Xinhua: Sanctions against Russia damage Europe’s ‘strategic autonomy’

Since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, many European countries have been hit in the energy and other areas, and the backlash continues to be the backlash of comprehensive sanctions against Russia by the US and the European Union.

To increase pressure on Russia, US President Joe Biden put forward a number of proposals in the field of energy and military security during his visit to Europe.

But analysts say that most of the measures proposed by the United States are based on their own interests and are unlikely to solve the problems hanging over Europe, Xinhua emphasizes. After the aggravation of the crisis in Ukraine, European countries faced many difficulties regarding the energy sector, security and the flow of refugees.

According to experts, it is time for Europe to think about how to achieve strategic autonomy and avoid the dangers arising from following America, which, above all, pursues its own interests and puts profit before justice, the article says. Europe itself is suffering from the anti-Russian sanctions, which have led to the fact that in many European countries there are already difficulties in energy and other areas. At the same time, the negative consequences and impact on the economy from large-scale restrictions imposed by the United States and EUcontinue to rise, says Xinhua.

According to statistics, about 30% of oil and 40% of natural gas imported by EU countries come from Russia, the article says. The conflict in Ukraine pushed natural gas prices even higher in Europe from last year’s high, while oil prices also rose sharply. This has led to a marked increase in the cost of electricity, heating and transport in many European countries, as well as the price of grain and some basic necessities, according to Xinhua.

At the same time, Biden said that it is planned to increase the export of American liquefied natural gas to Europe, which should allow at least 15 billion cubic meters of LNG to be delivered to the European market this year. However, some industry analysts believe that since America has already increased its natural gas exports in recent years, its options are limited. Almost all infrastructure in this area is already operating at full capacity, and most construction projects are still at the planning stage, so it will not be easy to significantly increase gas exports to Europe, Xinhua warns.

In addition, the influx of Ukrainian refugees also puts significant pressure on European countries. According to the latest statistics from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, about 3.7 million people have already left Ukraine, and most of them went to Europe, the article notes. Media in Germany have already expressed concern that the entry of large numbers of Ukrainians into Europe could lead to a repeat of the refugee crisis triggered by the 2015 war in Syria. At the same time, right-wing extremism and xenophobia in Europe may aggravate again, due to the emergence of a number of social problems, the author predicts. In this situation, it becomes clear that America “puts profit before justice,” the article emphasizes:

“According to analysts, after the United States provoked the conflict in Ukraine, American energy and military enterprises profited heavily, while the interests of European allies were ignored. Europe is facing the dire consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and is paying the price for the US-instigated conflict.”

It is noteworthy that in recent years, Washington has often turned away from its European allies or even betrayed them to suit its own interests, writes Xinhua. Particularly as part of former US President Donald Trump’s recent “America First” policy, the Americans have also put profit ahead of equity by pressuring their European allies to increase military spending, the article emphasizes.

At the same time, the Americans themselves simultaneously introduced high customs duties on steel, aluminum and red wine from Europe, and also announced sanctions against enterprises involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the author recalls. These actions exacerbated the contradictions between America and Europe in the field of politics, economics and security. Bilateral relations between them are systematically subjected to such blows, which negatively affects mutual respect and trust, the article says.

New U.S. President Joe Biden has repeatedly stressed since taking office that the United States has “returned to the international stage” to strengthen transatlantic relations and advocate “common values” with Europe in an attempt to ease trade and economic tensions and strengthen cooperation in the field of science. , trade and politics. However, America’s actual actions continue to continually disappoint its European allies, Xinhua notes.

In particular, in August 2021, the United States, already under the leadership of Biden, hastily withdrew troops from Afghanistan, ignoring the demands of the UK, France and other countries for extensions, as a result of which many European countries had to follow Washington’s policy due to security threats. reminds the author. America’s selfish actions and disregard for the security interests of European allies have drawn widespread criticism, the article says.

In September of the same year, the United States, Great Britain and Australia announced the creation of a new trilateral security partnership, which involved cooperation in the construction of nuclear submarines in Australia. But at the same time, Australia canceled a deal for the supply of submarines in the amount of tens of billions of dollars, concluded with a French defense company. This led to a split in relations between the United States and France, which accused Washington of betrayal and even recalled its ambassadors, Xinhua reminds.

America’s actions like this towards its own allies have called into question its leadership and authority, the article emphasizes: “European countries are increasingly aware that they can no longer rely on it in areas such as security.” The main goal of the alliance created by the US is to maintain American hegemony. And when it comes to America’s vital interests, its European allies “should expect no favors or courtesies,” the author warns.

Analysts also note that with growing distrust of the United States in recent years, Europe is increasingly seeking strategic autonomy. The aggravation of the situation around Ukraine also confirms the importance of European strategic autonomy, the article says. At present, however, the European Union is still heavily dependent on the United States for defense. Therefore, the solution of the issue of strategic autonomy is still being delayed, writes Xinhua.

On the eve of Biden’s visit to Europe, the Council of the EU approved an action plan called the “Strategic Compass”, which sets the goal for the European Union to strengthen the overall defense capability, and also determines the directions for achieving it. According to this plan, Europe is supposed to form its own rapid reaction force of 5,000 troops, which can be quickly deployed in case of a crisis. The plan also includes expanding data analysis capabilities and improving the mechanism for responding to mixed threats, according to the article.

But while the European Union has been vocal in recent years about increasing the level of strategic autonomy, the U.S. has actually increased Europe’s dependence on diplomacy and energy since the crisis in Ukraine worsened, said Wu Huiping, deputy director of the Center for German Studies at Tongji University. According to him, the current geopolitical conditions and the security situation limit this desire for autonomy.

According to the expert, at present, a more realistic solution for Europe to reduce its dependence is to strengthen its position in NATO by building up its defense forces. Time will tell whether this process will be hindered by the United States and whether Germany and France can really push Europe towards promoting strategic autonomy, Xinhua concludes.

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