Last Monday was Russia Day in Brussels. However, it was different from what the EU foreign ministers might have imagined.
Even before they discussed new sanctions in the Nawlany case, Russian EU Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov threatened retaliation. New penalties would not go unanswered, he said.
And while Heiko Maas and Co. hid from the once again locked-out press in the hermetically sealed Council building, Nawalny’s advisers stole the show.
In the spotlight of the TV cameras, they explained how the EU can “best” harm Russian Tsar Vladimir Putin.
Navalny’s aide Leonid Volkov urged ministers to attack the ruling United Russia party, but also to impose sanctions on Kremlin-affiliated oligarchs.
EU wants to punish four unknown henchmen
A provocation that makes a mockery of all diplomatic customs. But it makes more of an impression than the travel bans against four Russians that the EU now wants to impose.
Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov and Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin are considered possible victims. Brussels also mentions the names of the head of the Prison Service, Alexander Kalashnikov, and the head of the National Guard, Viktor Solotov.
Hardly anyone in the West knows these alleged “sinners.” They are likely to take the EU sanctions in their stride – and carry on as before. Maas & Co. are making symbolic policy, at best. They lack a strategy as well as the “language of power.
How to do it “right” was demonstrated shortly thereafter by the United States. They are not targeting henchmen of the Russian regime, but German companies that still dare to do business with Russia and push the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
No fewer than 18 European companies have ended their participation in the controversial project or pledged to withdraw, according to a U.S. State Department report to Congress made public Monday.
Among the companies is Mannheim-based industrial services provider Bilfinger and Munich Re Syndicate Limited, an insurer belonging to Munich Re, according to the report.
The loser of the day is therefore not Putin, but Maas. He is being shown up by everyone: by his American friends, the Russian Nawalny supporters – and the Eastern Europeans who would love to bomb Nord Stream away.
But Maas put a good face on the bad play, which shows the untenability of Germany’s European policy. In the end, he also congratulated U.S. Secretary of State Blinken, who is already threatening new sanctions against German companies.
Blinken had joined the foreign ministers’ meeting via video and was celebrated as the “best partner”…
The original post (in German) is here