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Russia Drives Wedge Between EU and U.S.

Published: May 22, 2014 (Issue # 1811)



  • Putin met with Chinas 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 Putins 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 Russias 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 Sundays presidential election in Ukraine.

Its always a temptation to divide, to create this between the EU and U.S., said Joao Vale de Almeida, the EUs 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 Ukraines territorial integrity, its sovereignty; we want to help Ukraine become a full, prosperous country; we want to create a diplomatic solution. I dont 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 Ukraines government and pro-Russian separatists in the countrys 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

Friday, Dec. 26


Celebrate Boxing Day by playing various tabletop games during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening tonight at 5 p.m. Spread the Christmas cheer and goodwill by making other people regret their decision to come and try to match their intellectual prowess against yours.



Saturday, Dec. 27


Indulge cultural and material needs simultaneously during the free classical music concert at the Galeria shopping mall in the heart of the city. Starting at 7 p.m., shoppers and mallwalkers will be able to hear the sounds of Tchaikovsky and Strauss softly lilt over the constant buzz of people bustling from store to store, trying to get their shopping done before New Year.



Sunday, Dec. 28


Prepare for the holidays at the Russian Winter New Years Fair on Moskovskaya Ploshchad, which concludes today after starting on Dec. 22. Games and attractions as well as numerous performances will be on offer for those looking to get into the spirit while numerous vendors will help make sure you have something for everyone on your list.



Monday, Dec. 29


Learn how the Swedes observe Christmas, or Jul, in their land of ice and snow, during aSwedish Christmas celebration at the Lermontov Childrens Library this afternoon at 4 p.m. Activities explaining and demonstrating Swedens cultural traditions will be accompanied by traditional dishes and sweets.



Tuesday, Dec. 30


Today is the final day of the Christmas Market at the Europolis shopping center on Polyustrovsky prospekt. Indulge your holiday sweet tooth by tucking into some gingerbread men, or attend one of the master classes that will teach you about how to make beautiful, festive decorations for your tree using only your hands.



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