Another Russian journalist murdered. All the signs seemed to point to a political assassination sanctioned (officially or not) by individuals within the Russian state. Another clear message sent out to Russian dissidents around the world: you can run, but you can’t hide. There is nowhere we can’t get you.
Except this time was different. The journalist in question, Arkady Babchenko, turned up alive and well at a press conference less than 24 hours later, lurking at the back of the stage like Banquo’s ghost. Ukrainian intelligence had (rather dramatically) staged the murder in an apparent sting operation to catch the would-be assassins. The murder attempt was allegedly foiled. The journalist’s colleagues whooped shouts of joy.
It’s all become so confusing. The games of cat-and-mouse, the propaganda and counter-propaganda, the endless denials and accusations of “fake news”, the murders and threats, the proxy conflicts, the “little green men“. Is this what Cold War II looks like from the inside?
What do our readers think? We received a comment from Vicente, who argues that Russia and the US are clearly “strategic enemies”, which (he thinks) means it would have been logical for Russia to court the European Union as an ally, perhaps trying to split the EU away from America. However, he believes Russia has done the opposite, treating Europe as just as much of an enemy as the United States. Following the poisoning of Russian defector Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, this has also been the position of the British government. A senior UK government official was widely-quoted as having urged the EU to now view Russia as a “strategic enemy”.
So, is Russia now a strategic enemy of Europe? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!
Only a fool would consider Russia as an enemy of Europe. For those interested in understanding better the need for Europe to cooperate with Russia I recommend the book “World without Russia” by Russia’s former Foreign Affairs Minister Yevgeny Primakov. In addition to our own interests, we should support sustainable development of Russia, which would improve the living conditions for its citizens and allow us to tap on the huge potential there in the field of science, culture and natural resources.
We must not forget that Russia is for us in Europe a bridge with other cultures and civilisations such as the Asian tigers, the Islamic world, India and even Latin America. We can learn a lot from the Russian model of societal assimilation of different nations and ethnicities. In the US the indigenous population was exterminated and its society became almost mono-culture notwithstanding moves for emancipation of African Americans (who have had the right to vote only in the last 50 years) and Latinos.
In order for Europe to survive in this complex and complicated socio-economic environment and a dramatically changing world, our imminent interest must be to stop the hostility towards Russia and start building new perspective relation with this country on a mutually beneficial basis. Russia is without any doubt ready for such a step.
During the last [few] years, the strategy of the Kremlin, the strategies also outlined in many speeches by Vladimir Putin, are threatening: starting with the invasion and occupation of Crimea, continuing with the ongoing war in Donbass – the Russian war against Ukraine and indirectly also against the EU and its relations with eastern neighbourhood countries – and continuing with the Russian participation in the war in Syria.
So, these are threats we have consider, but what I very much like about the EU’s reaction is that we do not [fall] into the trap of Russia and into a terrifying scenario. We never – from the very beginning – never thought about a military response to this threatening new strategy of the Kremlin. From the very beginning in Ukraine, we thought about a political solution, and we developed the idea of personalised and economic sanctions against Russia. [W]e are right now, after this weekend, in a new debate about how to find a political solution in Syria and, again, we will have to decide how to continue diplomatic efforts towards Russia.
I think the EU – also because of Syria and its challenges – has to develop a strategy towards Russia. The idea of finding common solutions is a good idea, but so far Russia – especially in the case of Syria, but also before in the case of Ukraine – did not contribute to an acceptable or sustainable solution. I think a new approach and a new strategy should include, on the European side, a new openness for more sanctions. At least, countries like Germany should not continue a big strategic project like Nord Stream II with Russia considering all the threats posed to the European Union.
First, it is important to distinguish between Russia as a country and the Russian government. The fundamental aim of Europe should be to maintain good relations with all its neighbors. Of course, the current tense situation does not make it easier to maintain good relationships. However, one should not lose sight of the long term goal, as Russia – and in economic terms as well – is and will remain an important partner for Europe. It is clear that relations suffer from violations of human rights or other breaches of essential democratic values conducted by the government. However, as already said one should not confuse the country with the government and should therefore always keep in mind the maintenance of good relations in the long term. In summary, the question can therefore be answered “no”, but which does not mean that the Russian government can do whatever it wants.
I’m deeply, deeply saddened with the situation. I think it’s pretty appalling that anyone should be poisoned and have their lives risked. I think it’s pretty terrible to go into any country and attack citizens, Russian or otherwise. It just so happened that they were. They were living peaceably. This is a shocking, shocking thing to happen. It’s terrifying.
So, I’d like to believe the very best of Russia. I’m deeply, deeply upset. I believe they have behaved in a very antagonistic, bullyboy way. We can extend that basically to Syria; we see at the moment the wretched poison again, it’s innocent people and children. It’s up to Russia to clean up its act and to be responsible. They should be; they can be. Clearly, you can’t blame all the Russian people – but I do think with Putin… well, he’s a very tough man, and perhaps how he does business is not the right way. In fact, it’s not.
I’d like to see a hand extended out, to see if anything can be rescued from this awful situation. We shouldn’t be enemies. We should, indeed, try to get on with one another. But, on the other hand, we cannot have Russia behaving in this appalling way. And they can deny it all they like, but you know there must be some evidence there – all of those countries would not have supported the British government, and that includes the United States – without evidence which actually brought them to the conclusion they came to in supporting the United Kingdom.
IMAGE CREDITS: (c) / BigStock – Loskutnikov Maxim; PORTRAIT CREDITS: Jiří Maštálka CC – DEEEP Project, Angelika Mlinar CC – Welt Atlas, Ana Gomes CC – Own Work, Rebecca Harms CC – Own Work, (c) Margot Parker – EFDD
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