What's New(s)

What's New(s) - A united front against Russia? - 28/01/2022

What's New(s) - A united front against Russia? - 28/01/2022

What´s New(s)? La revue de presse anglophone – Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

You'll find the script below :

Last Monday, EU foreign ministers gathered to discuss their stance on Russia, against the background of increasing tensions at Europe’s borders.

Is the EU able to maintain unity, what did the press write?

Caution is the prevailing feeling in the last hours. According to Pablo Suanzes, El Mundo, although Moscow's rhetoric "does not call for optimism", the situation is "delicate enough not to raise the heat". For the moment, the EU has decided to keep European diplomats on Ukrainian territory, while regretting that the US has withdrawn its diplomats, which could suggest that the West accepts the scenario of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, notes Alexandra Brzozowski in Euractiv. All the European countries agree that a potential attack would have heavy consequences and Borrell stresses that the EU is ready to take quick and determined action, publishes Deutsche Welle. Although the Council has always presented an image of unity among European countries, POLITICO highlights tensions behind the scenes over supplying weapons to Ukraine and a proposed military training mission and doubts that the sanctions applied to Russia will be unanimous, as they will affect member states asymmetrically.

And that’s why some countries did not seem to be in in with the overall approach, right?

That’s right. The Wall Street Journal suggests that due to its dependence on Russian gas, Berlin is vulnerable if the West sanctions Russia over Ukraine, which limits Europe’s options in this issue. Reuters highlights that sanctions could target the Nord Stream pipeline, a suspension of the project would mean a chunk of Germany's expected future gas imports, and reminded that Russian gas accounted for 32% of German supply. Julian Borger, in the Guardian states that the United States is finalizing plans to divert gas to Europe if Russia cuts off supply. Finland and Sweden are also prudent on the issue. According to Richard Milne in Financial Times, this crisis is having unintended consequences in Europe’s far north, reviving talk of whether Finland and Sweden should join NATO. POLITICO stresses that the NATO has become the only game in town for European security, and if Putin’s aim was to weaken the Western alliance, he has unquestionably scored a number of own goals.

And how does the European press report on this fragile unity, will it be enough to prevent further escalation?

Well, it remains to be seen whether the foreseen measures, including the strong package of sanctions will have the desired impact on the Russian economy, argues Financial Times. Russia has stress-tested its economy, write Russia correspondents Max Seddon and Polina Ivanova, while Europe has not reduced its energy dependence. The country’s efforts to reduce its dependency on the global financial system and global economy have had their success. It is better prepared to handle the sanctions that the US and Europe have warned to implement, they write. The Guardian Observer questions whether Europe will be able to maintain its fragile consensus. Even if there seems to be agreement now on the overall strategy, there is much discord about what to do if Russia really does attack Ukraine. David Herszenhorn and Lili Bayer, POLITICO, underline that cohesion is only largely made possible because any specific details are not being discussed. Only time will learn what detailed strategy the EU can and will lay out.

But just across the channel, the UK, no longer in the united-EU game, seems to take a fiercer stance against Russia. How does the press report on the issue there?

Indeed. Unlike Germany, the British Government seems to have no problem supplying weapons to Ukraine. Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatened on Monday that invading Ukraine would be “painful, violent and a bloody business”, for Russia, reported the BBC, adding that the UK stands four-square with the people of Ukraine. The country’s foreign secretary further emphasized that the UK has “a strong package of sanctions ready to go” and also believes the gas pipeline between Russia and Germany should be cancelled in case of an invasion. “UK warns of unprecedented sanctions”, summarised the Guardian. According to Dutch newspaper NRC, there is certainly no shortage of strong language coming from London. Russia is the favourite enemy of the British, and it may be no surprise that after Brexit, the UK is even more positioning itself as “Global Britain”, aiming to be an important player on the world stage, it argues.