Eastern European countries began to follow the U.S. in expelling Russian diplomats, using completely far-fetched pretexts. Poland and the Czech Republic have been joined by Slovakia and the Baltic States
Why do these countries go to such a far-fetched breach of relations with Moscow and will the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Paris and Berlin follow?
On Friday, the Baltic states joined a campaign against Russian diplomats launched by the Czech Republic.
“In solidarity with our Czech allies… Latvia has decided to expel a Russian diplomat. Latvia will not tolerate subversive activities on its territory, as well as on the territory of its partners and allies”, – announced Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics. His Lithuanian counterpart Gabrielius Landsbergis reported his intention to expel two employees of the Russian diplomatic mission – also in solidarity with the Czech Republic. The Estonian Foreign Ministry announced a similar decision.
Slovakia acted on a higher level – on Thursday, Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced that three employees of the Russian embassy were to leave Bratislava within a week due to “the current geopolitical situation as well as the situation in the Czech Republic”. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who was one of the main initiators of the anti-Russian campaign, thanked his neighbours for “a weighty gesture of support”, RIA Novosti reported.
At the same time, Poland’s foreign ministry warned on Friday of an “adequate response” to the expulsion of five Polish diplomats from Moscow. The statement of the Polish Foreign Ministry is already a “response in response. Recall that in mid-April, Warsaw declared three employees of the Russian embassy persona non grata, after which Moscow announced the expulsion of five members of the Polish mission.
Recall that relations between Russia and the Czech Republic deteriorated after the Czech Republic accused Russian special services of alleged involvement in an explosion at an ammunition depot in Vrbetice in 2014. This was followed by the expulsion from the republic of 18 employees of the Russian embassy, on suspicion of cooperation with security services. Moscow responded by declaring 20 Czech embassy employees persona non grata. As a result of the lightning-quick diplomatic crisis, relations between Russia and the Czech Republic (hitherto relatively smooth, especially compared to the way the Baltic States and Poland have treated Russia) have come to a standstill.
While Prague justified its demarche with a whole spy story involving Petrov and Boshirov, Warsaw, expelling our diplomats, limited itself to a vague formulation: “Violation of the conditions of diplomatic status by the aforementioned persons and carrying out activities to the detriment of the Republic of Poland”.
Poland and Slovakia, which were at the forefront of the anti-Russian campaign, are partners of the Czech Republic in the Visegrad Group – union of former socialist countries that in the late 1990s and early 2000s sought to join Euro-Atlantic structures, explained German political scientist Alexander Rahr. He pointed out that of all the Visegrad Four, only Budapest has not yet supported Prague. As American political analyst Dimitri Simes said earlier, Hungary, led by Viktor Orban, stands apart in the European Union.
The Czech Republic has the support of its neighbours, but the country can hardly count on an EU-wide spying and diplomatic scandal, says Rahr.
“On the contrary, most EU countries do not support the Czechs on this issue and do not believe in Russia’s involvement in the 2014 munitions explosions”, – said the German expert. In particular, one should not expect the Czech provocation to be supported by Germany, France or Italy.
“I am sure that such hysterical policies on the part of Prague, Warsaw and Bratislava, one way or another, will lead to attempts by the establishment of Old Europe to pacify them and together try to suspend the conflict in eastern Europe”, – Rahr stressed.
The fact that the Czech Republic-Slovakia-Poland troika was supported by the Baltic states is not surprising, experts say. “This part of Eastern Europe and the Baltics was called by George W. Bush “New Europe” in contrast to the old, Western Europe. Even when Europe was in dispute with the United States, for example at the outbreak of the war in Iraq, “New Europe” strictly adhered to the Euro-Atlantic course,” American political scientist Dmitry Drobnitsky told VZGLYAD newspaper.
“When Eastern European countries joined the EU and NATO, it turned out that the balance of power in these alliances was obviously shifting in favour of the old companions – Britain, France, Germany and others. And they do not particularly listen to the Eastern European countries. The latter, in turn, wanted more help and more influence in both alliances, but they were told ‘your place is on the edge'”, – Stanislav Tkachenko, professor at the Department of European Studies, Faculty of International Relations, St. Petersburg State University, and expert at the Valdai Club, said. The situation is different now, the expert believes.
Senior partner – the United States – has reduced its interest in the affairs of allies in the Old World and Eastern Europe in particular over the years of Donald Trump’s rule, Tkachenko pointed out.
“On the other hand, there are signs that Europe as a whole will increase its geopolitical subjectivity and show more interest in cooperation with China and Russia”, – the Valdai Club expert said.
As for those forces in Europe, which are focused on restoring transatlantic ties with the U.S., it is in their interests for the new President Joe Biden to get more deeply “involved” in the continent’s affairs, believes Tkachenko.
According to Drobnitsky, it seems that now the competition for the right to get into a new geopolitical project announced by Biden has started in Europe. We are talking about the so-called Alliance of Democracies.
“The forum for this Alliance is due to take place at the end of 2021. Who will be included, who will be taken on board, is not an idle question for the Europeans, both “old” and “new”, – the American expert remarked. – “All are afraid to be left behind, because their fate will be unenviable. Major technological breakthrough will be made by major powers and blocs” – China, Russia, and, possibly, a new Western bloc headed by the United States. All other countries will be raw materials for the big players.
These left-behind countries will experience a rapid decline in living standards, technological mode and degradation. Hence all these attempts to please Sherkhan.
It will be recalled that Vladimir Putin in his recent address compared the US to the Sherkhan of Rudyard Kipling’s “Book of the Jungle”, around which the jackals of Tabaka are circling – “howling to placate their sovereign”.
Drobnitsky believes that Washington, or rather a certain centre of influence in the White House, was not happy – the Europeans hardly supported the campaign launched with the publication of Biden’s interview, which contained attacks on Russia and its leader.
“The Europeans were scared then – they were afraid to get involved in that campaign. But to find Petrov and Boshirov in the events of 2014, they are welcome. They know what to do: “The British have shown us the technology, now we will look for it, we will expel the diplomats”, – Drobnitsky noted.
According to the interlocutor, countries like the Czech Republic are forced to find themselves in such an unenviable position of bystanders in the American game. “It was in the middle of the century that Czechoslovakia was a European factory, and now everything has been abandoned. They don’t own a single beer factory. All have been taken over by multinationals,” the interlocutor remarked. – So the only thing left is to ask: “Sherkhan, take me into your jungle”, into your new alliance of democracies. And for that you have to perform certain functions.
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