Multi-Vector Europe

Most recently, a few days ago, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that since Europe does not know how to speak respectfully with partners and does not want to learn this art, it is worth considering interrupting communication with it.

Some hotheads from among domestic experts immediately announced a radical revision of Moscow’s European policy. This is not true. Moscow is not reviewing anything yet. It only warns you. But in fact, this is a very serious signal. Moreover, it is multi-level and its effect may be much more powerful than if Lavrov simply stated that we are stopping any negotiations with the EU.

In diplomacy, the more freedom of hands you are provided and the more social and political groups your partner/opponent aims at, the more effective your actions are. It is a great art to send a single phrase to all such groups in several dozen different countries at once.

Firstly, Lavrov made it clear to the left-liberal part of European elites, which traditionally focuses on the United States and supports Washington’s Russophobic policy (even if they do not want to), that Moscow does not plan to delve into their circumstances. If they do not take this into account, then they will tell each other stories about the Skripals, Navalny, the downed plane, Russian Olympians, and other interesting things. Russia will simply stop hearing them.

Secondly, the Russian minister sent a signal to the right-wing conservative part of the European elites that if they do not want a complete severence with Russia (and they do not), they should fight more actively with their liberals. They have enough opportunities, but many do not want to spoil relations with their colleagues because of some kind of Russia. Now they will have to think, because they will not be able to sit on two chairs.

Thirdly, a signal has been sent to European businesses. Russia, which has refused to talk to Europe, is obviously moving quickly to other markets in economic terms. Moreover, as a result of the implementation of the import substitution program, the national economy has become almost self-sufficient. In addition, Russia’s ability to make an unexpected and effective financial and economic maneuver in recent years has been convincingly demonstrated more than once.

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For all the Americanophilia inherent in European politicians, they are still financed by European business. It has already suffered substantial losses due to political and ideological globalist dogmas. Tens of billions of euros have been lost on sanctions against Russia and Russian counter-sanctions alone. Meanwhile, the Americans are pressing Europe to join Washington’s sanctions policy against Iran. And attempts to block the completion of the Nord stream 2 are constantly continuing. And in the case of the gas pipeline, and in the case of Iran, Washington threatens to extend its sanctions to Europeans who disobey its dictates.

The EU is in a critical situation. Europe cannot afford the luxury of ending its dialogue with Russia while cooperation with the US has ceased to generate profits, replaced by permanent losses. America also does not provide a military and political umbrella; on the contrary, its actions constantly undermine the foundations of European security. Washington repeatedly creates hotbeds of tension on the continent, each of which can develop into a fully-fledged conflict. In addition, even in cases where such hotbeds (such as the Greek-Turkish conflict over the gas-bearing shelf) arise without the participation of the US, America and the structures it has created (NATO) demonstrate a complete inability to extinguish such conflicts (as they have successfully done before).

But the EU cannot abandon its alliance with the US for the sake of dialogue with Russia. In addition to the fact that pro-American factions are extremely strong in every European country and in the EU as a whole (at the level of the European bureaucracy), there is also the factor of Eastern Europe, which is mainly pro-American and anti-Russian. An attempt to fully cut ties with the US threatens the European Union with collapse and uncontrolled disintegration. Meanwhile, France and Germany, as the main European beneficiaries, are interested in a smooth reform of the EU (with a strengthening of their own role in it), and not in the chaosization of Europe.

The EU has found itself in the same trap that it has driven post-Soviet governments into: trapped in multi-vector. Europe’s attempt to maintain a high level of economic cooperation with Moscow, orientating towards the US in political terms, was no different from the attempts of Yanukovych and Lukashenko to earn money on Russian markets and at the expense of preferences provided by Russia, supporting and growing eurointerrators within the country that are politically attracted to the EU and the US. Both in Kiev and in Minsk, everything ended with a Maidan. The only difference is that Lukashenko has so far resisted. But he didn’t have a good choice either. Just like Yanukovych, Russia says that economic preferences can be obtained only in conditions of accelerated integration, and the west is not going to give up attempts to overthrow the Belarusian President. So the choice remains the same as it was: either accelerated integration with Russia (on Russian terms), or Maidan — multi-vector is dead (although some politicians may still have illusions about their ability to galvanise its corpse).

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Europe also needs to choose between continuing mutually beneficial economic cooperation (for which it is necessary to stop anti-Russian rhetoric and demonstrate a willingness to be constructive) and maintaining close political ties with the US, for which it is necessary to give up all the benefits of economic cooperation with Moscow.

Despite the fact that Russia, in addition to economic preferences, can provide a military-political umbrella, Europe is not yet ready for a clear choice. As was mentioned above, the EU is too unstable and may not be able to withstand a discussion on such a fundamental issue. Therefore, the EU, despite being familiar with the negative example of post-Soviet governments that tried to sit on two chairs, actualises and activates a policy that can not be called anything other than multi-vector.

On the one hand, the foreign ministries of France and Germany are creating a working group whose task will be to fight the US sanctions policy that prevents Europeans from fully cooperating with Russia and Iran. Among the proposals is the introduction of retaliatory sanctions against the US, including personal ones, against overzealous US senators. By such actions, European politicians demonstrate to national businesses and other interested groups that economic cooperation with Russia will continue. On the other hand, the EU is introducing another batch of personal sanctions against Russian politicians, and anti-Russian rhetoric is flooding the European press. Nor are there any voices of protest in the EU over the US demand that everyone (not just NATO members) allocate 2% of GDP annually to prepare for war with Russia.

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Yes, exactly to prepare for war, since Washington has long made no secret that a military attack on Russia and/or China, if America fails to peacefully regain the status of hegemon, is considered by the US as a “defensive action”. They consider the multipolar world a threat to national security and intend to fight the threat of multipolarity even with military means, realising that in the case of Russia and China, we are talking about a global nuclear conflict.

At the same time, the Americans, despite Putin’s warning that retaliatory strikes will be inflicted on decision-making centers (wherever they hide), still hope that they will be able to limit the theater of military operations to Eurasia, and they themselves usually sit it out overseas. Despite the fact that the US’ allies have prepared Europe for the fate of the battlefield in a nuclear conflict, there are still many politicians in the EU who believe that the US’s lead should be followed to the end – they say they will still win in the end, so they will help Europe recover.

The logic is flawed, but it works, continuing to drive the EU deeper into a multi-vector impasse, into which the further one enters, the harder it is to get out.

Lavrov said everything: Russia is ready to support its allies in the EU (including individual politicians), but they must demonstrate their readiness to make a choice and follow it to the end. Moscow does not want to be a bargaining chip in the domestic political games of European elites. However, now Europeans are waiting for the results of the US presidential election, believing that they will predict the winning elite group, towards which it is necessary to gravitate. But the Americans may disappoint. It seems that everything is just beginning for them and may be seriously delayed. But the Europeans have to make a choice. The chairs move apart, one might tear at the seams.

Rostislav Ishchenko

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