“When Russia insults the excessive consultant of the European Union, it’s insulting all Europeans.”
A few weeks in the past, as reported right here, the co-founder and honorary president of El País, José Luis Cebrián, penned an op-ed within the newspaper titled “Defending Ukraine to the Dying… of Ukrainians” wherein he warned concerning the probably dire penalties of the warfare in Ukraine for Europe’s future. As I famous in my submit on that piece, Cebrián raised considerations about the true aims of the warfare, the best way it’s being waged and the best way it’s subordinating the aims of the EU mission to these of the NATO navy alliance.
In conclusion, Cebrián wrote:
This isn’t a warfare between Russia and Ukraine, however a proxy warfare between NATO and Russia. Neither of them could be absolute losers if we aspire to a long-lasting peace in Europe and wish to forestall the battle from spiralling into a 3rd world warfare. However the voices in favour of a ceasefire don’t appear to have a lot impact on the rulers of democratic Europe, ours included, prepared as they’re to defend Ukraine till the dying of the final Ukrainian.
“Spawn of Devil”
In different phrases, even the uncommon voices of disquiet inside European coverage circles which are calling for a change of path on the warfare are getting brief shrift from a lot of the area’s rulers. Which brings us properly to one among this week’s episodes of farcical European management. On Tuesday, Cadena Ser, a Spanish radio broadcaster belonging to Grupo Prisa, which additionally occurs to be the father or mother group of El País, ran a story with the next weird headline:
Robles Lashes Out at Russia for Calling Josep Borrell a “Spawn of Devil”: “We can not settle for Threats”
Margarita Robles is Spain’s performing minister of defence and on Tuesday she gave a speech on the headquarters of SATCEN, the EU satellite tv for pc coordination centre, on the outskirts of Madrid. Additionally in attendance was Josep Borrell, the EU’s excessive consultant for international affairs and safety coverage and a former cupboard colleague of Robles’ within the Pedro Sánchez authorities.
Throughout that speech Robles introduced up a few of the current incendiary feedback made by Vladimir Solovyov, a prime-time Russian tv presenter and pro-Putin propagandist, about Borrell. On his each day TV present Solovyov had referred to as Borrell a litany of names together with “fool”, “enemy of the Slavs,” “enemy of the Russian folks”, “little demon” and “spawn of Devil.” He additionally famous that Borrell, whereas “supposedly holding the place of quasi international minister of the European Union, behaves like a minister of warfare.” That one is true.
Solovyov additionally launched a verbal onslaught in opposition to Borrell’s native nation of Spain, which he described because the “world’s evil” for its centuries of colonising different nations. And this, I think about, was most likely the ultimate straw for Robles, who responded with these phrases:
“We can not settle for threats or insults from Russia. When Russia insults the excessive consultant of the European Union, it’s insulting all Europeans. Threats are usually not acceptable. Russia has to know that the European Union will proceed to help Ukraine, as a result of supporting Ukraine is supporting peace, freedom and safety.”
As Cebrián stated, folks like Robles are keen to defend Ukraine “till the final Ukrainian.” They’re additionally completely joyful to make use of even essentially the most insidious examples of Orwellian doublespeak, equivalent to “warfare is peace”, to justify their ends.
In return for her unyielding help for Ukraine, Robles was awarded the “distinction of honour” by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence of Ukraine on Monday. The performing Minister of Defence acquired the medal from the Ukrainian ambassador to Spain, Serhii Pohoreltsev. Zelensky’s authorities additionally gave honours to Spain’s Secretary Basic of Defence Coverage, Admiral Juan Francisco Fernández Núñez, and the Director Basic of Defence Coverage, Lieutenant Basic Fernando López del Pozo.
Robles’ defence of Borrell is absurd for no less than three causes:
- Robles, a senior albeit performing minister of the Spanish authorities, was not responding to feedback made by a senior official of the Russian authorities, however relatively a Russian propagandist working for Russian state tv. In different phrases, it wasn’t “Russia” insulting Borrell; it was a Russian TV presenter. By immediately responding to Solovyov’s insults, Robles gave higher prominence to these insults whereas bringing the ministry she represents all the way down to Solovyov’s degree.
- Robles’ assertion that when Russia insults Borrell, Europe’s gaffe-prone chief diplomat, it’s insulting all Europeans is farcical. For a begin, there are tens of hundreds of thousands of Europeans from non-member nations who are usually not EU residents and whom Borrell doesn’t characterize in any form or type. They embrace hundreds of thousands of Russian residents dwelling in Western Russia. It’s also debatable whether or not Borrell even represents EU residents given no person ever voted for him. The truth is, Robles’ assertion is paying homage to former US NIAID Director Anthony Fauci’s assertion that “assaults on me, fairly frankly, are assaults on science”.
- It wasn’t Solovyov, or any Russian for that matter, that started this newest confrontation; it was Borrell himself. Channelling his interior John McCain, he stated in an interview with El País on August 19 that “the Russian financial system is simply too small in comparison with the true geopolitical gamers.” Requested about EU relations with China, Borrell harassed that the Asian large is just not Russia: “China is an actual geopolitical participant, whereas Russia is an financial dwarf, it’s like a gasoline station whose proprietor has an atomic bomb.”
Describing Russia as an financial dwarf isn’t just offensive, it’s plain incorrect. Russia’s autarchik financial system has weathered 18 months of all-out warfare in opposition to it from each the US, the world’s [declining] financial superpower, and the EU, the world’s largest commerce bloc. It is among the world’s largest exporters not solely of vitality however all kinds of important commodities. It additionally simply overtook Germany to develop into the fifth wealthiest financial system on the earth and the most important in Europe on PPP (buying energy parity) phrases, and is heading in the right direction to develop at a price of round 2.5% this yr, whereas many EU nations, together with Germany and the Netherlands, are sliding into recession.
What’s extra, regardless of 11 rounds of sanctions in opposition to Russia, Europe’s financial system continues to be closely depending on the pure gasoline popping out of Russia’s “gasoline station” — solely now it’s in liquefied type, which is much more costly and tougher to move. In accordance with a brand new report by World Witness, an environmental watchdog organisation, EU member states are actually shopping for 40% extra Russian LNG, which is at the moment exempt from EU sanctions, than it did in 2021. Their purchases within the first seven months of this yr are literally barely larger than they have been throughout the identical interval of final yr.
The truth is, three EU nations have been among the many prime 5 largest purchasers of Russian LNG within the first seven months of this yr: Spain, in second place after China, Belgium in third and France in fifth (after Japan). These three nations have develop into busy locations for LNG carriers, whose provides are unloaded onto subtle terminals and cooled backed into gaseous type and despatched to energy crops in nations just like the Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, Finland, Italy and Sweden.
“Envy and Impotence”
Borrell’s provocative feedback from the El País interview are usually not talked about in any of the three Spanish articles I’ve learn on Robles’ speech, regardless of (or maybe due to) the truth that they might have added some much-needed context to the diplomatic spat. However the feedback have been definitely picked up by senior Russian officers.
Hours after the El País interview aired, Russian International Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described Borrell’s statements because the product of “envy and impotence”, including that “the EU is bankrupt” and ruined itself when it stopped shopping for high quality [Russian] gasoline at an inexpensive value. In response to the “atomic bomb” remark, Zakharova stated that just one EU nation has nuclear weapons, whereas the others haven’t been capable of produce them. “There may be nothing to be pleased with, which is why they’re so offended. So every little thing Borrell stated is the results of envy and helplessness,” concluded Maria Zakharova.
For his half, Russia’s International Minister Sergey Lavrov stated the EU’s chief diplomat’s racist worldview is what prevents him and different Western leaders from accepting the fact of a nascent multipolar world. “Right now’s West is steered by folks like Josep Borrell who divide the world right into a blooming ‘backyard’ and ‘the jungle,’ the place the latter clearly applies to most of humanity.” stated Lavrov. “I dare say, this racist worldview definitely prevents them from accepting the onset of multipolarity.”
This isn’t Lavrov’s first conflict with Borrell. That got here in early February 2021, a full yr earlier than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, when the EU’s chief diplomat visited Moscow with the ostensible objective of getting EU-Russia relations again on observe after years of ratcheting tensions. It was Borrell’s first (and quote presumably final) go to to the Kremlin and the primary of any EU diplomat since 2017. As I reported for NC on the time, it was a diplomatic catastrophe:
Borrell’s massive mistake was to go all the best way to Moscow to lambaste the Putin authorities for its tough therapy of Navalny, which he might have executed from the consolation of his personal workplace in Brussels. That tough therapy consists of allegedly making an attempt to poison Navalny with a Novichok-type nerve agent. That was in August . After apparently taking in poor health on an inside flight in Russia, Navalny was taken to Germany, the place he spent 5 months recovering. On January 17 , he returned to Russia and was duly arrested for violating parole from a 2014 sentence for embezzlement. Final week, the court docket sentenced him to 2 years and eight months in a jail colony.
Borrell referred to as for Navalny’s launch and an investigation into his poisoning, neither of which went down properly along with his hosts. Nor did his allusions to the rule of legislation, worldwide human rights and respect for the sovereignty of different nations.
The Russian Federation’s International Minister Sergei Lavrov responded by lashing Brussels for its personal failings. He referred to as the EU “unreliable” and accused Germany and France of conceitedness of their dealings with Russia. Then, he delivered the coup de grace. He accused Brussels of double requirements over Spain’s imprisonment of Catalan separatists. And Borrell’s glass home started to shatter…
After the press convention Russia expelled three EU diplomats, from Germany, Poland and Sweden, for allegedly taking part in protests in opposition to Navalni’s imprisonment. Germany, Poland and Sweden responded in form, by expelling three Russian diplomats from their territory. Fairly than getting EU-Moscow relations again on observe, Borrell’s go to drove them to a brand new low, which can little question delight hawks in Washington and NATO.
On his return to Brussels, Borrell wrote on his EU weblog that his go to had confirmed that “Europe and Russia are drifting aside.” German broadcaster Deutsche Welle stated his go to was “maybe the largest shambles” within the EU’s short-lived historical past of worldwide diplomacy. That, in fact, was earlier than Borrell’s notorious speech on the European Diplomatic Academy final October wherein he in contrast Europe to a backyard and “a lot of the remainder of the world” to a darkish, invading jungle.
Borrell might have apologised for making that assertion however the harm had already been executed. And that harm was worldwide. With Borrell answerable for EU diplomacy, not solely is the EU doing many issues badly on the worldwide stage, primarily as a result of its subordination to the pursuits of NATO (and by extension, the US); it is usually saying issues badly. And on the earth of international relations that issues lots, particularly if Europe desires to keep up any semblance of sentimental energy within the progressively rising multipolar world.