Tuesday, November 24, 2020, 02:15 (GMT+7)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018, 07:01 (GMT+7)
On the relations between America, Russia, and the European Union

Recently US President Donald Trump’s Administration has pursued a unilateral foreign policy much disappointing the international community. That has made the international relations in general, the relations between America, Russia, and the European Union (EU) more complex and unpredictable.

With the ambition to “make America great again” and tough measures to restore the depressed economy, Trump’s Administration has carried out a dictatorial foreign policy in international relations with a view to protecting national security and benefits and the position as a unique global leader as stated by the White House. According to experts, the “America first” policy is indeed aimed at the political supremacy in the world. That hegemony has impacted on security and benefits of many countries and the complexion of international relations, including the relations between America, Russia, and the EU.

The stormy relations between America and Russia

It is believed that the US-Russian relations have been at the worst since the end of the Cold War. Recently, the U.S. and its allies have made use of every possible reason, accusing Moscow of involving in Ukraine’s crisis, inciting conflict in Syria, interfering with the US presidential election, and especially poisoning a Russian double agent in the UK in order to increase economic, financial, and commercial sanctions and military blockade on Russia, thus making the relations between the two sides extremely intense. According to statistics, since the beginning of 2017, US Administration has punished over 200 persons and organizations under Russia’s energy groups and state bank. In addition to closing Russian Consulates in America, Washington has passed a law totally prohibiting the supply of sensitive electronic devices and security technology products for Moscow. The US National Security Strategy released in 2018 has seen Russia as a “rival power” challenging the US position, influence and national benefits. To deal with the so-called threat from Russia, Washington has deployed forces and modern weapons to the Europe, urged the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to introduce a new military plan, and cooperated with the NATO in conducting large-scale exercises in the area bordering Russia in order to show off their power and intimidate Moscow. The Kremlin has strongly opposed and regarded actions by America and the NATO as a result of the Cold War hostility harming the bilateral relations and security and benefits of the two countries and the world. However, Russia has announced that it is ready to hold dialogues with America on differences between the two sides, but it will resolutely trigger off strong reactions in economic, financial and military terms to protect its national security and benefits. Such tit for tat acts have made the relations between America and Russia always “frozen” and the regional and global situation more complex.

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at Helsinki meeting on July 16th (photo: AP)

In mid-July 2018, leaders of the two countries met each other to frankly discuss important international issues, including sensitive, thorny ones pertaining to the US-Russian relations. At that meeting, leaders of the two countries agreed to strengthen mutual understanding, build up strategic trust, expand cooperation for common values, and create a peaceful, secured environment. The two sides also agreed to establish joint working groups to help their governments improve the bilateral relations. These are encouraging efforts made by leaders of the two countries. However, while there remain profound differences, doubt, and severe geopolitical, geostrategic competition between America and Russia, those results of the dialogue are still “modest” and could hardly make the relations between the two countries thaw. In fact, after the US-Russian Summit, the White House threatened to increase its sanctions against Russia. US President Donald Trump made announcements completely different from what he had talked about the relations between the two countries at the press after his meeting with Russian President Putin. Comprehensively assessing the US-Russian relations, experts believe that in the foreseeable future, Washington will still pursue a confrontational, preventive policy; however, sanctions will be carefully calculated to “subdue” Russia and avoid the collapse of the relations between the two countries. And that will make the relations between the two former rivals unpredictable.

The deepened difference in the relations between America and the EU

Since the beginning of 2018, the US-EU relations have had signs of crack when US President Donald Trump severely criticized the EU for the issue of bilateral trade. US President called his EU allies “freeloaders” and even “trade foes” of the US. He has imposed a high tax on several EU main products, such as steel and aluminum and threatened to impose a 25% tax on cars imported from the EU. In its return, the EU has imposed a high tax on goods imported from America, leading to a public concern about an economic war between the two long-standing allies. The US-EU relations even became worse when US President Donald Trump threatened not to ensure the EU security unless EU member states increased their defence budget to 2% of GDP at the US request. Recently, regardless of the EU opposition, America has unilaterally withdrawn from the historic deal on Iran’s controversial nuclear program while threatening to punish companies transacting business with Tehran. As for the EU, although Iran nuclear deal is not complete, it is the most important international legal basis for reducing the risk of nuclear weapons from Iran – the country next to the EU. Thus, the EU severely opposed America’s decision to withdraw from the deal and considered it as a disaster of the century, announcing that it would activate the blocking statute to protect European companies from being impacted by the restoration of the US sanctions against Iran. Officials from many EU member states expressed their disappointment to the US and considered shocking statements and dictatorial actions by the US President Donald Trump as a threat to the EU’s economic interests and security. They also condemned America for its imposition of sanctions as “global economic police”, adding that it was “unacceptable”.

According to experts, historically, the US-EU relations have contained many disagreements, but perhaps never have differences in the two sides been deepened before President Donald Trump took office. However, being strategic allies, the two sides are full aware that maintaining and developing the US-EU relations will be a matter of survival to both sides. Therefore, after intense negotiations, in late July 2018, America and the EU agreed on the principle to reduce trade barriers and strengthen bilateral cooperation for the sake of mutual benefits and security. The future developments will be an open question, but it is predicted that the relations like “same bed but different dreams” between the two sides will be ups and downs and unpredictable.

Russia-EU relations: “the light at the end of the tunnel”

After Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the relations between Russia and the EU have plunged into crisis. The EU has described Russia as a “chimera” and an agent of insecurity and destabilization in the Europe. Tension rose when the EU and America increased sanctions which caused Russia many economic difficulties. The NATO also sought to impose a military blockade on Russia which led to the confrontation between the two sides for many times, caused tension and posed threats to the region and the world. However, in fact, sanctions imposed by the EU and America against Russia in recent years have failed to make Russia collapse; on the contrary, Russian President Putin stated that Russia was made “stronger”. More specifically, the EU’s sanctions against Russia have made the EU economy suffer a loss of over 100 billion USD. US President’s protectionism policy and decision to increase pressure on the EU have also impacted on the Russia-EU relations. These are factors causing disagreements within the EU on the approach to Russia. While several member states called for the increased sanctions against Russia, key members of the EU considered Russia as a potential market and urged the re-establishment of the relations with Russia in a more flexible manner. Recently, many senior officials of Germany have shown their support for the slackened sanctions against Russia. Germany and Russia agreed to step up the Nord Stream Project run by the two countries. Meanwhile, leaders of France, Italia and several other EU countries have believed that to ensure the stability in the European continent, the EU needs to maintain good relations with Russia. At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum held in May 2018 in Russia, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that although France and Russia had yet to share the common viewpoints on a number of issues, the two countries were reliable partners in the Europe. He also believed that the restoration of the Russia-EU relations would meet the demand for the interests of the whole European continent. France and Russia signed 6 contracts for direct investment in Russia worth over 1 billion USD. According to experts, the Russia-EU relations remain differences which could not overcome “overnight”, but those new moves like “the light at the end of the tunnel” have kept alive slight hopes for a warmer future of the two “unexpected” neighbours.

The relations between the three power centres will definitely impact on the complexion of international relations and regional and global security and stability. It is expected that in the context of globalization and increased dependence among countries, relevant parties should seize the opportunity to negotiate for the settlement of differences and the building of a peaceful, stable, and prosperous world. Only by doing so could security and benefits of all countries be ensured.

Sr. Col. Dong Van Duc

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