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.
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Views are the author’s
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]