Print
Rate this article
(votes: 2, rating: 5)
 (2 votes)
Share this article
Danil Bochkov

Graduate Student at MGIMO Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Bachelor of Foreign Regional Studies (East Asia Regional Studies: Economy and Politics (China)), Institute of Business Studies, RANEPA under the President of the Russian Federation

Russia’s relations with the European Union hit their lowest in 2014, as a direct result of the political gridlock in Ukraine. Russia's subsequent involvement in the issue, with bold actions in Crimea and the incident with Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, led to a political outcry in the EU. The main tool applied by the EU to reprehend Russia was economic sanctions and restrictions targeted at Russian officials and individuals.

In order to overcome political stalemate, all the concerned parties initiated the Minsk negotiation process, which went through several rounds of talks in 2014-2015 and finally resulted in an agreement aimed at mitigating the conflict in Donbass. Russia was repeatedly criticized over its “failure to implement the Minsk agreement.”

The EU annually extended sanctions against Russia, with a recent update in 2019. In early 2019 Moscow also came under a new wave of EU sanctions in connection with the poisoning of S. Skripal in 2018. The EU and Russia came to odds over the Syrian issue, with the former “always bow down to Washington.” Climbing on the American foreign policy bandwagon is a commonplace practice for EU diplomacy.

As a sign of degrading relations, in late July, the EU passed its first-ever sanctions against Russian and Chinese individuals over accusations in cybercrimes. By alienating China and Russia as unwanted parties, the EU may find itself in the same trap the U.S. did – when the dialogue process is merely sluggish on all fronts.

No wonder that Russian media highlights this trend, stressing that the EU and U.S. are clinched between Russia and China, meaning that both countries occupy most of their policy planning. The transatlantic partnership is strong and serves as a pillar of world order aimed at curbing “China’s assertiveness,” menacing remarks recently made by EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell. He promotes dialogue with U.S. aimed at countering China, an overture which resonates with the recent proposal of M. Pompeo to set up a group of democratic countries to oppose the CPC. The opting for alliance mindset does not contribute to better relations neither with Russia nor with China, and makes any global decision-making very lingering.

In July, both countries vetoed the extension of cross-border aid in Syria as a signal of concordance of joint efforts to fend off U.S.-EU pressure. With no changes in their policy, such flare-ups of tensions will only accumulate.

Russia’s relations with the European Union hit their lowest in 2014, as a direct result of the political gridlock in Ukraine. Russia's subsequent involvement in the issue, with bold actions in Crimea and the incident with Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, led to a political outcry in the EU. The main tool applied by the EU to reprehend Russia was economic sanctions and restrictions targeted at Russian officials and individuals.

In order to overcome political stalemate, all the concerned parties initiated the Minsk negotiation process, which went through several rounds of talks in 2014-2015 and finally resulted in an agreement aimed at mitigating the conflict in Donbass. Russia was repeatedly criticized over its “failure to implement the Minsk agreement.”

The EU annually extended sanctions against Russia, with a recent update in 2019. In early 2019 Moscow also came under a new wave of EU sanctions in connection with the poisoning of S. Skripal in 2018. The EU and Russia came to odds over the Syrian issue, with the former “always bow down to Washington.” Climbing on the American foreign policy bandwagon is a commonplace practice for EU diplomacy.

Mimicking Russia-EU relations in 2014, China saw its diplomatic debacle with the EU following the introduction of the Hong Kong security law earlier this year. EU Parliament deemed it as an unprecedented legal action and called for enacting “Magnitsky-style” sanctions against officials involved. It also reprimanded the Chinese central government for blackmailing European businesses to uphold the law.

The Hong Kong case became a milestone in China-EU relations, very similar to 2014 in Russia-EU ties. Economic friction has been centered on seven-year attempts to strike an investment deal which, in the EU's interpretation, would eradicate unfair trade practices applied by Beijing. Despite ongoing negotiations, the progress is limited by China’s unwillingness to alter the special status enjoyed by state-owned enterprises.

Although economic competition has already been in place, for the time being, the introduction of the security law, described in Brussels as an assertive and robust political move, enhances China’s portrait as a “systemic rivalry.” China-EU relations have been in free fall from March 2019, when China, for the first time, was officially labeled as “strategic rival” of the EU.

Anti-China rhetoric in the EU (and the U.S.) was recently redirected from just politics and economics to the ideological agenda. It was further amplified by Germany, which said that China, as a one-party state with an autocratic political structure, challenges Europe’s "foundation of values."

Germany is set to orchestrate the formation of an EU united front to oppose proactive gestures recently performed by China: be it in security, technology or human rights. The latter is a long-time source of resentment among EU states vis-à-vis Chinese policy towards the Uighur minority in Xinjiang, combined with recent intensification of civil discontent in Hong Kong.

The EU dovetails American diplomatic actions. This is demonstrated by its initial shaky position on the extension of sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. In 2017 France and Germany were reluctant to pass new restrictions because they were unsure whether it may bounce back. After all, the U.S. and EU agreed on new sanctions against Russia.

A similar situation occurred around China's tech giant Huawei, which is currently facing pushback worldwide following U.S. attempts to isolate the company. France has bowed to American pressure while Germany is still on crossroads with an absence of consensus in the country's political elite.

However, in some cases, the EU has its own vision different from American one: the EU, Russia and China are stalwart proponents of Iran nuclear deal, which signals that there is some room for diplomatic maneuvering dealing with the EU. China has called on Germany not to yield to Washington’s pressure to choose sides.

Sometimes it proves to be effective, as it happened with the Russian Nord Stream 2 project, which survived American attacks and retained German enthusiasm while attracting anger in Washington. Time shows that, if Germany identifies its paramount interest (as it was with Nord Stream 2) in developing 5G with Chinese technology, it has enough political might to ignore American demands.

President Xi pushes a cooperative agenda with the EU, highlighting that China is a partner, not a rival. But it is a truly daunting task to articulate this message to Europe as long as they have contradicting understanding. For China, Hong Kong is an indispensable territory administrated by country’s laws, while Europe places more emphasis on the legal side of the issue, blaming China for the violation of the “one country, two systems” principle.

Russia experienced the same misunderstanding when the EU kept on regarding Russian actions in Crimea as annexation, while Russia always deemed them as reunification. Nevertheless, no compromise has been found yet.

As a sign of degrading relations, in late July, the EU passed its first-ever sanctions against Russian and Chinese individuals over accusations in cybercrimes. By alienating China and Russia as unwanted parties, the EU may find itself in the same trap the U.S. did – when the dialogue process is merely sluggish on all fronts.

No wonder that Russian media highlights this trend, stressing that the EU and U.S. are clinched between Russia and China, meaning that both countries occupy most of their policy planning. The transatlantic partnership is strong and serves as a pillar of world order aimed at curbing “China’s assertiveness,” menacing remarks recently made by EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell. He promotes dialogue with U.S. aimed at countering China, an overture which resonates with the recent proposal of M. Pompeo to set up a group of democratic countries to oppose the CPC. The opting for alliance mindset does not contribute to better relations neither with Russia nor with China, and makes any global decision-making very lingering.

In July, both countries vetoed the extension of cross-border aid in Syria as a signal of concordance of joint efforts to fend off U.S.-EU pressure. With no changes in their policy, such flare-ups of tensions will only accumulate.

Rate this article
(votes: 2, rating: 5)
 (2 votes)
Share this article

Poll conducted

  1. In your opinion, what are the US long-term goals for Russia?
    U.S. wants to establish partnership relations with Russia on condition that it meets the U.S. requirements  
     33 (31%)
    U.S. wants to deter Russia’s military and political activity  
     30 (28%)
    U.S. wants to dissolve Russia  
     24 (22%)
    U.S. wants to establish alliance relations with Russia under the US conditions to rival China  
     21 (19%)
 
For business
For researchers
For students