Moscow admits a break in relations with the EU: bluff or reality?
Lavrov: Russia ready to cut EU ties if sanctioned
Experts on what is behind the statements of Lavrov and Peskov about Russia’s readiness to escalate the conflict with the European Union in the event of new sanctions
Moscow admitted the possibility of breaking off relations with the European Union. At the beginning, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this. According to him, such a scenario is quite possible in the event of tough EU sanctions, which create risks for the Russian economy. «in the most sensitive areas».
«We do not want to isolate ourselves from world life, but we must be ready for this., – he specified. – Want peace – prepare for war».
Earlier, the introduction of new sanctions by the EU against Russia due to the situation with Alexei Navalny was announced by the head of the European Union’s foreign ministry, Josep Borrell. The next package of measures may be announced at the next summit of foreign ministers of the EU member states.
Lavrov’s statement on Friday was slightly corrected by the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov. In his opinion, some media outlets took the words of the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry out of context, which allegedly distorted the meaning of what was said..
The spokesman explained that Russia is not going to initiate a break in relations with the European Union on its own. But then he, in fact, confirmed what the Minister of Foreign Affairs was talking about: «…if the European Union follows this path (the introduction of really tough sanctions – V.V.), then yes, we will be ready, because we must be prepared for the worst».
According to independent observers, Moscow constantly resorts to statements about the likelihood of a break in relations with Europe in difficult days for itself. Andrey Nechaev: «The Russian leadership, apparently, still puts an end to the development of relations with the West»
Politician, ex-minister of economy of Russia Andrey Nechaev thinks that Sergey Lavrov’s statement – political bluff. In addition, it seems to him that Russia cannot apply any effective economic sanctions against the European Union..
«The ban on food imports (Moscow) was introduced long ago, and most experts agree that the Russian population has suffered more from this than the EU economy., – he recalled in an interview with the Russian Service «Voices of America». – Therefore, I believe that we can only talk about humanitarian and political contacts. In the extreme case, this is, for example, a break in the agreements that were concluded with the EU countries in different directions. But it won’t do anyone any good».
In foreign trade, there are always buyers and sellers, and they are absolutely dependent on each other, Andrei Nechaev noted: «Therefore, if Russia, for example, stops supplying gas to Europe, this will create, first of all, for Germany and a number of other countries, really very serious problems. But in parallel it will be necessary to declare “Gazprom” bankrupt and prepare for huge losses in the Russian budget».
These are dangerous political games, if you really go not to symbolic sanctions, but to break the existing relations, the ex-Minister of Economy of Russia stated. At the same time, it seems to him that now no one is ready to go for it.». «Although the general trend, of course, shows that the Russian leadership, apparently, still puts an end to the development of relations with the West, – he specified. – Obviously, there will be attempts to reorient towards China, but this is a dangerous business. Because strategically there is a risk of losing the entire Far East in the end, at least».
It is clear that no one can replace Europe as a trading partner of Russia, summed up Andrey Nechaev.
Dmitry Travin: «This is another round of verbal battle»
In turn, the head of the Center for Research on Modernization of the European University at St. Petersburg Dmitry Travin in the commentary to the Russian service «Voices of America» said that the initiative today is in the hands of the EU countries, which are going to apply the sanctions. Also, the political scientist does not think that there is something behind Lavrov’s words that nobody knew yesterday..
«If the sanctions imposed by the EU turn out to be especially strong, then in fact this will mean a break in relations, – he claims. – In economic terms, this means a gap that Western countries can initiate. In my imagination, I can say that perhaps they will finally give up buying Russian gas. Then the reaction of Moscow, in fact, will not be required. As a result, the Russian economy falls».
But the Kremlin can break off relations with Brussels only politically, Dmitry Travin emphasized: «It is not difficult to guess what specific actions they will take in this case: the closure of consulates in Russia, the expulsion of diplomats, loud statements. However, it seems to me that one should not expect any qualitatively new sanctions from the West. Therefore, by and large, nothing will change.».
This is rather another round of a battle of words, concluded the head of the Center for Modernization Research at the European University at St. Petersburg