Biden thought it would be easier – Europe sceptical of US anti-Russian plans

The triumphant return of American Democrats to the international political arena has not set in stone.


Just two weeks after Joe Biden’s inauguration, French President Emmanuel Macron publicly spoke of the importance of dialogue with Moscow. He stressed that Russia is a part of Europe that cannot simply be ignored. A little earlier, the EU had concluded an important investment agreement with China. This came a few days after Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, announced “early consultations” with Europe on the anti-China campaign, The New York Times reported.

Biden will soon deliver a speech at the Munich Security Conference. Speaking at that venue two years ago, the Democrat lamented the damage done by Donald Trump’s administration to the once strong US-EU relationship. At the time, he also said that the states would still come back to take on the leadership of the western world. On Friday, the president is certain to repeat that promise. But if by leadership Biden means a return to the traditional American practice of “we decide and you follow”, the Europeans can say that time has passed.

The EU trade deal with China and the desire to normalise relations with Russia show that Europe has its own interests and ideas about its role on the world stage. This is becoming a problem for Biden, the publication says.

“Biden is showing an incredibly belligerent approach to Russia, conflating it with China and defining a new global cold war,” says Jeremy Shapiro, head of research at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

According to the expert, many European leaders are nervous about the American Democrats’ approach. Others simply show indifference to Washington’s plans.

“There has always been a clear understanding that we can’t just show up and say, ‘Hey guys, we’re back,'” notes Andrea Kendall-Taylor of the Center for a New American Security. – But even with all that, I think there was optimism that it was going to be easier than it actually was.

In the early days of his presidency, Joe Biden took some ostensible steps towards reconciliation with Europe. He brought the US back into compliance with the terms of the Paris climate agreement and promised to discuss the situation around the Iran nuclear deal. So far this has not had the desired effect.

“After the freeze in relations under Trump, I expected more warming. I don’t see that”, –  said Ulrich Speck, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund.

As it turns out, turning Europe against Russia and the U.S. will be much more difficult, the NYT writes. Although the United States has declared China its main enemy, Europe has a vital trade relationship with the PRC. Europeans hardly see it as an adversary. The same is true of Russia. Although accusations are regularly hurled at it, the EU has no desire to quarrel with the country that supplies Europe with gas.

The ambitions of Washington’s elites would be easier to realise if the UK remained part of the EU. It has always been a repeater of American ideas in Brussels, but it has left the commonwealth, having lost its former influence as well.

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