a full, prosperous country; we want to create a diplomatic solution. I don’t think anybody can divide us on this.”

Still, simmering tensions between the U.S. and EU have been evident for months.

Germany and France have shunned sectorial sanctions without first trying again to broker a dialogue between Ukraine’s government and pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east — a step that garnered only lukewarm U.S. support. The EU can only impose sanctions by unanimous agreement from all 28 of its member states, and the Obama administration for months has pushed Europe to embrace U.S. plans for tougher penalties against Moscow.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Nov. 23


Get in the holiday spirit at today’s Winter Bazzar at the Astoria Hotel. Featuring gifts from around the world such as French eclairs, Dutch cheeses and Indian jewelry, the annual event organized by the International Women’s Club will feature 18 international stands and raise money for charity through the sales of a diversity of products that further illustrate the city’s international connections.



Monday, Nov. 24


Dr. Axel Schulte, Department Head at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, Germany, is the featured speaker at the SPIBA Industrial Committee lecture on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Digitalization of the Supply Chain.” The event begins at 4 p.m. at the Graduate School of Management at 3 Volkohvsky Pereulok and registration is required by Nov. 21 either by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.



Tuesday, Nov. 25


Tag along with AmCham during their “Industrial St. Petersburg” Tour program today. This incarnation of the ongoing series will visit Philip Morris Izhora and include an Environmental Health and Safety Committee meeting.


Find out how to expand your business east during the “Business With China” forum beginning today and concluding tomorrow at the Lenexpo convention center. The largest Russian forum dedicated to business with the Asian giant, topics that will be discussed include logistics, customs clearance, trade financing and many more.



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