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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, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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