The Brief – Russia’s friends

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter [Photo: EPA]

EURACTIV has published a very interesting speech by Russia’s long-serving ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, in which he told the St. Petersburg Economic Forum that the EU and his country should stick together.

The forum coincides with the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the operation of the Allied forces which paved the way for defeating Hitler’s Germany. But Russia was not invited to the ceremonies, not in France and not in the UK.

This is not normal. The USSR’s contribution to the victory over Nazi Germany was decisive. Russia’s leader should have been invited, but he wasn’t.

Chizhov made no mention of this, but he also said the current state of relations was abnormal.

There is a very heavy background to the relations, ranging from the annexation of Crimea by Russia to the Skripal poisoning case in the UK. The first is a fact, the second could be a case of “plausible denial”. Russia is very good at plausible denial.

Nevertheless, Chizhov keeps seeing a future in which the EU, and Russia’s own integration project, the Eurasian Economic Union, will be partners in a hostile global environment.

It’s better to be an optimist and imagine a future together than play a zero-sum game in which your adversary or competitor should bite the dust. We cannot disagree with such an approach.

What is disturbing is Chizov’s analysis, according to which the European elections have brought more friends of Russia to the European Parliament.

The Russian diplomat obviously refers to far-right parties such as Matteo Salvini’s Lega, or Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, to name but two of them.

However, it is almost an insult to intelligence to consider that political parties close to the Nazi ideology could be the friends of Russia, which stood up against Nazi Germany before some other European capitals even made up their mind.

Far-right parties wish nothing more than the EU’s destruction. If Russia is honest about believing in the European project’s resilience, as Chizhov says, Moscow should be extra-careful about having such relations, if at all.

If Russia wants good relations with the EU, it doesn’t need fascistoid parties as friends.  Russia and Ukraine need to de-escalate their war-like relations, and then Russia will be able to find the friends it deserves.

The Roundup

By Sam Morgan

Will the Five Star Movement ever find a home in the new Parliament? Signs don’t look good at the moment. A new poll puts far-right party Fratelli d’Italia ahead of Silvio Berlusconi’s party. Stay tuned to the site for an interview with former PM Mario Monti.

Germany’s Greens are on a roll but we’ve been here before: here’s why this time the success might not just be fleeting.

Motorists duped by the Dieselgate scandal are banding together to bring legal action against VW, but some lawyers are advising the plaintiffs to drop the case. Transparency groups are not happy that BMW will sponsor the incoming Finnish Presidency.

Paris has lost patience with inconsiderate e-scooter users, while scientists have concluded that raw material output will have to massively increase if the UK is to fulfil its electric vehicle aspirations.

The Energy Charter, signed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, is in disarray according to a leaked report. Attempts to restructure it have been dubbed “an abject failure”.

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party lost a by-election that would’ve given the new movement its first actual member of parliament. The former radio DJ left by a backdoor when it became clear his party had lost to Labour. He now wants a seat at the exit negotiation table.

Jean-Claude Juncker met with Croatia’s PM, repeating his wish that the Commission can recommend Schengen membership for the EU’s newest recruit before November.


Belgian media briefly reported yesterday that Emmanuel Macron-deputy Nathalie Loiseau had allegedly called EPP chairman Manfred Weber “ectoplasm”. The quote, from an off-the-record briefing, was removed from Le Soir’s website.

Look out for….

The six EU Council negotiators of the three main European political groups meet in Brussels for a first tete-a-tete about drawing up a top jobs shortlist. No Brief on Monday, due to the long weekend, so check your inboxes on Tuesday.

Views are the author’s

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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